By Lauren Denos: 2/23/2015 (Mindset)

There is a big difference in the approach of a dieter and an athlete. And the athlete's way is a lot more fun!

An athlete has a much different approach mentally to health and fitness than the normal dieter. You should take a page from their book. How exactly are they different? Well I am glad you asked, here’s how.

#1 Athletes train to be stronger faster, etc.

The thing is, even though they are not focusing on getting leaner, they usually are. It is a natural byproduct of all that training. But they are not into torturing themselves, at least not in the way that people that want to lose weight are doing. Rather, they are focusing on being better in a sport. This is a much more enjoyable way to do things. They will still be working incredibly hard, but there is a difference to wanting to shave a few seconds off your lap time verses making yourself hit the treadmill because you have to melt off a few extra pounds. Another difference is that they see training more as a fun game and less as a torturous process they have to do. They actually enjoy it. This does not to mean that they do not take it seriously; they just know that it is an ongoing process of improvement. Also, they understand that this is not a few month’s spree, where they can then stop working out and start eating junk food.

#2 Make goals like an athlete

If you want to be more like an athlete, start to look at your goals and change them to be ones that are more conducive to your success. There are things that can get in the way of you losing the body fat you want. Different health conditions can complicate the weight loss battle, but how fast you are running can improve even if your weight is not. The amount you are lifting can also change regardless of your weight. Start setting goals that pertain to things that you have more control over. Eating a clean diet, pushing for an extra mile, lifting 5 more lbs. These are all things you have control over. This does not mean that you will not lose the weight, it just means that you will not be basing how successful you are on it.

#3 Athletes Eat for Performance

Athletes do not eat to lose weight. That is, unless you are a boxer making weight or a bodybuilding competitor. Instead, they eat to support their bodies. They want their bodies to be able to be the best functioning machine that it can be, and that comes from feeding it high-quality fuel. For different athletes, they may have slightly different ways of eating. But if they want to be the best, they know that they need to get the right amount of all of the nutrients in their diets. They do not see it as a torturous restriction, but as a way to improve their abilities, which makes it a rewarding process instead of a deprivation.

If you want to eat more like an athlete, focus on eating to be a better performer and not just to fit into a jean size. Eating healthy is not a punishment. It is a sign of love and respect to yourself. Start to see the healthy food as the treat and reward. Healthy food does not need to be boring and tasteless, get creative. Just keep in mind when you eat healthy that you are doing this because you want to, because you want to be better.

#4 Athletes Always Have New Goals

Athletes set goals and reach them, then set more. It is a never ending cycle. They do not get to where they can run a 7 minute mile and say, “well, that’s good enough.” No way. After accomplishing this goal, they will then start working on getting that down to a 6 minute mile. Many times, when people are going the dieter route they eat really strict and go to the gym a lot. As a result, many get tired or burnt out and drop it all. This is where the yoyo effect comes into play. Athletes know that they can always do a little bit more, and they want to see that improvement every day. Again, this is part of the game. It is good to always have something to look forward to and this type of mindset is what that creates. They are always excited by what they have accomplished, and look forward to what they can improve upon tomorrow.

If you want to accomplish goals like an athlete then focus on being the best you can be every day. Athletes are not concerned with just being okay, they are constantly striving to be just a little bit better all the time. Get interested in the improvements you make each day, no matter how small and then wonder how much better you can get tomorrow.

#5 Athletes Know When to Rest

Athletes know when to rest and know when to push. Okay maybe not all athletes, but the ones whose bodies are in good health know when to say when. Sleep is a big part of the process for health. In fact, sleep is when our bodies repair. In order to really be performing at their peak, they know they have to rest as well. We are in a society that thinks the less sleep you have the more productive and successful you are. This is not true for many people, and it is certainly not true with your health.

Think about this: you decide that you need to be getting a project done, so you only get 3 hours of sleep. The outcome is that you are just trudging along, and get distracted easily. Plus, you are not really thinking clearly. Now, take that same project, but work until you are ready for sleep and then get your full night’s sleep. What happens? Well, first of all, you will wake up rested. Also, you will be able to focus and think critically. Which of these scenarios do you think will yield the best end product? When you think of skipping sleep, think about this example. Heck, if you need actually proof, test it out for yourself. See which one works best for you.

If you want to be focused and sharp like an athlete, then pay attention to when your body needs rest. Do not fall for the common idea in society that you are more successful if you sleep less. When you rest, your body will repair stronger than before. Give it the sleep and rest it needs.

Now you have some things to think about, and an idea how healthy goals can be different.

These are some of the bigger differences that we see in athletes verses dieters. You can adopt a mindset of an athlete, and you will enjoy getting healthy a lot more this way. Now get to it!



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