How to Overcome Limiting Beliefs & Get Started on Your Fitness Journey

Changing your life by implementing healthy habits is a huge undertaking.  Many people stall out before the starting line thanks in part to limiting beliefs.  Negative limiting beliefs are the things we tell ourselves which are true in our minds, but not to anyone on the outside.  Below are common limiting beliefs of people who want to start working out regularly:

  • I don’t have enough time to workout.
  • I’m too lazy to workout every day.
  • I’m so out of shape I’d embarrass myself at the gym if I go.
  • I’ve failed at losing weight before, so why should I bother trying again?
  • The cost of a gym membership or personal trainer is too expensive for my budget.

These beliefs are incredibly common and often come up in conversations when someone is thinking about choosing a more active lifestyle.  The funny thing about each of these beliefs is that they’re entirely 100% FALSE!

Limiting beliefs

Author and memory expert Jim Kwik always says, “If you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them.” That statement could not be more true as it applies to limiting beliefs. People who use limiting beliefs as a shield are destined to remain where they are, fighting tooth and nail to ensure progress never happens.

Many limiting beliefs start at a young age.  If you were never good at sports, you might have begun to carry the view of “I’m not athletic.”  As an adult, that limiting belief of not being athletic could be the thing that keeps you from committing to a fitness plan or even getting outside for a walk. But when these beliefs are so deeply ingrained in someone’s psyche, how do we begin to break down the walls and change the narrative?

How can you combat negative limiting beliefs?

There are three steps you can take to combat negative limiting beliefs: acknowledge, reframe, and repeat.  It won’t be easy, especially if you’ve carried damaging beliefs for years or decades, but I promise that once your attitude changes, motivation will quickly follow.

Acknowledge and ask questions

The first step to combating your negative beliefs is recognizing that they exist and that they likely have no basis in reality.  Start by creating a list of what prevents you from committing to a fitness plan today.  An example list is below:

  • I don’t have enough energy to work out.
  • I can’t afford a gym membership.

Now take those beliefs and examine them more closely.  Ask yourself questions like the following:

  • Is this true?
  • Why is my energy level so low?
  • Could I make any lifestyle changes (sleep, diet, etc.) to make sure I had more energy to workout?
  • Would I have more energy if I lost a bit of weight?
  • How much would a gym membership cost? (look up local gyms in the area and call to get exact prices)
  • Is there something I could forego spending on to pay for my gym membership (one happy hour per week instead of 3, for example)
  • If I paid more money for a gym membership, would it help make sure I used it?

Continue to ask questions until you’ve gotten to the root of the belief and exposed its falsities. Nobody is completely helpless or incapable of changing habits to become more healthy. Next, you’ll use what you’ve uncovered to create actionable next steps.

Reframe and create an action plan

A simple, honest reframing of your negative thoughts can have profound impacts on your motivation and desire to implement changes.  The most important thing about reframing your thoughts is that you create actionable next steps.  Using the above examples, you can reframe thoughts similar to the following:

  • I don’t have enough energy to work out because I often stay up past midnight playing computer games.  If I commit to going to bed at 11 pm each night, I could wake up at 7 am and have enough energy to do a workout before work.
  • I can’t afford a gym membership because working out hasn’t been a priority for me and I choose to spend money on other things instead.  If I went to the gym on 5th street on Tuesday and Thursday evenings instead of attending happy hour with friends, I would end up saving $50 per month and would be getting healthier too.

Honesty is key to changing your limiting beliefs.  Once you get to the core of what’s stopping you from taking action, it’s harder to stare it down and knowingly make the choices you did before.  It takes time to train your brain to reframe negative thoughts in a positive light.  That’s why you’ll need to… 

Repeat, repeat, repeat

Especially if you’ve carried around your limiting beliefs for years, you’ll need to repeat this process many times until it becomes a habit.  Everyone is capable of changing limiting beliefs by asking the right questions.  Thoughts are only true if you allow them to be.

Ask yourself the hard questions and be honest in your responses.   If left to their own devices, limiting beliefs can run your life.  But I’m here to tell you that you’re not actually as lazy or incapable as your limiting beliefs might have you thinking.  You have the power to change them and to have a breakthrough that allows you to begin a health and wellness journey now.

I challenge you today to consider if you have any limiting beliefs that are no longer serving you.  What would you be able to accomplish if you pushed aside the negativity and saw your unlimited potential?  Have you been able to overcome limiting beliefs that changed your outlook on what’s possible for your health?  Tell me about it in the comments!

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