How do you reach a beginner's mind

What we can learn from children about weight loss, muscle building and the beginner's mind

Children embody the beginner's mind. You can see life with different eyes. A child falls down infinitely often before it learns to walk - and stick with it, with fun and enthusiasm.

As adults, we often give up very quickly. Because we usually stand in our own way with our experiences.

In this article you will get to know a concept that will save you a lot of problems with weight loss and training.

It's a simple concept that will accelerate your progress and be pretty fun at the same time:

You can learn to face any challenge with a beginner's mind.

The idea comes from “Zen Mind, Beginner Mind” by Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki.

Anyone who has tried in vain to achieve their goals with rigor and discipline could find a new framework in it - and pick up speed again, with more ease.

What is a Beginner Mind?

It doesn't matter whether you bake the world's best protein pancakes, speak every line of dialogue in Star Wars films or know how to keep a garden in good shape:

You are an expert

We are all experts. The beginner's mind is about letting go of all of that.

You see the world through the glasses of an absolute beginner.

To do this, you ignore everything you know about a topic so far: All expectations, all knowledge, all ideas and solutions.

If you've ever learned something new, you know what it feels like:

Mostly it is a feeling of confusion or disorientation.

Like when you were a child when you learned to walk, cycle or swim. While you knew the end result - walking, biking, or swimming like an adult - you had no idea how exactly you would get there.

At the same time you burn full of curiosity and enthusiasm.

Both make up the beginner's mind.

In this state you are:

  • free from prejudicehow something works.
  • free from expectations about what's going to happen.
  • full of curiosityto understand things even better.
  • open to new possibilitiesbecause you don't yet know the (im) possible.

Think about your childhood. How was it BEFORE you could read and write?

Children are bursting with questions.
They want to know everything.
You can imagine anything.

Children ask things that are obvious - and things that go so deep that adults often don't get it.

This is normal for children.
You are used to being a beginner.

But somewhere on the way to adulthood we forget this beginner's mind that was put in us in the cradle.

Why do you benefit from the beginner's mind when you want to look good naked?

Many people spend their lives becoming excellent in a subject or skill - be it at work or in their private lives.

The beginner's mind seems to get in the way of excellence.

Therefore, the thought of it can feel uncomfortable at first. Would you want to forget what you learned about health and fitness? Isn't it better to have experience and knowledge about it?

Experience and knowledge help you to get better.
But they can also get in your way.

Shunryu Suzuki puts it this way in his book:

When your mind is empty - it is open to everything. There are many options in the beginner's mind, but few in the expert's mind.

The beginner's mind gives you the opportunity to see the world with different eyes and naturally to find new (often better) ways and solutions.

The 6 advantages of the beginner's mind

The advantages of this point of view are manifold and do not only apply to your figure and fitness.

Here are six benefits that you can use for your training and your diet:

  • Appreciation. With all the bad news every day, it's easy to lose sight of the many good things we can be thankful for. By taking a new perspective on your diet, your training and your life, you can appreciate what you have taken for granted so far.
  • Creativity. Anyone who has been occupied with something for a long time, sees and does things again and again, develops habits. This applies not only to your actions, but also to your thoughts. By approaching a (well-known) challenge from a beginner's perspective, you can explore new paths and solutions that you would never have had on your radar before.
  • Awareness. If you know someone, your brain likes to switch to “autopilot” mode. Advantage: It saves energy. Disadvantage: there is no improvement. The beginner's mind helps you break through routines, reflect on your habits and, if it makes sense, change them.
  • Fun. At the beginning of every change there is a strong “why”. This also applies to the way you eat or how you train. Sometimes our why is forgotten over the years - and with it the enthusiasm is also lost. With the beginner's mind you can rediscover and experience the reasons for what you do.
  • Ease. I often write about "playful" weight loss - because it is the most natural and easiest way to change. Why do fitness and fat loss always have to be deadly serious? With the perspective of a child who tries things out full of curiosity (and does not expect something to work immediately every time), you bring the ease of your childhood back into the here and now - and use it to achieve what you set out to do .
  • Enthusiasm. Your body is great, fascinating and - it is already beautiful. As long as you focus only on the mistakes, you will never be able to see it for what it really is.

Sounds good so far? Then you may wonder how you can learn to see the world differently and cultivate a beginner's mind.

Here are some tips to get you started.

How to Develop a Beginner Mind to Help You Achieve Your Fitness Goals Faster

For those who like to rely on their knowledge and experience, the beginner's point of view often feels surprisingly challenging at first.

Here are 7 ways to help you cultivate a beginner's mind.

1. Find out what you expect - and turn it upside down

Suppose you want to change your diet or start a new exercise program.

Which result or which result do you expect? Can you be one hundred percent sure that you are correct? What would happen if you did the opposite?

