5 EXPERT TIPS ON STRENGTHENING YOUR MINDSET FOR FITNESS

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Ideal for those looking to sustain their new year’s health resolutions for the rest of 2021 and beyond.

Getting into shape isn’t simply about hitting the treadmill harder than your peers and grunting the loudest whilst sprawled on the benchpress. 

In fact, it’s a fine balancing act. There are countless moving parts you have to juggle, dexterously; exercise, diet, lifestyle choices, time management and mental endurance all play a part. We’re here today to focus on the latter.

Of course, every person’s health journey is going to look – and is certainly going to feel – slightly different. For some, completing a 5km run is a massive achievement whilst for others, the goal is to squat double their body weight. Then, there are others who simply want to develop a dedicated fitness regime to help give their mood a boost. 

Whatever your motivation, so much of the work done on the journey to achieving your goals happens in the mind. We’ve asked personal trainers, sports professionals and psychologists for their advice on the best ways to stay motivated when working out, and here’s what we found; our 5 expert tips on strengthening your mindset for fitness, IDEAL for those looking to sustain their new year’s health resolutions for the rest of 2021 and beyond.

MIND OVER MATTER

You’ve probably encountered this tip before—maybe you’ve even skipped over it a few times — but there’s a reason this one comes up, time and time again. 

When it comes to fitness or any other significant lifestyle change, your mindset is of the utmost importance. Even if you could snap your fingers and reach your ideal level of fitness in seconds, you wouldn’t be able to maintain it or stay in that place without the right mindset. In fact, the journey is as important as the destination in terms of fitness goals, because every aching limb and each morning run in the freezing cold is a reminder of the reasons you’re working hard on your fitness.

Take a moment to ponder what fitness means to you and note any down uncomfortable feelings or beliefs that arise as you do. Things like:

  • I’ll always hate exercising
  • I can be fit or be happy, not both
  • I’m never going to have a body I like
  • I just don’t like healthy food

Then, make an effort to ‘catch your thoughts’, a psychological practice in the form of a Cognitive Behavioural Thought Record. Ask yourself if there is any cold, hard evidence for these negative assumptions about your fitness journey and then note down an alternative…for instance ‘I’ll always hate exercising if I adopt a negative mindset. But if I focus on the reasons I’m keen to get fitter, I will grow to enjoy it’’. 

You’ve probably encountered this tip before—maybe you’ve even skipped over it a few times — but there’s a reason this one comes up, time and time again and it’s been reinforced by The Lifestyle Physiologist, a personal trainer in Brighton. As he tells us succinctly, ‘mind over matter’.

CHALLENGE YOUR PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS ABOUT FITNESS

Simply put, negative assumptions regarding your skills, abilities and fitness levels, as well as your motivations, are often untrue.

Though it can be hard to accept that your own mind is lying to you, it’s a cycle which can (and time and time again, has) been broken.

So, take a moment to challenge these self-limiting beliefs without judging yourself too harshly. We all have such doubts. The media, the school system, our peers…unrealistic expectations and comparisons define our every day. That’s not to say that they can’t be redressed.

Studies have shown that one of the biggest components in making lasting change in our lives is changing self-limiting beliefs. So, the next time you reach 10km on that exercise bike and your mind tells you that you’ve done enough for the day, make an effort to challenge yourself to go a little further. Training your brain to be more resolute is as important as training your legs, arms and chest to be stronger.

SMALL, INCREMENTAL CHANGE

When it comes to embarking on a fitness journey, the people who have the most success are the ones who started small.  

Incremental, manageable change is so much more sustainable than trying to do too much, too soon. Doing so will only risk injury, embarassment or demotivation.

Pick one habit at a time that you’re keen to incorporate into your daily life. It could be walking for twenty minutes a day or going for a short jog each morning. It could be doing ten pushups per day or stretching before your regular workout so that your muscles aren’t too strained. And then, gradually increase the intensity or length of time that you’re doing those workouts.

A small, consistent change has a more significant impact than a total, all-consuming but ultimately short-lived change. Doing so will help you form positive habits which have durability and distance.

FOCUS ON FORM

Focus on form rather than product; you’re not going to suddenly see a six-pack after a week of sit-ups. The experts from Fintys emphasise how important it is to make sure your form is correct, because nothing can slow down fitness progress faster than an injury. Taking things slowly, gradually and with a focus on proper form and technique is the most sustainable, holistic way to reach your fitness goals. 

Keep in mind that people often drastically overestimate how much they can get done in a short period of time (a day, a week, a month), but drastically underestimate how much they can get done over a long period of time (a year or more). By focusing on good technique at first, you’ll be setting yourself up for a lifetime of fitness and health instead of a short, intense burst which was impossible to maintain. 

You’ll also learn the art of listening to your body by taking a conscientious approach to your fitness. Experts believe that being able to recognise the difference between good and bad pain is so important in nurturing a wholesome, effective fitness regime. We couldn’t agree more.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS THING ALONE

We’ve spent the majority of this article extoling the virtues of inner strength and self motivation but it’s so important to remember that you don’t have to do this thing alone.

In fact, one of the finest catalysts to commitment and motivation comes for free; a fitness buddy. Because let’s face it; positive peer pressure is one hell of a motivator. And going to the gym or setting off on a jog with a partner or friend simply makes exercise more fun and less of a chore. 

Not only does having an exercise partner provide a social aspect, but it will also stop you from cancelling your fitness plans whenever temptation comes calling. If you can’t find a fitness buddy, consider hiring a personal trainer to put you through your paces once fitness centres are open again. That, or there are currently virtual programs available where you can buddy up, support and motivate each other online and remotely, for now.

Every little helps, right? 

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