Seven hacks to change your body that also tackle your mind
Are you looking for simple hacks to change your body? Easy changes that will bring about change? Have you ever thought about starting with your mind? Here’s seven ways to change your body, that will also change your outlook
Changing your body
For almost 15 years now I’ve worked in the health and wellness industry, helping people to improve their lives in some way. I’ve worked with thousands of people who wanted to change something about their body, be that they wanted to be in physically better condition, they wanted to build muscle, they wanted to be leaner, faster, stronger, they wanted to jump higher, they wanted to run a marathon, they wanted to be more functional or they wanted to improve their health.
Everybody has their own reasons for doing it and their own individual goals to strive for. Let me share with you the biggest learning I’ve had from helping people to change their bodies. Changing the physical is largely about changing the emotional and psychological. One of my most commonly used phrases is: “Changing your body is not about your body, it’s about your mind”.
Why do we do the things we do?
I’ve seen situations where I’ll have an initial consultation with a client and we’ll discuss all of the variables in relation to their goals. We set some goals and they know exactly what they have to do in relation to things like food, exercise, sleep etc. They tell me their goal is important to them, yet on the way home that very evening they stop off for a takeaway. Very often that person has told me that they don’t like their body. And so my argument is: Your body didn’t make you stop off for a takeaway. Could it be that your body is not the problem?
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Could it be that the real problem is your thinking? Your behaviors. Those daily habits? Your psychological state? Maybe your body is a result of that? Let’s look at ways we can change our thinking and our habits to create lasting change.
Things we can’t change
When it comes to changing our body there are a few things we can’t change. Even though we can’t change them in a practical sense we can still control our attitudes towards them and this normally decides whether we move forward or not. Let’s have a look at three things we can’t control.
Our chronological age is set, we can’t change that. In the fitness world you may have come across something called biological age. Some swear by it, others don’t.
To get your biological age, loads of data will be gathered from you and compared to data gathered from thousands of others. You will then be given a reading which is your biological age. As an example, your chronological age could be 40 but your biological age might be 32. The biological age can be greatly influenced by the way you live your life. If you start incorporating healthy changes like starting to eat nutritious food, exercising five times a week, drinking more water, improving your sleeping patterns, and managing your stress levels you’ll likely start to see your biological age reduce.
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In contrast, the 40 year old who has been abusing drugs and alcohol for the last 15 years, eats poor quality foods and doesn’t exercise could be showing a biological age of 52.
Many people tend to use history as an indicator of future performance, placing self limiting beliefs upon themselves in the process. We can’t change our history but we can control our future. We can control how we let our history effect our mindset.
Let’s use the example of somebody who has never trained before. Their thinking is “I’m not an athlete, I could never run 5km”. That’s the story they tell themselves. They wrap their identity around the story of being a non-trainer and so they can’t see how it could be possible for them. They view their lack of a fitness as an indicator of their future potential. Yet, it’s not always the best indicator.
I believe most of us are operating on a level that’s far below what’s possible for us. You just need to change the story. Step out of that limiting belief that says you can’t do more. You can. All of us can. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Start small and build confidence. Do one small thing today that will move you one step closer to the place you want to go.
I’ve worked with people who didn’t have great genetics, yet they’ve managed to do great things. They were overweight, unhealthy and felt they would be that way forever. Yet they turned it around. Not because their genetics changed or because they suddenly gained some amazing advantage. But because in the midst of all of the challenges they had a fantastic attitude. They changed their thought processes.
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They refused to use the bad genetics excuse and committed to working harder. Sure it may be a little more difficult than it is for others but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It may just mean a little more work. And that’s what they did. They hardwired a set of habits and behaviours and made them non negotiable. They refused to give up.
It’s the same in every walk of life; to really be successful you’ve got to squeeze the most out of your talent and then commit to doing the work, regardless of genetic potential. You can’t change your genetics but you can change your thinking around it. You can decide to let your genetics hold you back or you can decide to keep moving forward.
What can we control?
We’ve looked at the things we can’t control and we’ve still managed to find a way around them. So the things that are in our control are where we can really get ahead.
Obviously changing your body will be greatly influenced by the quantity, and quality, of the foods you eat. The first thing I recommend here is being honest with yourself. What’s holding you back? What’s the food issue you’ve been avoiding? Until you decide to get honest it’s going to be very difficult for you to move forward.
Manage your relationship with food. Many of us consistently eat food we don’t actually need. Ask yourself “Do I need this, or do I want it?”. I really do believe most people have enough knowledge to get started. If I asked you to list 10 things you could do that would make you healthier I think you’d manage it.
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Similar to the point above, we all know enough to get started. You know that just becoming more active will make you healthier, whether that’s walking, cycling, swimming or resistance training. At some point you may need to seek professional help to get you to the next level, to improve your knowledge, and to give you tools for life. I believe a good coach is money very well spent.
As a guide for beginners, focus on intensity, We don’t want it too hard, as that may scare you off. But we don’t want you going through the motions either, it needs to challenge you. Here’s an important point. It needs to be the right intensity for YOU. Not what your friend deems the right intensity. They’re not you and you’re not them. If changing your body is the goal you’ve got to give your body a reason to adapt. Put a stressor on it that makes it respond. Doing the same thing, day in and day out, for five years is not challenging the body anymore. It’s not giving it a reason to change.
Pulling it all together. Implementing daily habits that create a lifestyle. Even consider how you’re managing stress for example. Where is your major source of stress coming from? What could you do to improve that situation? Have you got a good sense of work/life balance?
It’s not always possible to control the circumstances but you can control your response to them. You can choose to be negative and defeatist or you can go out into the world with a positive can-do attitude. You can look at obstacles as a stop sign or you can look for a way around them. Instead of putting your energy into feeling sorry for yourself and wishing things were different, put your energy into finding solutions and making things different.
Everything is about perspective and how you choose to view things. It’s about your attitudes, your responses and your thought processes. Changing your body is not about your body, it’s about your mind.
Alan Williams is a coach, trainer, motivator and expert in the areas of wellbeing and lifestyle, fitness and confidence building. For more information visit alanwilliamscoaching.com
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