Here’s the thing: getting better at exercise, seeing improvement and working towards new goals, involves more than just putting in the physical work.
There’s more required than simply showing up at the gym or heading out for a run: in fact, there is a huge additional component that plays a big role in your success.
Introducing mental training.
While it may be something you assume just happens over time as you spend more and more time doing the sport or activity, in many cases, it actually is something that you need to put time and effort into, the same as you do the physical training of the sport.
Here are some best practices for boosting your mental strength and coming out on top:
- Find your weakness – Just like you probably have a weakness physically when it comes to your sport or exercise of choice, you likely also have a weakness when it comes to your mental strength. For example, maybe you always tend to back off just when it starts to hurt and you need to push yourself. Or maybe you always talk yourself out of trying something new or taking a risk. Whatever the case, there is likely a pattern and once you identify that you can work to improve upon it.
- Find a Mantra – A mantra is a statement or a few words that you can repeat to yourself when things get tough. For example, if you are running a race and find yourself in a lot of pain and wanting to quit, you can repeat your mantra to yourself to encourage you to keep going. It can be something such as “you are strong,” or “call your courage,” or something to remind you of how awesome you are, such as “you’ve got this,” or “you have done enough.”
- Find your place – In many cases, the issue with struggling mentally is that your mind may switch off, get distracted or try to tell you stories that aren’t true, like that you can’t do it, or you should quit, or you are going to fail. In times like this you need to find your happy place in your mind, where you can train your brain to go so that it can keep you thinking positively, push you harder and maintain your motivation. Getting to that place (and staying there) can be hard, so practicing it is important!
- Find your Tribe – While the mental aspect of sport is very much a solo endeavor, which you need to tackle on your own, it helps when you have a strong support group behind you and people who you can count on to pick you up when you are struggling, or encourage you on when you are faltering. Align yourself with the people who can push you forward and offer you the encouragement you need when things get tough.
If you feel like your exercise efforts aren’t paying off and you aren’t making the progress you want, or are constantly falling short of your goals, it may be time to check in with your mental training!
By: Laura Peill, RHN, BScH – Viand Nutrition