Changing Your Identity Around Fitness

You might not realize this, but I never used to think of myself as an athlete. In fact, I never even thought of myself as a person who worked out until I reached my mid-twenties. Before that, I thought of myself as a slightly overweight, uncoordinated art school kid with zero athletic promise. That was my fitness identity, and I never expected it to change.

When I first started working out toward the end of college because I was sick of how I looked in dressing room mirrors, I tortured myself by going for three-mile runs a few times a week. I hated every minute of those runs and would use any excuse to get out of my workouts (that runner’s high? I’ve never experienced it).

It took years of experimenting with different types of exercise and various ways of motivating myself to chip away at the story I had told myself about my athletic abilities.

Even after I became a personal trainer and admittedly began to enjoy many forms of exercise, it still took a while to actually find my thing and prove to myself that I had changed my core identity from someone who avoided most forms of physical activity to someone who truly loved fitness and movement.

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How to Increase the Challenge of Your Home Workouts

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One thing is for sure: home workouts aren’t going away any time soon.

With gyms continuing to be closed in many places around the world due to Covid-19, more people than ever are trying to figure out how to work out using their bodyweight or the few pieces of workout equipment they have at home.

Even when gyms do open up, gyms and workout classes will look much different than before the pandemic. My guess is that a significant portion of the population will continue to work out at home much more than before due to convenience, and for some people, fear.

I’ve been training using my bodyweight and a few select pieces of equipment for nearly a decade now, and my workouts don’t look much different than they did before the world turned upside down.

There is so much you can do using your bodyweight, even if you have strength or mass goals (just look at gymnasts for proof).

In spite of this, I’m still hearing a lot of people say they don’t know how to get the same workout they used to do at the gym at home.

If you feel like your home workouts aren’t challenging you enough, or are looking for ways to increase strength, power, or speed while at home, here are several ways to up the challenge.

Read moreHow to Increase the Challenge of Your Home Workouts

Reframing Struggle as Part of the Growth Process

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We’re told to dream big and shoot for the stars, but nobody ever mentions that going after our dreams is going to be hard.

They definitely don’t tell us that it should be hard—and that if it isn’t, we’re doing something wrong.

Our society loves the myth of “uncovering” some magic ability that was unknowingly hiding this whole time. 

We cheer when the kid in the superhero movie suddenly unleashes some magical ability he never knew he had and knows how to use it perfectly with little to no training. We idolize sports icons like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, and Rafael Nadal, but we often gloss over just how much these real-life superheroes struggled along their journey.

We don’t like to struggle. But we should, because struggle is a necessary part of the growth process.

Point blank: if you don’t struggle, you won’t grow.

Reframing Struggle

When we’re struggling, most of us think something is amiss. Struggle feels negative, something to be avoided.

But this is one of the many reasons I love fitness so much: it’s such a fantastic training ground for the rest of life.

When you’re working toward a new fitness goal, whether it’s to build a new skill like a pull-up, gaining a faster sprint time, or training for an obstacle race like a Tough Mudder, you don’t expect it to come easily to you. You expect to struggle.

Training your body to become stronger and more resilient is also training your mind to do the same thing.

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Learn to Hack Motivation by Reframing Your Idea of What Exercise Is

“Whereas people usually say they are playing a sport, they use the term workout to describe vigorous exercise, reflecting that for many this may not be the most enjoyable part of their day.” – Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci, Self-Determination Theory

There is little question among scientists and psychologists that we are made to move as humans. As kids, we naturally run, jump, bound, and play.

For kids, playgrounds equate to endless hours of enjoyment. Metal bars are viewed not as something to cringe at and avoid, but as something to delight in.

Moving is FUN.

Yet for many of us, this notion of movement as something to look forward to doesn’t last long.

Somewhere along the way, movement slowly transforms from something we naturally crave without thinking in childhood, to something we’re taught to dread (yet feel like we have to do) as we reach adulthood.

No wonder most people struggle with motivation to get and stay fit.

Fortunately, this mindset can be changed.

By learning to reframe your idea of what exercise is, you can hack motivation, break through plateaus, and make exercise fun again.

Read moreLearn to Hack Motivation by Reframing Your Idea of What Exercise Is

Why Exercise is Even More Important Than Ever Right Now

Why Exercise is Even More Important Than Ever Right Now

It’s a weird time right now.

Most of us around the world are stuck in our houses or tiny apartments due to COVID-19, with no idea when—or if—life will ever go back to normal.

The days are blending together, and we haven’t gone out to a restaurant or seen a friend outside of a Zoom happy hour in weeks (or for some of us, months).

As a result of being stuck at home, we’re also sitting more. Without the natural hustle and bustle of our normal lives, most of us are moving much less than usual.

With so many of us struggling mentally and emotionally right now, exercise is more important than ever: not because of the need to look a certain way, but for our mental health.

Read moreWhy Exercise is Even More Important Than Ever Right Now

How to Develop a Growth Mindset Around Fitness and Exercise

Think about the last time you tried a new exercise, sport, or fitness-related skill. Did you struggle at it?

