Why do people fail at committing and sustaining an exercise program? It is a question that I have thought about extensively, especially since writing my eBook, The Mindset Fitness Connection. Maybe I am overly introspective and think about stuff like this too much. I am not sure, but I do know there are some things we can do to put ourselves in a better place mentally before, during, and after exercise to want to repeat it week after week.
1. It needs to purposeful. We need to develop a set of reasons that genuinely inspire us to commit to a lifestyle of health and fitness. Take a few minutes and write down the reasons why you would like to be fit. What is the payoff to feeling and looking good? How will it benefit you? What will it do for your family? There are many questions you can ask yourself, but the bottom line is that you need the right reasons to do it day after day. One of my purposes or reasons for exercising is that it fits into my job description as a physical education teacher, wrestling coach, and personal trainer. I could still be effective in those duties based on my knowledge alone, but how much would they listen to me if I wasn’t in good shape? I also want my children to be fit and live a healthy lifestyle, so I have to model the correct behavior to them. I want my kids to see that their dad works hard at being in good physical condition. The third reason for me is that I feel so much better when I exercise. I have more energy. I think better and have more clarity in my day to day living. Most importantly, I feel more at peace after I work out. Exercise calms the mind and is a meditative experience.
2. We need to tell ourselves the right things. What we say to ourselves is a direct reflection on our attitudes, effort, and habits. Are you telling yourself that exercise is “fun” or are you saying to yourself that it is boring, painful, or hard?” If you are saying those negative statements to yourself, you need to start telling yourself more resourceful things. “I feel so good after I exercise.” “Exercise helps me to sleep better at night.” “After I work out, I feel a sense of accomplishment, and I am proud of myself for doing it.” Any long-term behavior starts in your mind. At first, it is repeatedly telling yourself the right things to get you going. After a time, it becomes a habit.
3. Exercise needs to be in your schedule. When we schedule anything, it is a priority for us to complete. We all begin our day thinking about what is on our “to-do” list. A work out needs to be one of those items on your list. If it is scheduled, it becomes essential for you to get it done — the more specific you are, the better. What time will it be? Where will it be (if you workout at multiples locations)? What will you be doing in the workout?
4. Visualize your success. What does it look like to have the body you want? How does it feel to be in great shape? What do your loved ones say to you about your improvement? When we spend a little time in our mind imagining our success, we move in the direction of what we repeatedly see ourselves becoming. Take a few minutes each night before falling asleep, visualizing the person you want to be. Hear the voices of those around congratulating you for your achievements. See yourself exactly as who you want to be. With repeated “training,” your mind will move your physical body in the direction of what you consistently imagine.
5. Find an accountability partner. This person can be a person you work out with each day or someone who holds you accountable for what you say you are going to do. I regularly have 200 accountability partners. They are my students, and when I say I am going to do something, believe me, they will hold me accountable. It is a powerful motivator when we know someone is keeping “tabs” on us. None of us like to have that conversation telling someone we did not follow through with a commitment. Someone who cares about us, a true accountability partner, will keep you to your word and not allow you to bail on what you say you want to do.
6. Decide to take 100% responsibility for your health and fitness. Taking responsibility means we will not make excuses or blame others. If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you don’t, do not blame someone else or make an excuse. A mindset of strength includes holding ourselves accountable and looking in the mirror and being honest with things in our lives. If you do not like how you look, it is your problem, and you are the only one who can solve it. Excuses, blaming others, or rationalizing will not fix the problem. Only you can fix the problem.
Everything, I mean everything, begins in our minds. A little mindset training each day pays big dividends in your health, fitness, and personal life.
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