Psychology of fitness goals

Does this sound familiar?  “I’m too tired today, I’ll go for a run in the morning instead” or “I’m not in the mood right now, exercise is the last thing on my mind!”


There are times when we all feel the desire to postpone physical exercise. The high demands of a full-time job, children or a busy family or social life can mean that running slips to the bottom of your list of priorities.


Evidence from fitness psychology shows that we can overcome our own barriers and innate desire for a life of leisure, if we learn to recognise the signs that stop us sticking to our own goals. In this article I will be looking at the most popular lies we tell ourselves and how to correct our behaviour and stop self-sabotaging.


Motivation vs. Discipline & Workout Ethic


When it comes to health and fitness goals, some may tell you it’s all about willpower and motivation. However, that’s not the whole truth. Yes, willpower and motivation are important, but these are finite resources. When everything else runs out, you have to base your progress on well-established facts. This means setting up smart goals, building a strong exercise ethic, and fighting the biggest enemy – yourself.


The biggest barrier to physical fitness is our own mind.


We are creatures of habit, and when you’re used to a comfy life, it can be really hard to get off your backside and go out running! After all, who in their right mind would give up a cosy evening on the sofa with your favourite soaps, to go and run in the dark and rain?


What you can do:


In order to overcome your mind, it is useful to set up smart goals that are concise and measurable.  Smart goals will allow you to track your progress and performance which will boost your motivation and keep you running.   A good example of a smart goal is “Run 5k three times this week” – it is achievable, quantifiable, and clear.  Make sure you then devise a weekly plan for your runs.  Set aside a time for them and treat them as you would any other appointment.  They are important so can’t be missed.


You have The Time


How often do we say “I’m too busy”?  The most used excuse for avoiding running is lack of time. While there is no doubt all of us are living full and busy lives with many work and family commitments , we could perhaps find 30-40 minutes in a day in which we would normally watch television or use social media and swap it for a run.


What you can do: Analyse your current lifestyle and find where you have pockets of time you could use differently. Use this new-found time to your advantage and squeeze in some extra runs.


Just Keep Going


Consistency is key when it comes to exercise. Often, we don’t see results straight away and we lose momentum and motivation.  If you keep going with running you will start to see progression and results just expect a little frustration along the way!  We live in a time where instant gratification has become the norm.  The psychology behind is simple: if you can’t have it right away, why bother having it at all?


What you can do: It’s important to keep running and sticking to your training plan – even when you don’t feel like you can see any progress. If you stick with it, over time, you will notice small changes and will start to feel fitter.


Mind and Muscles are Connected


What do you think about when you exercise? Do you go through your “To-Do List” for the next day or do you simply let your mind wander?


According to sports performance coach, Dr Jim Afremow, there is a powerful connection between mind and muscles.  He suggests trying to be present as much as possible during exercise. Focusing on each muscle’s activity, can improve your performance. It allows you to assess each run or workout and learn where you need to push more.


At the end of the day, you have to find the right approach for you. If you are serious about your fitness goals you will find a way. Like all good things in life it takes time, patience, and discipline, but the rewards can be life changing.

About the author: Claire Ward is a health and fitness fanatic and loves writing about how we can take our training and physical regime to the next level of success.

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Main image courtesy StockSnap from Pixabay 

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