Part 1- The Mental Game (Get Your Attitude Right Son!)
Hello! My name is Steve Seiter, and I’m married to the wonderful woman who created this blog! I’ve been asked to share some of my expertise in the fitness industry, namely how to begin your very own fitness journey. As a personal trainer for the past 8 years, I’ve seen countless people start, and subsequently stop, their fitness journey, and I’ve also been blessed to be an integral part of many of my clients’ fitness journeys from the beginning. I would venture to guess that for as many people that join gyms, participate in personal training, or workout in their homes to DVD’s and stick with their programs long-term, just as many start… and then stop. Sometimes over and over again (think Yo-Yo fitness- similar to Yo-Yo dieting but without the stale rice cakes and no calorie, fake-sugar desserts!!).
So what causes some people to start a fitness regimen and stick with it long-term, while others start and stop, over and over again, barely able to get into a fitness routine before crapping out, becoming discouraged, and altogether quitting…only to give it another failing attempt several months later after stepping onto the scale and wondering why the thing keeps arbitrarily adding 10 pounds a month. Well, as the title of Part 1 suggests, one’s Mental Game is important, very important actually. So important that it’s the first topic in this three part series!
So what, exactly, do I mean by your Mental Game? To put it simply, your Mental Game is your Fitness Attitude. There are many types of Fitness Attitudes out there. There are the I Want To Look Good For Spring Break Attitudes (i.e. short-term Attitudes), the I’ve Gained Too Much Weight And Need To Get It Off Now Attitudes (i.e. frantic Attitudes), and the I’m Not In The Shape I Should Be In And Need To Do Something About It, In A Healthy Way attitudes (i.e. long-term Attitudes). Sure, there are hundreds of other Attitudes, as everyone has their very own reason for starting a fitness program. But most Attitudes fall into one or more (think of the I’m Too Fat And Out Of Shape And Spring Break Is Right Around The Corner! Attitude) of the three categories above.
While you ponder which category you might fall into, keep this in mind… If you fall into the short-term or frantic Attitude categories, you are SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR FAILURE. Sure, there are people that started their fitness journeys in the short-term or frantic categories and ended up sticking with their fitness routine long-term (and by long-term I mean lifetime. Yes lifetime. Fitness should be a life-long pursuit. Period.) But this is not common. Long-term Attitudes, as you might have guessed by now, are the best way to insure that once you start your fitness journey, you will have the best chance at sticking with it for the rest of your life.
That’s not to say that a short-term attitude can’t be motivation to get started on your fitness journey. Weddings, Spring Break, and Summer vacations are all great BEGINNING motivators to spur your entrance into the fitness world, but you must realize that if the short-term Attitude isn’t backed by a longer-term Attitude, your fitness journey will likely wane and ultimately die a slow, agonizing drug-out death once the heat and hangover of Miami Beach wears off. You must must MUST have a back-up long-term Attitude for your short-term motivator Attitude.
Finding your long-term Attitude may take some time. Take it, ponder it, and really think about what will motivate you long-term to stick with your fitness journey once you’ve started it. And let’s be clear… Weight loss is NOT a long-term Attitude. Unless of course you plan to continually lose weight for the rest of your life. Weight loss is, again, a great beginning Attitude, but it won’t suffice on its own. Isn’t worth a few hours, days, or even weeks to be realistic with yourself and to find that Attitude that will set the stage for the rest of your life? Once you find it, write it down. Put it somewhere where you can see it frequently. Let it motivate you, and take comfort in the fact that you have just overcome one of the hardest parts of starting your fitness journey… getting your mind right. Do realize that you may not be able to coast from here on out. You may have to constantly remind yourself down the road, as you begin your (oftentimes grueling) workouts and deal with sore muscles, why you started this journey and what your long-term Attitude is.
You may even think of other long-term Attitudes (yes, you can have more than one!) that you can add to your first one. Things like maintaining a healthy weight, lowering blood pressure, and increasing bone density are all great long-term Attitudes that can be very motivating. Consider the cost of decades of blood pressure (and other) medications versus the cost and benefits of decades of exercise and health risk management. There is absolutely no comparison. Well, that’s it for part 1! Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon!
Steve Seiter is currently Head Trainer at Kinex Fitness Studios in Urbana, IL. Steve has his B.S. in Kinesiology from University of Illinois and is an ACSM and TRX Certified Personal Trainer.