Why you Can’t get in Shape and What you can do About it

Exploring the powerful driving force behind body transformation and why so many people get it wrong

Column by Matt Kay Photography by Andy Barnham

There has never been so much pressure to get into shape than there is today. September 2016 has just seen record gym sales across the nation, the health food market is booming, Instagram is loaded with pictures of beautifully formed human beings and 97 per cent of females between the age of 30-40 have released a healthy cook book. OK that last one is a lie, but you get my point…

Fitness, nutrition and body transformation in particular command a lot of our attention yet so many of us still battle with the bulge. In this article I hope to open your minds to a different approach closer aligned to real life.

To change your body you must change your habits and to change your habits you must change the way you think.

Body transformation starts in the mind.

FITISM has spent over a decade trying to understand the difference between clients that achieve body transformation and those that do not. We know it has got nothing to do with their nutrition and exercise programmes. Each client follows the same system and we provide the same level of support for everyone that enters our gyms yet some achieve success and others do not.

So before starting the new wonder diet or following the tips and tricks of the latest fitness sensation you must first test the fitness of your mind…

Below is the first part of a FITMIND scorecard that we use at FITISM to better understand the fitness of our client’s minds. This step is fundamental to your long-term success. So take the test and see how you fair…

FITMIND Scorecard

Read each description associated with the 5 attributes listed and score yourself accordingly.


Attribute1      2      3      4      56      7      8      9    10Your ScoreScore Target
Positive1=I am waiting for myself to fail. I have always hated exercise and healthy eating is boring. This is a challenge I’m not looking forward to.10=I am Incredibly positive and inspired by health and exercise. I am excited by the prospect of making of regular exercise and healthy nutrition part of my life
Committed1=Healthy eating and exercise is not something I have ever committed to before so I will only commit if I see immediate results.10=I am 100 per cent committed to making exercise and healthy nutrition part of my life long term.
Reciprocated1=If the exercise plan and nutrition programme does not work it’s not my fault. If I receive coaching I expect that coaching to work for me.10=If I receive coaching and support to help me improve my nutrition and exercise I understand it’s up to me to put the work in to benefit
Invest vs Cost1=The money I put into improving my health and fitness is a cost. If I need to save money for something else like a house, holiday, socializing, clothes etc the money I spend on health and fitness would be one of the first things I would stop.10=The money I put into improving my health and fitness is an important long term investment into me and my future. It’s incredibly important to me and is one of the last things I would stop investing in.


So you have taken the test and you have got a score. Now what?

Now you have a better understanding of the fitness of your mind the next step is to apply new habits that you can cope with. It is at this stage that so many people get it wrong. The mistake people make when trying to change habits is they go too big too soon.

Here’s an example. FITISM runs 28-day body transformation courses throughout the year. They are fantastic programmes. We put so much work into them. They evolve each year to contain the latest research in nutritional science, and physique improvements and we are incredibly proud of them. However, they are not for everybody.

In fact they are only appropriate for people scoring 25+ total points on the above FITMIND scorecard. If you score anything less you simply are not ready to take on an all-encompassing programme. This is the mistake of yo-yo dieters.

Those that make it work find a way of eating that works for them and they stick to it for life. After a while their new ways of eating and exercise routine is no longer new it is part of them (Make It Stick) When it works it is because you applied the right strategy at the right time that was appropriate for you.

If you score 4-25 then you need to improve the fitness of your mind by focusing on some simple yet fundamental habits within your life that are sensible and not too extreme. If you are towards this lower end of the FITMIND Scorecard then habits like drinking less alcohol, drinking more water, switching bad food for healthier alternatives (white bread to brown bread) and walking around the block after work would be some fantastic habits to start with. Certainly, a 28-day intensive course at this stage is not for you. Any success that came from that would be short-lived.

If you scored between 4-25 apply these simple habits for 28-90 days and your mind will become fitter. Here is an example of a common problem that lots of people face and how getting to the route of the problem and applying some simple changes in habits can help you get to the right place.

Problem: “I don’t have time to exercise around work…”

Habit suggestion 1: Most gyms open early, some are open 24 hours and you could even find a personal trainer to come to your home before work. So a simple solution would be to get up earlier.

Problem continued: “I would be far too tired to get up earlier….”

Habit suggestion 2: Look at ways to increase your energy in the mornings so you are able to get up earlier. Get to the route of the problem and ask yourself some probing questions around your sleep-wake habits. What time do you go to bed? Do you watch TV late into the evening? How many stimulants do you consume throughout the day and up to what time? Do you sleep in a room with a lot of light and noise? Do you wake to an alarm clock etc….

Habit suggestion 3: if you currently go to bed at midnight start going to bed at 10pm and get into a book instead of watching TV, if you’re drinking coffee until 9pm stop at 2pm, get a black out curtain and ear plugs to remove any noise and replace your alarm clock with a lumi lamp.

Can you see that getting into shape is not as simple as just doing more exercise and eating healthier food?

In this scenario addressing the habits around a better night’s sleep gets to the route of the real issues, which were around tiredness during the day driven by poor sleeping habits. So address the sleeping habits and you have removed the ‘too-tired/no-time’ barrier that was stopping you from fitting in some exercise.

Your exercise and nutrition approach should never get in the way of your life. It should improve it. So next time you decide it is time to get into shape, approach things in this order: Mind-Habits-Body and you will be amazed how fitness and healthy eating subtly becomes part of your life and even more amazed at how your body will change as a result. riddle_stop 2

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