How to Build Confidence
When it comes to creating healthy habits and reaching your nutrition goals, confidence is key. Wondering how to build confidence in the first place?
Your mindset and beliefs about your own abilities shape your progress and ultimately lead to your success. So, if you’re looking to start a nutrition plan or make changes to your lifestyle, building confidence is an important part of the process.
Confidence is the feeling of self-assurance or trust arising from your abilities. But let’s be honest, you don’t just wake up one day beaming with confidence. It takes time and effort to build.
There are some simple steps that will show you how to build confidence while you create sustainable habits and enjoy a healthy life.
How to build confidence with a growth mindset
It can be scary to start something new! Whether you’re starting a new nutrition plan or want to make changes to your lifestyle, you might be faced with fears or insecurity.
Would it surprise you to know that you don’t have to be confident to start!?
Confidence is built through action, trial and error, building self-efficacy and creating integrity with yourself.
If you have a growth mindset, you are more likely to take action, even if you’re attempting something brand new, have little experience or facing obstacles.
Having a growth mindset means that you believe in your own ability to change and improve through effort.
People with a growth mindset:
- Embrace challenges
- Believe abilities & attributes can be developed
- View failure as a chance to grow
- Are inspired by the success of others
- Willing to accept & apply feedback
- Willing to learn from their mistakes & overcome obstacles
On the flip side, those with a fixed mindset:
- Avoid challenges
- Believe abilities & attributes are innate
- View failure as proof of unintelligence
- Are threatened by the success of others
- Unwilling to accept or apply feedback
- View mistakes & obstacles as a reason to give up
Which do you most identify with? If you notice that you’re trending towards a fixed mindset, don’t worry. With this new awareness, you can begin to notice when your fixed mindset is coming into play and actively remind yourself that you’re human - your brain is DESIGNED to grow and change.
A simple step towards developing a growth mindset is to reflect back on all of the ways in which you’ve naturally grown and changed throughout your life. The fact that you know more now than you did as a teenager is proof of your ability to learn and shape your future.
You are far more likely to overcome obstacles, build confidence and find success if you believe that you have the ability to grow and make progress, than if you believe your abilities are innate and cannot be changed - remind yourself of this!
If you’ve come this far already, imagine what else you’re capable of!!
Start with small steps
As you set out towards your goals, it’s normal to feel fear or insecurity. This is why getting started can often be the hardest part - even if you have a growth mindset.
To help ease that initial resistance, here are some questions to ask yourself and help get you going…
- What skills do you already have that will help you move forward?
Leveraging the skills you’re already competent in can help breed confidence in other areas. Look at your strengths & capitalize on them!!
- What are some skills you need to develop to achieve your goal?
Identify those skills. What will you need to do in order to develop those skills? How can you use skills you already have to ease the friction of working on something new?
- What are some things you can start doing RIGHT NOW to work on those skills?
There are usually tons of things involved in achieving our goals. To ease the pressure, think about any low-stakes actions you can take right away.
Select small goals and ‘minimums’ for yourself. Most things will be important at some point, but figuring out what you can do RIGHT NOW will help you check some boxes and create momentum right off the bat.
Consider what is relatively easy to accomplish. Now, lower the bar even further! If you think to yourself “that is too easy!”, you nailed it.
Need an example?
Prepping all your meals each week is an effective way to achieve your nutrition goals. But if you’re new to meal prep, start with lunch. Prep those seven meals for the week ahead of time for a few weeks and see how it goes. Instead of starting with that large 21-meal task, you broke it down into something more manageable. Wooo!
If you have more time on your hands, maybe you’ll prep some breakfasts too! But if not, you have still created success by doing the minimum requirement to gain some traction on the way to your goals.
Your new, seemingly “small” habits will add up over time, become super easy to accomplish AND set you up to go above and beyond when you have the extra capacity. This creates feelings of success and building confidence along the way.
Reflect & progress
As you move through your journey it is helpful to pause and reflect on your progress to help you acknowledge growing strengths and recognize areas you can improve.
Within your reflection practice, use a wide range of metrics to track and monitor your progress. When selecting metrics, here are three helpful considerations:
1. Choose a broad range of metrics
If you have a narrow set of metrics, you can become hyper-focused on certain areas and miss out on the growth in other areas. It can also become frustrating if you are measuring an area in which the rate of change or growth is slow.
