Self-Limiting Beliefs

Proof that they’re all in your head

Today was an incredible day for me, because I finally broke through a self-limiting belief I’ve held on to for years with regards to my fitness!

I’ve always been fairly active. As a child, I was a gymnast up until about 6th grade. Then I played basketball, volleyball, and ran track in middle and high school. In college, I took a jogging class freshman year that got me started jogging 3x a week, a habit that I’ve pretty much maintained ever since. I went to our college gym most days for 30–45 minutes. After I started teaching, I kept going to our apartment gym, and sometimes played around with weight lifting but didn’t know much about it.

I spent several years doing workouts that felt more punishing than motivating, usually from BeachBody — I completed P90X, dabbled in P90X2 and P90X3, and tried Insanity until my joints said no thank you well before age 30.

Along my journey I was also practicing yoga intermittently, doing barre, learning that I loved spin/cycling, and tried various other workouts using class pass (my favorite discovery during that phase was probably boxing!)

Most recently, I’ve been focused on strength training, using a program called Booty by Bret (BBB) which is really great full-body programming with an emphasis on the glutes, and it’s been incredible to watch my body change as I gain muscle and lose fat. It’s even more empowering to stop caring so much about that visual change and an arbitrary number on the scale and instead shift focus to various fitness goals and working towards achieving them.

For example, last month, I finally did 20 push-ups with good form, 10 of them from my toes!

December 2018 Goal: Do 20 push-ups with good form. Shoot for 10 on toes by end of month.

This month, I have been working towards unassisted chin-ups. But here’s the thing…I never really thought I’d get there. For whatever reason, I realllllly was stuck with a self-limiting belief that I “just couldn’t do chin-ups” no matter what.

January 2018 Goal: Work toward an unassisted chin-up!

Well…guess what? Turns out when you make a goal and consistently work on it every day…sometimes you can not only meet that goal but meet it just HALFWAY THROUGH THE MONTH! ❤ I was incredibly excited today when I was able to do 3 bodyweight chin-ups without an assist band! (One shown in video; I repeated this 2 more times!!)

What’s so cool about having met this goal:

  • I reached my less than half-way through the month — so not only was I underestimating what I could do some day, I was drastically under-estimating how long it would take me to reach my goal.
  • This was also one of my 19 for 2019 goals so I got a bonus jolt of happiness knowing I have met one of my goals not just this month, but for the year!
  • This goal is inherently and continually motivating — I wanted to get a chin-up unassisted for the sake of being able to do an unassisted chin-up. That’s it — no external reward (apart from the literal gold stars I give myself on my calendar each day of course), just internal gratification for consistent effort applied over time to make progress! And, now that I’ve achieved it, I in no way want to stop — now I want to get 2, 3, 5, or 10 chin-ups, and eventually try other variations like pull-ups, wide grip, and even adding extra weight!

This experience really makes me pause to think about what other areas of my life I am probably stuck in self-limiting beliefs that really don’t serve me. It’s so amazing to realize that you can set your mind (or maybe your body) to any goal and with consistent effort applied over time, you WILL progress.

Don’t believe me? I double-dog dare you to set an ambitiously realstic goal(you know what I mean — something you can’t do yet and would love to do in theory but which you actually know deep down is achievable someday. someway) and then work toward it every single day.

I think the behavior part is the key to successfully succeeding in our goals that we often forget. Goals are great — whether they are New Year’s resolutions, goals for your career, or personal life — setting and having short and long term goals is essential to living the life you want and becoming the person you want to be. But, a goal without targeted action is really just a dream. You have to make your goals into bite-sized, doable actions that you can repeat over and over, ideally daily, to build the skills you need to be able to achieve your goals.

You won’t achieve your goal in a day, and probably not in a week or maybe even in a month (secret: I also had chin-ups as a monthly goal in November, and I didn’t get there. But I didn’t give up! I kept working at them throughout December in my programming when they came up, and then I decided to give them my focus again this January!) Sometimes, a goal will take longer than you want or think it should to achieve. But it is always possible to get there if it was realistic enough and you are being consistent enough (another secret: sometimes you will need to adjust mid-course if and when you notice that your goal is overly ambitious or unrealistic. I had to do this this month when I noticed it was too much to do pull-up moves every single day and I wasn’t recovering enough between sessions. It’s probably no accident that I got my first unassisted chin-up after 2 days of resting from that move while doing yoga instead. You may need to build in downtime, or divide your goal into two smaller goals with a part 1 and a part 2 — this is not failing, but learning and growing and maintaining mental flexibility; over time, with ongoing practice, you will figure out what an ambitiously realistic goal looks and feels like for you! )

In what area of your life might you be stuck in self-limiting beliefs that you could challenge? What if instead of “I could never do X” you thought… Could I ever do X?” or “I wonder what it would take to do X?”

If you enjoyed this post please clap to give me that feedback and so others are more likely to find it! ❤