Did that struggle give you a boost of motivation (“I am not going to let this thing beat me. I’ll try harder and work at it until I get it”)?

Or did encountering the struggle immediately make you feel hopeless and want to give up (“I’ll never be good at this so I might as well not even try”)?

If you responded the first way, you most likely have a growth mindset around fitness and health.

If you encountered the latter, you probably fall in with the majority of people who have more of a fixed mindset around fitness.

It’s also possible to be in between, sometimes having more of a growth mindset and other times falling more into a fixed mindset (“I’m good at basketball; bad at pull ups”).

The good news is that you can actually change this limiting mindset. And when you do, you’ll open up a whole new world of opportunities and make more progress on your fitness journey than you ever before thought possible.

Developing a growth mindset around fitness and exercise is something that I’ve had to learn throughout my own fitness journey, and I’ll talk more about that later in this post. But first, let’s look at what it actually means to have a growth or a fixed mindset around fitness and exercise.

Read moreHow to Develop a Growth Mindset Around Fitness and Exercise

I Wrote a Book: Here’s How

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Note from Krista: This post actually has very little do with fitness but does have quite a bit to do with many of the mindset techniques we’ve discussed recently on the blog. If you’re not interested, no hard feelings at all.

In case you haven’t heard, my first published book is coming out soon (March 31st, to be exact!).

If you haven’t already, you can pre-order it here.

(If you’ve already pre-ordered it, THANK YOU.)

I thought it might be cool to write a post on how I actually went about writing and publishing a book for those of you who are interested (and if you’re not, here are a bunch of fitness-related posts).

Why should you care?

Well, aside from those of you who might actually want to write a book of your own one day, the very same principles and mindset techniques that I talk about over and over when it comes to leveling up your fitness are also the same techniques I used to write this book.

This is one reason I love fitness so much and try and my best to convince everyone else to love it too: so much of the mental toughness you’ll build when working to become a better athlete can also be applied to the rest of your life.

Growth mindset? Check. Goal setting techniques? Check. Grit and perseverance? Check.

Working to build strength, stamina, and new skillsets through fitness teaches you how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, an invaluable skill to have in any area of your life.

So, with that in mind, here’s how I applied many of those same techniques to writing and publishing a book:

Read moreI Wrote a Book: Here’s How

Get Grittier: Why Improving Grit is Essential for Lifelong Fitness

We’ve all done it: made a big, far-reaching goal that’s exciting, challenging, and even a little scary.

You start out strong with big aspirations. You may even tell a few friends or family members.

And while the initial push goes well, before long, you start to struggle.

Life starts to get in the way. One missed workout turns into two. The deadline to sign up for that race you were so excited about comes and goes.

Before long, you’re making excuses about why your goal wasn’t realistic in the first place.

You see other people stick with programs, skills, and difficult challenges and eventually accomplish amazing things…

…but you just can’t seem to stick with anything.

Whenever this happens, it’s easy to get disappointed and feel like you can’t accomplish anything. But that’s not the case.

You’re not hopeless. You just need to build some grit.

Read moreGet Grittier: Why Improving Grit is Essential for Lifelong Fitness

How to Get Better at Goal Setting

The health and fitness community loves to talk about setting goals—especially around New Year’s, when so many people make goals for the rest of the year.

But the percentage of people who set goals January 1st then actually go on to achieve those goals is minuscule.

In fact, while the average person sets a number of New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of the year, nearly 80% of people have given up by the end of a 30-day period. And only 8% of people actually follow through on their resolutions and end up achieving their goals.

So what’s going on here? Why can’t people stick to their goals?

It’s not because everyone who sets New Year’s resolutions is automatically unmotivated and not driven to succeed.

It’s because most people don’t actually know how to set goals that stick.

Goal setting is an incredibly powerful way to boost productivity and performance, which is why we talk about it so much here at 12 Minute Athlete. Thankfully, even if goal setting isn’t something you currently consider yourself to be very good at, you can get better at it.

First, you’ll need to understand how to set better goals. From there, you can learn the simple tricks that will help you to stick with them over time, even when it gets tough.

Better goal setting means more goals achieved, period.

Let’s look at how to start improving at goal setting so that you can crush your goals all year round.

Read moreHow to Get Better at Goal Setting

Why I’m Not a Fan of (Most) Group Classes

Does this sound familiar at all?

You sign up for the new “it” class, either by yourself or with a couple of friends.

You’re a few weeks in, and making a TON of progress. You’re feeling more energized, getting leaner, and feeling stronger. The workouts are becoming so much easier than they were when you first started. You’re feeling motivated and it’s awesome.

Fast forward a few weeks, months, or even a year… and everything… stalls.

Your progress slows. The motivational talk that fired you up in the first few weeks now just seems repetitive. Your class instructor is more focused on their killer playlist than giving you individual attention.

Frankly, you’re just a little bored.

You start making excuses to skip class and stop going as often. Eventually you either fall off of your fitness habit altogether, or take up the next “it” class, and start the same cycle all over again.

Read moreWhy I’m Not a Fan of (Most) Group Classes