Episode 41: My Fitness Journey + How I Created A Growth Mindset

My Fitness Journey + How I Created A Growth Mindset

Staying consistent with workouts was something that took me FOREVER to figure out, so in this episode, I’m talking about how I’ve grown out of my perfectionist tendencies and all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to working out. 

For years I was completely trapped in an all-or-nothing mindset when it came to exercise. I was either working out every day of the week or not at all. I couldn’t make it through more than four weeks of a fitness program without abandoning it (and then I had to start back at Week 1 so I could do it ‘properly’). And I always beat myself up for not doing what I’d planned.

I always thought my issue was motivation, but it wasn’t. My issue was that I was so focused on the results and so scared to waste effort that I pulled back whenever it looked like I might not be successful. That way, I could point to my lack of effort, rather than my lack of worth, as the cause of failure. But it also meant that I spent a lot of time struggling with very little to show for it.

About two years ago I began experimenting with the way I  approached fitness and over time, I managed to find a formula that has allowed me to create a growth mindset and stay consistent without the struggle. In this podcast episode, I’m sharing the things I did to get myself out of an all-or-nothing mindset and I hope you find it helpful!


Episode 10 – The Fear of Wasting Effort


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Today, I want to talk about how I stay consistent with working out and this is something I struggled with so much about two years ago. Well, up till two years ago.


Hi and welcome to Episode 41 of The Smart Twenties Podcast. My name is Sam Laura Brown and this is a podcast where I share personal growth and life advice for women in their twenties and today I want to talk about how I stay consistent with working out and this is something I struggled with so much about two years ago. Well, up till two years ago.

I struggled with it probably from when I started working out, which I think was when I was around one6 until a couple of years ago when I was able to finally start moving from being in a really fixed perfectionist mindset around my fitness to being in a growth mindset. And I realized when I was at the gym the other day that it’s something that I’m actually not struggling with and because I tend to talk about things that I’m working with, working on and struggling with on this podcast. I haven’t talked about this very much in quite a long time and I thought it might be helpful because I know that being consistent with working out was something that used to be so incredibly hard for me.

No matter how good my intentions were, when I started, whatever workout I was going to be doing, I just kept falling off the wagon and if I was doing like a one2-week guide, I would keep going back to week one instead of just picking up and continuing and it was really disheartening way to approach fitness because I was rarely getting the kind of results that I wanted. I wasn’t being consistent, so I was constantly beating myself up for that as well and it just really wasn’t fun and there are a lot of really distinct things that I did to get myself in a growth mindset, which means that now say for example, if I’m doing a 12 week fitness program or anything like that. If I have an off week, I just keep going and I’m able to kind of like let it be messy.

And what I really don’t want to say as well is, I haven’t figured out how to actually be perfectly consistent. I spoke about this in my episode that I did on morning routines, but I view consistency as doing it more often than not. So I would consider being consistent with my gym habit if I’m going I guess four times a week or more. But I like to work out quite a lot and I do it really for my sanity because I feel like a stir-crazy person when I’m not working out consistently. I know for some people like three is plenty. Maybe even just one a week is all you want to do. It doesn’t really matter. I don’t think it’s about how many times. It’s just that now I feel like I’m in a place where I can let it be messy. I can let it be imperfect.

I don’t beat myself up if I don’t go to the gym and I’m actually much more likely and find it much easier to, to the gym because I am being kind with myself. I know that’s really counterintuitive because I used to think that if I didn’t beat myself up about it and if I didn’t like punish myself for it in my brain, then I wouldn’t do it. Like I was motivating myself by talking down to myself when now I really talked to myself in such a different way and that actually encourages me and if you think about it like a friend… if I was talking to my friend, like they were a piece of shit, they’re not going to want to do what I say, but if I’m really kind and encouraging and gentle, it’s much more likely that they’re going to respond positively. And I think it’s the same when it’s ourselves, but somehow we just have really different standards when it comes to how we treat ourselves and we would not tolerate the kind of treatment that we give ourselves from other people and yet we continue to do it. And I think it’s something that is so common.

