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PROJECT YOU: Mindset Trap “No-No’s” to Watch Out For


As I have said many times and outlined many times, the reason so many people fail at weight-loss and physique transformation efforts, is not from a lack of knowledge or a lack of information. Most commonly, the cause of failure is simply a faulty mindset. Mind you, some mindsets start off well and good. But as the process to achievement unfolds, these sound mindsets veer off-track.

By following certain prescriptions for achievement, the self-dialogue in your mind changes – and it can change in a way to that leads to self-sabotage and eventually failure.


Everyone who has ever tried and failed at weight-loss and physique transformation has experienced the following typical cycle-> you start out motivated and eager -> You invest solidly in a honeymoon period and tell yourself it’s all great -> and then it all falls apart and ends in divorce – divorce from the process that would have led you to achieving your transformation goal.

Think about it – why does one person succeed and another one does not? Is the successful person special and you are not? Are they worthy, and you are not?

Why is it that two people can be in a similar starting place, they begin doing and following the same wise protocol; both may have about an equal amount of potential and capability for achieving their goal- and yet one person implodes and fails miserably while the other once achieves the goal?


Answer: Because of a different mental attitude.

Too many people just hold on to old mental software programs that no longer work, or maybe never did work in the first place. And THAT DOG WON’T HUNT!

If you always do what you’ve always done ……

If I had a dime for every time I had to remind a client or a potential client of the expression – “If you always do, what you’ve always done – then you’ll always get what you’ve always got

And in terms of outcomes, nowhere does this adage hold truer than when it comes to a mindset of achievement vs. a mindset that leads to failure.

Look, you can start out with a fresh mindset unimpeded by obstacles – and all that is directly in front of you is your vision of achievement. But obstacles present themselves in the real-world. And mindsets change.

So often, people begin a process for one reason, but continue it for another. Or, they just don’t understand that what got you to here; won’t get you to there.

EXAMPLES: Preparing for a wedding, won’t prepare you for a marriage. A honeymoon is not the same as a marriage.  Falling in love doesn’t prepare you for staying in love – it just shows you have the capability to do so. And on and on it goes.

I use this specific ‘love’ example because of the emotional and romantic attachment elements of these examples. Well a mindset to achieving a permanent weight-loss and physique transformation goal often works the same way. People tend to romanticize physique transformation beyond the daily realities required to achieve it.

Your romantic vision of achieving the goal may be separate from the actuality of the process of 1) undertaking the goal, and 2) sustaining the goal all along the way AND once you get there.

So let’s talk about some mindset landmines to avoid.

Let’s talk about some

No-no’s to long-term progress and achievement

All of the above is prologue:

Below are some common mindset changes that often ensue during the ‘engagement’ of the physique transformation process. These are no-no’s to avoid, but they are so common, I need to discuss them here. Below are some of the main self-sabotaging mindsets that lead to failure.

These are in no particular order and more than one of these may apply to you: So, if you recognize yourself in any of what is below – take notes!

No no #1: No comparing your body to how “you used to look decades ago” or comparing your body now to the one time you got in shape and competed. How you used to look in your youth, has little bearing on what it takes to change your body right here and right now. Lamenting over lost youth is not a motivator, it’s a tormentor. And the mindset this kind of comparison leads to doesn’t help you; it drains you.

I can’t imagine what it would be like living inside my own head, if I constantly compared my body now, to the body I had when I was in all the magazines decades ago.

No no #2: No compare, contrast, compete – with anyone else, especially total strangers on social media. This is an offshoot of no-no #1 and is a useless and often damaging comparison.  This is another no-no that so many people nod their heads in agreement with; and yet, most of the people they follow on social media or who get inside their heads are all people who are body-obsessed and post constant pictures of perfect or near perfect bodies and such.

What I have witnessed time and again, is that so many of you kid yourselves into saying you follow these people and their pictures because it motivates you.  And sometimes that can be true, but most of the time it just leads to sucking the motivation away and damaging the self-esteem necessary to carry you all the way through to a changed lifestyle. I’ll talk more about essential self-esteem in the solution section below:

No-no #3: No goal date for transformation. I’ve talked about this so many times. Whether it is these lame 12 week transformation contests, or preparing for your wedding or some other occasion, more often than not a goal date just adds an incredible amount of self-induced useless pressure. And what is worse, even if you manage to stay diligent till that goal date, after the goal date is reached, very often all hell breaks loose, as a way to release all the built-up self-induced pressure. And the result is you gain all the weight back and then, not learning from experience, you go right back to choosing another goal date for transformation.

And once again, this is another way people kid themselves. So many of you convince yourself that without a goal date to aim for, you just won’t be consistent, and so, having a goal date is ‘motivating.’ But in reality, the opposite is true – and the pressure is just too much, and self-sabotage is the eventual result.

