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The Difference a Positive Attitude Makes in Fitness

Think your attitude towards your diet and exercise doesn’t matter? Having a self-defeating, negative focus can send us spiraling down an unwanted path. Here are two examples of people who looked at their diet and exercise routines very differently, and what their results were.

Jane Feels Restricted and Gives Up

This is Jane.

Jane has decided that it’s time to change her life, lose the extra fat, and get in shape. She has researched what to eat, set her goals, created a workout plan, and is ready to go!!

After several weeks of successfully following her plan and meeting her behavior goals, Jane attends a Friday night party where all of her favorite junk foods make an appearance. As much as she tries, she gives in to temptation and ends up overeating.

Jane leaves the party defeated. She beats herself up in her head. “Gah, why did I do that? I just un-did weeks of work. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stick with it. I’m just destined to be overweight. I give up.”

She decides that she’ll start over on Monday.

Jane spends Saturday and Sunday eating whatever she wants and not exercising. The feeling of not being restricted feels so good that she even eats things she wouldn’t normally eat. She drives through fast food restaurants even though she’s not hungry. She feels guilty but tells herself that she’d better enjoy it because Monday she’ll be back to her diet.

By Sunday night, Jane has consumed an additional 5,000 calories above and beyond her normal intake since Friday night, and has worked none of it off with exercise.

She has now gained back 2 pounds of the 5 she had lost in the last few weeks. She feels like giving up.

John Stays Positive and Keeps Trying

This is John.

John has also decided that he’s ready to get in shape and lose the extra fat. He set his goals, created his exercise plan, and is ready to get started.

After several weeks, John attends the same Friday night party with the same tempting foods. He ends up overeating during the course of the party as well. He leaves the party and realizes what has just happened.

He thinks to himself, “Oops.” Instead of beating himself up, he realizes that next time he should eat ahead of time so he’s not as tempted. He decides it’s no big deal, forgives himself, and re-commits to his goals.

John decides to get right back on track immediately.

John spends Saturday and Sunday following his normal routine. He works out and eats just a little less at each meal to make up for his indulgences at the party. He focuses his thoughts on his accomplishments, how great he feels after a healthy meal and a workout, and forgets all about the party foods.

By Sunday night, John has still met his calorie deficit for the week, even after the party, and is down by 1 pound.

What’s the Difference?

Here is what Jane and John did differently and what you can learn from them:

  • Jane had a self-defeating, negative attitude. John stayed positive and framed his mistake as a lesson.
  • Jane gave up. John kept trying.
  • Jane was focused on her diet and exercise as something she HAD to do, deprivation and maybe even a punishment. John stayed focused on how great he feels and all the positives that eating healthy and exercising brings him.
  • Deep down, Jane didn’t believe she could do it. John never questioned for a minute that he wasn’t capable of success, even after a so-called failure.

Don’t count Jane out! Her story may not be over if instead of beating herself up for her weekend and weight gain, she adopts John’s attitude and starts over. After all, starting over is better than the alternative of giving up, even if it feels frustrating.

This is exactly why the mental aspect of health and fitness is so incredibly important. Positivity is essential to staying on track and changing your life for good. Negativity will pull you down until you can’t sustain your habits anymore.

Do you stay positive in your fitness routine? How has it helped you?

  • Zeena

    I was in the exact same position as Jane on Christmas Day and the day after the night before. I felt guilty and I had let myself down and decided to start on 1 January. But I tried to be positive after reading many of your articles. I didn’t derail myself and said there is no better time than the PRESENT.
    Instead of sabotaging myself any further I was back in the gym and eating plan yesterday.
    I feel so good mentally and physically. Thankful for your awesome articles,

    • Deanna Schober

      Zeena I’m so thrilled to hear that they are helping you! Good for you for starting back right away and not falling into the spiral, that’s awesome! Let me know if I can help you further :)

    • SammyShawS

      Well put!! This is a great site to keep you focused when maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Keep up the good work! Week five-lost 15 lbs!

      • Zeena

        It has taken me a long time to reach where I am. I was always a chubby kid at school. And now at age 32 I am at my ideal weight of 110lb:)

  • Jody R. Goldenfield

    At 55, I still see that fat kid every once in a while but oh so rare now! :) I used to do a lot of negative self talk but have really been working on that that past few years. Makes such a HUGE difference!

  • Balance

    I became very depressed after being sick and layed up in the hospital. Like Jane I told myself all my hard work has gone waste. A month later I pushed myself to get back on track but I am still enountering an obstacle, I keep having a craving for chips. Its just chips and nothing else. How do overcome this craving?

  • Coach Calorie

    What I do when I’m trying to break a processed food habit is find a healthy, whole food alternative that I really like. Then, I don’t worry about calories, and I eat it whenever I have a craving. At the beginning I’m eating quite a bit of food, but after a few days, the cravings dissipate, and after a week, they are practically gone. Frozen grapes and salted mixed nuts are key for me.