Today I have Kasey Orvidas on the podcast. She has her Ph.D., and we're going to talk a little bit about her research, specifically how her research dove into the fixed versus growth mindset in the realm of health and fitness. You're gonna walk away from this episode having a good idea about where your mindset is, and some very specific ways you can start to improve it. When you improve your mindset, the results start to improve, too. So without further ado, let's dive into the interview with Kasey.
Find show notes at bicepsafterbabies.com/246
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- Mindset being the lens that you see the world through (16:27)
- Growth mindset is changeable (18:10)
- Awareness: you can't change something, you can't improve something if you don't know what needs changing or what needs improving (18:59, 20:15)
- Mindset assessment (21:25)
- The difference between all-or-nothing mindset and fixed versus growth mindset and the overlap that occurs between the two(23:37, 25:38, 26:52)
- feedback, setbacks, and successors:greeen flags of mindset (31:25, 33:53)
- Steps to shift from fixed mindset to growth mindset (36:08, 37:38)
- Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation (41:43)
- What does the research teach us about stress and how it relates to our health and fitness goals (44:23, 47:40)
You're listening to Biceps After Babies Radio episode number 246.
Hello and welcome to Biceps After Babies Radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, wife, and mom of four. Each week, my guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
Amber B 0:47
Hey, hey, hey, welcome back to another episode of Biceps after Babies Radio. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke. And today, I am interviewing Kasey Orvidas. And this is a fantastic episode. I told her after we stopped recording that I was so happy about all the things that she brought up because if you are in the current round of MACROS 101, you are going to hear the things that Kasey says, and you're gonna be like, “Oh, yeah, we did that in MACROS 101. I've heard Amber talk about that in MACROS 101. Oh, yeah, Amber coached on that.” And I told her it's one of those things where it's you'd say these things as a coach. And it's so affirming to have somebody else say them. It's in the scriptures. It's out of the mouth of two or three witnesses. I feel like in a lot of ways, Kasey is the second witness to so many of the things that I talk about on this podcast. Kasey has her Ph.D., and we're going to talk a little bit about her research, specifically how her research dove into fixed versus growth mindset in the realm of health and fitness. And we're gonna get deep into this idea of fixed versus growth mindset, and about how you can start to recognize your current mindset, and then improve it because I think that's the key is at the very beginning of the episode, you'll hear us talk about how mindset has become more of a trendy word that a lot of people are using. And we're starting to realize and wake up to the fact that our mindset is really important. And that, sometimes, it can feel very intangible. We don't really know how– you can't touch or hold somebody's mindset. So how the heck are we supposed to be able to know what it is and improve it? And the thing that I love about Kasey is that she gives really tangible action-based tips that you can start to implement today. And so you're gonna walk away from this episode, having a good idea, one, about where your mindset is and then, two, some of the very specific ways that you can start to improve it because when you improve your mindset, the results that you get started to improve.
Amber B 2:53
You're going to love this episode. And when you do, I just ask, please share it with somebody. Share it on your social media, share it on your stories, text it to a friend, message it to your mother, somebody who you think would benefit from this episode, and then go ahead and tag both Kasey and me on the episode so that we know that you're listening, and we know what your biggest takeaways were from the episode. As a content creator, there's nothing better than putting something out into the world for free and having people say thank you by taking the time to share it. And then the second way that you can support the podcast, again, is a free podcast. And so as a content consumer myself, I'm always looking for, “Hey, how can I say thank you? How can I have that reciprocity towards the people who are offering really great free content?” Two ways you can do it: One, is to share the content. And the second is to leave a rating and review. So whatever platform you're listening to this, take the next two to three minutes, go and write a rating review. It really makes a difference for the podcast. And it's one of the best ways that you can say thank you for all the free content that we put here on the podcast. So without further ado, let's dive into the interview with Kasey.
Amber B 4:03
All right, I am so excited to welcome Kasey to the podcast. Kasey, give us a little introduction and just tell my audience a little about you and a little about what you do.
Kasey O 4:13
Yeah, absolutely. So I like to kind of call myself half and half. A half-health fitness coach, kind of focuses on things like macros and strength training, which I'm sure you all hear a lot already on this podcast. And then the other half of me is very academic. I'm a psychologist. I focus on mindset, behavior, and change. All that kind of stuff. Thinking a little bit more in-depth about motivation, and why we do things the way we do. Human behavior is kind of the big umbrella term here. So I am happy to be a Psychologist and health and fitness coach, and I tried to essentially blend those two worlds that I have expertise in. Whether that is coaching other coaches when it comes to understanding behavior change in mindset in psychology, or doing one-on-one coaching and working with the more general population to help folks better understand how their mindset plays a role in how often they exercise, and how healthy they eat.
Amber B 5:08
One of the things that I love about your Instagram page is it says, “I was studying mindset before mindset was cool.” And I do think that mindset has become more in vogue. I think people are starting to realize how much that plays a role in the results that they're getting. And so people are waking up to that and becoming more aware of it. But I mean, if you're like, “I was doing it before it was cool.” What drew you specifically to it? Before it was something that a lot of people were thinking about.