Long-term sustainable physique transformation and weight-loss is about a lifestyle change. And in that regard, ‘the process is the goal, and the goal is the process.’ There is no finish line – there is no end date.

This is not a roller-coaster emotional ride you jump on, experience – and then get off. In actuality, the successful process is a merry-go-round that just keeps going round and round.

No-no #4: No numbers goals. Too many of you get all caught up in the numbers game, even though many of you claim to know better. You become all about some target goal weight you have in mind, but you discount how that number doesn’t give you much of an indicator at all as to what percentage of that weight is muscle, what percentage is fat, and what percentage is water – nor do you consider any ramifications of how these number changes influence your metabolism.

And then, when the inevitable happens and the number on the scale plateaus, as it certainly will, you end up losing your $&^%* and thinking something is wrong and then you go and recalculate numbers based on what was faulty logic to begin with. You do anything to make that scale move, and you deny any long-term consequences of that sort of thinking.

The superior approach would be to forget about numbers and realize that how clothes fit, and what the mirror tells you, these are good enough indicators of progress – and they are far more honest than a number on a scale.

So what if, just for one month – you ditched the scale and really, REALLY got into listening to your body.

No-No #5: No fear of food – and of course this includes CARBS! Why is it that people who tend to talk the most about weight-control, and weight-loss, and body-composition are people who invest in a fear of food mindset. Plain and simple – there are authors and other experts out there who invest in demonizing healthy whole foods. But no foods should be demonized – especially healthy foods.

There is no need to fear whole foods, even starches and fruit – stop the nonsense.

There is an amazing amount of hypocrisy in this sort of mindset.  People can seem to compartmentalize their hypocrisy when it comes to this fear of food. For instance, they won’t eat fresh fruit, but they’ll go out for dinner, and drink alcohol and indulge in CRAP food. (Calories Rich And Processed)

Now, for people who have an imprinted fear of food in their diet mindsets, it isn’t really possible to just switch this imprint off for a month. So instead, what if you just allowed a wider selection of whole foods for that one month period, while still abiding in the no-no rules above, of no counting calories and no weigh-ins – imagine what you may learn!

No-no #6:  No fear of clothes and mirrors. Unfortunately yes, this is a very real thing, sad as it is to say. I’ve had clients who will only have bathroom mirrors from the shoulders, up. I’ve had clients who won’t face a bathroom mirror after a shower until their towel is wrapped around them from chest to thigh. Until they can’t see their body, they keep their backs to the mirror.

And the classic – ‘Does this make me look fat?’ The question itself, has fear implied within it. For one month just try and adapt ‘the purple hats’ strategy. Dress for comfort. Dress for what YOU YOURSELF like – stop lamenting over clothes that no longer fit – and stop fearing trying on clothes that ‘should’ fit, but may not.

No-no #7: No self-hate, self-talk. Almost all of the above points have been leading to this one. Slip ups and stumbles do not have to lead to self-rejecting thoughts. The next time you catch yourself in self-condemnation thought and emotion for whatever reason; ask yourself if you would talk to your friends or your kids this same way you are talking to yourself in your mind? (if you catch yourself in self-hate, worthless criticism mode then “change the channel” in your head)

It is an amazing but true thing that practically the only people who ever say mean, insulting, wounding things to you about your transformation efforts – is from you yourself and what takes place inside your own head!

No-no #8: No tracking numbers to use as a way to judge yourself (shame/reward cycle). A lot of people push back on this one, so let me say this. If tracking apps and such can be just a tool in the toolbox for you, then go for it. But more often than not, when I dig deep with clients, something else entirely is going on. These tracking apps become traps! They induce stress. They lead to self-shaming. These same people can’t imagine not using tracking apps and/or weighing themselves every single day – and yet none of it ever gives them joy or enlivens their spirit. It is something they either measure up to, or they do not. And with that kind of pressure, constant stress is the result.

And to reiterate: – if the above depiction is not you – then fine. But if even a small part of this is true for you – then again, try for one month to use no tracking apps and put away your bathroom scale.

Just try it – see if it releases anxiety or causes more of it.

No-no #9: No false motivators: For example, when you use pictures of pro fitness people, or when you use clothes that no longer fit as “motivation.” More often than not, you know those things only make you feel bad about yourself, but you tell yourself they ‘work’ for you. I call these type of things ‘false motivators’ because again, more often than not, these things do not motivate you, they torment you. And torment leads to frustration and frustration leads to ‘screw it.’

There are all kinds of psychological studies that are labeled along the lines as “Facebook Envy.”

These studies show that people who spend the most time on social media tend to be the most depressed.

