If you are having a hard time sticking with a health and fitness routine, then you might want to have a look at your locus of control. Locus of control refers to where you believe your control lies …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, sports nutritionist, Master life coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind, so you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 189 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners and today, Shifting Your Locus of Control. So if you’re having a hard time sticking with a health and fitness routine, sticking with a healthy food plan, then you might want to have a look at your locus of control. And I’ll explain all this in the podcast here.
But your locus of control refers to where you believe your control lies either outside of you or within you. So people who have a strong external locus of control tend to have a pretty hard time sticking to a plan and accomplishing really anything.
On the other hand, people who have a strong internal locus of control have an easier time sticking to a plan and are generally more successful in all areas of their lives. So today, I’m going to explain what locus of control is, and how you can begin shifting your locus of control so you can get better results and really just live a healthier, happier life.
But first, I know I talk a lot about the amazing transformations you can experience when you join my program and get coaching from me how you can commit to becoming your healthiest self, but instead of me yammering more about it, I’m going to share some of my clients personal stories with you.
So Elisa said, “Since working with Patrick, I don’t beat myself up anymore. I believe in myself. I’m finally in control of my eating habits. I’m steadily losing weight.” Flora said, “I’ve learned how to become a fat adapted runner. And the feeling of running with a clear head and so much energy is just amazing.” Eric said, “I’ve learned how to create good habits to replace the bad ones. I’m down 18 pounds so far, and I feel really good about myself for the first time in a long time.”
Mick said, “Accountability and education were key to my success with Patrick. I’ve had so many positive changes. I know I’m not going to slip back into old habits.” Leticia said, “I no longer have sugar cravings, I’ve taken control of my eating habits once and for all.”
Michelle said, “I’ve lost 25 pounds, I’ve gained immeasurable confidence. I am totally in control now. And I’m fully capable of doing everything I set out to do.” And Amy said, “I’m thinking so much more clearly, I have more energy, I’m sleeping better, running is easier. So far, I’m down 30 pounds and several dress sizes.”
Listen, you can add your name to this list, you can be one of these people with an amazing transformational story to share. All you gotta do is get some coaching. Join the Running Lean Coaching Project. This is my unique weight loss coaching program for runners just go to runningleancoaching.com/join to learn more. Book an interview with me and you and I’ll have a conversation, we’ll see if coaching is a good fit for you.
And if you want a little bit of help, just getting started with all this stuff, I’ve created a great training program that you can check out. It’s about an hour long video training, you can watch it at your own pace. It’s called Five Simple Steps To Becoming A Leaner Stronger Runner. You can get that by going to my website Running Lean coaching.com and click on the Free Training link to get started. Cool.
Okay, so let’s talk about shifting your locus of control. So I talked to a lot of people who struggle to accomplish what they want for themselves, they struggle to reach their goals. So this could be a weight loss goal. This could be a strength goal, it could be a running related goal. Maybe they want to run their first marathon, qualify for Boston, or maybe they just want to run their first 5k.
But when it comes down to when you kind of boil it all down when it comes down to why it is they can’t seem to accomplish whatever goal they’re trying to accomplish. They start telling me all about the external factors affecting their life.
You know, I was doing great at sticking with this running plan. I was going to run my first marathon but then things got crazy at work. Or you know we traveled or went on vacation or the kids out of school so you know how that is or jeez, it just got hot out or it got cold out. Whatever.
So they look at their life as having all these external forces, external being things that are outside of themselves, that are affecting their ability to reach their goals or not to stick to their plan or not. That thing that seems so important to them, not that long ago has been pushed to the side because of all these external factors. Okay.
And the problem with this is that when you allow outside forces to affect your weight loss goals, your health and fitness goals, your running goals, then you’re going to have a very hard time accomplishing anything for yourself, you will always find reasons why you can’t do it.
You’ll have reasons and stories and excuses, you’ll always have somebody or something else to blame for why you can’t lose weight, why you can’t stick to this healthy eating plan, why you can’t train for that marathon or whatever.
The problem is that you’re going to really just stay stuck where you are. You won’t be able to accomplish these big goals that you want for yourself or small goals that you want for yourself, you won’t be able to accomplish much, you will always feel like you’re going to struggle, because it’s out of your hands.
It’s all these outside forces, all these external situations, these external circumstances that are to blame. You don’t have control over your own life. So this is known as having an external locus of control. So locus is just a Latin word, and it means place or location. So locus of control really relates to where your sense of control is located. Is it internally? Or is it externally? Is it within you? Or is it outside of you?
And locus of control is a term that’s used in psychology, and refers to a belief that the control of your life is either within you or outside of you. Okay, some people have a very strong internal locus of control. And some people have a very strong external locus of control.
And they’ve looked at all these people, and they’ve seen that people who have a mostly external locus of control tend to be not as successful, they tend to be not as happy, they tend to be maybe not as healthy.