Kasey O 5:36
Yeah, yeah, it is really funny for me to be in the position that I am in and seed mindset literally blows up. I actually was looking at, this is public data that you can look into in Google search terms, and how those trends have changed over time. And things like mindset and mindset coaching have just skyrocketed in the last five years or so. So I've gotten my Ph.D. at the end of 2019. So I've been effectively researching mindset for these healthy behaviors since 2015. In 2015, there were not all that many mindset coaches out there. And now, it feels like every other person I come across who's a fitness coach also happens to be a mindset coach. So like you were saying, you've definitely become very, very popular in that way. Honestly, it's no hate. I love that. That is where we're going. And people are waking up to the idea that behavior change, Psychology, and mindset. They're sort of like core beliefs and how you were raised. All of these things actually play a role in your ability to get healthy and fit and stay consistent and to do all these things and change your lifestyle and all the stuff that people are wanting to do. So I'm very happy that the direction we're going however, yes, it does become a little bit of an issue because there's everybody's talking about mindset in a thousand different ways. And maybe one of in a thousand is actually the evidence, with an evidence-based way to be talking about it. So with that said, how I got into it, honestly, I kind of fell into mindset research. And it wasn't something that I was actively seeking. Again, it wasn't super popular as it is today back in when I was applying for grad school in 2013-2014. So what I was really personally interested in was essentially just a better understanding of how we can start to answer the question of why people do not exercise and eat healthy when they know that there are 1 million benefits for them that they could literally add years to their lives that they could feel better on a day to day basis. And CDC says 80% of adult Americans are not exercising enough or eating enough vegetables or whatever it may be. So what is going on here, right? It's not a knowledge issue. There's something else going on here that is keeping people from doing these things.
Kasey O 7:49
And back in college, I very much became that person who fell in love with strength training, fell in love with eating healthy, and figuring out the amount of control and competence that can kind of come from being in that lifestyle, and really woke up to that fact and wanted more women specifically to be able to feel the empowerment and the competence that comes from strength training and people understanding how good they can actually feel. So being a psychology student at the time, I was really just interested in figuring out how we get more people to do this and why are more people not. And really trying to get at the core of this issue of the obesity epidemic that we have on our hands and all of these things. So being a Psychology student, I was starting to kind of just thinking about, well, there's got to be something going on here. Just the way we think about things. The beliefs that we hold that sort of thing. But again, I had no idea that there was a whole world of mindset research out there at that time. So as I was starting to look into graduate school programs, I was essentially looking at programs that focused on health psychology, sports psychology, social psychology, and specific professors that were doing work with obesity, health behaviors, and sort of things.
Kasey O 9:03
And I came across Dr. Jenny Burnett, who was still currently at North Carolina State University. She became my Ph.D. advisor but came across some of the work that she was doing in mindset, and how that plays a role in the world of obesity. And what we're doing when essentially we're calling someone obese or classifying obesity as a medical condition? What that does to someone's mindset, and then, in turn, how that influences the repeat behaviors around that. And I thought that was super, super interesting. So I interviewed there. I love North Carolina. I was living in Minnesota at the time and I was very much ready to leave the cold winters. Love North Carolina and decided to come here. So I joined what is now and is still the mindset lab at NC State. So that's where I spent my entire academic career essentially studying how your mindset plays a role in how often you exercise, how healthy you eat, and just how much you engage in these health behaviors and ultimately, why and how we can get people to do that more consistently. So it really was spending a lot of time with health behavior change very globally and a lot of different perspectives like self-control, and stress, and motivation, and things like that. But my thesis and where I'd kind of spend the majority of my time was on growth versus fixed mindset, specifically. So that really is my if I had like a very, very pinpoint, and that's the point of a Ph.D., right? Is to become an expert in a very specific area. And that is my specific area is growth versus a fixed mindset for health behaviors. So yeah, long story short, I didn't really know anything about mindset. And I kind of came across this as like, “Oh, this is pretty cool.” And sort of fell in love with it along the way. And while I was actually doing the research on it.
Amber B 10:52
So fascinating. I don't know if you know this about me, but I live in North Carolina. We lived in Durham for three years. So very familiar with NC State. My husband went to UNC. And then so I'm a nurse as well. And so when you start talking about evidence-based practice, that is something that it's very familiar with. My husband's a physician. I'm a nurse. It's everything that you do is we only do it if there's research to back it. If you can have research to have evidence of like that is actually something that's helpful. And it's one of the things that I appreciate most about you is because yes, people can say whatever they feel. “I feel this is helpful. I feel this is the way that it should do it.” But if you don't have the evidence to back it up, or there's no research to back it up that that actually is helpful, we have a whole bunch of people out there spouting things that actually are grounded in the actual research. And so it's one of the reasons I was so excited to bring you on is because I want to be sharing that evidence-based practice with the people who are listening to the podcast. So super fascinating. I'm just excited to dive in a little bit more. You talked about how over the last five years, Google research of the word mindset has exploded and people are more familiar with it. Do you have any sense as to if there was a trigger for that? Why are we seeing that happen? And we're just surmising, of course. But if you would take a guess, what do you think is causing that shift in the awareness around this phenomenon?
Kasey O 12:13
Yeah, that's a really good question. I'm sure, obviously, there are many variables at play here. But I think some things that immediately come to mind when you ask that question is that one, I think we're globally paying more attention to mental health than we ever have before.
Amber B 12:31
I have the same thought. I feel like scarcity has just exploded and people accepting it as something that's really valuable.
Amber B 12:37
The same mindset is therapy but like you said, mental health in general.
