Quick – whatever you do, do NOT think about a purple cat. Seriously, stop it. Fat chance, right? The truth is that our minds, much like your preschool-aged cousin, do not seem to understand “don’t” or “no.” Instead, what we tell ourselves to not do is what sticks in our head, weakening our resolve with every thought. You might have experienced this if you’ve tried to cut something out of your life completely. It’s often at that very moment that you want it more than ever. Yikes!
Given that your mind is so powerful, it makes sense that your head plays a pretty significant role in your ability to get as fit and healthy as you desire. The shape of your thoughts plays a huge role in the shape of . . .yourself! Below we’ve got a few ways to help you overcome a few of the mental challenges that can get in the way of achieving your fitness potential.
- The need for perfection. “If I don’t have stylish workout clothes, I don’t want to go to the studio” or “I’ll start working out as soon as I lose a few pounds” or “those workouts are hard – I can’t go if I can’t do it just right.” Does this sound familiar? If you’re straight-A-student kind of exerciser, try to keep in check the difference between healthy standards and neurotic perfectionism. And remember – it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. It’s okay to be a work in progress.
- The negativity. Repeated thoughts of “I don’t like this” or “I can’t do this” or even “I’m so clumsy” can have a dramatic effect on your willingness and ability to go through with your fitness goals. Your words, even those said silently to yourself, become your reality. The more you think or say aloud phrases like these, the more you begin to embody them. Negative self-talk is often such a habit that we don’t realize we’re doing it. Over the next couple of weeks, try to pay laser-focused attention to the things you say and think to and about yourself. As soon as you notice a negative phrase emitting from your brain or mouth, stop it right in its tracks, and redirect. Try replacing “There’s no way I can do this” with “I’m going to keep practicing, and I’ll get it soon.”
- The excuses. The studio was too hot. I was too tired. I ran out of time. My dog was sick. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to talk yourself out of reaching your goal? We have an uncanny ability to excuse ourselves out of doing something we should do at the drop of a hat, with several more excuses waiting in the wings. The remedy for excuses is prioritization, pure and simple. How bad do you want to meet your fitness resolutions? Beat the excuse habit by frequently fine-tuning your list of top priorities, making sure you always keep what’s most important to you at the top.
With some attention and purposeful thought, it IS possible to keep from letting your mind get in the way of your body’s fitness and health.