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The Mental Battle of Exercise

Woman getting ready to workout

Embarking on a fitness journey is akin to taming a wild beast; your body and mind, if left unchecked, will resist movement, indulge in unhealthy foods, and avoid anything remotely challenging. Yet, within this struggle lies the essence of personal growth. Let's delve into the mental warfare of exercise, where mastering the mind is the ultimate key to victory.

Woman sitting on the couch playing on her phone

Confronting Your Body's Inertia

Your body is like a stubborn child, preferring the comfort of inertia over the exertion of movement. It will resist every step, every push-up, every squat, if you let it. But to overcome this resistance, you must first confront it head-on. Acknowledge the inertia, but refuse to succumb to its allure. Take the first step, and the rest will follow. Keep the self-talk positive while you workout. Instead of "I can't do this," think, "I'm almost there." Positive self-speak is very important.

Resisting Temptation

Your body craves instant gratification, yearning for sugary treats and greasy indulgences. It will plead for comfort foods, tempting you to abandon your nutritional goals. But remember, indulgence leads to regret. Exercise discipline, fuel your body with nourishing foods, and resist the siren call of unhealthy temptations. The most effective way I teach people to do this, is to start simple. Make your lunch something healthy everyday. Once this has become your routine without resistance, add a new healthy habit. Instead of chips, have popcorn. It will take time, but by the end of a year, you will have healthier habits, and you will be overall healthier. By continuing to do this, you may get to the point to where you don't want all the food you used to eat.

Hands in chalk preparing for a lift

Embracing the Challenge

Your mind recoils at the thought of discomfort, shying away from anything that requires effort. It will protest every burpee, every mile run, every weight lifted. Embrace the challenge, push through the resistance, and revel in the satisfaction of overcoming obstacles. (One thing that helps people to fight off the thoughts is to listen to music that makes you want to move. It gets you out of your own mind and you can exercise longer and harder.) What you're doing doesn't have to be running a marathon, it could be to jog a full lap at the track once a week, do 15 jumping jacks, or 10 sit ups. Set a goal that you believe you can achieve. Once you reach your goal, move the finish line (within reason). Set small goals and challenges and soon you'll be reaching that 5k distance, doing those burpees, and doing those pull ups.

Cultivating Mental Resilience

Your body may falter, but your mind is a powerful ally in the battle of exercise. Instead of succumbing to doubt and fear, harness the strength of positive self-talk and mental resilience. Remind yourself of past victories, affirm your capabilities, and silence the inner critic that whispers of failure. Cultivate a mindset of resilience, where every setback becomes an opportunity to learn and grow. With each affirmation, you strengthen your resolve and pave the way for success. The best way to maintain the resilience is to exercise for health. I see people try and fail over and over because the want to lose weight due to poor body image and the pressures of society. They may lose the weight, but they're not doing it for them, they're doing it for society; so they lose motivation or gain everything back in a few months. Once you find a mindset to where you're working towards better health or a health goal, the results and determination last years or longer. I personally have asthma and a previous debilitating injury, so my goal was to run a mile without stopping. And I started with running a lap at the track without stopping, no matter how slow I had to go (yes that small goal mentioned above was mine). Will all my ailments it took a year to reach my goal and I'm still running 4 years later because it helps me so much.

Group of people of all ages running a race

Taming The Beast

In the battle of body versus mind, remember that your body is a stubborn beast, resistant to change and adverse to effort. So, the next time you face a daunting workout or encounter mental resistance, remember: your body may be stubborn, but your mind is stronger. You can win the mental battle of exercise; you can handle it, just take your time and approach your challenge with confidence knowing you'll get there eventually. Even if you fail, you're still learning, you're still trying, and you're doing it for you and no one else.


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