Kasey O 12:43
Exactly, mental health in general. And yes, therapy is part of that, right? And just like instead of, “Oh, you see a therapist? What's wrong with you.” It's like, “Everybody should see a therapist!” like, “Do you want to see my therapist? You should check out your therapist.” That's becoming the conversation a little bit more. And I think, similarly to, I think about the LGBTQ community, and a lot of that era kind of like people feeling more comfortable to really be themselves and talk about some of these topics that do really, really impact mental health. And I think because of that, people are also waking up to the idea that this plays a role in every aspect of her life, including health and fitness behaviors and things of that nature. So I think that's a big part of it. I also definitely don't want, your husband's a doctor, I don't want to knock doctors but there's definitely been a little bit of a wave of movement. I'm sure you've seen this too where folks are going to see doctors for certain conditions, and feeling they're not really getting all of the help that they really need when it comes to their actual lifestyle factors and things like that.
Kasey O 13:41
So I think that might be part of it too is just a little bit of like, “Hey, we're not putting all of our eggs in the western medicine basket anymore.” There are some other things that need to be talked about. And we need to think about these things. And they think about our behaviors, and our lifestyle, and our social influences, and things like that too. So those are the two, big things that come up for me just more emphasis on mental health which is fantastic. We love that and also just think there are alternative ways to get help, obviously, if you need a doctor, please go see a doctor. But there are instead of going to see your family medicine doctor when you feel you're having a hard time sticking to your macros or keeping the weight off, and stuff like that may not always be the best bet in that case. So that's where, yes, a health and fitness coach might actually be a really good augment to that health. Seeking those health-seeking behaviors that you have whether it's with your doctor elsewise.
Amber B 14:37
Yeah, that's a fantastic response I had never thought about both of those factors. I think you're very much right. Looking at people more holistically, realizing they're multi-faceted to people, right? You are not just your body, or your mind, or your spirituality, or you're all of those things put together. And I think people are really more apt to be part of a whole person and address them and the whole person, which I think is fantastic. I also do think that we are being more open with our humanity. And I think this is kind of what you were speaking to the LGBTQ things. And the mental health things were just these are human experiences that we have. Emotionally eating, stress eating, is an experience that people experience. And we kind of are– I feel this generation is let's take a lot of the shame out of this and the guilt out of something that's a human experience. And that we all experience and let's talk about it. My husband is a Euro Gynecologist so he does female pelvic reconstructive surgery. And I was actually just talking to him to give a lecture and his whole thing was about why are we stigmatizing urinary incontinence, pelvic prolapse, and these things that impact one out of every three women. Nobody talks about it. And he's like “One of the things that if we want to fix this, we have to talk about it.” And that's kind of where I see–
Kasey O 15:55
And normalized it.
Amber B 15:56
And normalize. It's a human experience. So anyway, it's always fascinating to me talking about this kind of stuff. But let's get back to “Mindset.” Because since this is a buzzword, it freaking means something different to everybody. And so let's kind of define it, or at least the way that we're going to use it, you're going to use it in the context of this episode is like someone came to you. And it's like, “What the heck is a mindset, Kasey? What is mindset?” How would you define it?
Kasey O 16:27
Yeah, and I love that you bring that up, too, that people define it in so many different ways. And I've done this a few times, even just like on my Instagram Stories, right? Like, “What does mindset mean to you?” Like, “How do you defy that?” It's also very interesting, because a lot of times, I get people who are like, “Before I answer this, I've never thought about this before. I hear this word all the time. And I think about it sort of in this as this abstract concept. I've never really thought about how I define it. And can I define it do actually have words to define it?” So it's one of those things where if you're listening right now, I would almost pause the episode, and think how do you actually define mindset? What does it mean to you personally? And once I do get over that hump with people and people are responding, we have these conversations, there is definitely still a general similarity throughout everyone's definition to some degree. It's a little bit of like, “Oh, it determines my actions, and my behaviors, or how I make decisions, and things like that.” And ultimately, how I define mindset is the way that it's defined in the literature. And it's essentially the lens that you're taking to see the world with, right? So you're looking through this lens. It's how you're determining what things mean to you, what situations mean to you, how things play out, and how you assign meaning to certain things, everything, right? So your mindset is essentially just like this display that everything gets filtered through in your life, which is a really, really big concept, which is then why to kind of distill it then down into a fixed-versus-growth mindset. And how about looking in different perspectives too, but ultimately, it really is the thing that is determining how you make sense of the world.
Amber B 18:10
That's cool. I like the word the lens. That makes sense. The lens that you're viewing it through. Yeah and a growth mindset is all about the fact that we can change that lens, right? It's like the lens is changeable. It's not like you got a lens, and then you have to live with that lens for the rest of your life. That's the whole idea of the fact that we can change our mindset. So we're gonna dive into it but not quite yet because, in order to improve something, we have to know where it is currently, right? If I want to improve your blood pressure, I can't improve your blood pressure until I know what your blood pressure is and then take steps to be able to make it better. And so how does one because the mindset is, “I can't take my blood pressure for my mindset.”, “What are we looking for to diagnose?”, “Okay, this is where I'm currently at with my mindset so that we can get onto the path of starting to improve it.”
Kasey O 18:59
Yeah, yes, super, super important. And this is something if you ever learn from me in any capacity, I talk about awareness as being the first step to everything because just like you said, you can't change something, you can't improve something if you don't know what needs changing or what needs improving. You absolutely need that baseline, right? So we have all these people out there, especially the personal development. We're all it's like, “Oh, I want to change myself, I want to get better, I want to improve myself, I want to be the best girlfriend, husband, spouse, friend's mother, whatever.” But you don't take a pick stock of where you're currently at right now, right? So that's super, super important. So as far as determining, okay, well, where's my mindset at in the first place? Where do I fall on this spectrum of a baby-like fixed-to-growth mindset? And the first thing I'll say is that it depends on what domain of your life you're looking at. So this is one of the big misconceptions about the mindset that I do see a lot is that people talk about a growth mindset being this big, blanket thing for your entire life. You either have a growth mindset or you don't about everything, right? When the truth is, and we know this from the research, that you can have a growth mindset in one area and then be a super fixed mindset in another area. You can have a growth mindset about your career progression. You can have a fixed mindset about your ability to lose weight.
