By Shannon Dey, M.S. Health Education & CEO-Founder Bombshell Fitness
In working with thousands of women in pursuit of their fitness goals, I have coached women from all walks of life; Entrepreneurs, physicians, lawyers, students, homemakers and everything in between. These are intelligent women that successfully manage their lives. But without fail, at one time or another, they all do something that causes them to struggle when it comes to managing their healthy lifestyle. Yes, even SMART girls struggle with their fitness and weight loss goals!
Robert Sternberg, a Professor of Psychology at Yale University has constructed several theories upon why seemingly “smart” people make foolish choices that lead them to fail. Sternberg has identified seven factors that may be responsible; Lack of motivation, lack of impulse control, lack of perseverance, fear of failure, procrastination, inability to delay gratification and too little or too much self-confidence. Let’s take these seven factors and equate them to fitness success, to help us determine WHY as smart women, we struggle to succeed!
1. Flip the Switch
The motivation to hit the gym, or to pack your meals each day MUST be within you or it simply won’t get done! Many women come out of the gate blazing, only to lose that motivation within just a few days of getting started! The key is to dig deep to find out what drives you. A goal such as a vacation, competition, wedding, marathon, photo shoot or simply to fit in a certain pant size are all goals that can assist you in motivation. Find what motivates YOU and DRIVE toward that goal!
2. Step Away From the Cookie Jar!
Ah, impulse control! This one gets everyone at one time or another. Impulse control does not simply come naturally, it is something that takes effort and planning to master. Realize that there WILL be occasions in which you are tempted to grab a cookie at work or turn your car into the fast food parking lot, and if you simply deny the impulse, it WILL go away. The key is to be PREPARED for these situations and READY to conquer them!
3. I QUIT!
Perseverance is extremely tough, especially when you want results, NOW! When the scale doesn’t budge, or you aren’t seeing instant results, is VERY easy to throw in the towel and quit. It took a lot of “playing” to get your body where it is now, and it’s going to take a lot of “paying” to make it right! Fitness is not a game of instant results. When setting your fitness goals, be prepared for the long haul! Don’t give up when the results don’t come right away. Keep plugging along and it WILL happen!
4. Scaredy Cat
The fear of failure is a huge deterrent to success. When we fear failure, we are more likely to lose motivation, give in to impulses and quit before we even start. Many fear that if they do their best and they still don’t lose weight, they will be a failure. You must CHANGE your innermost thoughts from fearing failure to CRAVING success! When you crave success, you are more likely to keep going toward that goal you crave, even when it seems very far away. By craving success, the prospect of doing everything it takes to reach your goal is EXCITING rather than frightening.
5. I’ll Start My Diet TOMORROW
Procrastination is a nasty little habit that everyone engages in from time to time. When it comes to your fitness and weight loss goals, there IS no time like TODAY to start.
6. But I WANT That Cookie!
Instant gratification feels SO good when you are in the midst of it, and SO bad when you are finished with it! CHOOSE to delay gratification in order to reach your long term goal! This does not come automatically, you have to be prepared and ready to make the choice BEFORE it is upon you!
7. No Big Deal, I’ll Get the Weight Off
Having TOO much self-confidence can be just as bad as not having enough! When you are too confident in your ability to lose the weight, it often leads to procrastination and giving in to instant gratification. When you are under confident, you are more likely to fear failure. Take a mental inventory and assess your confidence level. Make sure that it is high enough to crave success but not so high that you put off the tasks necessary to achieve success.
Sternberg’s theories on traits for success show us that succeeding in our weight loss goals is not simply a haphazard coincidence. There are several factors that we can control, to assist us in reaching our goals. As SMART girls, I challenge YOU to assess yourself in regards to these seven characteristics and make the changes within yourself necessary to succeed!
Piers, S. The nature of procrastination: A meta-analytic and theoretical review of quintessential self-regulatory failure. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 133(1), Jan, 2007. pp. 65-9. US: American Psychological Association
Sternberg, Robert J., The concept of intelligence and its role in lifelong learning and success. American Psychologist, Vol. 52(10), Oct, 1997. pp. 1030-1037, US: American Psychological Association