To create more competence and growth overall, measure changes in more than one area!
For example, if your goal is weight loss, you can look at measuring things like:
- Consistency in your daily habits
- Energy levels - mental, physical & emotional
- Digestion & bloating - Are you having regular bowel movements or noticing less bloating & indigestion?
- Stress management - Are you developing tools & practices to help calm or deal with stress?
- Performance in the gym - Are you feeling good, performing well, getting strong, setting PRs?
- Measurements or how clothes are fitting
- Mindfulness around food & hunger - How often are you eating out of boredom/stress instead of real hunger?
- Quality of foods - How often do you choose whole foods?
2. Are your metrics reasonable?
Ask yourself if your expectations are within reason. Are they too high for your current capacity or skill level? Will you be able to meet those expectations relatively easily? When building confidence, even if you have a growth mindset, “failures” can take a toll.
If you have unreasonable expectations, there is potential for slower progress or more perceived “failures”, which may impact how your confidence develops.
So it will be helpful to check in with yourself, your current capacity and your lifestyle to see if your goals align. You can always adjust your expectations as you develop new skills and gain competence.
Setting low expectations doesn’t mean you’re not willing to work hard! It simply ensures that you will feel the success early and generate momentum and confidence more quickly.
3. Are your metrics within your control?
Ensure that at least some of your metrics are within your control.
Let’s look at the weight loss example:
If your only metric of success is the scale weight, it might be challenging to figure out ways to continue to improve or change if the number on the scale isn’t budging. It can be super discouraging to not see any progress, despite working so hard!
In this case, the scale isn’t in your direct control because so many factors affect your exact weight (stress, digestion, inflammation, phase of your menstrual cycle, recovery, hydration, etc.).
Be sure to measure alternative indicators of change, most of which are within your control.
- Habit consistency
- Water Intake
- Workout consistency
- Adherence to your nutrition plan
This way you’ll have various components to track and a multitude of ways to generate success, even if one metric is slower to change.
The ways in which you define, measure and assess your progress are an important part of the pursuit of any goal. Michael and Adee discuss different ways to define progress in this WAG episode.
Whichever metrics you choose to track, remember that progress isn’t linear - for anyone! You may notice change and growth in some areas come quicker than in others.
Cultivate self-compassion to build confidence
Any new endeavor will bring periods of stress and obstacles… and the inevitable setbacks, mistakes and failures.
It’s important to be able to move through these trickier times without diminishing the confidence you’ve built through your successes.
You are human. You will make mistakes… it is a natural part of the learning process! If you have a growth mindset and practice self-compassion through the highs and lows, you are more likely to be able to look ahead and recognize your setbacks as opportunities to learn.
Plus, there is growing research showing that people with more self-compassion can create greater mindfulness, optimism and self-efficacy which are all components of confidence .
And like WAG founder and CEO Adee Cazayoux says, “I am a good person, doing the best I can. If I make a mistake, it’s because I am missing a piece of information.”
If you’ve set your sights on health and nutrition goals, building confidence is an important piece of the puzzle. Building confidence in one area of your life can improve self-esteem and increase satisfaction in other areas as well.
As you set out on your journey towards your goals remember that starting is often the hardest part of the process. And while you don’t need confidence to start, having a mindset and process that supports growth can be helpful in overcoming any initial fears.
Beginning with small steps can generate momentum and feelings of success from the get-go.
A solid reflection practice with multiple measures of progress can be helpful in highlighting your areas of growth and pointing out areas that still need work.
Self-compassion can help support you as you learn, build skills, face setbacks and overcome obstacles.
And through your efforts, you’re learning how to build confidence, create healthy habits and achieve your goals.
Go get those goals and feel that confidence grow!
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Love what you learned but still want more guidance and support? Hire a 1:1 coach who will get to know you, your lifestyle and your unique needs and create results that you can sustain long-term. If you're not quite ready to go all-in on hiring a coach, check out our Macro Calculation Cheat Sheet & 18 Tracking Tips and Tricks for macro counting!
1. Smeets, E., Neff, K., Alberts, H., & Peters, M. (2014). Meeting suffering with kindness: Effects of a brief self‐compassion intervention for female college students. Journal of clinical psychology, 70(9), 794-807.