Now Tapping into the Identity Is the Secret Sustainable Fitness

My dad started waking up my older brother and me a few days a week to practice karate and lift weights in the elementary school basement. Although I do not recommend starting to weigh eight-year-olds, these experiences have had a lasting impact on me.

My dad started waking up my older brother and me a few days a week to practice karate and lift weights in the elementary school basement. Although I do not recommend starting to weigh eight-year-olds, these experiences have had a lasting impact on me.

I will never forget that my father used to brag to other mature women about how much he could lift. This boast became a source of pride that fueled my self-confidence and gave me an identity that I wanted to maintain.

The early development of this strong masculine identity had a huge impact on my entire life.

In high school, I started playing football, a sport where strength counts. I was one of the strongest guys on the team, but he wasn’t good enough for me. I have committed to a consistent training program that I have maintained until today.

Each identity generates the following elements

In the end, my identity was not only that of the strong man, but also that of the guy who trains hard.

In high school, I got serious about breaking all records to get better at football. When I got to university and I was no longer Shane, the footballer, I folded the big, strong part of my identity.

It became important for me to be the strongest guy in every room. This desire led me to look for training programs and buy fitness magazines.

When I read and talked to more people at the gym, I turned to other types of workouts and foods that highlighted the virtues outside of the meat head area.

When I started training, I realized that I knew a lot more about the principles of strength and conditioning than most other coaches, and I developed an identity as a guy who knew how to train better.

This led to my CCS and several other certifications that led to Break muscle and many other contacts, books and experiences that helped promote the Commitment to fitness and a healthy lifestyle that I have today.

This plan is simplified. There have been many other influences and parts of my identity that have guided me all my life.

But, more than anything, my commitment to almost twenty years of constant training is the consequence of developing an identity as a strong guy.

At first I was strong.
I was an athlete then.
Then I was growing up.
Then I was in shape.
So he was well informed.
So, he was healthy.
Each identity produced the next, and every step of the way I was determined to maintain the behavior that facilitated this crucial part of me.

Using the power of identity is the key to creating consistent behavior in all areas of life.

To train regularly, I didn’t have to worry about creating a why or writing down my goals. These behaviors became part of what made me me.

Identity can also get in the way of your goals
There are also times when your identity may prevent you from achieving your goals.

For example, at the end of college, I had the idea that I would be the kind of person who drank alcohol every night after work.

It was typical for most of my friends and many other mature influences at that time. But three IPAs per night is not a good formula for health or performance.

Eventually, the identity of the drinkers came into conflict with my health value, and I was finally determined to change who I would be.

Most people approach fitness and behavior change like robots that have to follow a different script. We want to be the same person, but stronger or thinner. Then we decide to start exercising, eating better or showing other behavior that will lead us to our goal.

This approach is not necessarily wrong, but we make failure more likely if we just observe the processes and the results, regardless of who we are and what we need to maintain a certain behavior.
Success is much more likely when you are getting closer to your goals than when you are trying to become a better type of person, to bring something different to your identity.

How to reshape your identity

The author of Atomic Habits, James Clear, notes this identity distinction in people who quit smoking. Those who say, “No, thank you. I’m trying to stop.”- rarely. Those who say, “No, thank you. I don’t smoke.”- they are more likely to succeed.

But it’s not as simple (or silly) as just talking about existing things.

We must believe that change is possible by slowly believing that we are a different kind of person. You can’t fool Faith.

So how do we change our beliefs about ourselves and our identity? They focus on imitating the type of people who adopt the desired behavior.

As James Clear writes:

“Your identity is born from your habits. They were not born with predefined beliefs. All beliefs, including those about yourself, are learned and conditioned by experience. More precisely, your habits are the way you embody your identity. When you make your bed every day, you embody the identity of an organized person. If you write every day, you embody the identity of a creative person. When you train every day, you embody the identity of an athlete.”

We’ve all seen what Clear is talking about in his book.

In high school, I defined myself as an athlete.
When I got a 4.0 in my first semester at university, I began to define myself as intelligent and started working to embody this ideal.
When I was 25 years old and I wanted to overcome my fear to be better for my future wife, I started meditating every morning.
I became a meditator.
The last example is the most instructive.

I had done many intermittent meditation sessions in the past. I had learned enough to convince myself that meditation could help me. But I wasn’t ready to change my lifestyle. I would like to try to continue. When I finally committed to meditate every day without excuses, I began to appreciate its benefits.

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