But anyway, I’m going to be talking about what I used to be like in terms of fitness and working out and then how that all changed and the things that I do now and the way that I think about working out at the moment. And yeah, it’s just nice to be talking about something that I feel like I’ve really got a good grip on. But again, that doesn’t mean I am perfect with working out and I will talk about a few of the different tactics I have that actually keep me consistent when I am having a really messy off week or like I was sick last week and I’m just getting back into the gym and all that kind of thing. I think as well because I tell myself that I’m consistent, it actually means that when I do have a week off even…. I’ve still got the story that I’m being consistent so it makes it so easy to get back on it.

So I think that’s something as well if you can begin, no matter how often you work out, if you can begin to create that self-image of being the kind of person that works out, being the kind of person that shows up for themselves in that way I think is really powerful as well. So what I used to be like in terms of fitness was that I was definitely an all-or-nothing person, meaning that I was either going to the gym like six times a week or zero times a week, there was not really any in-between and it was because I really struggled so much with dealing with the messiness of life, which is something that I think is completely unavoidable. We get sick, unexpected events come up, we have injuries. There are all sorts of things or maybe there’s another area of your life that just gets really busy and it’s really challenging to stick to your normal workout routine.

And then there’s like trying to find all different times to work. Had an all sorts of things like that. In my experience, it’s always quite messy, but I used to be very rigid in the sense that it needed to be perfect or I stopped and the reason that I stopped, which I didn’t see at the time, but now knowing what I know and doing all the personal development work that I’ve done, I can see that. The reason that I always stopped and the reason that I was really in that all or nothing mindset is because I never wanted to feel or to be seen to be putting effort into something that wasn’t working.

As I was saying before, I really feel…. actually, I don’t know if I was saying this before. I feel like health and fitness, like how you do one thing is how you do anything and so if you are not struggling with health and fitness or working out consistently, think about how this could apply elsewhere because I know that this is something that people do in business, they do in relationships, all of that kind of thing. So anyway, I was not wanting to be seen to put effort into something that wasn’t working. Like I was saying that I was with those 12-week workout programs like I was doing Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide and I would go on Instagram and I could see, you know, everyone’s got like from one to four weeks.

The first four weeks of the program, no one had these like amazing photos of “Look how much I’ve changed in the first four weeks” but once people got to the fourth week I could see like on the account they were always like when I was like pre-BBG and week four and people had noticeable results and I found that when I was doing that I could do week one to four and it was because I wasn’t expecting to have results yet so I could stay consistent with it and then week five would come and I would be like in my mind, so unconsciously I was not even aware of this, but in hindsight I can see it.

I was really thinking like, “I need to be able to see results” or like I just wasn’t able mentally to be putting effort into something that wasn’t… I didn’t want to be putting the effort in because then like it’s a very vulnerable thing to do, to be putting effort into something because then when things don’t work out, you can’t say, “Oh, but I would’ve done better if I tried harder” it’s something I used to do with exams I’d cram so that if I didn’t do amazingly well, I could say, “Oh well, you know, I barely even studied” I only studied the night before and it had the flip side that if I did amazingly well, I could be like, “Oh my god, I’m amazing” in my head. I would never say that, but like I’m so amazing because I barely studied and I did really well, so I could feel even better about myself, but it’s really vulnerable, really vulnerable thing to do when you have a fixed mindset to put effort into something because then if things don’t work out, if you don’t end up having that transformation, that fitness transformation that you’re wanting, you can’t say, “Oh yeah, but I barely worked out and I didn’t go to the gym and I, I would have got that result if I tried harder” you’re left with, “Yeah, I tried my best and I couldn’t do it. I didn’t do it.” And that has someone with a fixed mindset.

By the way, fixed mindset is really this belief that all of your talents and abilities are fixed. Meaning that they can’t be changed and when you think about things that way, everything is evidence of whether or not you’re good enough and it also means that you believe that things should be like you should be naturally good at them and therefore effort is assigned that you lacked natural ability. If you want to know more about the fixed mindset, definitely check out the book Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck. She is the creator of the fixed and growth mindset philosophy and she is absolutely incredible look her up on Youtube as well. She is a very articulate woman and I love listening to her talk and I have had a lot of my ‘aha’ moments from watching her speak about the fixed mindset.

