In my experience, many personal trainers concentrate too much on the physical aspects of nutrition and training while neglecting the psychological elements which are important to successful health and fitness achievement.
As legendary baseball coach and manager Yogi Berra wisely proclaimed, "Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical."
Although sports psychology is big business these days in professional sports, the importance of a psychological component is often underestimated for the millions of dieters, exercisers and weight trainers trying to get into shape for general health and fitness.
When it's all boiled down, the two fundamental skills required to build a fit, healthy and attractive body are:
- A reliable knowledge or access to reliable advice on nutrition and physical activity and exercise principles, and,
- The motivation to put that knowledge into practice.
This article is about the second skill -- how to get and stay motivated for losing weight, building muscle and getting fit.
How to Change for the BetterManaging the change process is the secret to success. You need to know how to change behavior from what you're doing now that is unproductive and not what you want, to a way of life that will give you that fitness, health and body you wish you had.
Some people find it easy to focus on targets and push ahead until they have achieved what they set out to do: Write a book, lose weight, build up a successful business. The goals may vary, but successful people have a few things in common. First, they understand that to be successful, you need a logical plan with achievable objectives at stages along the way. Second, they tend to have a strong visual and emotional image of what that success will look and feel like for them. This takes organizational skills, patience, focus, determination and drive -- and some imagination.
That's all well for the gifted few that seem to intuitively know how this all fits together from an early age. High-achievers in many fields are "born," yet some are also "made." It is possible to learn how to implement these skills by understanding the fundamental principles of behavioral change.
The Five Steps to Behavioral ChangePsychologists recognize five stages of change. Try to apply this thinking to your life, especially if you have ever wished to make positive changes in your life yet could not quite make it happen. And that includes just about all of us.
In this early stage, a person is not aware of the need to change behavior. This is clearly not you because by reading this article you signal your interest of at least the possibility that your behavior may need to change.
In this second stage, a person reflects on the advantages and disadvantages of change. This may be the stage at which many readers of this article find themselves.
When "changers" reach this stage, they are usually in the process of preparing concrete plans for change. As noted throughout this article, planning and preparation are crucial to achieving goals.
This is the stage at which you are fully processing your plan. As a result, your behavior is changing or has changed to achieve your goals.
This is the crucial stage where you decide to continue the new behavior or to relapse to former behavior. Many people will recognize this to be the stage where it all goes wrong. You’ve put a lot of energy into getting to this point but you just cannot keep it going. You need a specific plan for this possibility as well.
“Self Talk” Keeps You on TrackThe psychotherapists call this “cognitive therapy" or "rational emotive therapy.” It means developing a reasoning argument or a challenge in your head for why you should do or think positive. You should not indulge behavior that you know is destructive or counterproductive.
For example, you might challenge the idea that you’ve always been unfit and overweight, and that you will never have an attractive, healthy body. Challenging this perception with positive thoughts gives you the energy to change. When it comes to the maintenance phase, you need tools like this to help you build a pattern of behavior and living that will gradually build stability into your new way of doing things.