Body transformation starts with the mind.

I know, sounds crazy, right? Why would shedding fat and building muscle have anything to do with the mind? But in my 10 years of experience getting results in and outside of the gym, I now, more than ever, believe that body transformation starts with the mind.

It has nothing to do with the kind of gym you go to.

It has nothing to do with the kind of exercises you do (ok, maybe a little).

It has nothing to do with how good you look at the gym or how stylish is your gym outfit.

It has nothing to do with looking cool and collected while working out (in fact, quite the opposite).

It DOES have a lot to do with:
The attitude and concentration you have while working out.

The focus you maintain inside and outside the gym.

The decisions, healthy or unhealthy, you make about food.

The mindset you maintain towards health, exercise, and effort to achieve your goals.

If this all sounds like common sense, then kudos to you, you’re on the right path. If it doesn’t, then bear with me as I explain further. Perhaps my own story can illustrate the importance of mindset.

When I started working out, I was 19, in college, and completely ignorant about the weight room, lifting weights, nutrition, and how to transform your body in general. I believed, wrongfully, that to lose weight I had to do cardio. And so I would run everyday, for 2, 3, 4 miles, and I’d lose a few pounds, then gain it right back. This went on for several years, this cycle of back and forth weight loss and gain, along with the concordant spikes in motivation and loss of willpower.

So that was my first mistake: ignorance of the right way to do things. But ignorance is easily dealt with by simply educating yourself, as you are doing with this book. There are thousands of articles, books, web forums, blogs devoted to educating people about nutrition and workouts, so ignorance isn’t the main problem today in why people fail at their fitness goals. (And we’ll cover the knowledge you need to know later).

No, the problem is mindset.

You see, the #1 reason most people fail is not ignorance, but because they have the wrong mindset. Despite its lowly status today, there was a reason ancient philosophers were so highly respected: if you get the intellectual foundation correct from the beginning, you set yourself up for success.  Today, your mindset is the philosophy you have, and it’s just as critical to get correct.

So what is the dream body mindset?
I’ll use an anecdote which I think illustrates the absolutely most successful mindset to have in the gym.

There are 2 guys in the gym. One is jacked, with cutoff sleeves, his biceps and triceps rippling, his pecs threatening to burst through his shirt. He is lifting without exertion or sweat; in fact, it seems as if lifting weights is effortless. We’ll call him Mr. Buff.

Then there is another guy who, quite frankly, looks like the opposite of Mr. Buff. He’s sweating profusely, and it looks as if he’s struggling to even get the weights off the ground. It appears he could collapse at any moment, and it’s doubtful he will even finish his workout. He also has a huge belly and flabby arms and obviously hasn’t taken care of his body in years. Let’s call him Mr. Heavy Breath.

If you couldn’t guess by now, I’m more impressed with Mr. Heavy Breath. Not because there’s anything wrong with Mr. Buff, who definitely worked extremely hard to achieve the body he has, but because Mr. Heavy Breath embodies the attitude and effort anyone, regardless of what they’ve achieved in life, should be putting in the gym every time they enter.

You see, it’s not about what you’ve achieved so far, whether in life or in the gym. It’s about the effort you are making towards tomorrow’s results. Past achievements are impressive, and you should be proud of them, but not too proud, because they are past news, they are history, and if you rest on what you’ve done previously you will never reach higher plateaus. And that is the exact mindset you need when you step in the gym.

Whoever is working harder in the gym, is embodying the dream body mindset more so than anyone else. Over time, if Mr. Heavy Breath has the same work ethic and eating discipline that other gym-goers have, Mr. Heavy Breath will get more results in less time.

I’m not the most ripped, I’m not the strongest, but I have achieved what 90% of people haven’t. Yet when I see someone working hard in the gym, harder than I am, I know that they are embodying the dream body mindset more than I am at that moment, and I need to retool my brain and focus as well, no matter how much stronger or weaker I am compared to him.

If you can understand this idea and come to admire effort, not previous results, you have taken a huge first step towards a healthier, stronger body. All that matters in the gym is your effort you put in that day.

The hardest worker in the gym is the person you should be most impressed with.