But anyway, I really didn’t want to be putting effort in because then I would only have myself to blame if I didn’t get the results. So I’d do week one to week four, week five, I’d have like a shitty week and then I’d stop for a few weeks and I’m going back to week one because of course you have to always keep signing from week one. And I did that like five times and I kept thinking that my issue was motivation, that I needed to figure out how to stay motivated. I really couldn’t see at the time. I think I cottoned on around like the fifth time that I did it and I was also starting to do a lot of personal development work then and really learning a lot about like the perfectionist mindset and being able to start seeing my tendencies, but I was just really, really struggling to figure out how to keep going past week five and it was because I just was withholding effort so that I wouldn’t have to take full responsibility really for any lack of result.

But of course when you were doing week one to four, which were really challenging weeks, but you do week one to four and then you’d start for three weeks and then one week one to four stop week one to four stop. It’s really disheartening because you’re struggling so much. I was struggling so much and I felt like I was putting so much effort in. That’s the other thing, either when you’re withholding effort, you still actually feel like you’re putting a lot of effort in. So I was constantly trying and never getting any kind of result because I was so inconsistent and just constantly sell, sabotaging with my behavior. So that was kind of the moment that I realized that I needed to perhaps approach things differently and that it really wasn’t an issue of motivation. It was an issue of self-sabotage and me not being comfortable with putting effort inconsistently.

And if I had done week one to week four and could see an amazing result, I don’t think I would have had any trouble continuing. It’s really that I had expected, okay, I meant to have a certain result by now and I wasn’t so then I pull away and to relate this to other areas of life. I can see that I’ve done this in the business where I am putting in the effort and then I don’t get a result or it looks like I’m not going to get a result and then I pull away and I did it in a study as well. And you might find that you like do this in a uni semester if you’re still studying where you are super organized, you’re sticking to your plan are for the first few weeks and then you start to pull away. It’s just like pulling away and having that all or nothing mindset and withholding effort that is so challenging and it really feels like motivation is the issue when actually it has nothing to do with motivation and I think that we’re really taught.

I don’t know why, I think it’s just like the media loves talking about motivation and motivate… feeling motivated is an amazing feeling and I think if you have it, definitely capitalize on it. But we’re told that we can do things if we feel motivated instead of being taught how to do things. When we don’t feel motivated. I don’t feel motivated most of the time. Especially with like working out. I haven’t figured out how to stay motivated with it. I figured out how to do it when I don’t feel motivated. I’m so sorry if you’ve been hoping that this is about how to say motivated because I haven’t. No idea how to keep that magical, amazing feeling going for extended periods of time because it just doesn’t happen for me. So, I was in that all-or-nothing mindset and really focused on my appearance and I wasn’t overweight or anything like that.

I’ve always been, like, I would say since like I finished high school or throughout high school, even probably since I began high school, I’ve been like a very similar body size. I’ve had like highs and lows, like fluctuations within that, but I haven’t ever been like overweight and it wasn’t like I had a lot of weight to lose or anything like that. I think it was just the like whole, I’m not good enough story, that I had, that was really coming through in my health and fitness area of my life. And I was thinking like if I can just get my body looking better, whatever that is, then I will feel better. I thought that that was the key to me feeling better, that if I just looked a bit better than I’d feel a bit better and that turns out not to be the case.

But anyway, that’s a different story. So I was so focused on my appearance getting results and I also wanted like I didn’t want to be displaying any lack of natural ability, so I would withhold effort by stopping and quitting and also quitting is such a subtle thing and if you’re like me, you’re ambitious, you’re smart and you don’t like quitting things outright, but you will often get too busy or you suddenly won’t have enough time or you’re just forget to work out. Like I think there are these really subtle ways that we quit on ourselves. We don’t say to everyone, “Yeah! I just quit that!” There will always be a justification. It’s always one that other people are going to say, “Yeah, that is hard” or whatever. People let us off the hook because most people struggle with it. So anyway, about two years ago I started doing personal training and it wasn’t anything really to do with the personal training itself.

It was really that when I went into it, I knew that I can’t just keep approaching fitness the same way that I have been. Because at that point I guess I’d have been like nearly one0 years that I’ve been working out and I kept trying to do the same thing in different ways, which as you guys know is the definition of insanity, doing the same thing and expecting different results and I think that makes it sounds so obvious, like doing the same things and expecting a different result, but we tried it. We do the same things in slightly different ways so it doesn’t feel like we should keep getting the same result. But what I was doing was always trying to figure out how to stay motivated and how to get my body like really focused on my physical appearance. So when I started doing personal training, I made a conscious decision that I was going to be focused purely on performance goals and I did.

