by Sarah Burnap
As important as it is to master the physical aspect of fitness, the more difficult and often overlooked aspect of training is the psychological part. Just like anything else in your life, being fit is a challenge that takes effort. If you want to set yourself up for success, then you have to prepare yourself mentally. Here are some guidelines to help you succeed.
Decide what your short and long term goals are. This is a good way to motivate you to work toward something greater. Take some quiet time to sit down with a pen and paper and write down specific fit goals that really excite you. Don’t let fear get in the way of thinking big. It is okay to want more for yourself, and getting in a positive mindset is a great way to brainstorm your ultimate vision. Think about your body and what you would like to improve on. What physical and emotional goals can you set to stay positive about fitness? Be very specific about what it is that you want the most? Get smart and learn about the right tools that you need in order to be fully functional. Once you decide what it is that you want, determine when you would like to achieve it by. How are you going to reach these goals? Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself each day. It’s important to decide what is best for you. If you work for something that you don’t care about then you will fall short.
Step 2: MAKE AN ACTION PLAN – STRATEGIZE YOUR WORKOUT, NUTRITION, REST AND RECOVERY
At this point you should decide what it is that you want to achieve. Do you want to focus on burning fat, building muscle, or compete in a race? You can find the best workout program for yourself once you figure out who you want to be. The same rules apply for nutrition. Meal prepping is by far the best thing I ever did for myself. Before I prepped my meals I would always slip up. I would be so busy at work that I would wait until I was starving to eat. This resulted in being so hungry that I would stop by a fast food restaurant and cram down a burger that I was craving. Food prepping isn’t exactly the way that I want to spend my Sunday evenings, but I do it anyway because I know that it will be better in the long run. Of course, there is no one plan fits all, so it’s very important to know exactly what it is that you want to accomplish. Once you know what you want, make sure that you do the research and be consistent. It helps to keep a journal and write down the exercise that you did and the food that you ate for each day. Measurements are also helpful. Sometimes the scale doesn’t move, and that doesn’t mean that you are not improving. It’s common to put on a few pounds of muscle when toning.
A recovery plan is also significant in achieving your goals. Taking time to learn how to resolve pain, prevent injury and rest are the key essentials to optimizing athletic performance. As great as your diet and exercise plan may be, you are no good if you are too stiff, achy and tired to have an effective workout. Learn about proper form and have a friend or trainer watch you to identify any inefficient movements that you have when exercising. If your routine consists of more running or weight lifting, make time to work on mobility exercises and stretching to improve movement. Pay attention to your body and discover where you have restrictive movements. Self-myofascial release and mobility drills in-between sets will help to reduce risk of injury and your body will thank you for it. Finally, establish a bedtime routine. Often times we are so busy during the day that it’s difficult for our brain to turn off. Establishing a routine before bed time will help train the mind and body to be rewarded with sleep.
STEP 3: PRACTICE SELF MOTIVATION
Often times you want to reach your goals, but you just can’t convince yourself that you can achieve the goals that you want. Being mentally tough isn’t just a skill to master for training; it’s a transferable skill that will help you to reach your full potential in life. Pay attention to your mindset! If you catch yourself saying that you are fat, not good enough, or try to do a different exercise instead of the one that you need to do, then it’s time to regroup. Take a deep breath, turn off all of the thoughts in your head, and realize that the only thing that you can control is now. This is where patience will pay off.great to have big goals, but at times you can get distracted on how difficult it will be to reach those goals and not pay attention to the short term. Learning this skill was huge for me. For so long when I ran or lifted weights I would think about how I had to run 2 more miles or do 3 more sets. Now when I run I just concentrate on my breathing and just put one foot in front of the other. Visualization is also a key factor. Before you attempt to enhance your performance, use mental imagery to visualize yourself completing that milestone. Replay that moment in your mind, but this time identify any mistakes you can make and correct it.
Don’t get too distracted by getting pumped for the gym that you are not concentrating. Still confidence is a good goal to work towards during a workout. Pay attention to your body; make sure that the correct muscles are engaged during your workout. If you are putting in the time to better yourself, be smart about it. Don’t expect results if you are wasting your time and energy throwing around weights and being careless.
Another big step is being able to move past failure. Failure often gets a bad rep. Not everyone gets a trophy for participating. Sometimes your best is not good enough, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You shouldn’t always be rewarded for trying as hard as you can, especially when the other person has worked harder and longer than you. Of course there are some people there are just naturally fit, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for you not to be. That’s not the way that the world works. If you want to reach your goals you have to earn it. Failure is not a big deal. Don’t get frustrated if you didn’t run the farthest or lift the heaviest. Get over it and move on. Reaching your fitness goals isn’t easy, it takes mental preparation daily, but if you continue to challenge yourself, plan properly, and concentrate on what you can do then you can reach your goals. Grow from your mistakes, respect the process, and look inward. It’s amazing what your body is capable of if you train your mind to see it.