Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mental Toughness

“HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT?”  That was the simple yet powerful advice I shared with you last week.  Be it wanting to lose 10 pounds, increase your fitness or frankly any goal you want to achieve, this advice is universal.  Many times good intentions are fraught with distractions and a wavering commitment but it boils down to HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT. 
What may be the hardest part of starting any exercise or health improving endeavor is making the decision to achieve the goal set before for.  Some may argue that making the decision is the easy part; I argue it is the toughest part if you do it correctly. This means taking some introspective time to really make a commitment to change and let nothing stand in your way.
If making the decision to change your life or really commit to a goal is the hardest part, does that mean the rest is easy?  I hate to be the one to tell you that nothing worthwhile is easy.  The end result is what you are after and part of the fun and reward of achieving what you have set before you is the effort and hard work you put in to make it happen.
To help you through the tough times, to help overcome those unforeseen obstacles and to help you change your habits, you have to develop mental toughness.  Think of it this way.  The more your work out the more fit and strong your body becomes. Mental toughness works the same way. The more you focus on your determination, the more mentally strong you will become.
Here are some strategies to help you prepare and stay committed to your exercise program.
Focus on the present.  Only focus on what you have to do that day for your workout. Close out the distractions of the world and focus on the doing your workout each day. Have a strategy for what you ARE going to do that day and during your session.
Positive Affirmations – Stay positive as positive thoughts energize you. Always think or write affirmations of what you can and are going to. For example, I am going to swim 1800 yards today and feel amazing.
Visualize Success – The mind is a powerful tool that can help or hurt you. Rehearse in your mind what you want your work out to look like, how good you will feel after completing a very hard and draining session. Most importantly, visualize the NEW you once you have reached your goals.
Erase Negative Thoughts and Energy with Positive Thoughts – This is crucial. We are human; we will have good workouts and bad. You must stay positive and be alert to any negative self-talk that can subtly creep into our minds.  One person I swim with swims perfectly fine, but he always has to have the lane next to the life guard. This is due to negative self-talk when he says. “I just can’t swim in any other lane.” It sounds harmless but is poisonous.
Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer and Groups Exercise Instructor, exercise, health and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.