I was getting measured and that kind of thing in terms of progress, but I didn’t have any goals regarding being a certain weight or being a certain percentage, body fat or anything like that or having certain measurements. My goals were things like doing a chin-up, doing a certain number of pushups, like they will all physical goals and I found that that was probably the biggest thing that moved me out of being in a fixed mindset and into a growth mindset because I was no longer focused on this result and like… because when I was focused on the end result, I was only doing it for the sake of getting that result. So, of course, it’s really challenging to be consistent because then you think of things like, you know what? I should only work out if it’s going to be a “good workout”.

I know I’m not the only one who has thought that way about workouts before. So you know, your alarm goes off. Like my alarm would go off and then I’d be thinking like, “Oh well I’m so tired. I’m not going to have a good workout” so I just wouldn’t work out. Or I would just be thinking that, “Oh, it won’t really matter if I just skip one day” but when I was focused on performance, even though it doesn’t really, I don’t know exactly why it’s so because it’s really not that different because most people know intellectually that if you’re wanting to change your physical appearance, you’re going to need to be consistent. But I could just. I was just so much more logical around it. When it came to like pushups, for example, it wasn’t like I was thinking about pushups. I wasn’t so emotionally attached to it as well.

I didn’t really care how many pushups I could do and I didn’t really care how much weight I could lift or anything like that. Like I didn’t actually really care. I didn’t have that all tangled up with my identity in the same way that I did have with my appearance. But when I was focusing on performance and physical performance, it was like, “Oh yeah, of course, I have to do pushups a certain number of times per week otherwise they just won’t improve” and that makes complete sense and it makes complete sense to think of appearance and physical goals the same way. But somehow I think it’s just all the marketing. It’s like, “Oh no, I should actually be able to get that result in a week with very little effort or like I should go a week all out and then have the results and if not then it’s not working” whereas like with pushups, I could just so easily, like I was in a growth mindset already with that kind of thing. I was like, “Of course you just have to keep trying until you can do it and of course you just have to do it consistently” and I just had a very different way of thinking about it.

So I was focused on that and I was really focused on just showing up at the gym a certain number of times per week. Like getting my ass in the door. I stopped judging, you know, this is going to be a good workout or a bad workout because I was focusing on these physical performance goals. I just had this mentality of like everything is going to help me get stronger, helped me get fitter. And so even if I go in and it’s shitty as in like, you know, those days when you go to the gym and you just can’t do anything as well as you normally can, which actually happened a lot less often than I thought like.

So you know how before I was saying that you’d like, what I would do is my alarm would go off and be like, I’m not actually going to be able to run today because I’m so tired. So I might not run at all. But when I was really focused on, “Okay, I’m just going to do whatever I can do my best for the day” it actually turned out a lot of the times that I would otherwise have said, “Oh, you know, I’m not going to do a good workout today so I won’t do one at all” I actually was able to get into a good workout, like once you get sweaty, once I break a sweat, like then, I’m like, “Okay, well I’m just going to really try” and there are some days where it just, your body just doesn’t happen. But I really began focusing on the putting in the effort and, and Steve and I say three good things before you go to bed every night, which I’ve told you guys about quite a few times before.

And I started saying as my good thing like I went to the… I showed up, I went to the gym today and like rewarding myself for the effort because I used to only ever feel good about getting a certain result and I wouldn’t feel good. Like I’d be more likely to be like, “Oh yeah, I didn’t really do a great workout today!” or just like criticizing myself in some way for it. And instead, I started being like, yeah, a good thing today was that I went to the gym and I would really start to praise myself for putting the effort in. And Carol Dweck, who I was talking about before, who’s… who teaches people how to get out of the fixed mindset and into a growth mindset says that one of the biggest things that you can do to get yourself into a growth mindset is to praise based on effort.

And a lot of the reason that so many of us have this fixed mindset is, and I’m sure you guys can relate because a lot of you are intelligent women, that when you’re growing up, you keep getting told you’re smart like, you know, “Well done, you got an a plus” or whatever it was. And so the reason that we end up with a fixed mindset is because when you’re always rewarded for the results and often we get that result without putting an effort, then we only want to put in effort when we’re going to get that result because we only get praised for the result. And she really teaches… like teachers and parents to praise kids for… “You put in so much effort into that well done” and I can see you really worked hard on that and really just praising kids for putting in effort regardless of the outcome.

