The One Mindset Shift You Need for Exercise Consistency

I can sit there and babble on about all the life hacks to help you stay more consistent with your training, especially around the holidays, but I’ll spare you.

You’ve heard them all. Heck, you’ve probably tried them before and still found yourself fluffier and softer come the New Year.

All those tips and tricks we desperately yearn for do work….until they don’t.

Nope, I won’t waste your time with those tired-but-true tricks. Instead I’m going to give you some tough love around your mindset. Exercise consistency starts with your mind, not your motivation, willpower, or hacks.

What’s My Mindset Got to Do With It?

If you’re unwilling to face yourself, then you’ll always struggle with staying consistent. With exercise, nutrition, being a good spouse, parent, friend…or whatever else.

Consistency is the product of daily practice and mindset work, not your innate willpower. To that end, if you want beat out your lack of motivation, laziness, excuses, or whatever else that gets in your way around this time of year (or anytime, really), then you have to change your mindset.

In Bedros Keuilian’s book Man Up he makes a clear distinction between fighter jets and crop dusters. Anyone that knows me knows I LOVE fighter jets, Top Gun, and anything to do with Tom Cruise saying “I have the need…the need for speed.”

If you're unwilling to face yourself, then you'll always struggle with staying consistent with exercise.

Clearly, I was on board with Bedro’s metaphor from the start. The gist of it is this:

Crop dusters accept average and mediocrity as the baseline. They are complainers, approval seekers, excuse-makers, and are typically indecisive and disorganized. Crop dusters allow poor time and energy management as well as internal fears run the show. Crop dusters do just the bare minimum to get by, in this case, a salad here and there, a fitness class or two throughout the week, and spend most of their time complaining about their lack of results instead of owning that they are the ones responsible for it.

I bet you can think of a few crop dusters in your life right now, can’t you?

Meanwhile, fighter jets move and act with purpose. They are high performers who take risks, are decisive, action-oriented, persistent, and general go-getters. I’ve never met a fighter pilot who was lazy or lacked vision for his life, and that’s how the fighter jet mentality works. “Fighter jets are experts at self-mastery” Bedros writes. They own up and control their actions, behaviors, emotions, and are highly focused.

Whew….kind of makes you appreciate Val Kilmer’s arrogance in Top Gun, doesn’t it? How he doesn’t let Maverick’s daddy issues and immaturity distract him from first place?

I can go on and on here on this movie…but let’s get back on track.

Are you a fighter jet or a crop duster?

It’s time to make a decision. When it comes to your level of consistency regarding training, which one do you want to be? Which one are you right now?

I’ll tell you one thing, no fitness junkie, trainer, or athlete started off as a fighter jet. Not ever.  As Bedros says, they become experts at self-mastery; they become highly focused and decisive by taking ownership of the smallest actions and getting rid of the excuses.

The holiday season is not an excuse to slack off. You can back off training and let loose on your diet a little if that’s your choice, but do it and own it. Don’t show up in January with the same complaints as everyone else about how they “fell off the wagon” need to “get back into it”, thinking “this time it’ll be different!”

Imagine treating October, November, and December the same way you treat January. In order to do that, you must make this small mental shift from top duster to fighter jet.

Here’s a quick exercise to help you with this.

Write down all the qualities and behaviors that you have right now that reflect a “crop duster” attitude or habit. Then every week or month, tackle that one habit with a fighter jet mentality. What does that look like?

If you’re unsure still about the crop duster mentality, here’s what he/she might say around the holiday season:

“I don’t have the time to train, this is our busiest time at work/home/social calendar”

“There are too many social events to attend!”

“Ugh, it gets dark out so early now that I just want to go home after work and get in my pajamas.”

“I’m too tired/stressed/broke from the holidays.”

“I’ll start back up in January. I just want to have fun the next two months.”

Don’t wait until January or some other perfect time to become a fighter jet. Making this mental shift doesn’t mean you have to workout 6 days a week. All it means is that you make a decision – how many days or hours you will train (not “will try”), when, and how and then stick with that.

How would you act differently about your health if you treated November and December just like you do January?

Now over to you: How will you evolve into a fighter jet mentality so that you get consistent with your workouts, goals, and training?

Leave a comment or send me a DM over on the ‘ol gram to tell me how you are making this one mindset shift for better outcomes.

Comments 4

  1. For years I was consistent with working out, eating right…I was either losing weight, gaining muscle or maintaining. Last year right before the holidays I became a “crop duster” in a year 10 lbs creeped on (did serious lifting this year but diet sucked). When I went to put on last years winter clothes I had a rude awakening!!!! I worked so hard to get there and am so mad I’ve got my “fighter pilot” discipline back! Love your analogy. I went to a church event last night and the holiday treat tray passed my face several times, but not a single bite entered!

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      That’s great to hear, Theresa! I’ve been in this boat many times…sometimes we need to wake up again and reset our fighter jet mentality. You are not alone in this!

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