Why Fitness Starts With Your Inner Self

Why Fitness Starts With Your Inner Self

When it comes to “fitness” it’s not uncommon to conjure up images of gritting your teeth for a morning jog, sweating it out at the gym, and subjecting oneself to a healthy diet. For many people to become ‘fit’ means doing it physically: achieving the beach-ready six-pack abs, toned arms, and more. 

But becoming fit isn’t just about being physically fit. After all, being physically fit doesn’t happen without also being emotionally and mentally sound. In other words, physical fitness is not just about building a strong body, but it's also about creating a healthy mind and spirit.

For example, becoming physically fit requires a mental commitment to creating good habits and staying consistent with them. Consider also that according to reports from most elite athletes, mental or psychological factors account for at least 50% of superior athletic performance. Additionally, a significant 83% of coaches consider mental toughness as the most crucial set of psychological traits that determine competitive success. Thus there’s a definite link between your state of mind and how your body turns out. 

Without mental commitment, it's impossible to make the lifestyle changes necessary to achieve our fitness goals. This mental commitment involves setting realistic goals, creating good habits, building grit, and cultivating a positive mindset.

Creating good habits

The biggest mental block to achieving physical fitness is the excuses we tell ourselves. As a personal trainer and entrepreneur, I’ve heard them all.

Think you’re just too out of shape? We all have to start somewhere. Refraining from exercising because a gym membership is too expensive? We all have to prioritize where we spend our money—in the worst case, there are plenty of exercises you can do for free at home. Do you say you don’t have enough time in the day? This is one of the most frequent excuses I hear—you would be surprised how much time you can free up if you just track your activities throughout the day.

So the first thing to do is realize there are no excuses. This is easier to swallow if you realize the fitness journey is made up of small wins: nobody should expect you to become ridiculously ripped overnight. Remember that life is a process and not an outcome. Be grateful for even tiny increments of progress like walking up stairs instead of taking an elevator or exercising for an extra ten minutes. Keeping this mindset of celebrating small wins makes it easier to stick to good habits and keep away from bad ones.

Another tip to help stick with a good habit is simply writing your goals down. Whether it’s losing 15 pounds by year’s end or hitting the gym 3x a week, just writing it down makes you 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams. You can even use this to segue into journaling, which gives you an objective point of view on your behavior. Having this view helps catch any triggers for bad habits/behavior and grow your self-awareness.

Your inner self needs to be capable of realizing that fitness is an incremental process. This can be helped along by journaling and celebrating ones own progress, no matter how small. Stick with these and you just might find that creating good habits doesn’t have to be so hard. 

Breaking bad habits 

Just as important as creating good habits however is keeping away from the bad ones. For many, this part is even harder. Who among us hasn’t wanted to waste the day away eating junk food and watching Netflix at least once?

The secret is that these habits stem from a combination of anxiety and boredom. Whenever we’re stressed or bored, we tend to revert to our bad habits. We have restless legs, smoke, bite our nails, procrastinate, drink alcohol, play video games, etc.

The solution? Meditate.

To start meditating, find a quiet and comfortable place where you can sit or lie down. Begin by taking a few deep breaths to relax your body and clear your mind. Then, choose a point of focus, such as your breath, a mantra, or a visualization. Try to maintain your focus on your chosen point for several minutes. When your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention back to your point of focus without judgment. Repeat this process for the desired length of time, usually starting with a few minutes and gradually increasing as you get more comfortable with the practice. 

Meditation has been strongly linked to developing self-awareness, mindfulness, and self-compassion—all keys to breaking bad habits. 

Research also shows forms of mindfulness practice—which includes meditation—can help develop greater self-control. Think of self-control as your greatest weapon against temptations and bad habits. You’re going to need self-control in everything from turning down an unhealthy snack to willing yourself to hit the gym when you don’t feel like it.

In summary, becoming physically fit is so much more than just running on the treadmill and lifting dumbbells. Before you even get to that point, you have to make a mental commitment to yourself to build a foundation of good habits and positive thinking first. My latest book “Holistically Fit: Conquering Physical, Mental, and Emotional Habits to Build a New and Better You” talks about all of the above, delving even deeper into what it takes to build mental and emotional fitness.

Everything you do from what you eat to how you view exercise decides how fit you’ll become. The sooner you make peace with this, and put in the work to put yourself in the right state of mind, the closer you’ll be to a healthier and better you.


by Jose Villablanca
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