Mind-set and motivation – the keys that unlock your fitness potential
Have you ever struggled to maintain your drive to attain your fitness goals? Whether your goal is to run faster, be stronger or get leaner - just like our friend Meathead, it's mindset that will help you reach it. Ok, admittedly you still want to keep the grey matter – but it’s actually the grey matter that helps Meathead stay so meaty. Ladies, increasing muscle mass is for you too. Lean muscle may weigh more than fat, but it’s a darned sight more appealing to look at! So how do you get that bundle of neurons that makes up your brain working in your favor? You know the saying “A healthy mind in a healthy body”. Let’s get hat brain working towards a healthier happier you!
|Meathead hitting the double bi flex!|
Think about your goals: do you really want to achieve them?
The first thing you need is the right mind-set. Just thinking “That sounds cool” isn’t enough. You need to be hungry for those achievements. So what are your fitness goals? A beautifully toned body? Extra energy and get up and go? Improved immunity from illness? Washboard abs? Be real about your goals. Own them. Choose goals that you really want to achieve rather than going with something someone said you ought to want.
So before you get up and start working out, do a bit of a brain workout. What do YOU want to achieve? What will you have to do to get there? Be realistic. You aren’t going to get bulging biceps or perfect pecs in a week or two. You aren’t going to shed excess flab just because you went for a run. It takes commitment. It takes patience, and it will take hard work. Sometimes, you simply aren’t going to be ‘in the mood’. What can get you through the mental block? Commitment. Dedication. And you’re not going to get there unless you take 100% ownership of the goals you’re striving to achieve.
Your goal can be as big as you like, but getting there will be a journey. Let’s say you’re doing a long road-trip. How do you measure your progress? There will be towns along the way, won’t there? Every time you pass through one, you feel a sense of achievement. You’re getting closer to your destination.
Your journey towards your fitness goals is very similar. If you’ve set an ambitious goal, you need milestones to measure your progress, or you’ll soon become discouraged – even if you have been making great progress.
Goals should be SMART:
Specific: Define what you want to achieve.
Measurable: How far do you want to run? How much weight do you want to lose? What percentage body fat are you aiming for?
Achievable: Setting an impossible goal is like setting yourself up for failure. If you’re only 5ft tall, you’ll never be 6 footer. If you’re an endomorph, you’ll never be an exomorph. Choose goals that you can achieve.
Realistic: Maybe it isn’t going to happen in two weeks, maybe weighing 110lb would actually be bad for you – even if you could achieve it. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
Time bound: With realism as your guideline, what can you achieve by when? What milestones will you pass on route to your destination and when can you realistically expect to reach them? Remember to celebrate those achievements, and be ready to move your goalposts if you see that you haven’t been realistic!
Once you’ve set your SMART goals, you should already be feeling more motivated. You’ve planned your journey, and you know how long it will take you to reach your destination. You really want to achieve those goals, right? But you need something more if you want to stay motivated. There are going to be days when you just don’t feel like making the necessary effort, and when your goals aren’t going to be enough to keep you going.
Be mindful: Try and determine where your mental block is coming from. Is it time-pressure? But your workout doesn’t take all that long to complete – how much difference can that time really make in the scheme of things? Are you feeling tired and worn out? Perhaps you haven’t been eating or sleeping properly, or you might even be overtraining. Find out why you feel demotivated and discover ways to eliminate these negative factors.
Be your own cheerleader: Having a conversation with yourself might sound a bit nutty, but it can really help. Remember how the encouragement of your friends, coach and team mates kept you motivated on the sports field? Become your own cheerleader: tell yourself that you can do it. Demand that little bit of extra effort: just two more reps, just one more set, just that little bit of extra exertion. You’ll thank yourself for the positive self-talk later on!
Stay positive: If you’re not reaching your milestones, you may become discouraged, but perhaps the problem isn’t you as much as the goals you set. Are they really realistic? Perhaps they could use a little revision. If you’re finding it really hard to set realistic goals, you may want to consult a fitness professional to get them back on track. It’s all too easy to ask the impossible of yourself and then give up altogether when things don’t work out as planned. Taking a bit longer to get where you want to be is better than giving up altogether.
Set a routine and stick to it: Remember, it’s going to be 20% inspiration and 80% perspiration. The best way to develop stick-to-it-ness is to give yourself a schedule to stick to. Your run, walk or workout happens on certain days of the week and at certain times. Get into the routine, and you’ll soon notice a sense of unease – something ‘missing’ – when you break your routine.
Apply your mental muscle
Who’s really driving that body of yours? You are! Take charge. Be masterful. Know what you can and cannot do, and understand why you sometimes develop a mental block that threatens to derail your efforts. Most of all, have fun. Isn’t it great being able to walk, run, bend and stretch? Don’t you love that feeling of having challenged your body? That feeling of drive, motivation and energy you get after exercise is worth maintaining, and when all’s said, you’re the boss.
Thanks for reading.