The right mindset will help you to achieve not only better results in fitness but a better life. Avoid underestimating the power of your mind to control your body.
The placebo effect demonstrates this power. A fake but believed treatment can change the body, and not just in perception. While appearing as pseudoscience at first glance, it has been proven through many studies. It even plays a role in the healing of serious diseases and disorders.
Consider these tips.
Apart from intensity of effort, confidence may well be the most important factor for the production of the best rate of training progress; without confidence in his ability to produce good results, a trainee will seldom be able to produce them – and never in proportion to the efforts expended.
– Arthur Jones
- Take imperfect action.
Many wait for inspiration to strike under so-called ideal conditions. They fail to realize that results come from countless small steps. These accumulate to allow for the seemingly sudden success that falls upon the best in any field. The ideal time never occurs, and you may delay your goals until your deathbed.
No more excuses, start today.
- Limit bad options.
The best choices you can make often delay short-term gratification for a far greater long-term reward. You need to prevent escape routes when making one of these changes.
Consider a technique called burning the ships. Generals would use various forms of this plan to prevent their troops from retreating. They then had to stand firm in the face of the enemy, given no other options.
When losing weight, gt rid of all junk food from your home. Make this choice with a friend or a trainer to stay on schedule with your training. If you hate your job, send a resignation to your boss right now. You may overvalue security later.
Use a small amount of willpower now to make it less likely to backtrack in the future.
- Maintain your environment.
When trainees switch gyms or use unfamiliar equipment, they often have a drop in performance. This can occur despite identical amounts of weight and other factors kept the same for an exercise.
Engrams are the motor learning patterns stored in the sensory and motor portions of the brain. They explain why we can use a skill with less concentration over time. They form along with other nervous system adaptations that improve through practice.
Exercise under similar conditions time after time again can ensure that these engrams develop and store in the long-term memory. New settings will create confusion though. Keeping the same place and equipment for your training when possible will allow these skills to stay relevant.
Consistency and choosing simple exercises will allow the environment to matter less though. This gives us one reason why simple exercises work better than complex exercises such as Olympic lifting. You will still likely have a decrease when training elsewhere but not as severely.
- Seek neither too much nor too little arousal.
The Inverted-U theory states that our best performances depend on the ideal state of arousal. Some arousal boosts performance up to an optimal level but further harms it.
Gross motor skills seem to work best under high states of arousal. Think of fighting or fleeing from a bear. Fine motor skills rely on precision that emotions can reduce. Think of an artist painting.
Increasing arousal works well when performing simple and well-learned skills. Reducing arousal works well for more complex and new skills.
Strike a personal compromise between high and low arousal. Perhaps this can occur by performing warm-up sets while staying calm. You could then perform your hard sets while more aroused. Once you establish good form, exercise should lean toward gross motor skills versus fine motor skills.
The optimal level of arousal still differs for each trainee though. Too much will hurt performance and exhaust the nervous system.
The more experienced you become, the more emotion you can put forth on an exercise without it affecting form. This does not necessarily mean acting loud and aggressively. It does mean having an focused intent that makes your heart beat faster.
Many actions can get you aroused. Consider getting pumped in various ways.
- Use imagery.
This can improve performance by processing a motor skill or preparing the body before an activity. Imagining ideal behaviors and conditions can allow the body to change prior to a task. This may seem impossible but once again is real.
An example includes drastically lowering the heart rate, which martial arts practitioners and other performers can do through relaxation techniques. The imagination of training can even result in muscle growth. Training with one limb can lead to growth in the other inactive limb.
Imagining hitting your goals on your exercise with good form and the right state of arousal prior to a hard set.
- Seek out the ideal performance.
We all have unique requirements to do well. There is no athletic personality but some factors do define the ideal performance. This state is a goal of every athlete and dominates the research of exercise and sport psychology.
You have an absence of fear and a quiet mind. You avoid analyzing your performance. You focus completely on the activity at hand with a sense of effortlessness. You feel responsible for your success. You may even feel a distortion of time and space that creates a slowing effect.
Reaching this cannot be taught. Experienced athletes have a greater likelihood of succeeding though. Immerse yourself totally on the task at hand and this state may develop in you over time.
- Use association.
Association works better than disassociation. Associative strategies focus on the task at hand, despite the good or bad sensations involved, while dissociative strategies distract you.
As exercise grows harder, some trainees try to avoid thinking about the discomfort by concentrating on outside factors. They may daydream or listen to music. For tough training, this is a poor and dangerous strategy. The trainee must learn to focus on all sensations and actions while tuning out disturbances. Exercise should be productive foremost, not necessarily fun.
Dissociation may come from a deeper problem. Eliminating our inhibition toward work requires intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation involves actual enjoyment in the activity itself. Extrinsic motivation draws upon outcomes outside the individual’s mind that include rewards such as money, power, and less body fat.
If you want to adhere to a program in the long run, you must grow to appreciate exercise for its own sake. Cultivating this for those not inclined to do so means forming a habit. Although our instincts resist exercise at times, our bodies evolved to expect it and rely upon it for good health. The desire for physical activity is an innate motivator for us all. Take care to avoid too much though.
- Set clear, measurable, and tough but realistic short-term goals with deadlines.
This leads you toward focusing on outcomes and not just the time invested. Many put in countless hours for their career and fitness but waste time and have little to show for their efforts. By focusing on goals, you can grow more efficient and do what matters. Work harder, not longer.
- Limit stress.
Stress shares a link to many diseases. Deep breathing, good sleep, regular exercise, meditation, auto-suggestion, and seeking out a fulfilling life based on internal goals can all help. Find a job you enjoy but also make time for fun outside of it as well. You will work much more efficiently this way.
- Seek flow.
Flow is the total engagement in an activity. Your abilities match up well with the challenge. This immersion prevents your brain from focusing on the concept of you. You lose yourself in the practice, stopping the flow of negative feelings drawing from insecurities, problems, and other issues.
Exercise can bring flow. Creating something also fosters this form of long-term happiness over consuming. Use your creativity and unique experiences to make content for other people.
- Seek true happiness.
A happier person does better in all realms. Although our levels of happiness likely have a set point established by our genes, we can change it by making better choices.
Fleeting forms of happiness is biology’s way of rewarding desirable activities that favor the spread of our genes. The way this drive manifests itself can sometimes harm you.
Our genes are selfish and short-sighted so to speak. A change may seem to benefit your genes but ultimately make you unhappy. You will feel a push to pursue desires for excessive sex with many mates, calorie-laden food, quick fix drugs, and other addictions that feel good and spike dopamine now but destroy your life in time. Chasing these can place you on the hedonic treadmill. You grow obsessed with finding your next easy pleasure. The problem becomes the cure and this creates a vicious cycle. Avoid this by keeping intrinsic rewards as your compass.
Also understand that happiness is a moving target. Your genes make you feel unsatisfied to spur you toward bigger and better resources. Nonetheless, we also receive rewards for expressing love, helping others, and doing worthwhile work. Develop close relationships with family and friends you genuinely value. Avoid anyone that brings down your deepest goals. These create more happiness throughout a lifetime in total.
Avoid the money trap. Once you meet your basic needs for security, more money has little or no effect on happiness.
Change Your Life with Your Mindset
Remember these tips to cultivate a positive mindset. Most importantly, live your life according to your values. Appreciate the journey into fitness and otherwise but not just for the end result.