Kasey O 20:15
So you also have to now start with maybe one area that maybe you feel stuck in. And we can kind of already probably determine if you're feeling stuck somewhere, I'm gonna bet guarantee that there's a little bit of a fixed mindset going on there, right? So maybe start with one area of your life or maybe just an area where you're like, “My relationships feel pretty good. But I would love to get better at them.” Think about that. Think about that specific relationship in your life and then go from there. And honestly, just start to pay attention. Start to pay attention to your thoughts. Start to pay attention to what you say to other people when it is related to that specific area, right? So if we're talking about weight loss, and you feel that somewhere that you're stuck in, you'll lose the weight, gain back, lose the weight, gain it back. You're kind of in that yo-yo phase. And you just cannot figure out what it is that you feel you're holding your back, get yourself back in some way. And there's some sort of self-limiters going on. Start to pay attention. So maybe you hire a coach, and your coach is asking you questions, and you're saying things like, “Well, nothing ever really works for me, or whenever I try to track macros, I just always fail. And I always like fall off the wagon on the weekends.” And it just doesn't really seem like any of that works for me.
Kasey O 21:25
All of those statements are very much so fixed mindset statements. So picking up on some of those words, right? Like, “I always do this.”, “Or I can never do that.” Or something I hear a lot too is, “I'm just not the type of person to track macros, or whatever it may be.” Right? So you're essentially determining right then and there that that's all you got, right? The truth is you don't. You have a lot more. And you can always change the type of person that you are. And you can always work on those skills and get better at things. But you're quite literally saying to someone else, or you're telling yourself that like, “This is what I always do. And this is who I am.” Gonna have a really, really hard time changing that. So just really starting to pick up on some of the languages you use, even thinking you could do this a little bit retrospectively and maybe go back through some emails with your boss, or if it's you have a coach or something like that, or your significant other. Looking at the language that you use, and kind of doing an audit on that in the past but also start to pay attention to it in the future. That said, just like blood pressure, you can do something that is a little bit more, I guess, clinical in a way. And you can take a mindset assessment, right? In the research that I've done, and the research that they're still doing on mice, I'm not actively doing research right now. We literally have assessments for someone to take and fill out just like a survey to kind of get an idea of where their mindset is at can find that online. You can do that too. But I think personally, just spending some time opening your eyes and really being intentional, even if it's just like, “Okay, all day today, I'm gonna pay attention to how I speak about anything related to health and fitness and weight loss because I feel that's an area that I'm constantly stuck in.” Just pay attention. Write it down in your notes, on your phone, or keep track of it on your planner, whatever it may be. And just start to take stock. You may really start to realize how the language that you're using, the way that you're speaking to yourself, or things that you're telling yourself are actually very indicative of having that fixed mindset.
Amber B 23:28
So good. What would you say is the difference between all-or-nothing thinking and growth versus a fixed mindset? Or are those just languages that we use to describe the same phenomenon?
Kasey O 23:37
That's so funny that you say that because I like to argue that all-or-nothing thinking really is just a branch of a fixed mindset. There's a lot of things that I'm like, “It's just fixed by so it's just fixed like that.” Obviously, I'm very biased but also things people throw around victim mentality and things like that. I'm like, “That's a fixed mindset.” No, but anyway, all-or-nothing thinking, is actually termed dichotomous thinking in the literature. So if you wanted to do a Google Scholar search, that's what you're gonna have the most luck with. So spending time so dichotomous, you have this dichotomy. It's black, white, good, bad, all, nothing, right? So my thought process is if you have a fixed mindset about something it has to be a certain way, otherwise, it's not good enough, I was this person for a long time in the gym would wear my little Polar heart rate monitor, and I could not leave the gym until it read 650 calories. That was my number. So if I did not hit that number, it wasn't good enough. It wasn't worth it. I shouldn't be there, right? So that kind of thinking is very much fixed mindset thinking because to me, it's either this way or it's there's no other way. It's very fixed on that 650-calorie number. But it's also very much so all-or-nothing thinking right? So to me, there's a lot of crossover between all-or-nothing thinking and a fixed mindset. But that doesn't mean that we just smoosh them together, right? I do think that there is still some good that comes from being able to identify the type of fixed mindset that you have, which could very well be an all-or-nothing type of thinking.
Amber B 25:13
Yeah, that's so good. And I realized that we started diving into this without, again, creating the definition so that everybody who's listening understands what you mean when you say fixed versus growth mindset. So I mean, people may have made assumptions about just hearing those words and what that means. But will you kind of go into what you learned in your research? What's been learned from other researchers? What do we actually mean when we say fixed versus a growth mindset?
