Mental Barriers to Success in Fitness
Today I’d like to discuss a different side of getting fit – the ‘mental’ aspect of things.
If you have ever tried to set a reasonably ambitious fitness goal and achieved it (or perhaps fell away before you reached your goal), you’ll know that there are internal struggles as well as external.
There is always a moment in time when you just want to GIVE UP. You hit a wall and feel like you’ll be much happier if you just stop what you’re doing. It’s very easy to give in to the immediate pleasure and relief of taking a rest and not bothering to continue. The temptation can be massive at times, and it takes great mental willpower to continue despite this.
I personally have a few ‘tricks’ that I keep in mind when I reach this stage of an intense workout regimen, and they always help me get through and succeed in reaching the goals I set.
Here are some tips of my own that have helped me succeed:
Set Clear, Defined Goals – Having a flimsy vision of what you’re trying to achieve is the first reason many people fail. You may get going and be doing a great job, but you’ll reach burnout eventually.
If you don’t have a clear vision, then at some point you will start to question whether it’s worth continuing or not. At that point, if you don’t have a defined goal to work towards, you will easily justify to yourself giving up, because there is no reason to continue.
Even if you are aware of an ideal, like “I want to lose some belly fat before the summer,” you need to be more specific than that. The mind is a wonderful but crazy thing, and will put immediate pleasure over long-term rewards unless you condition it otherwise.
Take the First Step – Perhaps you’ve been on your workout for the last 3 weeks, and you’ve started to flag. Each morning, you’re supposed to do a 1-hour workout before going to work. It’s easy to say to yourself, “I’ll just skip it this time, I’m too tired/can’t be bothered.” The way I get around this is by taking the first step. It could just be a small thing, like putting on my trainers.
If you’re planning to do a 2-mile jog for instance, your brain will see the whole thing at once and think, “I don’t want to do that.” But if you just put your jogging gear on, get those trainers on and go out the front door, you’ll find before long that you’re off and running and in the rhythm. This is really useful over a long period of time when you need to repeatedly motivate yourself. This leads me to…
Eating your Elephant – Eat your Elephant… what?? If you haven’t heard this saying before, then it can seem strange at first.
The analogy works great for fitness though. When you set a fitness goal, it can seem enormous, unattainable. That’s what it’s like to eat an elephant (not literally of course). Imagine looking at a gigantic elephant and thinking, “I have to eat this entire thing.”
The way to get past this is just to take the first bite. Then take a few more bites. You won’t be able to eat the whole thing in one day of course, but each day you keep coming back and chipping away. That’s why it’s so important to track your progress and record your results, as I’ve preached many times before. Then you can see exactly what progress you’ve made and how far you’ve come.
Eventually you’ll see that you’re already half way to eating that elephant! You’ll be amazed, and it’ll push you forward. What seemed like a herculean effort has become easy because you’re taking bite-sized chunks at a time and STICKING to it. They key is consistency and never giving up, doing a little bit each day and doing it right.
You can achieve anything with this mindset, so just remember this little story of how to ‘eat your elephant’ 🙂