If you’re trying to get results in the gym, then it’s important to be focusing on growth. A lot of times in the fitness world, especially when it comes to weight loss, we focus on what we’re trying to get rid of. We want to lose body fat, we want to eat less carbs, we want to stop being so weak and in pain. And all of these are great goals, but you’re not adding anything to your life. And without adding things, without having something to work and strive towards, you’re going to burn out and not have the energy or motivation to improve yourself and actually get real benefits.

That’s why it’s so important to focus on a growth mindset. A growth mindset is the belief that you can improve your abilities through effort and dedication. It’s about focusing on what you can do and what you want to add to your life, rather than what you don’t have or what you want to take away.

So how does this look in practice? Well, instead of focusing on what foods you shouldn’t eat, start focusing on what foods you should be eating. Instead of telling yourself, “I shouldn’t be eating cookies anymore,” change your outlook and say to yourself, “How much protein do I need to be eating a day?” The basic answer to that is you want to eat one gram of protein for every pound of weight that you want to have ideally or your ideal body weight.

It also means that when you go to the gym, instead of looking at all the big equipment and saying to yourself, “Oh, I can’t do this, I can’t do that,” find things that you can do that are attainable, that seem very reasonable for someone at your skill level. And just start there and start small. If you’ve never gotten a push-up before, then starting with a super heavy bench press is a stupid approach and a great way to demotivate yourself. Growth is small. Growth is not huge, enormous steps forward, especially when it comes to building healthy muscle.

We delude ourselves into thinking that we’re going to be able to achieve the most outrageous health goals simply because we saw someone on Instagram who’s most likely a professional athlete having huge success, without equating the years of effort and work that that person put into building their body that way. And I promise you, that person is working with a growth mindset. They are being very reasonable and rational with the amount of effort they need to put in for the outcomes that they want. And they don’t get down on themselves for having off days. They simply do the work and they show up when they need to.

There are some pretty straightforward metrics that the average adult simply isn’t getting that we know lead to positive outcomes both in the short term and long term. For example, 75% of American adults don’t get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week. Part of the reason why my program is strictly 2 hours is to help people get that focused strength training, and then they can make up the rest of the time by walking, going to a yoga class, or any activity that gets the heart pumping.

If you look at obesity, nearly 1 in 3 adults (30.7%) are overweight. More than 1 in 3 men (34.1%) and more than 1 in 4 women (27.5%) are overweight. More than 2 in 5 adults (42.4%) have obesity (including severe obesity). About 1 in 11 adults (9.2%) have severe obesity. Another thing that this population has been told constantly is “restrict, stop,” when really what they need to hear is what they need to be adding. And the thing they need to be adding is protein and exercise. There’s no better combination for getting your body healthy. They need an appropriate amount of protein and getting proper muscle-focused exercise.

So if you’re ready to take your fitness to the next level, start by adopting a growth mindset. Focus on what you can do and what you want to add to your life, and don’t be afraid to start small. With a growth mindset, you’ll be able to achieve anything you set your mind to.