Four Mental Strategies for Fitness Success

For all the money you spend on your fitness life to be worth it, you first must program your mind.

(Source: Bev Childress)

Investing in a new program or online training subscription? Before you spend all your hard-earned cash, make sure you have the right mental approach to ensure that you will follow through with it. There is nothing more cliché than buying a home treadmill to collect dust or a gym membership that never gets used.

People haphazardly spend money trying to find a solution to their fitness or health problems, only to realize that they can’t buy results without doing the work. Money will only buy you methods, not the motivation to train. Aligning your values and interests are the foundation of a successful plan, rather than focusing purely on outcomes. Below are four key pillars that will help you focus your mind to get the most from your training.

Find Clarity

Being crystal clear with your targets is imperative for fulfillment in your fitness and health endeavors. If you don’t define what it is you are hoping to achieve, then it will be not only impossible to come up with a training plan, but it will most certainly give you less drive to stick with it over the long term.

Clearly define what the goal is and make sure that you have a reliable measure that can assess your starting point, progress, and end result. Remember, if you are not assessing, you are guessing. Gaining clarity on your goals and results with descriptive measures keeps you accountable to stick with the program.

Get Accurate Feedback

Getting feedback has a powerful effect on your emotions, as you can see progress when you follow the plan, or regression if you do not. Receiving negative feedback isn’t always a bad thing, as it can encourage accountability and help alter methods along the way to ensure success.

Be mindful to not over do it with feedback. Some personality types can become obsessive and attach identity to results, which can reinforce negative behavior patterns. Keep to a strict fortnightly or monthly assessment feedback. Daily measurement can fluctuate, which can make people obsess and change their approach when it isn’t necessary.

Find Your Purpose

Setting arbitrary goals with no personal significance won’t create enough fire in your belly to make you follow through. When times are tough and you feel like giving up, having a strong enough reason why you want to achieve the target will make you do things that didn’t seem possible. If your life depended on you lifting twice your body weight for 10 repetitions, chances are you would be able to do it. If the scenario was different, and you would only have some sore muscles the following day, would you have the same reason and conviction to complete the task? Not a chance!

For that very reason, you must set goals with emotional significance and purpose. Compare the following two statements in terms of motivation potential:

  • “I want to lose 30lb of fat because my doctor said I’m at a high risk for cardiovascular disease, and chances are I won’t be able to watch my grandkids kids grow up.”
  • “I want to lose 15kg because my wife keeps nagging me.”

It could be the same person in both of those scenarios, but the key difference is the person with the stronger reason why will have much more ability to find a way to make it work rather than turning to excuses.

Do Something You Love

It might seem obvious, but you need to enjoy the process. Life is too short to get stuck doing something that you despise, and chances are you won’t stick with it anyway. Like it or not, all exercise has some level of discomfort associated with it. Your lungs will burn when you run, you will have sore muscles after lifting weights, and you will smell like chlorine after swimming. The trick is to find something with enough joy in the activity to offset the negative aspect. After a while, the perceived negative will actually become part of the enjoyment by association.

If you are someone who doesn’t like the gym, a coach or trainer that is skilled in the art of coaching can dig deep and find ways to help motivate you. A coach can get you to associate your goals with exercises and once they strike the right chord, then you will be hooked. Don’t underestimate seeking expertise as a way of finding enjoyment in training, because chances are, the coach or teacher loves what they do, and the satisfaction will be infectious.

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