You have probably achieved some of the fitness goals you have set during your life. But you have probably failed to reach certain levels of physical fitness as well, haven’t you? You are the same person, so why did you succeed in one physical endeavor and fail in another? Was it because you were not “mentally tough” when you needed to be? Was your mindset to blame? And if it was, how can you change that?
Dr. Jim Loehr is a globally recognized performance psychologist. He wrote a wonderful book titled Mental Toughness Training for Sports: Achieving Athletic Excellence. In it he discusses and defines mental toughness, revealing that it is made up of the following 7 components:
- attention control
- minimizing negative energy
- increasing positive energy
- maintaining motivation levels
- attitude control
- visual and imagery control
He uses the word energy twice and the word control 3 times in defining the 7 dimensions of mental toughness in physical endeavors. And while the actual meaning of mental toughness may vary from one expert to the next, controlling your energy has a lot to do with your ability to accomplish any physical fitness goals.
By controlling and directing your mental and physical energies, you are able to set a habitual course that improves your ability to achieve the physical goals you set. But let’s get back to our original question.
Does fitness, and your state of physical health, rely mostly on mental toughness?
Research in the past few years has shown that 60% to 80% of your physical appearance and fitness will be determined by your diet. So nutrition is obviously very important.
But let’s take two identical individuals. They are the same age, same height and weight. They both enjoy a healthy diet. But after work, Subject A heads straight for the couch and the remote control. They watch television until bedtime, go to sleep late, wake up tired and start the process all over.
Subject B exercises in the evening. She makes sure that she drinks plenty of water throughout the day, goes to bed at a decent hour, and gets plenty of rest. In the morning before heading off to work, she exercises. On her lunch break she goes for a walk outside her workplace rather than spending that time stuck to her office chair.
Which one of these two individuals is going to be in better physical shape? It is obvious that subject B will enjoy a healthier and more physically fit body. And it’s because she programmed her mind to consciously adopt a healthy lifestyle, which over time becomes an unconscious habit.
However you define it, mental toughness has to be present to some degree for you to reach your physical goals.
But you cannot simply sit on your couch and think about the level of physical fitness you want to achieve. You have to take action. You have to exercise. You have to adopt a healthy diet, drink lots of liquids and get plenty of rest.
Take all of the actionable steps you need to create the body and lifestyle you desire, and combine them with a persistent and confident mental focus. You may just find that the physical barriers of your past become the physical achievements of your future.