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Monday, January 24, 2011

Psychology of Fitness - Identify Your Blocks

Today, I feel like talking about what gets in the way of achieving our goals.  Whatever the goal is.  I'll focus on physical fitness goals, but we can apply this discussion to any area of our lives.

I believe that achieving your physical fitness goals is 98% mental.  It really is.  If you think about what stands in your way, it rarely ever has anything to do with anything physical.  My beautiful girlfriend came home from the gym this morning to tell me that, yet again, a trainer approached her to tell her how inspiring it is for him and his clients to watch her workout.

An aside -- she's the reason I began blogging and opening up my website (coming soon) to interactive online training.  When we began dating, she'd pick my brain about what she should do when she went to the gym.  She asked very specific questions and I gave her very specific answers on what she should do on each day and how she should do it.   I took her through ONE training session where I trained her as a client.  It was a daily ritual - we'd have our morning coffee and she'd ask me what to do at the gym that day.  I'd tell her and she'd make notes.  In 3 months time, with just ONE actual training session with me she transformed her body.

I tell this story because it made me realize that something else was going on here.  I've known for years that if I had someone, ANYONE show up for me 3 hours per week, that I'd be able to transform his/her body.  I just needed that commitment and willingness from the other person.  I began to believe what I would hear people say casually in the form of an excuse:  "well, if I could afford a trainer..."

Yes, having a (competent) trainer to show up for and be accountable to makes a big difference.  But, what I learned by watching Star's body transform without my physically being present with her in the gym, is that there is something present with all those who make significant changes with or without a trainer:  incredible focus.

The barriers that stand in the way of our success are almost always psychological and of our own making.  The sooner we comprehend this, the sooner break through those barriers.  Most fitness articles and columns focus on which is the superior training method/style to achieve the results most people are looking for.  It is important to understand these things.  But the most important thing to identify is what stands in the way.  What is the block?  Why are you not able to achieve your goals?  Where can you improve?

Sounds simplistic, but the fact is that most people don't know or else they'd have already achieved it!  The reason why people respond to Star's workout ethic is because there is a laser-like focus from the minute she walks in until the minute she leaves.  She has a clear sense of her goals - both, in the longer term (body fat % goals, for example) and shorter term (what is the exact goal on a given exercise).

For anyone who works out 3 or more days per week and is not seeing the desired results, it's a good thing to ask:  what is missing?  Am I clear on the goals of each exercise?  Is my intensity level high enough?  Am I distracted between sets?  Do I give 110% on every set?  Am I periodizing my workouts?

For those who have difficulty committing to a workout program (either getting started on staying with it) it's important to ask:  what stands in my way?  I strongly encourage writing down every possible obstacle that you perceive stands between you and your goals.  If you could paint the picture of the perfect lifestyle that would allow you to set aside 45-60 minutes a day for tending to your body's physical needs, what would it look like?  Brainstorm.  Write down every possible roadblock.  Here's a few I hear often:

1.  I don't have time.
2.  I can't afford a gym.
3.  I'm confused about what to do.
4.  I'm afraid to lift weights by myself.

Every obstacle has a solution.  We just have to identify the obstacle first.  The ones I've laid out here are pretty universal excuses:  time, money, lack of knowledge, and fear.  Let's take the first one, time.  If you were told you would die in 3 months unless you changed your lifestyle to include six 45-minute exercise sessions per week, I guarantee you'd make the time.  If you work a normal 8-hour workday, try getting up at 5:30am and getting your workout in before work.  If you have kids, find someone to cover your child care during your workout times (spouse, babysitter).  The excuses are endless unless you put an end to them.  If you can't afford a gym, find a workout routine you can do in the home.  I found a great blog of a young, single mom who found her passion for fitness in changing her life after her divorce.  She does her workouts at home and is studying for her personal trainer certification, changing her career to suit her passion.  There is some incredibly inspirational stuff available to us via the internet from the comfort of our own home.  Think outside the box.

Ask questions.  If you come up against a "block" like I've described, reach out for help!  Stop doing the same thing over and over if you know it doesn't work.  Got a question?  Type it in google and see what comes up.  See where it leads you.

The word for today is focus.  Just how focused are you?

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