Kasey O 25:38
Yes. So what it really comes down to is your belief in your ability to change, improve, or develop whatever that may be. So if we're talking about weight loss, health, and fitness, again, if you have someone who feels they have a really hard time losing weight, or a really hard time keeping off the weight that they have lost, or just staying consistent with their health and fitness behaviors, and they're thinking to themselves, “Well, I just don't really feel I can change. I just don't think that this is something that I can do. I see all these other people. It seems it's so easy for them. And I'm just not the type of person who couldn't keep up with this stuff. And maybe that's why I'm unsuccessful.” That's a fixed mindset, right? Versus someone else who maybe has a growth mindset about health fitness, weight loss, etc. They may think to themselves, “Okay, I'm kind of struggling here and not really figuring it out yet.” Yet is a big word for those with a growth mindset. But I can kind of look to some of these other people who have been successful. And if they've been successful, then I should be able to be successful. So I wonder what it is that they're doing or what they've tried or what works for them. Maybe I should have a conversation with them. You see those people as inspiration versus more evidence as to why you can't be like them, and you can't do the things that they're doing.
Kasey O 26:52
So someone with a growth mindset does believe at their core that they can change, they can be successful, they can improve their ability to lose weight, to stay consistent in the gym, whatever. It's just that maybe they haven't figured out what works for them yet. They still need to find the right resources or find the right method. And that's kind of what's always top of mind is like, “Well, I just haven't figured it out quite yet.” Whereas someone with a fixed mindset is very much like, “Yep, this is I guess who I am. This is where I'm at, whatever.” They may still try. They may still put effort into us. But it's usually pretty short-lasting. And if something gets tossed at them, and extra challenge obstacle, life gets in the way, it's like throwing in the towel right off the bat because, at that point, they're thinking to themselves, “What I don't think I can do it at the end of the day anyway.” Right? And what's tricky about this, too, is that you may not fully even realize that you have a fixed mindset, or maybe you're listening to me right now. And you're like, “Oh, that's me. That makes sense now.” But you just may not fully realize that is what's holding you back until you start to pay more attention and see where this is going. And you hear like, “Oh, that's how I'm supposed to be seeing that super successful person. As inspiration? I'm not supposed to be getting super jealous of them or feel they have something that I don't?” Because right then and there that already points out where your mindset is pointing. But yeah, so long story short, we're really kind of when we're determining growth versus fixed mindset, we're looking at do you actually believe that you can change?
Amber B 28:19
That's really good. You don't have kids, right?
Kasey O 28:23
I do not.
Amber B 28:23
Do you know that kids are being taught growth and a fixed mindset in elementary school? It's so awesome. I think it's fantastic. My son also came home and learned about it. They call it the Upstairs Brain and Downstairs Brain. And I was like, “This kind of stuff is what we were missing in the 90s. We were growing up.” And emotional intelligence or teaching them emotional intelligence. I just think it's fascinating how much of this stuff that we were missing in our education system has finally been started to be brought in. But my kids, if you ask about growth versus fixed mindset, my kids can tell you all about it because every year, they learn about it. And then they see how it's implemented. And their teachers are always reminding them of it. It's like, “You can't do this yet.” And I just think it's fascinating. I'm so glad that we're bringing this to the next generation so that hopefully, they will have more success and develop the ability to be able to shift the way that they're thinking about things so much better than us. Anyway, one of my favorite things that we're doing in our school system. Cheers to that.
Kasey O 29:26
Absolutely, yeah, and what's great so Carol Dweck is kind of the mother of growth versus fixed mindset in the research for sure. And she spearheaded a lot of the work and growth versus a fixed mindset. And a lot of it has started with children and started just with younger humans in general because there is, of course, this idea. It's not even an idea. We know that this is true. The habits, behaviors, identities, and things that we develop when we are younger do carry on into adulthood. I mean, we hear this all the time about childhood trauma and things like that as well. But we know that the things that we're kind of laying the groundwork for early do continue on into adulthood. So if we can get in there and talk about growth versus fixed mindset, and all of this emotional intelligence that's amazing, younger and earlier on, then there's a really, really very likely that they'll continue to carry that with them, whether they're even fully aware of it or not, right? So a lot, a lot, a lot of the mindset research started with younger people and started in academics as well. So that's really kind of where it started and has been kind of sprouted out into a lot of different areas, including a lot of the work that I've done, which is in health and fitness behavior. So honestly, in 2015, when I first started in the mindset lab, doing research on some of these concepts, there was only a handful of papers out there related to growth versus fixed mindset and how that plays a role in exercise and healthy eating. And now, it's continuing to snowball and gain a team for sure in that area. But yeah, a lot of it started in academics and with younger people, which is awesome, for sure.
Amber B 31:04
So cool. That's so great. If you had to pick out three characteristics, or elements of the mindset that were really good indicators of success for people, what would those green flags be? It's like you see this in a client, you're like, “Yes! We're gonna be okay.” What are those green flags for you?
Kasey O 31:25
Yeah, for sure. So I do think green flags that kind of indicate “Ooh, we see growth mindset happening, for sure.” Something I actually kind of already touched on was how you see the success of other people. So a lot of times, like something that I know, I've seen even in client check-ins is, “Oh, this girl on Instagram. This is how she looks. I want to look like her.” Or, “I saw this on Instagram. You think it's something that we could try blah, blah, blah.” Always kind of seeing other people doing things and then being successful? And how you see that person and your perception of that person can really be indicative of where your mindset is. So the green flag of a growth mindset in this area would be seeing that person as like I kind of mentioned before an inspiration, right? “As they can do it, that must mean that I can do it too.” Or, “If they figured it out, then who's to say that I can't figure it out as well, right?” Whereas Red Flag of a fixed mindset would be a little bit more like, “What do they have that I don't? Why did they get to be successful? And I feel like I'm working my ass off over here. And I see nothing.” So that's a really big one. As soon as you start seeing, even if you have clients who are maybe talking about other clients you're like, “Wow, she's done so well. I'm so excited to get to where she's been.” That's the growth mindset. So that's a really big one. I think how you take feedback from other people, from coaches, from people in your life. So growth mindset, green flag, and this need to become like an Instagram post or something green flag, red flag. Growth Mindset, green flag here would be to receive that feedback as an opportunity to learn, to get better, to improve. So you have maybe your coaches saying, “Hey, no problem. You didn't hit your protein this week. It is something that's really important. So I want us to kind of continue to work on it.” If you're sitting over here and you're like, “####, there I go again. I can't do anything right. She's just coming at me again. But she doesn't understand how tough my life is.” That's a red flag. Fixed Mindset, right? The green flag would be, “Okay, so what do we need to do? Here are some ideas. Do you think that's a good idea? What other ideas do you have? What has worked for your other clients?” And really seeking like, “Okay, so I'm getting this feedback that I should be eating more protein. But how do I actually get better at it? And I'm gonna go find resources to figure out how to do it.” Right? So not necessarily taking it personally. And just seeing it as information for you to kind of continue to get better. So that's the big one.
