Psychological Strategies for Fitness Success

By Ronnie Robertson III, CPT, Certified Health & Fitness Coach 

People haphazardly spend money trying to find a solution to their fitness or health problems, only to realize that they can’t buy results without doing the work. Money will only afford you method, but it will not buy you the motivation to train or to do the work necessary to get you to your goal.

Find Clarity
Being crystal clear with your targets is imperative for fulfillment in your fitness and health endeavors. If you don’t define what it is that you are hoping to achieve, it will not only be impossible to come up with a training plan, but it will most certainly give you less drive and motivation to adhere with it over the long term.

Clearly define what the goal is and make sure that you have a reliable measure that can assess your starting point, progress, and final result. Remember, if you are not assessing,  you are merely guessing. Gaining clarity on your goals and results with descriptive measures keeps you accountable and will help you stick with your program.

Get Accurate Feedback
Getting feedback, or as I like to call it, “surveying,” has a very powerful effect on your emotions, as you can see progress when you follow a plan or regression if you do not. Receiving negative, but honest, feedback is not always a bad thing, as it may encourage accountability and help alter methods along the way to further ensure success.

Be mindful to not overdo it with collecting feedback from others who are not your Coach or do not have interest in your specific goal set.  Some personality types can become obsessive and attach identity to results, which can reinforce negative behavioral patterns. Keep a strict, regular but focused assessment of feedback from someone you can trust and have built a connection with such as a Coach or Personal Trainer.

Find Your Purpose
Setting arbitrary goals with no personal significance won’t create enough fire in your belly to make you follow through. When times are tough and you feel like giving up and quitting, having a strong enough reason why you want to achieve the target goal will cause you to do things you never thought possible. If your life depended on you lifting twice your body weight for ten repetitions, there is a good chance that you would be able to do it. If the scenario was different, and you would only have a few sore muscles the following day, would you have the same reason and convictions to complete the task? Probably not!

For that very reason, you must set goals with emotional significance and purpose. Compare the following two statements in terms of their motivational potential:

“I want to lose 30 pounds of body fat because my doctor said I am at high risk for cardiovascular disease, and chances are I won’t be to watch my grandchildren grow up.”

“I want to lose 30 pounds because my partner keeps nagging me about being overweight.”

It could be the same person in both of those scenarios, but the primary difference is the scenario with the stronger reason “why” will have much more ability to find a way to make it happen rather than resort to excuses.

Do Something You Love
It might seem obvious, but you need to really enjoy the process. Life is simply too short to get stuck doing something that you absolutely despise or hate doing, and chances are you will not stick with it anyway. Like or not, all exercise has some level of discomfort associated with it. Your lungs will burn when you run, you will have sore muscles after lifting heavy weights, and you will often times end up with some bumps and bruises.  The trick is to find something with enough joy that you gain from the activity to offset the negative aspects. After a while, the perceived negatives will actually become part of the enjoyment by association.

If you are someone who does not like the gym, a coach or trainer that is skilled in the art of coaching an help you to dig deep which will allow you to find ways to help keep yourself motivated.  A coach can get you to associate your goals with exercises and once they strike the right chord, then you will be hooked. Do not underestimate seeking expertise as a way of finding enjoyment in training, because chances are, your coach or teacher loves what they do, and the satisfaction you both gain working together will practically be infectious!


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