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A Fitness Routine to Match your Mind

A Fitness Routine to Match your Mind
March 11
18:29 2016
For many of us, staying in shape is hard. Finding a fitness plan that matches your mindset is key to maintaining a healthy weight and achieving your fitness goals. Understanding your tendencies – whether that means spontaneity or structure – can really help when it comes to exercise.

Some people approach planning by making lists or developing a structured routine. Others choose a more “free-form” approach and some like to mix it up and leave ample time for “winging it.” All of these approaches can lead to success when it comes to fitness.

People who are likely to feel guilty when they miss a workout or continue to tell themselves they will “get to it tomorrow” will benefit from understanding the pros and cons of their particular mindset. 

You might have a Fixed Mindset if…

List-Icon1You like to know exactly what you’ll be doing each day. You make a considerable effort to stick to your plans.

Benefits: This sort of “automated” approach utilizes fewer cognitive resources (that’s a good thing). If you enjoy sticking to a schedule and are able to find ways to meet your goals despite adversity, this is a great way to approach fitness.

Drawbacks: Society teaches us that we are failures if we don’t meet the goals we set. Individuals with fixed mindsets often feel that their approach is best. They are anxious and feel more self-doubt because they feel an obligation to adhere to a strict schedule.

Advice: Allow for a little flexibility in your plans; without it, they are doomed to fail. Make alternate plans in case something pops up. For example, if you miss your regular 8am workout, allow yourself to do something else to make up for it instead of feeling guilty.

View this change in routine as a way to work out different muscles or give yourself a break. Remember: everyone has emergencies and everyone gets sick. Have compassion with yourself when things don’t go as planned and you will be more motivated to continue tomorrow.

You might have a Flexible Mindset if…

You like to adjust your workouts based on your schedule and what you feel like doing at the time. For example, you may have planned an intense workout at the gym, but when the time comes you feel exhausted from a long day at work. You decide to give your body a break and unwind with a 30-minute walk.

flexible-pencilBenefits: Studies show that people with flexible mindsets are better at managing their goals over time. Flexible mindsets have also been linked to better health and increased happiness (perhaps because they don’t suffer as much guilt and anxiety as those with fixed mindsets). Being flexible (instead of rigid) when it comes to fitness and behavioral plans (such as eating) also helps people maintain a healthy weight.

Drawbacks: The problem with these individuals is when flexibility goes too far – such as failing to make plans at all. Also, when these people feel like they need to reinvent the wheel by developing an entirely different workout for each day of the week, they use up loads of cognitive resources. With all that thinking, they can easily become overwhelmed and freeze up with indecision.

Advice: Try to make one firm plan for working out each week. For example, hit the gym before work on Wednesdays. Allow the other days of the week to vary based on available time and how you feel. See how your new plan works out and learn from the experience.

Before you start to evaluate your own mindset, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What strategies have/have not worked for you in the past?
2. What has your mindset been in the past when adopting new behaviors?
3. Are you open to trying a new mindset/approach to be more successful in the future?

Resilience is the bottom line here. You must be able to bounce back from hardships and challenges (rather than become frustrated). Build resiliency into your approach to fitness. This will ensure that you will have an easier time overcoming problems. Adopt a learning mindset towards what you do and don’t forget to enjoy the process!

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April Kuhlman

April Kuhlman

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