Playing Head Games: The Role of Mental Health in Fitness
For those who make total fitness their goal, it might not come as a surprise to learn that one’s success is often less about the abilities of the body but the fortitude of the mind. Striving toward a healthier lifestyle requires more than lifting and setting down heavy loads, or meticulous meal prepping. Indeed, for many, the mental hurdles are more rigorous than those found on the track. Of course, to those who find themselves in need of mental invigoration, the equilibrium between one’s physical, mental, and emotional fitness may seem like a zero-sum game — without one, there can be neither; with each, all are strengthened.
It is this seeming paradox that leads many people to endure a form of arrested development. Which comes first, working out to make the mind stronger or the mental strength to step into the gym? Instead of getting caught up in the chicken/egg debate of a healthier lifestyle, there are a few things that one can do to not only improve their mental health with regards to physical fitness but also use it to their advantage.
Start Off Small
Before you make grand plans to run a half marathon in two weeks or submit yourself for a full body composition analysis, there are a few small things that you can do first to ease into your new lifestyle. The key to jumpstarting a positive cycle of mental and physical fitness is to start small.
- Make Attainable Goals: Sometimes, all one needs to get their mind right is a “win.” Seeing yourself accomplishing something, no matter the size of the project or the level of ultimate success can be a major source of motivation. The problem, however, is that people tend to misinterpret what “attainable” means; this is a goal that you can accomplish right now, with the powers currently at your disposal — not what is theoretically achievable by someone else in the world. Can a person run a marathon a month? Yes. Can you, right now? Not yet! But accomplish some other goals first and you’ll be able to, eventually.
- Practice Constructive Feedback: As you embark on your journey to total body wellness, it is important to be cognizant of the way in which you speak to yourself. Did you know that the average person says nearly 1000 words to themselves every minute, in their own mind? Our brains are constantly going! And if the majority of what it is saying is destructive, then even small goals will become a chore. Congratulating yourself on small victories will lead to bigger victories and an essential positive feedback loop in your mind. Even Navy SEALs must practice positive self-talk if they are to have a chance at graduating basic training.
- Identify What Frightens You: We mentioned a body composition analysis earlier, a process that is completely harmless but has many people frightened to come in and speak with a professional. In truth, such a study is an essential part of creating positive change but making a total change involves bravery at every turn. The best way to combat a problem is to see it fully and accept that it exists. Just like it can be scary to see the truth about one’s BMI or weight laid bare on paper, it can be scary to identify just what sticks out as a roadblock in our minds. The road to a healthier lifestyle resides in knowing what it’s built on.
One of the most liberating things that we can train ourselves to accept is that there is no extra prize for enduring something alone; in fact, we are encouraged to bring along a partner who can offer knowledge and support. When trying to get in shape both physically and mentally, asking for help is one of the strongest, healthiest things we can do.
- Find a Competent Trainer: It is imperative that you find a guide or mentor who will help sherpa you past the toughest parts of your transformation. At Total Health and Fitness, we have experienced personal trainers as well as dietitians who will help you with all sorts of tasks, from setting up a reasonable meal prepping plan to getting you over the worst of the mental hurdles.
- Consider a Better Training Environment: When it comes to mental health, there are direct links to people who are forced to spend too much time in one place and depression. Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, where many businesses were able to change to a work-from-home policy, many people are eating, sleeping, working, and exercising all within their homes. The benefits of convenience might not outweigh the benefits that going out to exercise can have on one’s emotional and mental health.
- Find Someone to Pace You: While this may be construed as finding someone to compare yourself with, we don’t want to invite unhealthy comparisons that may damage your motivation to keep up your meal prepping and exercise habits. In actuality, we want you to find someone who motivates you in positive ways. That can be someone who works out with you and drives you to push yourself past your perceived limits, or it can be someone who inhabits the qualities that you’re aiming towards. Just remember that everyone is different and that’s okay!
Use the Right Tools
There is a lot of power that can be derived from knowing that you have all you need to succeed. The anxiety of working out might just give way to excitement when you consider that you’ve made investments in the right clothes, workout gear, and personal trainer. With Total Health and Fitness, we have honed our programs to provide all the tools you’ll need. This means the total body composition analysis that we do in your first meeting, the relevant workout equipment, and all the meal prepping plans you could want.
In the struggle for Total Health and Fitness, the mental game is too important to ignore. Finding healthy ways to approach significant life changes will pay major dividends both mentally and emotionally as you begin to shape your body. For those interested in starting today, you can schedule a free consultation here.