Your fitness is all in your head.
That sounds weirdly counterintuitive. Exercise is all about improving your body, so how could it be a mental issue? Well the big difference between people that stay active and those that struggle to stick to fitness habits comes down to their mindset. Keeping fitness at the forefront of your mind and setting intentions for activity works to make you fit in the long-term.
No, your whole life doesn’t have to revolve around fitness. You don’t have to eat your meals on a schedule and go to the gym 18 times a week. In fact, starting out too strong and setting huge lofty unreachable goals like that is a surefire way to burnout, get hurt, and quit (http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/overtraining.html). Instead, making any activity a constant and reliable part of your week can help you build up a healthy foundation for your body and mind.
How Do I Change My Mindset Around Fitness?
Changing a mindset is not an easy thing. We have a certain way of thinking that’s ingrained into us based on our experiences and what we’ve been exposed to. Working to change this around is tough and can be jarring at first. However it is absolutely possible and exciting when you have unlocked a new way of looking at things.
Putting in the effort to decide to make fitness a steady part of your life is the first step. And that’s your first Sliding Doors moment (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3xufuIJJxg), where one moment can push your life in two distinct directions. You can say you’re committing to it and then continue your old habits, or you can move ahead with making an exercise plan and actually stick to it no matter what happens.
Keep Fitness In Sight
Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to gently reinforce your new habits, from the moment you wake up in the morning. The simplest and lowest tech is one of my favorites: a Dry Erase Marker. A simple message written on your mirror reminding you of whichever healthy habit you’re working on can go a long way towards reinforcing it.
It can work as an instant reminder like “Do 1 Pushup!” that will push you to drop down and workout right then and there. Or you can go with something more subliminal like “Move More Today,” that will stay in your mind all day. And because the mirror is glass, your message just wipes away clean when you’re ready for a new one. This also works on windows, most refrigerators, and of course whiteboards.
Setting other kinds of reminders also works really well to keep fitness on your mind. If you schedule your workouts (and you should!), you can set alarms on your phone throughout the day to push you to get up and move. You can also program motivating messages as the alarm name to give you an extra shout in the right direction. This also works great as your morning wakeup alarm to encourage yourself to exercise first thing in the morning while you’re still too tired to resist.
It’s Something You Just Do
And here’s where changing your mindset and setting an intention around fitness comes into play. Rather than thinking about activity as something that would be great if you did, it shifts and becomes something that you just do. The most successful active people make consistent and deliberate movement a necessary part of their day for the long-term (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140106115351.htm). Seeing progress in fitness takes creating a continued exercise habit, and thinking of it as something you have to do.
Exercise is upkeep and maintenance for your body and life. Just like with doing laundry, washing dishes, vacuuming, brushing your teeth, or showering, fitness is something that needs to be done. Some people love it and find it meditative, while others absolutely hate it. At the end of the day, if you want to live better you have to do it, so you might as well find ways to enjoy it and make it work for you.
Find Your Motivation
But that doesn’t mean it should be a chore. Fitness is a journey that can and should be exciting. If you’re like me, and are the type of person who needs it to be fun, go ahead and make it fun. Switch up your workouts and don’t plan for exercises that are stale and boring. Make it a game, trying to beat your high score and get in as many reps as possible. Track your progress and work to raise your max weight. Challenge yourself and keep things interesting.
Whatever you’re in it for, channel that cause to keep you going. Take a photo of something that motivates you, and put it somewhere you can see everyday. Whether that’s a picture of a family member as the background lock screen of your phone, or a picture of yourself on a day that you felt amazing, use that to push your cause forward. This all works to remind you of your "why" to make sure you keep up your healthy habits.
Positive Self Talk
We all have that voice in our heads that sabotages us. It tells us to stay in bed, to watch another episode of Game of Thrones, to not bother going to the gym because skipping one workout isn’t going to make a difference anyway. These limiting thoughts tell us that we shouldn’t, we can’t, or that it’s useless.
But luckily, if we listen closely enough, there’s another voice deep down in there. And the more we think about and strain to hear to this voice, the louder and stronger it gets. It’s the voice that tells us that we can and we should.
That voice, the good voice, tells us to get our asses out of bed and do a single measly pushup. It tells us that every step we take literally brings us closer to the best version of ourselves. It tells us that it’s okay if we ate one cookie, and no, we don’t then have to eat the entire box. It tells us that even if we only run for 30 seconds, that 30 seconds more running that we would have done. It tells us that we know we’re going to feel a whole lot better when it’s over, and we’ll be thankful that we got out there and did it. It tells us to not push that damn elevator button, and take the stairs. It tells us that it’s worth it, and we’re worth it.
Find your mantra, listen to that inner voice. Shut down that sabotaging limiting voice. That’s what a mindset change is all about. Focusing on the yes, and turning off the no. Empower yourself, and make the change happen, and enjoy the amazing benefits of a more active life.