How do professional Olympic athletes do it, anyway? They exercise day after day, sometimes even two or three times a day. What drives them to keep trying? I assume you, like me, are not a professional or Olympic athlete, nor do you have the desire to be one. It is hard enough to keep on a fitness routine for good health. How can you stay on track with your fitness and achieve a lifetime of fitness success? Here are 10 mental strategies athletes use, and will help you to a life-long journey of fitness success.
#1. Decide on your goal. If you’re not sure what your goal is, ask yourself “Why do I want to take time to exercise?” Is it because you “have to” or because you “want to”? Find a personal reason that rings an emotional bell. If you can’t pull your mind and emotions in line with your goal, it won’t be achieved.
#2. Find an inspiration. If you keep one eye on someone you admire it is much easier to stay on course. Keep picturing their success and follow their strategy. A successful person’s way of achieving success may be your key to success as well.
#3. Visualize your objective. See yourself exactly as you want your outcome to be. Olympic athletes picture themselves on the podium with a medal every time they practice their sport. If you want to lose weight, picture yourself at that ideal weight. If you want to run a marathon, picture yourself at the finish line.
#4. Encourage yourself. Winners don’t talk down to themselves, but build themselves up. If you want to be successful, give yourself the acknowledgment that your goal is not only possible, it’s inevitable. Many say that they will try to succeed at something only if obstacles, such as time or money, won’t get in their way. They’ve already given themselves a reason to fail. People who say they will succeed regardless of obstacles are the winners.
#5. Don’t quit. It is easy to quit, but success doesn’t come to those who quit. Even if your fitness routine seems too routine, or maybe even too hard, adjust it. Time, place and activities can be changed, but once you quit, you lose your momentum, and it’s only that much harder to begin again.
#6. Overcome your fear. Define why you haven’t been on a good fitness routine until now. Is fear one of those reasons? Is it fear of failing? Fear of uncertainty? Fitness is not something you can fail; unless you don’t do it at all. Even a little effort means you’ve succeeded. Start with something you feel comfortable with, and progress from there. Even walking around the block can be viewed as a fitness success; you succeeded by making the choice to get into action and not bail.
#7. Get some feedback. If you can measure your success, whether in pounds or in how you feel, you’re more likely to continue. Journal your activities, and write how you feel both physically and mentally. You may want to include a weight every other week, or take your blood pressure now and then. Looking back in your journal will be an inspiration to keep with your routine. It’s hard to see progress when you’re knee-deep in the trenches, but if you remember where you came from, you’ll be inspired by your own actions and results.
#8. Have a support team. Cheerleader’s purpose is to keep a team motivated, and can even make a big difference in a professional game. Why not have your own? Mention what you’re doing to a few key people in your life. If they have a positive reaction to it, include them in your special group of cheerleaders. Report your progress to them, and if you feel discouraged talk to them about it. This special team of yours may be just what you need to work through frustration or boredom. While you’re at it, why not be a cheerleader to someone else?
#9. Maximize your opportunities. It may take some thinking outside of the box, but look for ways to stay fit in every day living situations. Walk or ride your bike whenever possible. Stretch while you’re watching television, or buy a fitness ball to sit on at your desk. Look at your world as an opportunity to get stronger, and be creative. This will allow fitness to be a natural part of your day, and will no longer seem foreign and overwhelming.
#10. Knowledge + Action = Achievement. If you want to achieve a lifetime of fitness, you only need two things: the clarity of mind to know you need to keep active and the get-up-and-go to “just do it”. One without the other will get you nowhere. And if you’re reading this article, you’re not the kind that is content with status quo.