When it comes to physique and perfect bodies and all the rest, most of you would do better to focus your social media attention somewhere else – like why not focus on achievement sites and mindset sites, and let go of sites that only focus on physiques and figures.

No-no #10: No training yourself into the ground to complete exhaustion and calling it “progress.” For real people living in the real world, progress is more about consistency than it is about intensity. That doesn’t mean go easy, but there still exists this nonsense out there that ‘all it takes is all you got.’ That kind of mindset will burn out most of you in short-order. A good rule of thumb here is that you should always end each exercise session with a feeling that you could have done a little bit more.

This is a very efficient way to get enough stimulation, while still ensuring critical recovery for next training session. And this final point is ESPECIALLY important as you age past 50.

No-no #11: No unrealistic expectations for EITHER process or results! Too many of you go into a physique transformation project with unrealistic expectations. Very often, people will tell me “I can work out 7 days per week.” But then they don’t factor in time for food prep, other demands on their time, their family, their work, their errands – and they just create a very unrealistic schedule that eventually does them in.

Your real life and lifestyle must always be factored in to adapting a fitness and diet-regimen. Remember, your fitness regimen must fit in to your life – it is unrealistic to expect your life to fit into your fitness regimen.

On the other side of this equation are people who can’t or won’t devote the necessary time it takes for training and for meal prep yet they expect the same results of people who make these necessary and crucial lifestyle adjustments.

I’ve had people sign up with me who will say they can only workout twice per week for about 30 mins, and that they don’t cook and won’t cook – and yet they send me pictures of someone they want to look like who is obviously a fitness enthusiast who devotes multiple days per week to exercise and who is completely regimented and committed to a lean-out diet strategy.

Even into my 5th decade Coaching people for physique transformation I am still amazed by how many people are completely unrealistic about what results they think they can achieve, and how little commitment they think it takes to achieve it.


The above is a list of common mindset landmines to avoid if you really want to reach your goals. Many of these above mindset traps are example of ‘stinkin thinkin’ where you actually think and feel that these tactics motivate you, but you never investigate whether these assumptions are true.

So the first solution is to avoid these traps but recognizing them if your mind starts going there.

The key element of all these above no-no’s to progress is how they can lead to negative thinking and feeling as your process unfolds.

So understand this: If your process undertaking isn’t enjoyable, then all the encouragement in the world isn’t going to help and you won’t be able to talk yourself into staying with it for very long once a negative mindset starts to influence your thinking.

Furthermore, obsessing over your body only makes the whole process harder and less enjoyable: If you recognize yourself in even a couple of these no-no traps above; then a little less obsessing and a little more appreciating of your body is likely in order.

Your body is doing what it can for you, based on how you program it to work, or not work. So, obsessing over it, or getting mad and frustrated with it – all of that works against you, not for you!

And, obsessing over your body, often just leads you to overthinking, over-analyzing, and being over-consumed with details that don’t really matter. In truth – it’s almost always trivial details that are the root and the route of a failed physique transformation

Let’s talk about right-mindsets for achievement:

The Self-Esteem Connection

F. Skinner, the world-famous behavioral psychologist, illustrated through his experiments that an animal rewarded for good behavior will learn tasks much more rapidly, and retain what it learns far more effectively, than an animal punished for bad behavior. Decade after decade since Skinner, studies have shown that the same applies to humans.

Constant criticism is dangerous, because it eventually wounds your precious pride, it breaks your self-confidence and it hurts your sense of self-nurturing, self-validation and self-encouragement – and then resentment swoops in to fill that void.

Capabilities and potential wither under constant criticism; but they blossom under constant encouragement.

By constant criticizing, you do not make lasting changes – yes, you can shame yourself into short-term behavioral compliance – but at what cost to your self-esteem?

And self-esteem is the engine that drives long-term transformation – without it, you are likely to fail.


As you engage the process to change, there is nothing you need more than constant nourishment and refueling for your self-esteem. This isn’t something you do once the weight is lost and your physique is transformed. NO – Fueling and re-fueling your self-esteem is the mental and emotional sustenance that delivers you to the destination of permanent weight-loss and transformation. It MUST BE part of the process. And there is no good quantification app for that!

You fuel your body – but are you fueling your self-esteem in a way that keeps you motivated and believing in yourself as you go along.

Look at these no-no propositions again. How many of them are helping you fuel and refuel your self-esteem? How many of them are draining it?

My suggestion is that just for one month, you let go of any of these ‘no-no’s’ you are attached to. See where that ‘letting go’ takes you. You may be surprised that letting go unburdens you of so many pressures and internal dialogue that has been sabotaging you for so long.

In the end this is PROJECT YOU: And the project must serve you as much as you serve it.

It must be enjoyable and invigorating, and it must nurture and support and fuel self-esteem all along the way. And it must be about where you are, and who you are right now, today.