Being good at sport isn’t necessary to succeed in fitness. Bree Wyatt and Ellie McInerney went from books to the bench. Here are the rules behind their fitness successes.
Bree is one of Fitness First’s top trainers and a champion powerlifter, but she was originally an academic kid with no sporting ability. When things didn’t go to plan at law school, exercise helped her overcome the challenges in her life. Training has not only improved her physical health — her mental and social wellbeing are where the most significant changes happened, allowing her to achieve what she has today.
Develop a sense of self-worth
Developing a strong sense of self-worth is at the centre of everything. You don’t look after your body, chase opportunities or make good decisions about relationships unless you see yourself as deserving the best. This mental exercise I learnt when I was depressed really helped: every day, list three things you like about life and three things you like about yourself. It took a long time, but it did change my perspective. I still use this tool to help me out today.
Take care of yourself
Self-care comes out of self-worth. We often sacrifice our own needs to help others. Eventually you start to feel used and resentful, and your health suffers. You need to take the time to care for your own wellbeing. Even if it’s a walk around the block, movement is integral to your physical and mental health.
Don’t be shy of help
Seek help where you need it. It doesn’t mean you’re weak if you need to see a psychologist to help with work stress, or a personal trainer to help get you exercising. I have a psychologist, coach, dietitian and physio as part of my team to help keep my mind and body healthy, and to stop me fixating on the details of competing. Some tough days I would have skipped the gym if these people weren’t keeping me accountable, and I’m better for it.
Powerlifting has helped me realise the importance of resilience. Some days you just need to go through the motions — no PBs, everything feels hard and you’re overwhelmed. Wake up, put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. The hard times will pass, but you have to work to not let them swallow you whole.
Develop a supportive network
Many people in my life have helped me overcome challenges. They’ve helped me learn how to stop comparing myself to others and to understand that every person has a different story. I became less self-conscious and could appreciate my body for what it was, rather than what it wasn’t. With the support of these people and my new self-confidence, I started my own personal training business and I’ve never looked back.
Ellie McInerney spent most of her youth as a bookworm with body image issues. She decided she’d challenge herself to get fit by entering a fitness model competition. Along the way her hardest battle was to banish negative thoughts and doubt. This is how she dealt with them.
If not corrected, one seemingly harmless negative thought can show up more frequently, and a little bit stronger than before. Negative thoughts can halt your progress. You need to nip these thoughts in the bud to stop them growing out of control. Here are a few thoughts to correct to stay on track and hit your targets.
Last time I tried this, I failed
Good, now you know what not to do. If you failed last time, statistically speaking you’re closer to succeeding this time. Don’t let the thought of past failure unnerve you. Question your strategy: are you using the best method? Do you need to work smarter, not harder? Improve your plan if you need to, then try again.
I’m not good enough
There will always be someone stronger, prettier, faster, wealthier… whatever. You have access to resources that will allow you to grow, so even if you don’t feel “good enough” today, why can’t you be good enough tomorrow? Study, learn, perfect your craft, improve your skills and educate yourself. You can do all these things exactly as you are today, and that is all you need to get where you want to be tomorrow.
I wish I had their discipline
The misconception about discipline is that it’s easier for some people than it is for others. Being disciplined simply means making the harder choice. Humans naturally desire the comfortable option, but growth never comes from comfort. If choosing the healthier option is the hard choice but you make it anyway, then you’re doing discipline right. Discipline rarely feels comfortable or easy, but ironically the more disciplined you are the easier life becomes.
I’m not as capable as they are
Actually, you are. They’ve just been doing it for longer than you. Make the process easier for yourself and never compare your situation to someone else’s. That physique you wish you had or strength goal you want to crush is not unattainable. We’re all made of the same stuff, your body can be developed, trained and conditioned as much as anybody else’s. Seek guidance where you can, identify your weaknesses and focus on your own improvement.