Because of course a lot of the outcomes that we want in life. Once we’ve gotten past school, come from putting in effort. And if you only do things that are going to get results, then you don’t really try a lot of things. Because nothing is really guaranteed, like once you get past school in school, I feel like you can wing in exam and you know, he can get the result and there’s lots of things you can wing in like life after school. But I feel like, you know, if you found school valley easy and you are able to study the night before and then get a good mark, then you end up really caring. That fixed mindset and that idea of, you know, I need, I should be able to put in minimal effort to get a good result into real life. And then it turns out like, “Oh shit, that doesn’t really happen” and then you find yourself procrastinating all the time, which is another way that we withhold effort and all of that kind of thing. Just so you never have to be seen to be putting effort in because that means you’re not naturally talented. So that’s how a lot of us end up in a fixed mindset. It’s no one’s fault, but it’s religious that we get praised and we therefore also praise ourselves based on results. So if you are really struggling to stay consistent with working out, I really recommend that you start rewarding yourself just for showing up. Do not reward yourself with food. Food is not a reward. Food is just something to be eating for energy. If your audience are with food, it’s just not. There’s no point. Just don’t do that. I’m not talking about rewarding yourself with food. You don’t deserve extra food.

What I’m talking about is, rewarding yourself emotionally and taking a second even if you like, do it. Like what I do with Steve every night we say good things and I’m rewarding myself emotionally. When I say like, “A good thing today was that I went to the gym” I don’t say… Actually, sometimes I do say like, “You know, I really enjoyed my workout” or whatever, but it’s just that I went, it’s not that “Oh, you know, I lost a certain amount of weight” or whatever it is. It’s that I went that I put in the effort. So you might like to do it with someone else. If you don’t want to do it with someone else, just say it to yourself even for half a second or start doing a gratitude journal and in the journal really focus on effort. It makes such a huge difference to be focused on effort and of course, you do still need to set goals as well.

It is important to have goals. I’m not saying to just blow in the breeze and see what happens, but what you need to do with goals is that you need to reverse engineer them. If you’re in a fixed mindset, if you’re already in a growth mindset, I don’t think this needs to be done, but if you’re trying to get out of a fixed mindset, you figure out the goal. You figure out the steps that will make that goal inevitable, and then you focus on the steps and you kind of. Once you’ve got the steps, you don’t need to keep focusing on. The goal isn’t going to happen. Is it going to happen? Isn’t going to happen? Because I think that’s what happens with working out. Say you have a goal to look a certain way, like say you have a goal to get abs, so for the first few weeks you don’t have any expectations that it’s going to happen because it’s too early, so you’re going to the gym, you know, however often you’re doing everything you need to do.

Then it gets to the time, say two weeks in and you’re like, I should have abs by now, and so you start to be like, “Oh, it’s not working, so I’m just going to start pulling back because I don’t want to be putting effort into something that might not get a result because that’s embarrassing” that’s what we think, that it’s embarrassing, that it’s something to be ashamed of, that it’s even more evidence that we’re not good enough, and when you already have this undercurrent of, I’m not good enough running through your brain 24/7, you do not want any more evidence. And when I was in a yoga class a few years ago, a teacher explain this in a way that has just really stuck with me. She was saying that when you plant a seed, you don’t dig it up every day to see how much it’s going.

You just plant it, you water it and you have faith that if you put a certain amount of effort and if you’re caring for it, you’re giving it the good conditions that it needs to grow, that it will grow. You don’t, every morning goes out… I think she was talking about a tomato plant… you don’t every day go out to that plant and dig it up out of the ground and be like,  “Oh, it’s not growing yet!” you just water it and you have faith that in time the result will come and you focus on the effort of watering the plant or the effort of keeping the pests away or whatever it is, and that really stuck with me because I felt like, especially at that time, I was constantly digging up the seed every day to see “Is it growing? Is it growing?” like, “Is it still okay to be putting effort into this?”

