How weight loss unlocked my self improvement mindset
Written by: Lombe Mwansa
Published: 13 April 2022


When there is something you really want, don't limit yourself by all that needs to be done. Think only about today.

Weight loss unlocked my self improvement mindset

They say the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. So read on to find out what I did to lose 51lbs and keep it off. You will also find my top three tips for starting your self-improvement journey off on the right foot. In this post you will learn how losing weight opened the door to a world I never knew existed, the world of self-improvement and personal development. You will also get my three starter steps to starting self-improvement and making it stick. 

As a teenager, my first introduction to personal development and self-improvement was when my dad watched Les Brown VHS tapes. At the time I saw Les Brown as a very energetic and charismatic guy, but my high school brain left it at that.

In university, I discovered the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen Covey and it was the first time the principles in the book resonated with me. I managed to burn the audio version to CD so I could listen to it when walking home from lectures. In the early days, I listened and applied the things that were easy to do when I felt like it. 

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people are: 

  1. Be proactive.
  2. Begin with the end in mind.
  3. Put first things first.
  4. Think “win-win”.
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  6. Synergize.
  7. Sharpen the saw

The first and second principles were told with stories I resonated with so I got into them but didn’t go any further in applying the remaining principles. Over time I was slowly engaging in personal development but I wasn’t consistent with its application. The demands of life, particularly after I qualified to teach, took their toll, and the amount of non-work-related reading I did significantly reduced.

Fast forward to my 30th birthday (the moment that changed it all)

My health was the worst it had been, teaching had me overworked and fatherhood contributed significantly to my lack of sleep. Spoiler alert there was no health scare to shock me into action. Like me, you may see and hear many stories of people that turned their lives around after a health scare but I can assure you that is not my story.

My gut check came on my 30th birthday. My wife and our first daughter spent a lovely day out in a town called Stratford Upon Avon, famed for being Shakespeare’s birthplace. We visited a butterfly farm and hired a boat for me to try and row us up and down the river. I’d never rowed a boat before but I took on the challenge I did a good job… I didn’t capsize us, get us stranded, or crash us into other boats. 

“Everything was perfect in its imperfect way”

It was that day I realized that if I didn’t do something about my health, there wouldn’t be many more birthdays for me to look forward to.

When my daughter was born, I promised her that I would always be able to carry her. I don’t know if it was turning 30 that made me think about my life and project into my future, but I realized that my current trajectory didn’t look good.

If I didn’t change something, my health was getting in the way of me keeping the promise I made to my daughter.

At the end of the 2012 London Olympics, I made the decision to take my health seriously and do whatever it took to get in shape. I would commit to doing whatever it took to live healthier for longer

Happy father & daughter in park
Me & my daughter having fun in a park.

The three things I focused on were:

  • Pick a training program.
  • Get a coach.
  • Do the work.

The game changer

This moment of decisive action was two years on from my 30th birthday. At that time, I had tried fad diets and joined gyms but I didn’t make the most of them. I don’t look back on these endeavors with regret because by getting it wrong I eventually found something that worked for me. Something I have been able to sustain and consistently do for almost 10 years.

What truly changed the game for me was backing my decision to be better. With an investment in a coach and a home fitness program. The program was a 60-day high intensity interval training program. That was labeled as the hardest workout ever put on DVD. I literally jumped in at the deepened, but I wouldn’t recommend that as a starting point. Because some of the setbacks I had could have easily derailed me if it wasn’t for the trainers and the help of my coach.

My coach was instrumental in helping me see the value of working on my mindset. The ridiculously challenging workouts were just a small tip of the iceberg but at the time I had no idea. All I knew was I had to show up each day, do the workout and follow the plan. I failed many times, I got sick and picked up injuries along the way, but I was determined to finish what I had started.

Keystone habits

It took me closer to 80 days to complete my first 60-day program but once I finished it I went back for more and completed 2 further rounds determined to fail forward and do better with each round. What I hadn’t realized was that moving my body daily was becoming a keystone habit. I finally had something I could do consistently, something I could also attach other healthy behaviors to.

Bruce Lee Absorb self improvement mindset
Bruce Lee

Something about struggling my way through challenging workouts made other challenging aspects of my life easier to take on. Carving out 40-60 minutes a day 6 days a week helped me manage my time better and structure my day more effectively.

When my coach started suggesting self-help books for me to read, she found less resistance than before because I could now afford the time to read 10 pages a day.  

Exercising daily helped me improve my physical fitness and I lost 51lbs in the process. In addition to losing weight, I gained consistency in practicing my habits of better health daily. I gained a love for personal development, and I began my journey of mastering my mindset. 

10 years on and my fitness habit remains a vital key in everything I do. I dive into personal development activities daily by reading or listening to audiobooks and podcasts that help me to master my mindset. I take it a step further by applying one or two principles so I can figure out if they work for me and my current situation in life. 

In the words of Bruce Lee “Absorb what is useful. Reject what is useless. Add what is essentially your own.”

Three things I do that you can use to get you started on your journey of self-improvement today. 

  1. I invest in my growth (how much time is your worth?) Investing in coaches is the greatest investment I have made because of the time they save me. A coach/mentor will help you learn something in minutes that may have taken you years to learn if you did it on your own.
  • I focus on long-term habits (can you take small steps daily?) I found that developing my habits of health was easiest when I took smalls steps daily and more challenging when I took a big leap forward every once in a while. 
    Exercising regularly was my example but it could have easily been journaling daily, meditating, dancing, singing, or playing a musical instrument. 
  • I think big but start small – This is the most important one:
    Early on, my setbacks came from trying to change too much in one go. These days when I start learning a new habit, I bring it in by making small adjustments. I look to take small actions daily so I can do them consistently over time.
    • When I decided to limit my coffee drinking to 1 cup a day, I found it easier to increase my water intake instead of just taking away the coffee. I had to break this down further by drinking a glass of water with each meal.

Read this beneficial article From stopping my procrastination beast, to lift off.

Try them out and let me know how it goes via our contact form or the comments.

I hope you found value in reading this blog post and I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments below.


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