Hopefully by now people are starting to get my mindset schtick.
Yep Nutrition and Exercise are important.
Yes energy balance is a part of the equation (even if counting calories sucks…).
Most people instantly gravitate towards Exercise as a weight loss change because it appears easiest.
Three to six times a week, burn some calories and essentially hope that your energy balance reverts to less in and more out, right?
Next on the list, and more typically ignored or forgotten, is Nutrition; Almost always harder to manipulate towards long-term change than exercise because it’s three to six times a day, rather than once a day or a few times per week.
The reason you get almost 80,000 returns on Amazon for the term ‘Diet Book’ is evidence that a lot of people try to completely overhaul their diets to lose weight again and again and again; As opposed to re-iterate it.
Do you really want to lose weight?
Then focus on Mindset…
Mindset is a constant factor, during all of your waking hours, and therefore, bar-none, the hardest thing to change, but you can in fact change it.
*That’s a shout-out to nay-sayers who say things like, ‘that’s just how my mind works!’ No actually, unlike the colour of you skin, eyes, the length of your arms or legs, your mindset is NOT genetically determined and you can in fact change it.
This is the reason that it has the greatest impact on the process of weight loss, because it has more of a cascade effect into nutrition and exercise, which are less frequent requirements of success.
Especially when we have our own perceptions of our experiences that we have to combat.
So how can we make it easier?
State of Mind
In a previous post about mindset, I talked about the basic two ‘types‘ of mindset.
In this post I want to discuss more of an abstract concept — largely coming from the work of Garret Kramer and his book ‘Stillpower‘ — that has a little more to do with your current state of mind and less to do with a constant mindset or perception of the world ala that last mindset post.
It’s a good book but I’ll admit it’s tough to get through a book telling you to do pretty much nothing to improve your mindset.
Unlike the broader statements I made in that post about whether or not you have a growth or fixed mindset, your ‘state of mind’ is actually constantly in flux.
Your mind is constantly in flux between low states of mindset and high states of mindset.
For our intents and purposes a low state of mind is generally associated with the following:
While a high state of mind is more associated with the following:
- The Zone…
It’s Not You, It’s Your Thinking
Although we like to think that our experiences and/or others are ‘the cause’ of a low or high state of mind (or any of the emotions you see above), a low or high state of mind is actually dictated by our own perceptions and consequent thinking about a particular situation; i.e. they come from within, based generally on our own judgement of those thoughts…
They become more of like a self-fulfilling prophecy, than the result of an external circumstance. Though we often like to pass blame onto some kind of external thing, this isn’t that productive.
We feel bad because our thinking turns to the negative, and ramps up. Then we keep thinking and thinking instead of judging less and being still more.
In essence, our own thoughts, and the mere act of thinking about various negative emotions, experiences, circumstances and others, are actually the cause of a low or high state of mind, NOT really the emotions, experiences, circumstances, etc… themselves.
It is however easy and a natural human bias to believe that external sources are the cause. I’ve found that meditation is one of the best practices you can participate in for honing the skill of less judgemental thinking.
I often recommend the app HeadSpace or the app Calm for getting your own meditation/mindfulness practice set up.
Garret defines Stillpower as:
the clarity of mind to live with freedom and ease; the inner source of excellence.
My interpretation of it is slightly different, so this is where Garret’s point of view and my own view probably differ. Though I like this definition, I’ll elaborate my interpretation further.
Stillpower is basically the opposite of Willpower.
It’s effectively realizing your state of mind returns to it’s natural default setting if you let it. It’s natural default setting is really a ‘neutral state of mind’.
I know positive thinking is all the rage, but too often we try to will our thinking into a positive direction when our thoughts are in the gutter. It all leads to overthinking and perpetuating those judgemental thoughts.
This ramped up thinking actually functions more like a backhoe, than a viable solution, and we end up digging ourselves deeper and deeper into a lower and lower state of mind.
This is generally the problem with positive thinking (I’m not opposed to it, it just needs to be used in the right context) because it amps you up out of a neutral place.
That neutral place in sports is often referred to as ‘the zone.’ Basically a place where you’re not thinking you just act and things are just working for you.
We’ve all experienced this right?
So even in trying to alter our thinking about a situation in a positive direction, we actually make it worse. Therefore the best thing we can do is try to be mindfully still and/or emotionally still, when we feel our mind drift into overdrive. We need to practice non-judgement and give our minds time.
Stillness allows the human mind to return to it’s natural default setting more quickly than trying to out-think it. It seems counter-intuitive, but in several years of practice it now makes much more sense to me.
The natural default of the human mind is free and at ease.
**Though there may be special psychological situations where you might need a little more than that, you should probably see a psychologist/counsellor/coach/etc… in those instances…
Action Is Dictated By State of Mind
Why this matters…
Whether or not you act on something, should be first dictated by your state of mind.
Let’s say you had a bad experience today.
i.e. You come home from a rough day and act on the impulse of consuming sugary candy, milk chocolate, chips, or others processed emotional foods.
Did you really have a rough day, or are you just in a low mindset and making poor decisions based on your mindset in the hopes of finding some comfort?
Can you stop and think about where your mindset is, rather than your rough day?
The lower the state of mind you’re in, the worse actions you’ll probably take.
The higher the state of mind that you’re in, the better actions you’ll probably take.
The more neutral your state of mind, you won’t even think about actions they’ll just happen.
Meaning that sometimes we need to hit the pause button. Being still for a while, until your mind returns more to that natural neutral state can actually help you avoid making poor decisions.
Life and many fitness results are really the results of good or bad decisions.
We’ve all made decisions, done things, or talked with people when we’re in a low state of mind, and regretted it right?
You will make better decisions, acting from a higher state of consciousness.
Never force important decisions about life, business, health, nutrition, physical activity, etc… while you’re operating in a low state of mind.
Most people have a tendency to be ‘reactive‘ — this is, we wait until things happen to us before we take action, and often make bad decisions as a result of a low state of mind — rather than proactive.
Hit the pause button; Before you send that email; Before you go ballistic on some donut holes; Before you make that important decision.
EVERYBODY experiences low states of mind, even the world’s most successful individuals from Oprah to Richard Branson or Bill Gates.
Sometimes low states of mind will last for days, maybe weeks or more.
Typically a low state of mind will last longer the more you try to think your way out of it. I think generally what more successful people tend to do, is make decisions from a better state of mind.
Sometimes you just need to wait it out before you make that choice.
When you know you’re in a low state of mind, aim to be still.
Your thoughts will pass; You will recover from that low state of mind faster, by making this choice.
Getting, staying and being in a more neutral state of mind, more often, will yield better outcomes for yourself.
However, like everything else, being still when in a low state of mind will require a certain amount of deliberate practice too.
It’s a skill. If you want a little extra help, leave a comment.
Very simple, somewhat abstract, perhaps even ‘intermediate,’ yet very powerful skill to learn.