And the people with a strong internal locus of control tend to be happier and healthier and tend to accomplish more in their lives. Okay. So somebody believes somebody with an external locus of control believes that outside forces control their destiny, I am not in control, I’m profoundly affected by external forces in my life.
People with a strong external locus of control, tend to be more passive, because things just happen to them. They tend to blame others for their situation, they tend not to accomplish goals. They believe that there’s really nothing they can do about their situation, because hey, it just is what it is. Right? Whatever happens, happens, why bother even trying?
They feel like they are unlucky, but like nothing good ever happens to them, because they’re just, it’s just not meant to be. Must be nice for those other people. But never, nothing ever works out for me. And what’s interesting is these people tend to be at greater risk for illness, they’re typically unhappy and unhealthy. They have a hard time sticking to a plan.
If you have a mostly external locus of control, it’s going to be harder for you to stick to a fitness routine, to train for a marathon to stick to a healthy eating plan. If you want to lose weight, you got to stick to a healthy eating plan. You have to be consistent with that plan. But if you’re constantly, you know, blaming everything around you for why you can’t stick to that plan, you’re gonna have a really hard time sticking with that plan. Okay.
So that is what external locus of control looks like. Can you relate to any of this? Does any of this sound like you? Because we’ve all had bits and pieces of this and I’ll tell you a little bit about my story in a minute here. But we’ve all had maybe times in our life when we had more of an external locus of control more of an internal.
So people with an internal locus of control tend to be more active, they’re actively engaging in changing their life. They’re actively engaged in improving their situation. Because they believe that they make things happen. You know, I did this, I made this happen, you know, my determination and my hard work, created my future, I’m not relying on outside circumstances, outside circumstances be damned, I’m going to make this happen.
They tend to accomplish goals regularly, consistently. They feel like they are in control of the events of their lives, they are in control of their own destiny. They don’t look to lock or fate, you know, to determine what they can accomplish or what they can accomplish, they take responsibility for their situation, whether that’s a good situation or a bad situation, they take responsibility, they tend to be healthier, they tend to have a reduced risk of illness.
And honestly, they just tend to stick with a plan. And it’s easier for them. All right. So wherever you feel like your locus of control is now just understand that it is not fixed. It is not something that is predetermined. And it is not something that you don’t have control over, you can actually change it.
It’s about what you believe to be true, not about what you think is true or not, what you believe to be true, will be true for you. If you believe you have no control over your life, and that it’s all about external circumstances, then that will be true for you. If you believe that you’re in control, that will be true for you.
Your locus of control is not something you are born with, it’s not something that is, you know, genetically imprinted in you or anything like that, it’s not a fact. It’s where you put it, it’s where you decide it’s going to be. So your goal then, is to shift your locus of control inward.
If you find yourself blaming external circumstances for where you are, why you can’t lose weight, why you can’t stick to that marathon training plan, why you can’t go to the gym and lift heavy weights. If you find yourself blaming external circumstances, for all that, then it’s time to make a shift, you need to shift your locus of control inward.
So shifting your locus of control can be as easy as making the decision that you’re going to do it, it can be as easy as taking 100% responsibility for everything in your life, for every result you’re getting or not getting in your life, it can be as easy as making that decision. So right now, decide “I’m going to stop blaming others, I’m going to stop blaming outside circumstances. I’m going to stop using stories and excuses and reasons why I can’t and start making it happen. I control my destiny. And it starts with me, and it starts right now.”
Right, that can be a very powerful way of taking control making that decision that you are in control. Because honestly, you are another way of beginning to shift your locus of control is to start reframing situations. So instead of just believing that here’s the way it is, not everything is just the way it is. And that’s the way it is because that right there is just a belief.
You need to start questioning what you believe to be true in every situation. So you can do this by reframing. And that is just like looking at a situation from a different angle. It’s like putting a different frame on the situation. Okay, instead of, “Man, it’s just so hard to stick to my food plan because my wife keeps bringing home junk food for dinner, you know, and burgers and french fries and pizza. Like she just keeps bringing this fun stuff home for dinner for the kids. And I can’t stick to my food plan because there’s pizza on the table.”
So that’s having an external locus of control when you believe that. So shifting inward, you can reframe that situation. And you can ask yourself, like, how can I stick to my plan, even though there’s pizza sitting here on the table right now and it smells amazing, but what am I going to do right now? Right here, in this moment, to stick to my plan. I made this promise to myself that I’m not eating pizza this month or whatever, this week. What am I going to do about that in this moment right now?
How can I control my eating in this moment, right now? Because there is an answer, but you have to look inward. And you have to start asking yourself, What can I do about this? Because the external circumstances are always going to be whatever they are, you have no control over that. You don’t have control over that.
You do have control of what you do about it, though. So reframe these situations. Don’t look outward, look inward. It’s never ever about what’s going on out there. It’s always about what’s going on inside. What can I do about this? How can I make this work? What action? What action am I going to take right now in this moment, that is in alignment with my long term goals?
