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-Mind Your Damn Fitness-
When we have specific fitness goals in mind, it’s often difficult to take the first steps. And even if we do manage to start a fitness program, it’s tough to maintain momentum.
The success of all fitness programs relies on a strong foundation.
Just like a skyscraper requires a strong foundation to not fall over or sink into the ground, fitness programs also need a strong foundation. For a skyscraper, the foundation is concrete, usually reinforced with steel.
But the foundation for fitness programs is not so obvious. You may think the foundation is an athletic background… nope! Good eating habits? Wrong! Loads of money to train with top personal trainers? Well that depends on how much money we’re talking about. JUST KIDDING!
The foundation for a successful fitness program is… [drum roll please]… the right mental framework!
While our brains give us the ability to do many wonderful things (like learn languages, preserve memories, and answer obscure questions at Thursday night pub trivia), they are also guilty of creating thought patterns that can get us stuck in cycles of habitual thinking. When negative thoughts are our “go to” pattern of thinking, we tend to be more resistant to change, and this reinforces inaction. This is true even when we have the best intentions, a strong desire to change, and the tools and support to make a change.
To create the right mental framework for attaining and sustaining fitness, we must redirect our thinking patterns to healthy ones. This is easier than you think, and with a little practice, you’ll have a solid foundation to achieve any fitness goal!
Here are 5 steps to jump start a fitness program.
1. Accept the past to move forward.
On the path towards improvement, it’s easy to be excessively critical about weaknesses, deficiencies, and past mistakes. But since we can’t change the past, this type of thinking draws attention and energy away from our present goals. In order to move forward, we must put the past behind us.
When thoughts of the past make it hard for you to start a fitness program, acknowledge them and then redirect your thinking towards your fitness goals. Positive self-talk and visualizations can be extremely helpful in moving beyond the past. Remind yourself that you deserve health and happiness, and picture how you will celebrate or reward yourself as you achieve your fitness goals.
2. Create goals on YOUR terms.
Often times, we fall in the trap of doing things because we worry about the opinions and judgments of others- a spouse, friends, family, or co-workers. Although it seems like this is the only way we will be supported in our goals, it’s important to keep in mind that the only one that is truly committed to your success is YOU!
Research has shown that people who are internally motivated (in other words, doing something you enjoy or think is important) are more likely to stick to a task, invest more time in that task, and be more successful at that task. So stop worrying about what other people think you should be doing and create fitness goals based on what is most important to you!
Once your goals are shaped to truly serve your needs, frame them in a way that will help you shape your path to success. The best way to do this is to make your goals S.M.A.R.T:
- SPECIFIC: describe what you want to do
- MEASURABLE: include how you’ll evaluate success
- ACHIEVABLE: possible to accomplish based on your abilities and resources
- RELEVANT: something you actually want to achieve
- TIMELY: include the timing in which you will accomplish it
3. Build a realistic path.
When we fail to plan, we plan to fail. Not knowing how we will get from point A to point B will leave us exerting energy in many directions. With this approach, we’re likely to lose steam fast.
Having a clear strategy of specifically how you plan to accomplish your fitness goals is critical for success. This will not only help you start a fitness program, but will also help you stay on track as you pursue your goals.
Setting realistic deadlines is just as important as defining your path. When do you want to accomplish your goals by? Will life’s competing priorities allow you to be successful within this time frame? Are you really able to commit to going to the gym 1 hour per day, 6 days a week, or is 30 min per day, 3 days per week more realistic?
Bottom line: choose a schedule for your fitness program that you will realistically be able to maintain and commit to it!
4. Expect bumps along the way.
Nothing worth having is ever easy. Whenever we start a fitness program or anything else that is new – a job, a relationship – there is always a learning curve. Simply put, things are harder in the beginning, but the more we do something, the better we get at it. Setting our expectations accordingly will help us persevere through the difficult early days.
Does that mean that you can switch to autopilot once your fitness program has gained momentum? Absolutely not!
Life inevitably throws curve balls every once in while. Fortunately, everything that we experience in life not only relates to what we encounter, but also how we interpret it and react to it.
When you face adversity, like a bad week at work, instead of taking an “all-or-none” approach to your fitness program, make modifications to your schedule that will allow you to continue progressing on a smaller scale. Also, check out these awesome fitness motivation quotes to help regain momentum.
5. Celebrate small successes.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. In other words, you cannot expect to achieve complex tasks in a short period of time. However, it’s important to set short term goals along your journey that serve as “checkpoints” on your way towards your overall goal.
Keep in mind that accomplishment boosts our self-confidence, which is a key driver for continued momentum. So whenever you achieve one of these checkpoints, take time to enjoy that fact, and reward yourself with something small.
In addition, should you not be on track for accomplishing your main goal, checkpoints provide an opportunity to re-evaluate and adjust your strategy so that you can get back on track.
When you start a fitness program, it’s common to feel overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By building the right mental framework at the beginning of your journey, you can establish a solid foundation for healthy fitness habits that last a lifetime!