The idea abounds that our mental approaches to exercising and working out have as much, possibly more, of an effect on our results as what we physically do. In large part, this is true. Our attitudes, or points of view, play a major role in how well we perform. An underdog situation, which is wildly popular in our culture, illustrates this point well. An individual, or team, who should not be able to win, comes out on top because one of the things going for it is a success mindset. Watty Piper’s The Little Engine That Could is a classic children’s story of what a success mindset can accomplish (“I think I can…I thought I could.”).
A fitness mindset may differ in some aspects from person to person. The differences depend on individual goals. Some people do best with the same routine every time. This can foster an “autopilot” mindset, which works very well for some people. As one psychiatrist said, “There is so much unpredictability in my practice, having the same exercises in the same order is relaxing for me.” The sameness and mentally relaxing nature of the workout routine actually increases the probability that the psychiatrist will exercise.
Some folks do best when they mix it up in their workouts. Switching activities around helps these folk keep their minds active and prevents them from getting bored. Both approaches encourage, in different ways, sticking to an exercise routine.
The outward activities differ, but the thinking is the same. The fitness mindset is a lifestyle perspective. Fitness is not simply spending time doing strenuous physical exercise. It’s about fitting physical exercise into our lives and getting – really getting – that exercise is a vital part of the big picture. We need to keep in mind that our bodies are what carry our brains around. Keeping our physical selves in good working order is as important as developing our minds or advancing our careers.
The Main Components of a Fitness Mindset
Committing to what you must do without getting too rigid about it
As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” A healthy fitness mindset acknowledges that plans change and situations become altered. The important part is to adjust without getting bent out of shape.
Willingness to try something new and to learn from anyone
This needs to be at the top of the list. Even those who don’t have any formal training in exercising and working out can teach us by showing us what not to do.
Ability to listen with mental flexibility
“Check your ego at the door” – Quincy Jones, producer and conductor of “We Are the World” is reputed to have said this to a number of music superstars, who recorded the song in 1985 as a charity project. If such a mindset is critical for professionals, how much more important it is for those of us just starting out on our fitness journey. Newbie or returning expert, we need to be mentally and emotionally flexible enough to let in new concepts, ideas, and information in order to improve on what we do, both in the gym and out of it.