I did a whole episode on the fear of wasting effort as well, so if you can relate to this. I think it was episode 11, it was one of my early ones. Definitely go back and have a listen because this fear of wasting effort, fear of picking the wrong thing, you know, fear of wasting time, that is something that is really attached. Really like a symptom I guess, of having a fixed mindset, so I talk about it as well in that one, but this one I really wanted to talk specifically about working out so you can set a goal. If you do have a physical goal you want to achieve, like say for example a certain body fat percentage, you figure out the steps you will need to take to achieve that goal and then you just focus on the effort and you don’t constantly asked, “Is it going to happen? Is it going to happen? Is it going to happen? Is it going to happen?” It’s like when those little kids like, I’m sure I did this as a kid, you’re in the car like, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

That’s what we do and it’s really fucking annoying to ourselves. Like we’re constantly like, “Am I successful yet? Am I successful yet? Am I successful yet?” and we’re just in such a rush and it’s because we aren’t, like, haven’t practiced being comfortable in the messiness and comfortable in the journey of it, which is something I am now. So I just want to mention as well that another thing that I do to keep myself consistent and to get through why cats when it all feels super messy, which is actually like quite often is that I have token sessions. That’s what I call them.

I do a token session, a token gym session, which just means that ‘I went to the gym like just for the sake of going to the gym’ and like, I feel like I’ve done a lot of them in the last month because I, I like, I know I was at to save quite a few times. Like yeah, I just did a token session. So what that is, is something that really helps me not get into like this back into the mindset of I’m only going to go to the gym if I feel like it, which is like a dream killer and in any area of life waiting to feel like it will kill your dreams. So this is how I stay out of that. Instead of saying, you know, asking myself, “Do I feel like going to the gym?” that’s actually a question I don’t ask myself anymore and is one that I used to ask before, like every session, like “Do I feel like I’m going to have a good workout?”

And then of course, because working out it’s a really uncomfortable, I would be like, “No, I don’t” like, “I’m not going to have a good workout. So there’s no point” so instead of doing that, what I do is, I do a token session so it means that in this session, so like, I’ll often do… and I don’t have any number like I can only do one token session. It’s just like a card that I pull out whatever the hell I need it. And you can do this like with anything else as well, whether it’s like a token study session or whatever it is, if you even like a token blog post or whatever, it’s basically just I’m going to do this even if it’s shitty just for the sake of showing up and doing it. So if I’m sick the first session back because often like if I have a week off I eat, like it’s kind of can to be disheartening sometimes because you’re like I do lose quite a bit of fitness and like strength in a week but not that much and it’s easy to recover.

But anyway, I’ll go back and be like in my mind, like I’m just going to do a token session. Of course, if I was feeling really motivated and into it, I wouldn’t say that to myself but I’m like this can just be a token session. So sometimes I’ll just like go on the stair-master for one0 minutes. Then I’ll do like two exercises really like don’t feel great, but I’ll do them. And then I’ll go home. Like I might not even be at the gym for half an hour, but all I needed to do was start to put, get the wheels in motion, start to get back into like into the routine of it. So though I might not have had a good workout, quote-unquote, that I still went to the gym, I still was showing up for myself. If I broke a sweat, I still feel better.

Like now, I’m also in such a mentality of like not working out for any. Like my physical appearance. I really work out for my mental. Just like I feel stark crazy if I don’t work out often. And it’s funny when I can have a week off and I don’t really. It’s like I don’t really realize how much exercising helps me until I’m not exercising or it’s the other way as well around as well, if this is making any kind of sense that if I have a way cough, I’m like, “Oh yeah, this is fine” You know, I’m okay and then I’ll go back to work. I’m like, “Oh wait, this is how it actually can feel like I feel so much better about myself” not just because I’ve been sweating and working out, but because it’s just such a good. I think it’s like such a good sort of meditation in a way.

Even though I’m constantly thinking, I constantly think when I meditate as well.  I, I’m definitely not, not thinking but because you really focused on something like it really puts you in the moment in a way that like we often don’t get if we’re not working out or doing something like that or meditating or doing just something where you have to be really immersed. So yeah, I do these token sessions just to get myself back into it. And I also, as I was saying before, I don’t tell myself like I’m an all or nothing person. I never tell my like tell anyone I’m all or nothing with fitness. I’m really consistent. I tell people like, “Yeah, you know, I work out regularly” like I really have created an identity for myself around it. I used to have the identity of being a gym person, which I still do, but that wasn’t enough in itself to get me going consistently.