2. Take your time

I know time is the most precious commodity for many of us. It is all the more important that you do it deliberately and turn off the autopilot. If you're in a hurry, go slowly. Perhaps you know the book by Lothar Seiwert.

Pay attention to every single movement of your body during training: Which muscle is working? How does he move? How does your body's center of gravity change? How does the weight feel?

3. Forget your prejudices

Everyone has negative beliefs that represent a kind of glass roof for your development.

If you find yourself knowing exactly how something works or what it means - don't just give in to this assumption in the future. Instead, you wait and let the result surprise you.

4. What would your 5 year old “I” have done?

There are no stupid questions for toddlers. (Stupid questions are a mental construct of stressed adults anyway.) For children there is only curiosity and fascination.

Imagine you were 5 years old again. Ask people who you think can explain an exercise or issue to you in the simplest possible way: “Why is it like that?”, “How does it work?”, “Why do you do it like that?”

5. Get rid of the expert status

Your ego loves to be the expert and always to be right - especially in areas in which you have accumulated a lot of experience and knowledge.

The question is, as so often, what is your goal? Is it about being right - or do you want to get better? By letting your ego sleep, you open yourself to further progress.

6. Train with all your senses

Open all your five senses to an activity - as if you were doing it for the very first time.

During training: Which muscle is working? How does that feel? How does it look like? What do you hear, taste, smell? What changes, what remains? What makes sense What not? Why?

During the meal: How does it smell and taste? What is its texture? How do I feel before, during and after this meal? Why is that?

7. Use meditation for training

Watch your thoughts while you exercise. Value-free, i.e. without judging them. What inner dialogue is taking place? What emotion do you feel? How does your body feel?

Meditation is about observing thoughts and letting them go by - like clouds in the sky. By observing them, you will get to know the mental programs that you have used so far.

Case study: This is how you benefit from the beginner's mind in pull-up training

Can you do a clean pull-up yet? No matter what you answer, you are in good company - this is shown by this little Twitter poll I recently started.

Whether you think it's possible or not:

Anyone can learn the pull-up.

The ability to do this is just as inherent in us as running. The rest is training.

In addition to a suitable training plan, you need one thing above all: the right attitude.

My trainer colleague Marco Meyer recommends that clients who attend his pull-up course consciously approach the training like a beginner:

  • winner see themselves as playful beginners (like a child),
  • loser see themselves as a disciplined professional (like an adult).

For example, suppose you set out to learn the pull-up - or any other skill.

As adults, we often get in our own way with our invisible scripts:

  • "Is that still possible at my age?"
  • "Am I strong, fit, beautiful and slim enough?"
  • "Isn't that too dangerous?"
  • "Doesn't that take years?"
  • "What if it doesn't work?"

If you're one of those people who doesn't start anything until they're one hundred percent sure that it will work, keep this in mind:

What Would a Child Do?
What Would a Beginner Do?

Probably he wouldn't worry at all and just go for it. And while the "adult" is still thinking about whether to start a year later, the beginner can do ten clean pull-ups.

The beginner's mind also means letting go of expectations of your own success for a moment:

You focus on trying things out, not on success.

Professional baseball players need to swing their bat on the ball an average of ten times to hit well enough for a home run.

Hence, they don't focus on the home run. You just focus on the next shot. Because they understood:

If you swing your club enough times, the home run is only a matter of time.

That is the novice spirit in action. And you can take advantage of this mindset the next time you go to training.

  1. Define your goal (e.g. do a clean pull-up).
  2. Decide on a training program (e.g. with 2 workouts per week).

And now the beginner's mind comes into play:

3. You go to training 2 days a week.

You ONLY focus on training. Not on the result.

Training means leaving your comfort zone.
And outside of our comfort zone, we are all beginners.

As soon as you become aware of this, you know: it's okay if it's not perfect. Because there is no other way.


When was the last time you trained from a beginner's perspective - or enjoyed a meal?

If you want, you can benefit from the advantages of this concept in any activity - brushing your teeth, washing dishes, using your cell phone or talking to someone else.

The approach is always the same:

  • You face the situation with absolutely no expectations.
  • You try to see things as they are - with all your senses: hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling and tasting.
  • You focus on the moment, not the end result.

In training this means:

  • You go to training.
  • You train with all your senses.

Open, but without the claim to perfection. If there is such a thing as perfection, it is an automatic result of long practice.

And long practice means sticking to it - which is based more on fun, enthusiasm and a strong “why” than on hardness and discipline.

Question:Think about your next training session or meal - how can you use the concept of the beginner's mind for yourself? Share your ideas and, if you want, experiences. Write a comment.

Category: MotivationTags: Mindset, Invisible Scripts