Mastering Mindset: 5 Steps To Achieving Your Goals

Mastering Mindset: 5 Steps To Achieving Your Goals

By Taylor Noriega, NSCA, Pn1, CPPC

Mastering Mindset: 5 Steps To Achieving Your Goals

No matter what kind of changes you aim to make to your body, (e.g. aesthetic, longevity, performance), you must take control of your nutrition, and success has a lot more to do with psychology than anything else.  Hard decisions and sacrifices have to be made when developing new habits and maintaining consistency.  Above all else, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is your mind.  When things get hard, often it’s the brain that’s telling you to quit and to take the easy way out.  One example of this may be when you’re coming up on those last few calories of the day; you know you need to hit your protein goal, but your brain can’t stop thinking about that ice cream in the freezer!  And, when your brain starts thinking about it, it’s like you can almost taste it.  Mastering your mindset is key to ensuring success.

#1: Define your goals & identify the habits required to achieve those goals

Humans are creatures of habit so it’s not the physical progress that’s the main goal (at least not from a coach’s perspective), it’s the new habits that are successfully implemented and continuously practiced that are the real wins.  While physical change may be a goal, it is often secondary to, or a result of, the new habit.  Furthermore, this new habit also supports the maintenance of the achieved goal. 

 #2 Focus on the easy wins

I can sit and teach my clients all there is to know about nutritional science, but that by itself isn’t going to get them results.  You, the client, have to do the work; the hardest part is actually doing what needs to be done and doing it consistently.  When you set yourself up for guaranteed success, it helps build momentum.  It feels good to have daily wins and start to see some progress.  That progress in turn keeps motivation up.  Ultimately, that momentum encourages success as you aim for more difficult habit changes. 

#3 Turn off the “quitter” inside

This comes from practicing self-awareness of that voice and shutting it down the second you catch it.  Don’t expect it to go silent on day one, this will take time.  So long as you stay consistent, it will disappear almost entirely.  

#4 Create your vision & picture that everytime you want to quit

This can help with turning off the quitter inside – your vision is not just the goal you want to achieve, but the lifestyle you want to live in order to get there (remember it's all about the journey, not the destination).  What does your life look like in this vision and WHY do you want to achieve this vision?  That vision and your intrinsic motivation make for a powerful set of noise-canceling headphones against the inner “quitter.”  You can read more about psychology in our Fuel-U Guide here.  Having supportive friends and being a part of an encouraging community also makes a difference, but that inner voice is almost always going to dictate your actions.  It’s going to dictate whether you quit or persevere.

#5 Give yourself micro-rewards to help keep yourself be consistent

This one is my favorite tips because it can add a little dopamine to some of our hardest tasks and positively reinforce the desired habit. 

Example #1:  Maybe you’re just not feeling the gym today, not because you’re burnt out, but you just don’t feel like it.  Then you remember that new, delicious protein powder you just ordered so you tell yourself, you get to enjoy it on    the days you complete your workout.

Action: sticking to your scheduled workouts

Reward: enjoy a yummy protein shake

This can be applied to your food choices too.  

Example #2:  After a long and stressful day at work, all you can think about is that pint of ice cream in your freezer and how much better it’s going to make you feel.  You know you should really eat that meal you have prepped in the fridge, but your brain can’t let go of the ice cream.  So give yourself both!  Have the prepped meal as soon as you get home (and be sure to eat mindfully to give your body time to turn off those hunger cues)and then go for a reasonable serving of that ice cream.  In this scenario, you avoid both possibilities of binging and over-restricting.  

Action: you ate the healthy meal that supports your goals

Reward: you still got to enjoy the ice cream without derailing your progress

Mastering your mindset is the way to ensure long term success. Sure, sometimes there are things our brain really wants, but we have to stop and think if this is what your body really needs.  So remember, next time you sign up for a fitness or nutrition program, it’s not just the direction and education your coach provides that will bring results.  How you handle your inner voice and what you do in your day-to-day actions determines your success.