What has really changed is just the self talk I have around it now. I say to myself like I’m consistent with the gym. I won’t say that to Steve or to anyone, like I’ve been really inconsistent.  if I haven’t been going. There are some weeks where I just don’t go as much, but I’m just so much better now and not making it mean anything because before I used to need to have this like perfect track record and as soon as that was broken I just go back to nothing. And again, it was really trying to avoid this shame that I had that I would be putting on myself if I put effort in and didn’t get a result.

And now like the growth mindset is really seeing things as a learning opportunity, which we all know intellectually that failure is a learning opportunity. And yet it’s still so hard for, for so many of us to actually show you that in our actions. And it’s doing things like focusing on effort. I’m like doing a token session. Even if you don’t feel like going, you can just say to yourself, okay, I’m not in the mood to go for a run today. I’m not in the mood to go to the gym, but I’m just going to go and do a token session. And I found that half the time when I get that to do like, okay, today’s just going to be a token session that I’m like, oh well I’m already dressed and I’m here. I might as well actually like get into it. So I’ve found that to be incredibly helpful. It just keeps. Yeah, the wheels in motion and it is a really slippery slope where you’re like, “Oh no, I’ll just go tomorrow!” And just keeping on putting it off until you feel like it, yeah, it’s super slippery as you guys probably know because with the really important things in life, like looking after your health, including your mental health, it really… like no one is there to like there’s never really, unless you get a diagnosis or something, a big event happens, there’s never really a moment, whereas where someone’s going to be like, “Okay, you really, this is really urgent now you really have to focus on it!” And a lot of us through school really could only work when we had external deadlines. I don’t know if you find this out yourself, but I definitely found that when I started working for myself I really struggled because I had been trained… like I worked so well to external deadlines, but I could not keep a deadline myself. And health and fitness is an area where there are no deadlines. I found it really helpful to have a personal trainer for accountability.

I do not believe in accountability buddies. I, hundred percent believe in paid accountability. I think the downside with accountability buddies, it can work but I just find that whenever I have done it, it doesn’t end up working out and it’s because often I will be like… because I’ve had this like I like working out. I don’t… that doesn’t mean I look forward to it doesn’t mean I feel like it, but I like have this self-image that I like working out, I like going to the gym. So I will usually be the most “motivated person” in a group, so we all start out motivated and then eventually people will be starting to make excuses and then I’ll be like, “Can we just go and work out?” and then it just ends up being like, “I’m keeping them accountable and they’re resenting me for keeping them accountable” or if I’m not, then they’re like making it easier for me to make excuses because they’re presenting me with extra excuses then the bajillions of excuses that I already have on often in my own brain. They’ll be like, “Oh, but you know, we worked out yesterday” or “Aren’t you tired?” “Let’s just all have a sleep in!” and it’s like I already have enough excuses, have my own without people adding additional ones and I just think it ends up unless two people like… I think it has to be for an accountability buddy. It has to be a really perfect match in terms of the people just gel so well together.

I think both need to have very similar motivations like often it ends up that one person is really motivated to get it resolved and the other person like gets convinced into doing it. So they’re not even really having their own motivations like both people need to be self-motivated and to have their own reasons. They’re not just doing it because the other person’s getting fit and they’re like, “Oh yeah, I should probably do that too” they’re like, “No, I’m really self-motivated!”

So I just have found, personally, I don’t do accountability buddies if anyone’s like, “Yeah, let’s keep each other accountable!” I’m like, “Yeah, can we just do it in tandem together and support each other?” So I really, I don’t know if I know, I’m just really cynical about it, but I do not let myself get into accountability buddy agreements with anyone because I just think the dynamic, unless it’s an absolutely perfect fit, like I can only think of probably two people in my life that I would be accountability buddies with on something.  So yeah, I’m just like, instead… so if you have someone and you’re like, I know so many people, this is not common advice because my people like you need an accountability buddy to do something and maybe for certain personality types, yes, but I have just found that it often just leads to more excuses by both people or one holding the other accountable and then the other person resenting them for holding them accountable to something they said they wanted to do.

