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GETTING FIT: The mental game

by Archives October 18, 2006

Well it’s the middle of the semester and you’re all working hard to keep up with your schoolwork, which is probably your first priority. But have you been paying any attention to your health? For many university students, their health takes a backseat to their homework, but you don’t have to worry because I’m here to help. I just want to get one thing straight, I am not a personal trainer and I have no degrees in the field of health and fitness. But for the past three years I have been exercising and weight training as a part of my weekly routine and it has changed my life. Since starting my weight training I have lost 30lbs of fat and packed on 12lbs of muscle to my frame. On the way I have learned a lot of tips and strategies about losing weight, getting fit and eating right.

The main thing that everyone has to remember about exercising is that it is more mental then physical. Yes, you do have to work physically hard in the gym to get fit, but the muscle controlling it all is your brain. One of the biggest problems that rookie weightlifters have is a lack of motivation. It is extremely important to be motivated about exercise, or else you will probably not reach your goals. One strategy is to find a monthly calendar and write in it what exercises and on what days you would like to do them, for that particular week, and then check off the days that you did your exercise. Another method is to get a friend involved in exercise with you, and you can motivate each other to work out.

Using a calendar is also a good way to manage your time a lot better. When you ask most people why they don’t exercise, they will say ‘I just don’t have enough time’. Now that may be true, and to exercise one might have to sacrifice their social lives, but you have more free time on your hands than you think. All you need to exercise regularly and see results is an hour or two a day at least three times a week. So it’s really not that much time during the week, since you probably watch more TV than that.

Another very important aspect about the mental part of exercising is setting a goal for you to reach. I suggest that you stay away from the scale at first because the truth is that it takes longer to see results on the scale than in the mirror. A good way of going about this is making a short-term goal that is very doable, such as, “I would like to drop two or three dress sizes in a month or two,” or, “I would like to be able to bench press a certain amount after four weeks of solid training.” You can also set long-term goals for yourself as well like losing 20lbs in six months.

The last part of the mental game is what I call “Habit making and breaking (HMB)”. One thing about getting fit, which all of the professionals will tell you, is staying consistent with your workout routines, and a way of doing that is by making a habit of doing them every week. Once you make it a habit of working out, like most habits, it will be hard to break. Now comes the hard part of HMB, and that is breaking some of your bad habits. Some of these could be smoking, eating junk food, laziness or watching too much television. I’m not going to lie, it is extremely hard to break these bad habits, especially smoking. If you don’t, then these habits will just slow down your progress. If you don’t have the willpower to do it on your own, get someone to help you because it is important.

Once you take all these factors into consideration, you have to remember that things do not always work out the way you want them to. There are times that you will miss a couple of workouts. This is where a friend comes in handy to motivate you to go to the gym or wherever. You might not reach your set goals in the allotted time, but you have to remember that genetics plays a key role in how we develop physically. Some lose or gain weight quicker than others, and some find it easier to exercise. Yes, there will be frustration, but remember to never give up. Look at getting fit as a challenge. They aren’t easy to get through, but getting through it is extremely satisfying.

Next week I will be talking about how to get started in your training, and giving tips on how to train and where to do it.

If any of you have any questions about my article, or have general questions or concerns about exercising, e-mail me at jbarnoff@hotmail.com. Thanks and good luck!

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