For any health routine or workout session there will always be a first step. In any race or competition, there will always be a starting line. But the act of moving forward is not how we start any of those things, we have to see our goal and achieve it to be able to take the first step, otherwise, why move at all? In reality, even the starting line is just an imaginary one. It is a point on the long and winding track we decided to place so that we could acknowledge progress, and so that we could see with every step just how much farther we had gone from where we were, or from what we were like.
Whether we were weak, sluggish, or doubtful just look at all that you have gone through since the “beginning,” and even if you were to admit to yourself, that you still are all of those things, you are also more than you were. You could not have accomplished all those steps on your own if you were the same person, which means you are not; and we as individuals have to acknowledge that progress.
The Kind of Progress You Don’t See
Human bodies have a way of creating habits through repetition and muscle memory, these beget routines and then become natural habits. As amazing as this sounds, physical changes are the last thing to appear, which is funny given that they always seem to be the first thing you try to notice. It has come to a point where people may not even know what progress looks like.
Villablanca addresses this false idea that working out is simply hitting the gym and training for gains. From the title alone, Holistically Fit, they tell us that to be truly fit, you need to be willing and able to move more than just the body to see progress, and that according to them the work is only 20% Physical and the remaining 80% is Mental.
Overall health and well-being are not just about toning or body shapes, there is a mental sphere involved. How much do you exercise? Do you try to pass your limits? Why do we want to exercise? Do you enjoy it as the beneficial activity that it is? Questions that can only be answered and applied to the mental segment of training, but hold an overall effect of physical performance.
Any exercise involves you doing more than the work you normally would if only you were simply not exercising, stepping out of your comfort zone and making that effort. But is there any point in action without thought? Of course not. If anything it is dangerous, if not detrimental to the whole point of exercise. Because if you don’t take the time and think your routines through you’ll find yourself just going through random motions, rather than finding purpose in your added effort to better your health and well-being.
You have to be willing to get out there, you have to envision what “getting out there” is going to look like. In other words, know the difference between getting off your usual lounging spots, and stepping out of a comfort zone.
Standing on a treadmill does not equal you starting an exercise, it’s just lounging upright.
You are the Machine
Specific muscles use specific movements and even separate kinds of equipment to increase their strength, our minds are essentially the same, in that they require specific exercises for us to cultivate a tough mentality, and instead of workout equipment, we are our own brains’ exercising machines.
As such, we should always try and keep our bodies maintained with proper sleep, food, and water, otherwise, we start to feel too exhausted. It’s always your brain that cracks first, and then your brain becomes the reason you stop trying. So to keep moving, and thinking clearly, we need to pay as much attention to our mentalities as we do the machine that is our bodies.
“Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Eight” - Japanese Proverb
A mindset is key here, and it should not be taken for granted, as you will find when exercising your body will only ever ache and grow sore the longer you exercise, but all the while it’s still building up strength, you often can’t see or feel it but it is happening.
Meanwhile, your brain is just sitting there and you can never really see the improvement unless it shows on your body, but if you take the time to think back on all of your routines you will notice how the brain has progressed, in terms of its mental strength, and what it's able to push us through.
When you do anything challenging the brain starts firing thoughts, like “keep pushing it” or “this is exhausting”. These thoughts can either reap or hinder improvement depending on what you listen to. And depending on which line of thoughts you listen to, your mind will begin to follow them more reflexively.
For instance, when you’re running and you begin feeling out of breath, if you listen to the thoughts that say “just stop for a second and take a break,” you will be keeping yourself from going farther and will always just see that point as your “STOP marker”. But if you listen to the thoughts that say “slow down and regain control of your breathing,” you will be working to gain progress. You will push beyond your limit because you know you have been in that position before and that you can surpass that point.
Most people who start exercising already have a basic understanding that practice and movement equals activity, but there are still those who struggle with holding onto the idea that it really is all about what you tell yourself. Because exercising means essentially nothing if while you're doing it you can only think about how much longer you have to do this for.
Exercise and fitness is a lifestyle, not a trend, and if we can’t integrate it into our mindsets properly we will never achieve our set goals, much less gain results.
by John Lawrence Parinas