So instead I always just say, “Let’s just work. Let’s just do this together in tandem and support each other.” So if we’re both going to the same gym, great, we’re both going to the same gym, you know, I’m not going to base my session times around when you’re free. If you’re free at the same time as me, amazing. I’d love to be there with you. That’s incredible but if not, I’m going anyway. And I really just love to be my own accountability buddy. Especially now that I’m in much more of a growth mindset. But I think that paid accountability is so different to an accountability buddy. So I don’t believe in accountability buddies, as I said, that goes for like business stuff as well. I believe in working on something in tandem and supporting each other, but I don’t like to hand over the responsibility for my actions to someone else.

But when you have a coach or a personal trainer that they… like, you are paying them to keep you accountable and you don’t have to keep them accountable to anything. Like I think it’s because there isn’t this two-way accountability and you’re literally paying them money so you’re much more self-motivated in the first place if you’re willing to pay someone to keep you accountable. Whereas accountability buddies, they’re free and so a lot of times people just do them because like one friend wants to get fit and the other one’s like, “Yeah, I should probably do that” so there isn’t that same motivation, but it’s because you’re just getting supported and you don’t then have to support that person back, they’re really just there to cheer you on and to keep you on track and to really call you out. If you’re not on track and then you don’t have to give anything back to them, you’re giving them money.

That’s something that you’re giving back to them, but you don’t have to be like, “Yeah, can we please just work out today?” Like, and they’re not going to be like, you know, like your PT will not say, “You know, you should just sleep in today. Oh, we should just both sleep in!” like that’s not the agreement. So I really did find that personal training was something that really helped me get out of that but it wasn’t like the PT that suggested let’s just focus on performance goals. That was something that was really my own decision. So if you do have one, I suggest going to them with that in mind. I also found it so fascinating. So I spent $80 a week on a Personal Trainer for one session. Like people like, even like Steve was like, you know, we could just keep yourself accountable.

Like people really questioned money… question it when you invest in yourself and it’s, it was just really interesting to me because if I instead spend that money by eating out for lunch everyday, no one would question that, it’s just like, “Yeah, that’s a normal thing to spend money on” if I went on and bought one dress every week that was $80, no one would question that. But when you’re investing in yourself, people like, “Oh you’re paying money for that?” And it’s so interesting, like I just think that’s… there will be people if you do it, if you invest in yourself in this way or any other kind of way that people will be like, “Oh, are you really spending money on that? Couldn’t you just do that yourself?” And just like Steve, I was saying like “Yeah, I could just do it myself, but this is going to fast track it. It makes it easier. I’m willing to invest in myself.”

And it fully did transform it and I think by the end of it, Steve could see the value, but I really just had to believe in myself and that it was worth it because I had a lot of people being like, “Oh, why would you spend that kind of money?” Which in the scheme of things wasn’t that much. And like was really invaluable in terms of… it was the thing that has now got me into really having a growth mindset as well as the other things that I do. So yeah, I’d really just wanted to talk about that because it’s something I’m not struggling with and I am trying to think as well, like are there other things that I’m not really struggling with that I can share how I have actually got through them? Because on my blog for quite a while, I was talking about like this stuff a lot because I was really struggling with it.

And then I kind of have stopped talking about it and more so now talk about personal growth in terms of my business because that’s what I’m really working on at the moment. And I don’t just want to become a broken record, always talking about things, however, I do also want to show that when your work on pain, it really takes a lot of consistent work and there’s a lot of evolution that happens. So I love sharing that too. But I am trying to rack my brain and think about like, what areas of my life am I not actually struggling with?  I also want to talk about healthy eating, but I won’t do that in this episode because yeah, it’s similar but a bit different and I think a fixed mindset shows up in different ways with that and of course there are all kinds of different excuses and all that sort of thing.

So I hope this has been helpful and just to summarize it, if you have really been struggling to stay consistent, I recommend praising yourself for effort either by sharing with someone each day, the things that you’re grateful for, the things that were good about the day, or writing in a gratitude journal and including gratitude for effort that you’re putting in to set goals and then reverse engineer them. And focus on the steps that would make them inevitable and then take your focus off the goal and focus only on executing the steps.

Have token sessions or whatever you want to call them. If you need to get you out of that habit of trying to like dig up the seed constantly and see like, “Is it growing yet, isn’t going to be worth me going to the gym today?” and just to get you out of also judging like, “Is this going to be good or bad?” or whatever that is. So I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. You can find everything that I’ve mentioned at the show notes at smart-twenties.com/episode41. And I will talk to you next time, bye!


Author: Sam Brown