8 Mental Shifts that will get you more active
Because, in terms of movement, we’re lead astray by, among other things:
- our natural instincts, which make us avoid all efforts to conserve energy
- societal norms, which make it awkward to do physical training outside a “fitness” context (both place and time)
The mental shifts below can help you approach each day with a different perspective, so you can maximize the physical activity you’re getting.
Mental Shift 1 – Understand the fundamental necessity of getting a high volume and variety of physical activity each and every day.
A first step is understanding, on a fundamental level, that our bodies do need a much higher volume and variety of physical activity than most of us realize.
This won’t do miracles but it will usually increase motivation enough to try a different approach regarding the activity you’re getting. Read more here.
Mental Shift 2 – Reframe how you define training: it’s more diverse than you think and chances are you’re doing more than you think already
When thinking about training, most of us think of fitness workouts, playing sports or doing other “active” recreational activities. Then, we’re usually depressed by how little of these activities we’re managing to get every week.
But if you define training in a more holistic way, as any activity that improves or maintains your physical capability, suddenly, you have many more opportunities to train. Doing 5 push-ups waiting for the bus or squatting to access bottom cupboards at home are not useless endeavors but actual, real and useful training. And you can more easily increase them than you can 1 hour workouts at the gym. Read more here.
Mental Shift 3 – Don’t train specific movements, train broad capabilities.
It’s good to have specific movement goals, just don’t make them your primary training goals, as they will constrain you.
For example, don’t set goals in terms of achieving X pull-ups of a specific type. Because then you need the opportunity to train this specific type or you feel it’s kind of useless. Instead, set yourself a goal of improving your upper body pull strength over the next few months.
In one case, you’ll be looking for pull-up bars and feeling undermotivated to train if you don’t have access to a pull-up bar. In the other, you’ll actually train on many more occasions because all you need to feel motivated and training effectively is something to kind of hang on, be it a bar, tree, pole, roof, and everything else in between. More details here.
Mental Shift 4 – Know the benefits of training in non-fitness environments
The fitness culture today might make you feel bad for training outside a gym, thinking that training any else is suboptimal.
In reality, gyms are the true suboptimal environments, offering only standardized stimuli that are an ersatz of what our body needs: real-life challenges and stimulations.
Switch mental gears and train in the park, forest, playground or urban environment knowing you’re training with more impact than within a gym. Read more here.
Mental Shift 5 – Conquer social awkwardness
Training in “non-fitness” environment is ultra efficient but can lead to feelings of being socially awkward.
Being self-conscious this way limits and constrains your movement opportunities, so it’s important to take steps and conquer it. Social media is actually a great way to use the example of others to support your own evolution. Read more here.
Mental Shift 6 – Maximize physical efforts in daily activities
When you do structured training, like proper workouts, practicing maximum efficiency is a good practice, because it leads to better technique and performance.
Outside of training though, simply going for minimum effort is a waste of time and opportunity. Go for the maximum amount of efforts you can go for, within the constraints of your situation.
For example, if you’re walking with a backpack on your back, you’re not taking full advantage of the opportunity you have. Get it off your back and in your arms in front of you and voilà, you’re training while walking. More here.
Mental Shift 7 – Training for a short amount of time multiple times a day is ass efficient as doing a 1h workout
Many of us think we need to train for a long enough session to make it useful and make progress. And more often than not, life makes it difficult to train for a sufficiently long enough session, so we decide it’s not worth it and skip it entirely.
That state of mind is incredibly common and a major reason why we don’t move enough throughout the day. 5 mins of activity here and there, when you can, will accumulate quickly. And if you value them just as much as you value a long training session, you’ll see you will find many more opportunities to train and might even end up with more than 1h of accumulated movement at the end of the day… More here.
Mental Shift 8 – Aim at creating good everyday habits that you’ll break from time to time without concern
For the vast majority of us, going cold turkey and changing many things overnight will lead us to exhaustion and just abandoning our effort after a few weeks/months.
Instead, aim at changing one key habit at a time, at the pace of maybe one per week. And don’t aim for perfection, it doesn’t exist and isn’t natural anyway. Our bodies thrive on change and chaos. So if you need to break your habits for a day or even a week, don’t sweat it. You’ll get back on track soon enough. More here.
Bonus for parents: Training while watching over your kids is much more in line with our biology than gym sessions on your own
Different parents have different approaches, but the school of thought that you can’t train properly and seriously while watching over your kids is certainly quite common. It usually leads to a feeling of not being able to train adequately, which leads to frustrations, etc.
That’s reinforced by the modern fitness culture that workouts in the gym are what’s needed and you should focus 100% on your workouts while training. Well, guess what? Our ancestors never did any physical activity being 100% focused on that activity. They had to constantly be aware of threats in their environment and very often, yes, keeping an eye on their progeny.
Having to watch over your kids while training might be a bit frustrating for new parents but it doesn’t make your training inferior. Quite the contrary actually. Read more here.