Kasey O 33:53
Another big one is setbacks, failures, whatever you want to call them. Having a setback, what does that do to you? Because green flag, the growth mindset that I would see at check-in would be like, “Hey, so I went to that barbecue this week. I know we had a plan. But I pretty much just blew it out of the water. Nothing mattered as soon as my mom brought out the apple pie that I didn't think was gonna be there. It was game over. I had way too much. I didn't feel good about myself. But I'm excited to learn from this experience. And I want to talk through it with you and figure out how next time if those surprises do come up, I can be better prepared. What can that look like? What do I need to do here?” So to me, that'd be like, “Oh my God, this is amazing. Yes, let's talk about it. Let's figure it out. Let's pick it apart, and come up with a game plan for next time that maybe it's gonna work even better.” Versus the opposing red flag, fixed mindset situation. When it essentially be like, “Okay, so I know we had a plan. I totally screwed it up. I don't even want to talk about it. Let's just move on. Let's go forward. I want to pretend it never happened.” Or you can be even worse than that, right? It could be like, “This is what I always do to myself. This is why I told you that I can't get anything right and that everything always fails. And no matter what I try, doesn't matter if I have a plan, I always screw it up.” That is very much a fixed mindset. Of course, I'm kind of talking in extreme seriousness you can really see. Of course, you could kind of fall somewhere in the middle as well which probably leads to the growth or fixed mindset side. But yeah, so those are a few really good examples of that I can hear feedback, setbacks, and successors. The big three that I'm talking about here. And can really be indicative of whether or not you have that growth mindset versus maybe a little bit more on the fixed mindset side.
Amber B 35:32
So good. Yeah, that's so good. Okay, so let's say if somebody's like, “Oh, gosh, I'm totally hearing myself. When Kasey's talking, that's me. I didn't realize that I'm doing that.” What are some of the steps that we can take? Maybe even starting today to reset awareness, right? Awareness. So pat yourself on the back if you just did that. If you're like, “Oh, gosh, this is me.” Awareness is a huge part of it. So you've already done something. So check that but if they're like, “Okay, now, that I'm aware of this, what is one step that I can do to start to shift that?” What would you say?
Kasey O 36:08
I think the next big part is number one, have grace with yourself and be patient with yourself because this could be something that you're talking about like childhood trauma and things. This could be something you've been carrying with you for 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 maybe years. So to think like, “Oh, wow, okay, I'm opening up my eyes. I'm realizing the things that I'm doing wrong. And the way that I'm thinking to myself, that's keeping me in this fixed mindset place, which is holding me back in so many other areas of my life.” Give yourself some grace. This is not something that's now going to change overnight. That realization, like you, were saying, that awareness piece is so, so, so crucial. And to have a hold of that is huge. And a lot of times, honestly, I've seen this with clients before, with just having that light bulb moment of like, “Oh, my God, that's what I'm doing to myself. That's what I'm saying to myself.” That alone already helps them start to shift their mindset because now, they pick up on it a lot easier because it's just so much more salient in their brain. So if they start to have those thoughts, or they say something out loud, they're like, “Oh, there I go again.” Whereas before, they weren't even able to do that in the first place. So really just starting to pay attention now going forward, when it does come up, what it looks like, what are those triggers, situations, people environments, things that are actually keeping those fixed mindset thoughts alive? And it's not just you. Sure, it could be your childhood trauma or whatever it is. But there are other things in your life that are keeping those things alive, too. So just really starting to pay attention to what those things are.
Kasey O 37:38
And then I would say, All of that. All of that is don't change anything yet, right? It's just paying attention, being aware, looking at things, finding the triggers, and just kind of being a researcher on your own life and gathering the data that is out there. And then from there, you can really start to actively think, “Well, how would I think about this differently? How would I think about this from a growth mindset perspective?” So for instance, going back to like that barbecue example, apple pie, right? I have no idea where that came from. I don't even like apple pie. But if you're in that situation, and previously, you would have beat yourself up over it, and not spent any time thinking about it, just felt guilty, and moved on, and swept it under the rug, now, we can think like, “Okay, so in the past, this is how I would have handled it. And this is how I'm feeling. I am feeling guilty. And it didn't go as well as I wanted it to. But what would the growth mindset version of me do? What would that look like?” And so I'd probably see this as a welcomed challenge. I may seek resources to figure out really, how I can navigate this better in the future and spend a little bit more time thinking about it, knowing that discomfort breeds growth. So spending a little bit more time in that discomfort to really figure it out, just kind of going through it. And honestly, you have to believe it. You can just like “What would the growth mindset version of me do?” Even if you don't believe anything that that growth mindset version is saying, just think about what that would potentially look like. Try it on, see how it feels, and it's not going to probably feel natural. It's not going to feel great. But over time, the more that you do that, you're quite literally rewiring the connections in your brain to start to go down that path and start to prune back the other path that used to be that was that fixed mindset path. So just it is one of those things that does take time and goes on over a period of time. But like I said before, sometimes just that awareness is enough to really kind of kickstart things and makes a difference right away.
