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My thoughts on self-imposed roadblocks on the way to success.

Success. Everyone wants it in one way or an other. But for some reason some people are better at being successful than others. Why is that? It’s simple: the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is their mind. It has nothing to do with how smart someone is but whether or not there are mental blockages that are holding them back. Imagine that with every step forward you take, there is something inside of you that resists. It is going to be hard to reach anywhere in life if you don’t free yourself of those limiting beliefs. It’s difficult to say where those mental blockages come from or why some people have more than others, but that’s something each person has to ask themselves.

Pre-existing mental blocks end up being self-limiting. These blockages were build up by us as a defence mechanism but most of the time they do us more harm than good. Often, we fail to notice that these blockages guide our behaviours. When we let ourselves consciously or unconsciously be influenced negatively by those selflimiting ideas and feelings, we selfsabotage. Self limiting beliefs like “I’m not good enough” can affect your whole life. They might decide for you what schools or jobs you apply to or what relationships you enter into. But self limiting beliefs can even affect much simpler day to day stuff like for example what you eat or how you work out.

Here is an example for you: You were motivated enough to sign up for a HIIT (high intensity interval training) class but are not quite up to the task when actually doing the class. You take extra water breaks or stop doing the movement correctly because something in your mind resists. There are a number of reasons that can limit the effectiveness of your work out and I will talk about that more specifically in a future blog post. Right now let’s focus on what might happen when your mental blockages take over the work out: They might tell you that the workout is too hard, or remind you how terrible you look after a cardio session- the list can go on. It’s one thing if you have physical limitations such as injuries or getting dizzy, or have other similar warning symptoms like that- I’m not saying that you should stop listening to your body and push towards injury. But listening to your body or your mind shortening the work out for you because of a a mental block are two different things.

Some people are naturally able to push through, but I think most of us struggle and that’s fine, because you can work on that. The first step is awareness. If you don’t realize or don’t want to admit that something is holding you back it will prevent you from exercising your body to it’s full potential and will decrease your potential gains at the gym. That applies not only inside the gym but also outside a gym setting. If you let your mental blocks and fear take control of your actions and interactions you also don’t live to your fullest potential.

For myself, I still experience blockages when it comes to cardio or heavy weight lifting, in so far as I have this strong protection mechanism in me that tells me “you’re not ready yet”. And by the way, that mind block is not only determinating my workout routine but also how I approach life and its challanges. This makes me lean on the safer side rather than overload myself. My responsibility for reaching my goals in the gym as well as outside the gym is therefore to figure out whether or not I’m being overprotective. This process needs good and honest reflection at all times. The same applies to other mental blockages that I noticed whitin myself. Keeping a journal to write down my observations, intentions and progress is a big help. You need to try out what works best for you. It can also help to practice mindfulness to be more aware in general of what’s going on arround you and inside of you. Stay away from distractions as much as possible- if you’re constantly distracted, its hard to build up any self awareness.
See because first you need to be aware of your mental blockages, then you can to start thinking how they may affect your life. If you know that you tend to avoid something because it’s hard, start asking yourself why you have such difficulties and start putting yourself more into a situation where you can confront that. But just throwing yourself into an uncomfortable situation is just one step. You need to stay mindful throughout so that not the same fight and flight response gets activated. Understanding where those beliefs and emotions come from is also part of the bigger healing process. It’s great if you learn how to overpower those beliefs and mind blockages but getting rid of them would be much less energy that you need to spend on each day to be successful let alone get by. Working through them can be really hard and might take some time. Some people might require help in form of therapy in order to work through them. But it’s worth it because once you understand where they come and originate from and what triggers them. Once you know exactly what holds you back, you will understand how it is affecting your success and goal achievement in life and you can consciously, and with more ease, work towards your goal achievement and success.

Health, Fitness and Wellness- which path should we take?

There are a lot of opinions out there of what fitness and health should and has to look like. The problem as I see it is that we took fitness and health and associated them with beauty standards. This drove us further and further away from what health and wellness actually mean holistically speaking. Appearance became more important than actual wellbeing. That’s why people starve themselves to reach their goals, and why plastic surgery is booming. Following an ultimate beauty standard pulls us away from our own individual health path. What people don’t understand is that health is and means different things to each individual and therefore a balanced and healthy life style entails different things for everybody. You need to find your own rhythm to sustain the healthiest lifestyle possible. For some that means eating a raw vegan diet and going to yoga every day, for others it’s a ketogenic diet and lifting weights at the gym – to mention two ends of the health spectrums that are out there. The problem is that people look for answers and quick fixes, because they’re confused and have no idea where their healthy balance lies. And the health and beauty industry is more than happy to provide them with their approach to get the fastest results which makes it even harder to find your own way. At the end of the day you need to inform yourself and responsibly decide yourself what to integrate into your life. Health professionals who have your wellbeing firstly in mind will be able to give you guidance and a push into the right direction. But at the end of the day you have to listen to yourself. That means going through a trial and error approach until you figure it out. If you have 3 kids and a job it might be difficult to run to the gym twice a day, like that supermodel who’s regime you heard about. But that only covers the physical aspect of health and wellness. What about your mental and emotional health? What about healthy relationships? I believe that it comes all down to the proper mindset and appropriate goal and priority setting. There needs to be a balance for it all. It took me 23 years to figure out that I had the wrong priorities in life. And don’t get me wrong I sometimes still fall back into those old thinking patterns and I still need to adjust and work on my priorities in different aspect of my life to be balanced. But for most of my life, above everything else, I wanted to be skinny- no matter what. I used to follow a diet that included a tomato for the whole day and nothing else. I never quite managed to reach the desired outcome until now. I wasn’t able to keep my weight down for long periods of time. I felt miserable and desperate to reach my goal to be skinny. I didn’t know at that time what self-care actually means or entails. My self-love was nonexistent at the time. Falling in love and moving for my now-husband to Canada started a whole shift in my thinking. I had to practice self-care if I wanted to maintain this relationship. And now I do it out of love to myself. I still am not perfect but that’s not what self-love and self-compassion is about. What matters is that I made a mind shift. My priority is no longer to be skinny at any price. Although I admit that thought comes occasionally back when I’m most vulnerable. My priority is to be healthy, well and balanced in all aspects of life. That requires honest reflection and staying open to all kinds of feedback, it also requires decision making as well as holding yourself responsible. If being healthy in all aspects of your life is truly your number one goal, then everything else you might hope for will eventually fall into place as well. I try to eat healthy because I know how you fuel your body is important. I try to exercise or move on a daily basis because it keeps your body healthy and strong. I practice mindfulness to watch and calm my mind and thought patterns. The list goes on and I’ve never been in better health or shape than I am right now. Remember quick fixes and solutions go as fast away as they came initially. And if you want health and fitness to sustain, you need to follow your own path and listen to yourself along the way. What use is it to starve yourself to reach your goals, when you know it’s not a sustainable or healthy way to live? Also you don’t have to be on the perfect health path. Life is not black or white and health isn’t either. One healthy choice a day is still better than none. It’s a journey and priorities and circumstances might change but with the right mindset I believe you can always strive and attain your most optimal state of health at any given time. Health and balance is dynamic and always changing according to the circumstances you’re in. I’ve tried out a lot self-care and health practices in the past that didn’t work for me and there will be more trial and errors down the road- I’m sure of that.

