The Seven Keys To A Successful Physical Transformation:
Mindset & Motivation
The epitome of the successful physical transformation, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a man who transformed himself into the world’s most iconic bodybuilder, then slimmed down a bit to be at the time the worlds “biggest” movie star, used to give bodybuilding seminars in the 1970s with as much as two hours of his time devoted to just one thing – the development of the mind. In Arnold’s own words, the most important muscle in bodybuilding is the mind, and it’s potential is unlimited.
Bodybuilding, whether you can appreciate it or not, is the ultimate example of the physical transformation, and there are countless lessons that we can take from it when it comes to implementing and planning successful “real world” physical transformations that have nothing whatsoever to do with stepping on a posing dais. I have chosen mindset as the opening feature in this series of seven simply because it is the by far the most powerful determinant as to whether or not you will achieve your goals. Plus I feel that disagreeing with Arnold, arguably one of the worlds biggest multiple overachievers, would be a tad presumptuous!
When potential personal training clients come to see me I always take time to explain the harsh realities of what we do at Ultimate Performance. If our goal was to merely get people fitter or stronger then the truth is that our job would be pretty easy and relatively straightforward. Grinding away in the gym, intelligent training, and the odd protein shake will go a long way to getting you stronger or fitter, but improving body composition is a whole different, and more complicated, ballgame. Like everything in life it starts with the “mindset”, but that is a bit of a trite way to look at things. The challenge with radically improving body composition is that it isn’t a part time job / hobby that you can do for a few days a week. Improving the way your body looks, especially making dramatic changes, is a 24/7 task simply because anything and everything that you do affects the way your body looks. This is a crucially important statement that many people, including most personal trainers as they lack the bodybuilding exposure that really ingrains the right discipline set, struggle to appreciate. So I will say it again:
“Anything and everything that you do to your body will impact upon the way that it looks”
This means that training is important, but also we need the correct diet, the right supplementation, adequate recovery, deep sleep, good digestion, positive stress management, and a lifestyle that is conducive to helping your body to gain / maintain muscle whilst losing fat. And all this needs to be done consistently and without variation. Perhaps I am making it sound tougher than it really is, and in many ways I can liken much of the “pain” of a physical transformation to switching hands when you brush your teeth – slightly uncomfortable and unfamiliar but hardly the end of the world. It is the doing it day in day out that is the challenge. Resisting the lure of your friends when they call you to ask you to go for a weekend pizza: even Starbucks becomes a potential minefield, and lets not even get into parties – the wild clubbing ones and the children’s birthday ones all pose questions to the willpower and motivation of the person on a quest to change their physical appearance.
A successful physical transformation requires a mind like a steel trap. It needs unwavering commitment and the desire to keep going no matter what. If I am allowed to blow my own trumpet, one of my own biggest skills as a personal trainer has been the ability to teach my clients that they really do have the innate ability to push way past their comfort zone and reach new heights of discipline and physical achievement that they never thought possible previously. I honestly believe that we all have it in us, even if for some it is better hidden than with others. For example the images that accompany this blog show a man who experienced dramatic fat loss and a total change in self perception. He achieved this with hard work, smart training and eating (blah blah, you know the story), but in my opinion the key to his success, versus all the earlier times he had tried and failed, was his mindset. By showing him the right way, and by steadily injecting self confidence and belief that we are not necessarily stuck with the bodies that we currently inhabit, he became a different and more assertive character right in front of my eyes and it was a privilege to observe a transformation that was more than merely physical.
I’ll finish today’s entry with a paraphrased Jim Rohn quote that always resonates deeply with me –
“We must all suffer one of two things; the pain of discipline or the pain of regret”.
You know which you must choose if you want to achieve anything in life.
Tips for achieving the right mindset to achieve a successful physical transformation:
1) Get angry…with yourself. You may feel a bit letdown when you currently look in the mirror. Use that feeling to positive effect and promise that it won’t happen again.
2) Have a clear game plan. Set goals, bit short, medium and long term. Ensure that the short term goals especially are realistic and then watch as you make inexorable step by step progress
3) Make your plan specific – “I want to look awesome” is nowhere near as empowering as “I want to lose 15lbs of fat in the next 8 weeks COME WHAT MAY”.