Whether you are looking to lose ten pounds and feel more energetic or envisioning a deeper and fuller transformation into a whole new you, the path to success begins with clearing away outdated messages and embracing the truth you deserve and the success you desire. To do this, you must understand how to harness and change your thoughts. This requires you to be fully awake, aware, and present in your life. The Deserve Level Test in my last post will help you master these skills. You’ll have the key to your fitness and weight loss goals, as well as all your other life aspirations.

My deep certainty in the power of the mind to change your body and your life came first from my own experiences, then from observations of the world around me, and finally from working closely with clients. The more I help people balance out with positive mindful practices, effective and efficient exercise plans, and mindful eating guidelines, the more I see my clients succeed in all areas of their lives. And these strategies can help you flourish, too.

A personal trainer is like a therapist or a hair stylist—people trust you from the start, and while they are doing sit­ups or push­ups, you get to see how they are wired. I hear about clients’ dreams, fears, and doubts, and I have seen some shocking patterns and themes emerge, some to avoid and some worth emulating. My goal is to show you how to tilt your experience and shift your perspective, training your mind and body to see yourself with a new love and appreciation—­the sort of love and appreciation that will allow you to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “Damn, I look and feel good,” and mean it.

Many people suffer from insecurity, anxiety, and sometimes erratic and extreme mood swings that keep them from being whole and happy. These people believe they deserve to be perceived as beautiful—­or to lose weight, get fit, earn money—­only if they practice almost torture-­grade fitness and weight loss strategies, find a magic pill, or employ some other drastic measure. More often, people just don’t believe they deserve to lose weight. Instead, they believe that they are overweight because they deserve it at some level.

The key here is that what you perceive is what will manifest. You might be beautiful outside but miserable inside, or you may truly struggle with excess weight. Either way, what you ultimately believe about yourself will become your truth. And belief lives only in your thoughts. That’s why the right frame of mind, attitudes, beliefs, and internal thinking strategies are key to achieving a truly successful, balanced, and emotionally secure life.

SET SPECIFIC INTENTIONS

Clearly knowing what path you are on will help you remove distractions and self­-defeating habits from your life. Establishing extremely detailed daily goals and a plan of action that resonates with the unique vision you have for yourself can result in twice as much weight loss compared to those who don’t have any planning in place, according to an English study. Researchers from the University of Sussex and Warsaw University had women 18 to 76 write out detailed plans for handling temptation triggers, such as drinking herbal tea instead of giving in to nighttime sweet cravings, or keeping healthy snacks in their purses to avoid the vending machine or fast food joints when they got rushed at work. After eight weeks, the planners had lost more than nine pounds compared to just over four pounds in the no-planning group. In another study, Israeli researchers found that of 632 women and men, ages 35 to 50, the seven who had a plan of action for dealing with temptations and challenges lost 40% more.

Using images is a powerful way to get a clear picture of what you want in your life. When you feel your willpower wane, or if you start to succumb to negative or self-defeating thoughts and feelings, picturing positive images will increase your ability to stick to your goals. And it’s versatile! You can do it when you are riding on the subway, driving your car, waiting in line at the grocery store, delayed at the airport, or on hold on the phone.

Studies show that mental imagery stimulates areas of the brain linked to higher­order thinking, self-regulation, and impulse control that are associated with increased motivation, confidence, and self­belief. Scientists who study visualization have some theories for why this works. First, mentally seeing your future develops a visual layout in your brain. This works like a blueprint or a road map that shows you how to get to where you want to go. Repetitive practice of visualization is a powerful exercise, speculate researchers, because it lays down actual physical frameworks via neural connections in your brain. Second, mental practices have been shown to be physically effective because they engage your muscles even when you are sitting still, and increase muscle mass. The more specific your mental image, the more specific your results will be. You can experience the release of empowering chemicals to engage your brain, tap your passion, and reinforce your resolve and resiliency. Visualizing success is like a reservoir of hope. It’s having the ability to tap visual resources that allow you to see new possibilities that crystallize success.

Check out Joel Harper’s website, or click here to buy his book, Mind Your Body: 4 Weeks to a Leaner, Healthier Life.