“Change your thoughts, and you change your world.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale (author of The Power of Positive Thinking)
Thoughts are the single most powerful thing that can make or break any situation you’re faced with. This statement is not a grandiose exaggeration. How you think will directly dictate your actions, and your actions affect both you and potentially those around you, which has a ripple affect even beyond what we know.
In general, people have a hard time accepting or comprehending just how powerful their thoughts can be. Because our thoughts are so powerful and can have such dramatic lasting affects, it is crucial in our quest for fitness that we not only train our bodies, but train our thoughts – our minds – as well.
Our minds and our bodies are (ideally) working as a team toward a common health and fitness goal. So we can’t have a strong, fit body without first having a strong, fit mind right?
As the saying goes: “We are only as strong as our weakest link.” So if our thoughts are negative and our mind (thus our self-discipline) is weak, can you guess what kind of progress our bodies will achieve?
Don’t skip this very important first step when embarking on your fitness journey. You have to take some time to ‘warm-up’ your mind, wrap your brain around what you are about to endure, and prepare your thoughts to get through the challenges ahead.
GETTING IN THE ZONE
Many athletes practice meditative rituals and various mental exercises that could even involve deep breathing before participating in events. A physical warmup before competitions is also a time to hone in mentally and focus; a time to get in the zone.
The infamous ‘zone’ is a mental place where athletes, musicians, speakers, anyone really, goes to in order to perform at their peak. It’s almost as if they are an actor getting into character. It is a deep connection with that part of their mind that helps them excel at whatever it is they are about to do.
When you see a gymnast in the Olympics getting ready to do a difficult routine on the parallel bars, they get this look on their face and you know they are mentally preparing for the physical feat ahead. Same for when a when a powerlifter is getting ready to break the world record at a clean and jerk, or when a soccer player is taking a penalty kick.
The same principals of mental warm ups and mentally getting in the zone can help you excel at your workouts and even help you improve your nutrition. You have to put your mind through somewhat of a training process before you physically attempt a new fitness program, so your body will follow suit based on how comfortable your mind is with the changes being implemented.
TIPS FOR TRAINING YOUR BRAIN
When starting a new diet and exercise program, remember that your body’s performance, and ultimately your success, will be determined by how strong and positive your thoughts are about the whole process. Here are things you can do to help:
1. Be A ‘Thought Snob’
Don’t just accept any thought that comes rushing into your mind. Be an outside observer of your thoughts and choose which thoughts you want to hold onto. Be picky! Only pick the good ones and throw the rest away. If you have garbage thoughts of how much you don’t want to get up in the morning and do cardio, think of how much you want to achieve your fitness goal instead and hang on to that thought. Come up with some kind of positive mantra you repeat to yourself every time ‘garbage thoughts’ start piling up and taking too much space in your brain. Clear them out to make room for the good quality, high class, valuable thoughts that will actually get you to where you want to be.
2. Think Like A Top Athlete
You may have heard of this exercise before, but it never hurts to hear this one again (and again, and again!) Develop a mental image of you accomplishing your goal. If you are working on a long-term goal, picture what you will look like or what you will be doing when you achieve that goal. Do this every day, and never let that picture out of your mind. Top athletes, performers and other successful people often picture themselves already winning or achieving whatever it is they are about to attempt. Of course, this isn’t a fool-proof guarantee that you will win, but it certainly helps add a little motivational fuel to help push everything in the direction of success!
3. Make Positive Associations
Old habits are hard to break, and strengthening your thoughts is no different than strengthening your body. It takes time and practice to learn how to train your brain. A good place to start is by making positive mental associations with eating healthy and exercising. If you are use to ‘dreading’ going to the gym and have a hard time looking forward to eating tilapia and sweet potatoes, try to make some kind of positive mental associations with these activities. Find something good about it and hold on to that thought! Instead of thinking about how much going for a run sucks, think about how good it feels to get outside, breath in the fresh air and feel the sun on your face. Think about how happy you are that you have two legs, a pair of lungs and a heart strong enough to be able to run. And when you eat a healthy meal, try to think of how good it is that you are nourishing your body instead of stuffing your face with empty calorie junk that you’ll regret in a few minutes. Think of how you are nourishing your body instead of eating for instant gratification.
The more frequently you detox your mind of negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts, the more often you envision yourself achieving what you want to achieve and the more you make positive associations with healthy lifestyle choices, the more you will start to think this way all the time. And as you continue making more positive healthy lifestyle choices, and continue working in a productive, healthy way toward your goals, you will also be changing the way you think about daily habit changes and start to embrace them even more. It is this positive cycle that can lead to mental and physical success!
Tip Me Tuesday: Find Your Fit
Tip Me Tuesday: Be A Goal Getter
Tip Me Tuesday: Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Tip Me Tuesday: The Process of Progress
Tip Me Tuesday: Stuff The Turkey, Not Your Waistline!
ABOUT NAOMI RABON
One of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.