Fitness Tip of the Day:
Get mentally tough to get physical results.
When it comes to any fitness program designed to achieve a fitness goal (i.e., lose weight, decrease inches, or even gain muscle) things rarely go as planned. Unexpected challenges and obstacles get in the way of your workouts (i.e., lack of motivation, an injury, change in work schedule, losing a workout partner, etc.) and, inevitably, your success. If you can face adversity, remain focused, and maintain confidence in your ability to get the job done … you have a pretty good chance of reaching your fitness goal with flying colors!
If you’ve played organized sports you might have heard your coach talk about “mental toughness” … although it may know it as:
- or just “sucking it up”
Mental toughness is:
“the ability to work hard and respond resiliently to failure and adversity; the inner quality that enables individuals to work hard and stick to their long-term passions and goals.”
In short, mental toughness is the voice in the back of your head that tells you to not give up (when you really want to throw in the towel), to keep on going (when the going gets tough), and to “not sweat the small stuff”.
How to Get Mentally Tough
Set realistic expectations. The best way to avoid any “surprises” that can throw us off our game is to set a realistic expectation as to what the journey ahead will entail. By knowing problems will inevitably occur (i.e., missing workouts and eating extra calories during the holidays, your equipment is being used by someone else when you need it, etc.) you are mentally and emotionally preparing yourself to survive the doubt and disappointment of failure.
Focus on the things you have complete control over. One of the most important realizations someone can have is that there are very few things under our direct control (as much as we would like to think otherwise). We have control of our thoughts, our emotions and our actions. We can choose to be happy or miserable, eat the donut or the carrot stick, go to the gym or meet your friends for wings, or continue to run on the treadmill or stop. We no direct control over the actions of others or the environment … and trying to control those things just leads to disappointment and potential failure.
Learn from your past. It’s a shame that society doesn’t reward defeat and failure because, if it did, we would all appreciate how valuable the failures of our past make us stronger and more resilient for the future. You lived, you survived and your learned. You figure out how to avoid the situation again and what to do when you end up there again (by accident, of course).
Avoid complaining (or coming up with excuses). The minute you complain about your situation you are admitting defeat. Your important goals (and the reason why you change your diet and schedule regular workouts) take a backseat to your convincing excuses. Stop the negative self-talk before the snowball effect begins.
Don’t get emotional. Keep your emotions in check and draw on the learnings from the past and focusing on the things you have complete control over. Think about the realistic expectations you’ve set for the fitness journey ahead and get analytical instead of emotional.
Envision the end goal and let these mental skills turn into the actions that will get results. Get mentally tough so you can take steps forward to get past the goal line.