Control. In fitness, whatever discipline you’re taking part in, you need it in spades.
People often take it for granted or forget about it completely. How often do you see people in the gym doing half reps? Or doing an exercise so fast they might as well not be doing it at all?
Control over what you’re doing with the exercise is important, especially if your goal is muscle growth, but what about the control your mind has over your body? That’s ultimately the important one. It’s the key: if you don’t have control over your mind, and your mindset, how are you mentally going to convince yourself to put the work in physically?
For me, it is, has, and always will be about your mentality. It is what has kept me going and what will keep me going. But what’s your mentality, and how can you make sure it doesn’t get in the way of your progress?
Set a goal
Whether it’s fat loss, muscle gain or somewhere in between, what is your end goal? There will be one specific goal you want to reach, and you need to be certain of it. Also, make sure it’s one. ‘Fat loss and muscle gain’ is one aim people bang on about, but it’s fairly hard to achieve both – successfully – at once. Pick one, stick to it, and then choose your next one once you have achieved it. Your goal might also change along the way, so make sure you’re driven and in control enough to roll with it should it alter.
Pick out your milestones
While you have only one goal, you must remember that it will be far in the future, and there will be certain milestones you reach before you achieve your end goal. Some people work well in time periods: set yourself realistic milestones in weeks or month timeframes, e.g lose one pound per week, or gain 1kg in one month.
You can also set targets to do with your diet or your mental health, such as eat vegetables with two meals per day or take 30 minutes to meditate or practice breathing twice per week. Write them down and date stamp them, and then you can look back and see how you progressed in your set time period, to measure how far away you are from your end goal.
Find your motivators
You need something that actually gets you motivated to reach your goal, other than the goal itself. You need to be more internally motivated than you are externally. You must be able to do this on your own without relying on other people: no one else is going to get you to the gym, get you through your workout, spend hours meal prepping, other than yourself.
Of course, you can use external motivators such as friends, family, or a personal trainer. But you need to realise that you must be your own motivation (cringe alert) if you’re going to go all the way. There’s only so much other people can do to influence your choices.
You need to be a realist
You need to be mentally strong to realise you will have to make one or two sacrifices along the way, and even stronger to be able to actually carry them through.
That’s not saying you can’t enjoy yourself: the whole point of a healthy lifestyle is that it is exactly that – a lifestyle. And in order for it to be something you are living day in, day out, it must be sustainable. A few alcoholic drinks won’t kill your dreams of reaching your goal. But you must also realise and acknowledge that going on the piss very weekend will take you one step back. Just like one ‘bad’ meal won’t make you fat, but several over an extended period of time will do some damage, especially if your end goal is fat loss.
So, back to my initial point
What’s your mentality? If you have a goal, a meaning behind it, and clear plan as to how you’re going to get there, it’s already on the right track.