Reframing Limiting Beliefs Around Health & Exercise


In today’s episode of the Inspiration2grow podcast, I am talking about some common limiting beliefs around making health and fitness changes and how we can powerfully reframe them.  I am also opening up on how fitness has given me new life.

This past weekend was my birthday and I was very lucky to celebrate it with friends on their catamaran near the island of Grenada.  It was epic and will go down as one of the more memorable ones, for sure.
But, I got thinking about my birthday and all that I am grateful for and a very strong message came through to me.  One that I would like to talk about today and hopefully inspire you to make some changes like the ones I did.

I would like to preface this personal story by saying that I have always led a very active lifestyle:  hiking, biking, dressage riding and competing, I love going to the gym, skiing in Austria, power walking, etc.  I thrived and kept myself in good physical condition through sports of all kinds.  However…

Things in my life started to go downhill about 6 or 7 years ago.  While our businesses – mine and my husband’s – were thriving and growing by leaps and bounds, my health was suffering.  I found myself in a downward spiral and couldn’t seem to get my act together.
Then one day when I was on a power walk with some ladies, I experienced the most excruciating pain on my left side, in my groin and down my leg.  Initially, I thought I had pulled something but after some rest, the situation got worse.  During the next few months, my left leg started giving out on me – suddenly and with no warning signs or sharp painful sensations.  I didn’t feel comfortable carry around breakables anymore for fear of crumbling to the ground and shattering things.

After a visit to my doctor and months waiting to have an MRI, he told me a needed a new hip.  I was speechless, not expecting this diagnosis at the age of 50.  He added that an operation wouldn’t even be considered until I turned 60.  So, I asked him what I was supposed to do in the meantime.  I received the standard answer from doctors in Canada – do whatever feels good and take pain meds to get through the painful times.  What?  That’s all you’ve got for me.  I very quickly realized that I had to do my research and find ways of helping myself to endure the next 10 years.

I made some significant changes to my nutrition, trying to eat more plant-based meals and to stay away from inflammation-inducing foods.  I threw away all my shoes and replaced them with footwear that offered suitable support.  I tried to stay active – by that I mean walking my dog and hiking on weekends but walking on paved roads aggravated my situation a lot.  My husband was the one to give me a really good tip – take smaller strides.  This proved to be very helpful and allowed me to enjoy my dog walks a bit more.

The years progressed and I made mild attempts at starting a workout routine but every time I did, my body rebelled in the most ferocious way. My mind was willing to work out, but my body wasn’t. Pain was a condition I learned to live with.  I started to gain weight because of my lack of exercise, and I started to indulge a bit too much in comfort food to cheer me up and dampen my depressive feelings.  I could barely move, I couldn’t exercise or remain active, I could only work in my office, at my desk and enjoy food.  The downward spiral just became worse.

Then, during Covid, my body deteriorated even more.  Now, I had pain generating from my lower back and it was so bad I couldn’t find any position that was comfortable.  Even sleeping eluded me and this made me very irritable. 

The painful sensations from my back started to affect my ‘good’ side.  Within months, I couldn’t get dressed by myself, lost my balance because my right side was numb and I was slipping more and more into a very depressive state.  I hated my body.  The only way I could make it through the day was with painkillers and the only way I could sleep was with sleeping pills.  This situation unsettled me a lot as I am not one to rely on medication to simply get through the day.

I was very concerned and asked my doctor for diagnostics.  Xrays showed that I needed both hips replaced and that there were some issues affecting my lower back, but nothing definite was established.  The only treatment I was suggested was:  more medication and physio therapy.  By now, my stomach was rebelling due to all the various meds I had to take. 

Needless to say, I was a mess – both mentally and physically – because I felt like I was living in someone else’s body.  Surely mine wouldn’t be so full of pain and immobility.  It was very hard to accept that I couldn’t participate in all the activities I had once enjoyed so much.

Finally, after insisting on an MRI, I found out the there were serious issues in my lower back that would likely require surgery if physio hadn’t helped so far.  I also met with an orthopedic surgeon who told me both hips should be replaced as soon as possible. 

I couldn’t believe it.  I was looking at 3 surgeries if I wanted to have any relief and get back to a normal, mildly active lifestyle again.  This really took the wind out of my sails.

In the meantime, my husband and I had gone through some pretty significant changes in our lives.  We decided to sell our home and move into a smaller house closer to the hospital for me and my pending surgeries.  We both left our jobs – my husband retired and I sold my business.

At this time, I found myself faced with two choices – stay sedentary on the couch in pain OR be active in pain.  I chose the later and I am so happy I did.
I had reached such a low point and the surgeon told me – do whatever you want, your hips can’t get any worse than they are now.  So, that’s exactly what I did.

Having moved to a new town full of fitness possibilities, I started swimming and attending aquafit classes.  I also took out a gym membership and began exercising. My bike and I got out to explore our new area and I even signed up for a 30 km bike race.  It was painful at first, but I did everything with caution and modifications.  Soon I started to feel less pain and I found my mobility to be a bit better.