So I first heard about locus of control in one of my coaching programs, this was many years ago, and I can’t even remember the class I was attending. But it was a live class. I was out in LA, I was there for about a month taking all these different coaching classes and live coaching classes before COVID and all that.
And we were in this class, and the instructor was talking, it had something to do with like the business side of coaching. And at the time, I was struggling to figure out a business plan. I had tried a few things in the past that didn’t really work. I loved coaching, but the business side of things, it just wasn’t clicking for me, you know.
And, and I felt like, I tried some things, and I kept failing. And so after the class, I went up to the instructor, and I was like, okay, I get what you’re saying here. But you have to understand, I don’t think this is going to work for me, because I’ve tried this and it failed. And I’ve tried this, and it failed. And none of this stuff ever works for me.
And I said something like, you know, I don’t think this is my fault. It’s like the economy, it’s the competition out there. You know, I don’t understand the technology, whatever, like I started, you know, kind of rattling off some of these excuses, right? And I’ll never forget this, he just looked at me and said, “Well, it’s definitely not going to work with that attitude.”
And I thought to myself, how dare you. This is not in my control. It just doesn’t work for me. It’s the economy. It’s the technology, it’s the competition or whatever. And I’ve tried these different things. And there’s nothing I can do about it. I just, I’m a failure, you know, and I was really feeling sorry for myself.
And I really had this external locus of control. I didn’t realize it at the time. But I had this aha moment where I had to accept this reality that I had a very external locus of control. And what he was saying to me, wasn’t about, you know, whether I could do it or not it was about or whether the outside circumstances had anything to do with it or not. But it was about my attitude about it. It was about my state of mind about it. It was about what I decided I was going to believe.
And if I wanted to be a successful coach and have a thriving coaching practice, then it was going to be up to me to make it happen. And yes, I’ve tried things that failed. And I tried other things that failed. And I kept trying until I figured out what really worked for me, and what felt good for me, and what was in alignment with my values and my beliefs. But it was always up to me.
It had nothing to do with anything else outside of me, it was me and my attitude. I had to stop blaming circumstances, and take ownership of my situation. And as soon as I did this, as soon as I decided that I was going to make it happen, everything shifted for me.
Now, it wasn’t like turning on a light switch. It took time to get there. But it only took a moment. It was a brief moment where I made that decision that I was never going to blame anyone else ever again. I wasn’t going to look outside of myself for reasons and excuses and be a blamer and a complainer. Like if it is to be it is up to me. If it’s going to happen, I’m gonna make it happen. That’s the only way It’s gonna work. But I made that decision and I took a moment to make that decision. Okay?
So here’s what I want you to do this week, I want you to make that decision. You can do this by taking an inventory of where you are right now. So maybe get out a piece of paper or journal, something like that, and do a little bit of writing on this, like, write down all the things that are happening in your life, what’s going well, what’s not going so well.
What are you getting? Where are you getting good results in your life? Where are you not getting good results in your life? What activities are you engaging in that you’re proud of? That are in alignment with your goals, what activities are you engaging in that are not necessarily in alignment with your goals, maybe you’re not so proud of?
Where are you in regards to your goals? Are you on track? Are you not on track? Are you feeling stuck? Like just kind of take an honest inventory and look at each of these situations with yourself in your life? And honestly, ask yourself, you know, is this something that is in my control or not? Are you in control of each of these areas of your life or not?
Because if you keep thinking, I’m not in control, this has to do with, you know, my boss at work, or my wife is not, you know, being supportive. If you keep looking outside of yourself, for answers to these situations, or reasons why you’re not making progress in these situations, you’re gonna have a really hard time changing any of that.
If you’re feeling stuck in any area of your life, you’re gonna have a hard time getting unstuck, if you continually blame others. Take control. Reframe each of those situations, what can I do about this? What can I alone do about this? How can I take control of this particular situation right now? What is my part in this? Because there’s always an answer. You are always in control. Even though it doesn’t feel like it, you are, you just have to make that decision that you are going to be in control.
Being out of control is an illusion. You know, unless somebody has you chained to a water heater in their basement, you are in control of your life. And if you’re chained to a water heater, in somebody’s basement right now, then please reach out. We’ll help you, we’ll help you get out of that situation.
But listen, you have control, you just have to make that decision that you are going to take control of your own life, that you’re going to shift that locus of Control inward. And start being 100% responsible for everything in your life. You do that and I promise you things will begin to shift for you.
Okay, it takes some time to get there. It takes some time to accomplish those things you want for yourself, but it starts with that decision. Make the decision, you’re going to shift your locus of control inward, make that decision that you’re going to start being 100% responsible for every result in your life, good or bad.
Okay, this is a game changer right here. That’s all I got for you guys today. I love you all. Keep on Running Lean, and I’ll talk to you soon.