Amber B 39:32
It sounds like one of the first things you need to develop a growth mindset in is that you can develop a growth mindset. It's like if you don't even believe that you can develop a growth mindset, we got to work on that first. But I love it. You have some really salient points like, “Here are some things that you can start to do to shift,” And it is possible, right? It is not fixed. Your minds are not fixed. It is the lens through which you see the world and that lens can be shifted. It's beautiful. So I hear this all the time. And I'm sure that you do too. People blame their inability to hit their health and fitness goals on lack of motivation. And I have lots of thoughts about that. And I know that you have thoughts about that. So let's share your thoughts about the idea that people can't hit their goals because of a lack of motivation.
Kasey O 40:21
Yeah, it's a big one. I would say, honestly, I bet you could go ask anyone on the street what's holding them back from hitting health and fitness goals, being more consistent with their health and fitness behaviors that 50% of them are gonna say motivation, and 50% of them are gonna say self-control or willpower. It's those are really the two, big things. And the truth is yeah, motivation does play a role, for sure. But I think we give it way too much credit, right? There's way, way, way too much placed on motivation as being the thing that you need more of in order to be successful. When go ask any successful person in any different area of life, how they got to where they are pretty much-gonna guarantee they're not going to say motivation, right? That's not going to be the first thing in their mouth. And maybe it's a part of it, like, “Oh, I was really motivated because I was broke, and I needed to make more money.” Well, of course, if you're broke, you're gonna be motivated to make money. But that said, it is a piece. But it's not the entire pie. Right here, I go back to the apple pie stuff. But with that said, it comes down to the type of motivation more so as well than it does the amount of motivation. And I think that's another big thing that people miss is just like, “Oh, I need more of it.” But it's like, “Yeah, but what kind of motivation do want more of?” Because truly, at the end of the day, we have kind of two main categories of motivation.
Kasey O 41:43
One is intrinsic motivation. So that's very much internal to you things that you're doing because they're fun, you enjoy them, it makes you feel good. And then we have extrinsic motivation. So things that are external to you. “I want to lose weight because I'm going on a trip next month.” Or, “I want to get in shape because the guy that I like also is in shape and goes to the gym.” So those are extrinsic motivators that can get you started. But sure are not going to be the things that keep you going for decades down the line, right? The intrinsic motivation is really the good stuff that's going to help you do that. There is a healthy mix of them, right? So a lot of my motivation to go to the gym and eat healthily is very much so intrinsic at this point in my life. But of course, yeah, there are trips that I go on, and things like that photo shoots, where I'm like, “You know, it'd be nice to be a little bit leaner.” And those are very much extrinsic goals. However, they fall on a different part of the spectrum because they're still tied to that intrinsic motivation that I have because I still have this whole lifestyle and interest set up around health and fitness behaviors. So having that extrinsic, smaller goal really isn't something that's gonna throw me off, right? But if you put all of your motivation eggs in the extrinsic, motivation basket, that's where we really run into issues. So honestly, the biggest thing is determining where's your motivation coming from. And also, how do we start to cultivate more of this intrinsic motivation versus relying on extrinsic motivation? Which I think, honestly, really is the motivation problem, if there is one ever in the health and fitness world is just relying too much on extrinsic motivation and expecting that to keep you going because it's honestly just not going to.
Amber B 43:22
Yeah, that's really good. I think just even breaking that down for people. You know, if you're listening, asking yourself the question, “Are my current goals based on my current motivation based on extrinsic versus intrinsic?” And not that one is right or wrong, but it sounds like you need both. And you really need the intrinsic to support the extrinsic. And so I think there's a lot of goal shaming that happens on the interwebs. And that's not what Kasey saying. She's saying that the intrinsic needs to be that foundation that you've never fastened extrinsic goals off of which I love that, that you kind of broke that down for us. Let's talk just a little bit about stress because stress is one of those things that feels really unavoidable in our lives. If you go through life, you're probably going to experience stress. And so I'm just curious, what does the research teach us about stress and specifically, how it relates to our health and fitness goals? And is there anything that we can be doing to make those fit a little bit better together?