I had seen my orthopedic surgeon in April, then again in July and the last visit was in October.  At the initial visit I could barely walk into his office.  By October’s visit, I could almost run the hallways of the hospital and at that visit I convinced him to let me wait indefinitely on scheduling the surgeries for my hips.  He was astonished at how well  I could move and the fact that I didn’t need any medication to get me through the day any longer.

What did I do to help myself?  I advocated for myself and no longer listened to what health professionals were telling me to do, namely avoid pain and get through with pain meds.

I started to exercise religiously, concentrated on shredded a few pounds and adapted my nutrition to be even healthier than it was before.

Exercising gave me back my life.

I feel born again with a completely new body.

I see this as the greatest birthday gift ever, and this is the message that came through to me as a podcast episode.
Give yourself the gift of exercise.

I want to make it very clear and add a disclaimer that I am by no means giving medical advice here.  If you find yourself in a similar situation, be sure to consult your medical professional.

So, today I feel better than ever; I go swimming every day; I attend spin classes; I lift weights at the gym 5 – 6 times each week; I follow a simple nutrition plan that I put together myself, which has helped me lose 10 + kilos to date; I have eliminated alcohol, sugar, white flour, fried and processed foods from my diet.
But the real needle-mover for me was undoubtedly – exercising.

Movement is medicine.

So, you’ve heard my story of going from pain and immobility to thriving and enjoying life more-or-less pain free.  Exercise done consistently made all the difference; it restored my health and helped me love my body again.

I really want to drive the point home here that exercising should be part of everybody’s day.  It should be a non-negotiable.  But far too often, I hear women express their limiting beliefs around getting fit and working out.

I’d like to address these limiting beliefs and help your reframe them.

The first and probably most common belief regarding making fitness and health-related changes is …

“I don’t have the time to meal-prep and stick to an exercise routine.”

Here’s a powerful reframe: You have to see fitness and health as core components of routine self-maintenance, like putting gas in your car.  Then the game changes.  Your car cannot run without gas, can it?  So, think of health and fitness as something that increases your brainpower, energy levels and creativity.  Then they become a priority!  Own the change you want to make and lock it in as a non-negotiable to your day’s schedule.

The R.O.I. (return on investment) from exercising is immense.  Look at my example – it gave my life back and enabled me to have an active lifestyle again.  That’s priceless, if you ask me.

Maintaining and improving your health and fitness level must become a priority.  Use it or lose it.

How to find time?  Track how much time is spent on the various activities throughout your day.  Then evaluate which tasks can be re-ordered, batched, eliminated, or delegated.  Schedule in your fitness and health-related tasks as me-time tiger-time and fiercely adhere to your plan.  See it like a meeting with yourself.

You have to view health and fitness as high-ranking priorities that help you in all other areas of your life.  By reframing how you look at these things, it will become a consistent item on your schedule no matter how busy your days get.

The second limiting belief is that because your previous efforts at a healthy, fit lifestyle did not work there is no use even trying again.

Your powerful reframe:  All my past experiences and attempts were merely opportunities to collect data and these will make me more powerful at devising my new health and fitness strategy going forward.  You could say to yourself, “I use past experiences to guide me, but they don’t define me.”

Having tried approaches and workouts that didn’t work in the past does not reflect on your worthiness or your ability to try a new approach.  It is likely the case that methods used in the past were not adapted to your needs and that a brand new approach (after the limiting beliefs are addressed) may work much better. 

Keep in mind…a one-size-fits-all approach to fitness and health generally doesn’t work for most people. 

The third and final limiting belief that I am going to address today is that people don’t know where to start.

Your reframe here is:  When you actually begin, later or not at all, will not offer any solutions to the problem of not knowing where to start.  The internet and bookstores have tons of fitness plans, workouts, diets and approaches to choose from.  Your new line of thought could be, “There are abundant options out there to choose from; however, I can find a way that resonates with me and my dietary needs.”

Before starting a diet, you should consult your medical professional and seek guidance from a nutritionist.  I don’t want to recommend any specific diet plan or workout.

I know what works for me, but…

Everyone’s physical condition is different, everyone’s goals are different.  Your best bet is to do your research well and rely on qualified professionals to advise you best.

Any long-term and lasting changes you want to implement and maintain around health and fitness will only work or truly stick after your limiting beliefs are addressed and when you have the right strategies in place to support diet and exercise routines.

I truly hope to have inspired you to get your health back by exercising regularly. 

It can start by just putting on your running shoes and going for a walk each day.  Just do it!

Thanks for tuning in and getting inspired.

In case you haven’t heard it yet today, let me be the first to tell you…

You are amazing, capable and so full of potential.  I believe in you.  Now, go out there and show the world what you are made of.  

Til next time,




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