It shouldn’t come as a surprise that achieving your fitness goals will require tremendous and consistent hard, physical work. We may, sometimes, underestimate the amount of physical training needed to reach our goals but we’re willing to put in the effort. Many have seen success just sticking it out in the gym or on the road. However, the one thing few talk about is the mental “tricks” they’ve used to achieve those fitness goals. They are proof that only 20% of the battle is the physical suffering (or joy lol) we put our bodies through to reach said goals. But, the other 80% that makes it possible is the mental side of our journey.

Staying Focused

I will have to say this is the most important mental “trick” in the book…and the hardest to maintain. Having a goal is one thing. Having the mental fortitude to stay on task is another. How many times have you restarted your fitness journey with the attitude “this time it’ll be different.”? No, no it won’t. It’s not different because you haven’t mastered the art of staying focused. Staying focused means making the necessary sacrifices that would otherwise derail you from reaching your fitness goals. Sure, you may have setbacks but those who are truly focused bounce back from those setbacks as soon as possible. They don’t use it as an excuse to delay their fitness journey.

Being In Control of Your Emotions

You will have ups and downs in your fitness journey. The difference between those who consistently see improvement and those who do not is their ability to control their emotions. What do I mean? Have you ever worked really hard for a few months to improve a 1 rep max on a lift or improve your 1 mile run time or lose a few pounds on the scale and nothing happened? If you threw your hands up in the air and said, “Screw this, I quit!” well, you’re not alone but what you do next determines if you’re mentally strong to continue. Some will try a different training program or a different diet. Some will restart with the same method and see if they can modify it to see improvement. Finally, some will just quit.  Failing is okay. Being frustrated is okay. Quitting is not okay. Get in the right mindset. Chase improvement but mentally prepare for failure. Go back to the drawing bored. Don’t just run out of the classroom.

Change Outside Factors

Very few of us are ready from the “get go” for a smooth transition into fitness and chasing our goals. For this reason it is important to identify and then work on the largest obstacles you see in your path. Some of them you’ll have complete control over (ex. not buying highly caloric, nutrient poor foods to keep in the kitchen). Others will be more difficult (ex. the job you hate but need to pay the bills). It’s unlikely you’ll ever be in complete control of all these factors but you can do more than you realize for some of them as your fitness journey continues. Start small with the things you can control and work towards the larger items. Just remember you have more control that you think.

Get Used to Being Uncomfortable

At some point all of us are drained mentally and physically. Yes, we all need a break at some point. This is a far cry from a vacation. A break can be a week or two. A vacation is indefinite. Even when you don’t feel ready to get back into the swing of things you need to. It’s like getting into a cold pool. It’s best to simply jump in. The point is you’re going to get uncomfortable from time to time (sometimes long before you need to take a break). In the Marine Corps we called this feeling/situation “the suck.” Granted, we didn’t have a choice in the Marine Corps so that made it easier to cope but we still had to “embrace” the suck. You’ll have to do the same time throughout your fitness journey. When it happens take pride in it! This is where the more resilient fitness enthusiasts begin to thrive and the rest take a seat on the bench.

Setting a Priority

The saying goes, “You can’t ride two horses with one ass.” This translates to the fitness journey by making sure you focus on one thing at a time. It’s it nutrition then focus one adjustments you’re going to make to seek improvement. If it’s training, then focus on one goal (i.e. getting stronger on the big 3). Do not confuse this with not working on other areas of your nutrition or training. It simply means make one your main focus and make all others supplementary (as long as they don’t hinder your primary goal). A good example would be improving your powerlifts such as bench, squat, and deadlift. While there are some exceptions to the rule…and remember, you’re always the rule…you can’t get ready for the Boston marathon while trying to increase your 1RM numbers on your powerlifts. Like I said, you can still work on your supplementary goals but they cannot interfere with the primary goal. I’ve made this mistake myself in the past numerous times. Don’t make the same mistake. Set a goal. Make it priority. Work towards it. Once achieved (or lost interest) then you can pick something else.


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