Kasey O 44:23
Yeah, yeah. Stress is a really, really big topic. And of course, I think stress is really cool, in a way because it really is the clearest indicator of how our minds are very, so very much so connected to our bodies, right? So things like your primary stress hormone are cortisol. And cortisol can rise based on psychological stress. So you are being psychologically stressed because of work, because of relationships, because of your kids, because of your life, etc.., all of the things that go on in our lives, that can raise your hormone levels, right? So physiologically, how you're thinking is actually getting impacted, right? So I think that's it's a really clear indicator. If you ever needed an argument of how these things are connected, that's just so, so clear, right? Because we're seeing your “Oh, your cortisol levels are high. Well, then you need to meditate more, you need to take more breaks, deep breathing all this stuff.” And that's all psychological stuff, right? So with that said, kind of looking at stress from a mindset perspective is where I like to go with this and how it relates to health and fitness goals because, yes, I would agree. Some level of stress is unavoidable in our lives. Some stress is actually necessary in order for us to continue to grow and get better. And honestly, the most basic form is in the gym and building muscle. We're quite literally putting stress on our bodies and hoping that it adapts over time. That is how you get better in the gym. You get stronger, you build muscle, things like that. So the same goes for life, right? You need some level of stress, and we'll call it pressure, whatever, in order to continue to level up and do the next best thing. If we were just kind of coasting along, and super comfy and tranquil all the time and didn't have any of those pressures, we're not gonna have any just get up and go get them some type of feelings at all right? So we do need a little bit of that. And honestly, that in and of itself, that kind of perspective shift is where mindset really, really plays a role. So what we know about how mindset and stress kind of come together in the research is a lot of the work is coming from Kelly McGonigal that I have in my head. She's a researcher at Stanford. It has a bunch of really, really great books and Ted Talks and things like that, for sure. So if this is something that's interesting to you, I would look into her some more. But she talks about the difference between stress being enhancing and stress being debilitating. So you can have stress enhancing mindset. And stress is a debilitating mindset. So really, when we're looking at these, we're kind of looking at stresses enhancing is more or less a growth mindset about stress. And stress is debilitating and is more or less a fixed mindset about stress. So thinking about you and your own situations, and when you're stressed out, how do you see it? 9/10, people are stressed equals bad stress is a bad thing, right? So if you're constantly telling yourself that though, and as soon as you get a stressful email, or you're feeling kind of those symptoms of stress, like bracing heart rate, sweaty palms, shortness of breath, things like that. They feel stressed at the moment, or just feelings of anxiety in general, we're typically labeling them as a bad thing, right?
Kasey O 47:40
But if we can start to shift our perspective of this and think, “Okay, I'm feeling this way. I'm having these physical symptoms because my body is meant to do this. It's preparing me for this challenge. This is my body getting me ready to handle what's in front of me.” That can make all of the difference, right? So a lot of this stress at the end of the day is 110% perceived. Yes, we can argue that like some stressful incidents are going to be inherently stressful things like a car accident, right? It's going to be stressful for anybody no matter what. But there are very big levels. Varying levels of stress at that moment. One person may be relatively calm, cool, and collected. “Let's exchange insurance. We'll figure this out. I'm going to call to cancel my meeting later today, and we'll chat.” Someone else could be hysterical, bawling, can't get any words out, doesn't know what to do, and is super overwhelmed. And they're both having the exact same experience, right? Of course, yeah, there may be something different between these people's lives and how it's going to impact them. Someone may have insurance, someone may not whatever. But ultimately, you get to decide at that moment how stressful something is, and how you're going to respond to it. So getting into this perspective of, “Maybe stress isn't that bad all the time. And maybe some stress is actually good for me, and it is helpful. And maybe when I feel these physical effects of stress, it's because my body is doing what it's supposed to be doing. And it's biologically wired to prepare me for these things.” And the more you can kind of really start to like believe that, the better you are at handling stress. So and that really plays a role in health and fitness behaviors too. Because a lot of times, we're like, “Well, I'm so stressed, so I eat too much.” Or, “I'm so stressed, so I don't eat enough and all of these things.” So really starting to just reframe. Where this is the stress is coming from and why and what it means to you, you make all of the difference with those things as well.
Amber B 49:41
Yeah, that's awesome. That's really really good. Oh, this has been so fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing with my audience. Kasey, it's, it's been phenomenal. If people are wanting to connect with you or continue following you or learn more, where can they find you?
Kasey O 49:56
Yeah, so as far as social media goes, my main platform is Instagram. So you can find me over there. And I'm Coach Kasey Jo on there. It's coach with a C but Casey with a K and Jo without an E. I'm trying to dabble in the world of Tik Tok. I don't know if you've spent any time. So I'm Coach Kasey Jo over there as well. And both platforms, you're gonna find a lot of this mixture of health behavior change, fitness, nutrition, strength, training, mindset, all kind of like packed together. So you can find me there. If you're interested in any of my programs, or things that I do, I have the health mindset coaching certification is one of my big, quote-unquote, “claims to fame,” I suppose. People come to me a lot and you can learn more about all of those things on my website, which is kjocoaching.com.
Amber B 50:49
And we'll link all that up in the show notes as well. So you can always go there to find those links. Awesome. Kasey, this has been phenomenal. Thank you so much for coming on.
Kasey O 50:58
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me.
Amber B 50:59
Such a good episode, right? So many of the things that she said, I'm just sitting over here nodding my head and just saying to myself, “Okay, hopefully, if they hear it from me, and they hear it from Kasey, that will really start to sink in.” So many of these things we really just need to hear over and over and over again. And I just love what she shared on the podcast about motivation, intrinsic versus extrinsic. I love how we talked a little bit about the difference between an all-or-nothing mindset and a fixed versus growth mindset and the overlap that occurs between the two. I love this idea of mindset being the lens that you see the world through. And of course, that lens can be changed, and how important it is to put the lens in that you want to have. Put the lens in that's going to help drive you to have the results and the goals that you have set for yourself. Again, if you love this episode, please take the time, to share it with somebody, and tagged me on stories. Tell me what you love. Tell me what your biggest takeaway was, and then go put it into action. Because remember, learning is great but nothing changes until we put the things that we learned into action. So tag me told me how you're going to put this into action. And I can't wait to hear from you. That wraps up this episode of Biceps after Babies Radio. I'm Amber. Now, go out and be strong because remember, my friend, you can do anything.
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