Saturday, October 01, 2022

Health & Fitness: Lesson 3 - You've got to believe that your dreams are achievable, and that they are achievable by you

Now that you have clarity on the outcome you want to achieve, and you know your compelling motivation, you are ready to advance to the how. The how involves a number of elements working together: Mindset. Habits. Skills. Tools. Ideas. And so on. 

Mindset is a critical part of the journey to controlling one's weight. A part of your mindset is your beliefs. One of the beliefs that are most important has two parts. First, you have to believe that it is possible to lose the weight. That is, other people have done it or that it has been done before. I'll refer to this as the general belief. But there's also a second belief that I'll call the specific belief. You have to believe that it is possible for you to lose the weight. That is, you can do it.

How to shift this general belief

In the early days of my journey to weight-loss, I didn't fully believe that I could go back to my pre-baby weight. I believed that having kids inevitably meant weight gain. I had accepted that childbirth changes your body irreparably. 

And I didn't see many examples of the outcome I was looking for around me.

What helped me shift this mindset was the internet. I would google "weight-loss transformations" and look at before and after photos of people who had successfully lost weight. But even these didn't fully convince me until I saw a photo of Mellody Hobson. I was so inspired to see a woman who was older than me, black like me, and who looked younger than me! It would have been easy for me to also think that she is richer than me. But I didn't think that. I believed then and still do that some things are earned. No matter how much money one has, if she wasn't eating the right things and exercising consistently, she wouldn't look as amazing as she does. 

I dared to think: Now this is what I want to look like in my fifties

                                             Mellody Hobson pictured at right

How to shift the specific belief

In my view, the specific belief is harder to shift. Two ways that I have found to shift it is first, your own progress and second,  knowing or meeting someone who has done it. 

When I started working out, I didn’t believe that my body would beautifully transform. The transformation photos I saw showed a reality so different from mine that all I dared believe was that my body would reduce down to the body I had before kids - small and lean. And so that is what I was able to achieve on my own through swimming a ton. The swimming got boring after a year, and so looking for change, I signed up at the gym. 

The trainers there had different beliefs, which led them to start me on an exercise regimen that began to truly transform my body. 

Then one day, a fit woman walked into my gym and my own beliefs changed forever. 

She was the first Ghanaian woman I’d met in the flesh who had a built body. And she had given birth. That day, I had a mind shift. I upgraded my beliefs. I believed that it wasn’t just possible to reduce the size of my body but that I could build a much better body than I had in my twenties if I was willing to pay the price. 

The critical point to note here is that the lady whose physique changed my mind was not a regular at my gym. Nor did not come to enrol. She was just passing through that day. Had I been a wishy-washy gym-goer, I would have missed her and I would have stayed the same.

What to expect in the future
What I have experienced is that over time, our mindset becomes more flexible, and we can virtually meet someone who doesn't look like us, and be able to imagine that we can achieve what they have achieved. For example, my goal to achieve a 28" waistline is now inspired by Kristin McGee who is white and teaches Yoga and Pilates on the Peloton App and has at least three kids. My thinking is that I can probably get there within a year if I remain on my current path. 

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