Where on your path to health are you? Let me know in the comments below.

My thoughts on change, challenges and growth:

What Will You Do This Month That Will Be Better Than Before?

I recently resigned from my old workplace to start a new position as a personal trainer at Junction Fitness Hub. Before I even started, I received an email from my boss with the statistics for the previous month addressed to all trainers. At the bottom of that email we were asked to reflect and answer this question: What will you do this month that will be better than before? I took a minute to think about it. I realized I couldn’t answer it. I was perplexed and slightly worried. Why was this so hard? A day later I realized what the issue was. I never really asked myself that question before. In fact, I have remained stagnant for a while now.

I reflect and procrastinate on a daily basis but never have I ever asked myself this question so directly. It’s so easy to just go with the flow of daily routine and stay within the boundaries of your comfort zone, where nothing ever gets challenged, as long as you are sticking to the familiar. The problem with this is that you get stuck and stagnant without even noticing. The less you challenge yourself, the less you grow. As Creig Crippen once wrote: “You are being presented with a choice: evolve or remain. If you choose to remain unchanged, you will be presented with the same challenges, the same routine, the same storms, the same situations, until you learn from them, until you love yourself enough to say “no more”, until you choose change.” Not only that, but your mental chatter will remain the same as well and how you respond and react to everything as well.

The reason why it’s so hard to change and stick with new routines or accept and embrace change, is that your mind and body is not used to going beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. It can be difficult to not lose sight of your newly set goals when your mind and body try everything to resist the change that comes with new habits or goals. But the only way to grow is to keep pushing yourself over the boundaries of your comfort zone. I know from my own experience that if you’ve been stagnant for a while it’s even harder to push towards growth. This is why it’s important to not stay stagnant but to work on yourself continuously. It’s like a muscle, the more you use it the better you are able to adapt and grow. But how can we challenge ourselves on a daily basis to facilitate growing and evolving when life is so fast paced and hectic?

Here are some ideas on how to incorporate change into our busy schedules:

  • Ask yourself what will I do better the next time? Without setting goals it’s easy to lose track of what you want to achieve. It doesn’t matter if your goals are personal, health or career related, the key to success is that you set yourself goals that you can achieve and keep you motivated. Even with set goals you can lose track. That’s why it’s important to write them down. Whenever you feel lost and overwhelmed you can look at them and remind yourself of where you want to head.
  • Challenge yourself in your day-to-day routine by changing it up. The possibilities are endless and don’t need to take much time. E.g. Walking a different route when going to work, trying out a new recipe, going for dinner with friends during the week, changing up your workout routine, brushing your teeth with your other hand- whatever your routine, try to change it from time to time. Your imagination is the limit.
  • Interact and speak to people outside your friend circle. It will open your horizon and if you are introverted and feel socially awkward, like me, this is a great one to incorporate.
  • Learn or try something -have new projects. Is there anything you always wanted to learn or do? Why don’t you invest some time in doing that, even if it’s just an hour per week instead of sticking to your normal routine?
  • Work out. This is a big one. A challenging workout will always push you towards your boundaries and you have to mentally decide to push through them. Working out does not only facilitate growth on a physical level through muscle growth and/or increased endurance, but it will also enhance your ability to push through your boundaries outside the gym environment. Not only that but working out on a frequent basis will increase your energy levels. Change and challenges will demand more energy from you than your familiar routines, so the extra energy you get from working out will benefit you in having the endurance to achieve your goals.
  • Knowing and recognizing your limits and start expanding them slowly but continuously. If you never ran in your life, it might be too much to ask yourself to run a marathon tomorrow. It goes back to good goal setting and reflection. Know what limits you have mentally, physically and environmentally and set your goals accordingly and readjust them if you think that’s needed. If you want change to sustain you need to remember that you are in it for the long run. Short term goals are great and give you fast results but try to set long-term goals as well. Start asking yourself, what is it that you want to achieve in life? And how do you get there? Stay open and ready to go for what you want and there is no limit.

How do you challenge yourself? Let me know in the comments section.