Mindset because it sets our foundation for everything we will talk about. After working with lots of different clientele, I realized that this is the most important aspect of wellness. If you don't have the right mindset then information, tactics, systems, accountability, and discipline is worthless. I believe the route to your wellness goal consists of 20% information and 80% psychology. In other words, we need to understand that our minds, thought patterns, and belief systems drive our actions.
find your why
The first set is discovering your why. Why are you embarking on your wellness journey? All of us have an X factor but most of the time it's buried beneath the surface. Take Susan for example. She wants to lose 15 pounds of fat. She thinks that she wants to lose 15 pounds of fat in order to fit into her clothes better. However, this might not be her true 'why'. In order to discover her x-factor she needs to dig deeper. Once you figure out your surface level motivation, ask yourself why again. Then why again. Keep digging until you get to the root of your motivation. For Susan it might look like this:
Q: Why do you want to lose 15 pounds of fat. A: I want to lose 15 pounds of fat because I want to fit into my clothes better.
Q: Why do you want to fit into your clothes better? A: I want to have more confidence in my style
Q: Why do you want to have more confidence with your style? A: I want to impress my significant other.
Q: Why do you want to impress your significant other? A: I want to impress my significant other because I feel like I lost my motivation for self-care when we started dating. I want to be the best version of myself with him!
This is classic example of discovering your true why. Susan's true motivation has less to do with fat loss and more to do with self-care. When you figure out your why, write it down. Keep it in a room or an area that you can see it everyday. Research is clear about this. Your why will create consistency and adherence because it will create an emotional connection between you and your goal. You need that! If you don't have a why then the what and how won't matter.
Begin with the end in mind
Secondly it's important to understand the end goal. Too many times people create structures and start nutrition/exercise plans that don't actually align with their goals. In order to do this you need to understand the triangle of awareness. This allows you to identify your true wellness goal.
There are three primary goals that all fitness related endeavors entail. Performance (how you move/function) based goals, aesthetic (how you look) based goals, and longevity (how you feel) based goals. The majority of sport focuses on the extreme ends of the performance spectrum. Bodybuilding and physique based competitions focus on the extreme ends of the aesthetic spectrum. General fitness related programs tend to focus more on the longevity spectrum. This is known as the triangle of awareness as popularized by Jason Phillips and iN3 nutrition (above). As you move into the extreme depths of one area you will have to sacrifice some aspects of the other two. For example, if you are attempting to reach extreme low levels of body fat for a photoshoot or physique competition then you will have to sacrifice performance and longevity (health) to some extent. In the same manner, if you attempting to reach elite levels of performance (CrossFit, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, endurance training, any performance based event) you will have to put optimal longevity and aesthetics on the back burner to some extent. Most programs focus just on one area and if you are in a specific sport then that's what is needed. Spark is unique because it focuses on combining all three areas. It develops a range in the middle of the triangle that combines aesthetics, longevity, and function. This range is called the "Thrive Physique". It allows you to float back and forth between all three benefits throughout the year while still enjoying life. In other words, it teaches you to thrive with wellness instead of just trying to survive until your next cheat meal or next workout. From my experience this is what most fast paced lifestyles are shooting for. They want to be lean, feel good, and function well. They don't want to have extremely low levels of body fat or extreme highly levels of performance output. Unfortunately, the fitness industry doesn't market this idea. They lead you to believe you must be extremely ripped, thin, toned, and/or have extremely high levels of strength/hypertrophy/endurance to be considered successful. This is our societal sport and competitive mentality. You need to be elite to be considered fit. However, most fast paced lifestyles aren't competing in a specific sport. They need a different target. The Thrive Physique is for the individual that wants to look, feel, and move their best without having to sacrifice the other aspects of their lives.
When we understand that this is our goal then we can accept that we have a different target compared to mainstream fitness regimes. Our goal is to get lean, develop functional performance, but to have healthy levels of body fat, hormone production, and energy! If you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done. Ditch the fad diet mentality. Ditch the restriction mentality. It's okay to have some body fat. It's okay to enjoy food, it's okay to enjoy the gym and not kill yourself when it comes to exercise. It's okay to enjoy holidays, vacations, and special events. It's okay to eat more calories during certain times of the year and less calories during other times of the year. It's okay to ebb and flow energy and will power. It's okay to enjoy life. When we develop this mindset we allow Thrive to do exactly what it's intended to do. We allow exercise, nutrition, and stress management to enhance our lives instead of detract from our human experience.
the renewal of the mind
The next step is the renewal of your mind. In my opinion, this is the most important when it comes to execution. You quite literally need to evolve as person in order to create long-term results. Anyone can go on a 30 day diet or 30 day exercise plan. The hard part is creating a wellness LIFESTYLE. In order to do that we need to alter our thought patterns when it comes to ourselves. Let me give you an example.
Short-Term Thought Pattern: I need to find a way to get more water, protein, and vegetables in my diet. Lifestyle Thought Pattern: I will become a person that priorities water, protein, and vegetables in my everyday life.
Short-Term Thought Pattern: I need to find a way to exercise more and eat less calories at night. Lifestyle Thought Pattern: I will become person that values and how I look and feel.
Short-Term Thought Pattern: I need to try to get more sleep and stretch more often. Lifestyle Thought Pattern: I will become a person that values self-care and functionality.
Do you catch the subtle differences? The list can go on and on but the bottom line is our identity. Most of the time we focus on the behavior and not the identity. I would encourage you to do the exact opposite. Change the identity and the behavior will change as a by-product. I know this sounds like some hocus pocus but it's so powerful. The goal is lifestyle transformation not just behavior modification.
Celebrate the wins
When you embark on this wellness journey there will be a lot of adversity at first. I like to compare wellness to a plane. When a plane takes off it uses a lot of fuel and energy to get into the air. However, once it's at a certain altitude then it shifts into cruise mode and just uses fuel to make small adjustments. Wellness is exactly the same way. When you are beginning, you will need to exert more will power, energy, and focus until you can find systems, routines, and lifestyle strategies that help shift everything into "cruise" mode. During this initial stretch, you need to be able to celebrate the wins. You need to be able to find the small things that you are doing right. If you are concentrated on the struggle that's all you will see. If you focus on the momentum you will be able to stay consistent. I would encourage you to pick 1-2 things that you did well each day and intentionally think about them before you go to bed. Perspective is the game!