Strength Of Mind…
…and how it affects the quality, effectiveness, intensity and sustainability of your training.

Strength of mind relates to your internal resilience, reaction to pain or set backs, determination, will power and ability to cope with change (adaptability). Strength of mind is essential when beginning any fitness journey because the mental and psychological battles far outweigh the physical challenges when it comes to weight loss, muscle building, general fitness or training for a sport. Having control of your mind, the will power to make difficult decisions, understanding the necessity for sacrifice and being capable of dealing with pain are all key to achieving your goals in health and fitness.

Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”Thomas Carlyle 

Strength of mind – Quality

For many people, going to the gym and “training” is a daily occurrence and part of their everyday schedule. It has a time, a place and a structure. Strength of mind is relevant to this because for many of those people, their goals are completely out of sight and will never be achieved. Strength of mind, in this case, means that you should honestly analyse your training progress on a regular basis to ensure what you are doing is leading to the results you expect. Understanding that the quality of your training and the effort you are putting into that training are more important than just being there “working out”. Strength of mind is being able to understand that the quality of your training, nutrition and lifestyle needs honest analysis and the will power to overcome whatever barriers present themselves. Choosing the right foods, selecting the harder training options, waking up early to train, taking up yoga classes or trying something new. Strength of mind ensures you select quality for your own benefit and don’t settle for mediocrity and reach a plateau.

Strength of mind – Effectiveness

Along the same lines as quality, effectiveness when discussing strength of mind is relevant to the applicability of your training to the achievement of your goals. Is the training you are doing the correct type of training to help you reach your targets. Strength of mind is essential because accepting advice, doing research and asking for help are all key to ensuring the effectiveness of your training and that openness and willingness to open yourself up to criticism or analysis requires a strength of mind (and character) that many people lack or fear. Effectiveness is the difference between being sensible, focused and intelligent about the path required to reach your goals, and blindly running towards a wall in the hope that the 5km run you did and the two bananas you ate will help you run through it.

Strength of mind – Intensity

Intensity relevant to your goals is vital. If you are trying to lose weight, eat better or build muscle, then the intensity with which you manage those things dictates the likelihood of you being successful. For example, if you are training to burn fat, then managing the intensity of your cardio with regards to intervals, heart rate and effort is key to ensuring that is the result of your hard work. If you are trying to build muscle then managing nutrition, training schedule and rest periods is essential for ensuring your body has time to break down, build and recover. If you are trying to eat healthier then intensity is applied differently but is just as relevant. Intensity with regards to nutrition means that dedication, planning and preparation must be intense and focused to ensure you are consuming what you should be, when you should be in the volume that you should be. Intensity relates to strength of mind because intensity Is the ability to control the amount of effort you put into every aspect of what you are doing with your goals in mind. Higher intensity therefore equals a higher chance of success.

Strength of mind – Sustainability

Sustainability when discussing strength of mind relates to the longevity of your interest in achieving your goals. So many people set themselves a new goal, a new years resolution of a target with an immediate and intense interest in the achievement of that goal. After a short period of time they have lost interest o motivation due to a lack of immediate gratification coming from the lack of quick results, from a lack of encouragement from the people around them, from a lack of focus on the goals due to new hobbies or interests entering their lives, or just simple procrastination and distraction. Strength of mind and sustainability connect to create a long lasting and relentless focus and drive. This means that you wake up early, you eat right, you train hard. Sustainability is the process of maintaining quality, effectiveness and intensity over a long period of time or as long as is required to achieve your goals.

Strength of mind – How to help myself

1.) Make a list of your goals, short term, mid term and long term. Write the list on a big piece of paper in a bold marker pen. Put that list somewhere very visible and make sure you read it every single day.

2.) Learn as much as possible about the most effective ways of achieving your health and fitness goals; ask professionals, seek advice from social media (people doing the same thing), hire a trainer or nutritionist, visit your doctor, watch documentaries, read books – be intense in your search for information that will make your journey easier.

3.) Find somebody on a similar path to you with similar goals and work together in an encouraging and focused manner to ensure you are both working to reach your goals. Discuss your failures and setbacks, motivate and inspire each other.

4.) Spend time each day analysing what you did during that day to assist you in achieving your goals.

5.) Enjoy the journey and all the wonderful obstacle it throws in your way. Thrive in the difficulty and the focus required to overcome it. Challenge yourself on a daily basis to ensure you are always working as hard as possible to achieve your goals.

6.) Don’t hate yourself if you make a mistake or fall off the wagon. Accept that nobody is infallible, we are all human and people make mistakes. Then seek to understand why you made that kistake, what happened and how you can avoid it. Then forget about it and focus on moving forward towards your goals.

Even the worst of days end; and it is true that time is the biggest healer and holds the greatest opportunity.

In the case of health and fitness, having an off day might well be a set back, but once it is done, it is in the past and cannot be changed. It is therefore essential that you move forward with a positive attitude and a level of preparation that is going to enable you to deal with the hard work that is coming your way. Every day will eventually finish, and as you lay in bed, confront the weaknesses and mistakes you have made, accept them, learn from them and promptly forget them.

Focus on what you are going to do better. The meal you won’t miss again, the drink you won’t buy again or the set you won’t forget again. If you want to achieve something in health and fitness you have to be able to accept your mistakes, learn from them and move on!

“At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your success and your failure. And the sooner you realize that, you accept that, and integrate that into your work ethic, you will start being successful. As long as you blame others for the reason you aren’t where you want to be, you will always be a failure.” – Erin Cummings

“At the end of the day, we must go forward with hope and not backward by fear and division. – Jesse Jackson

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell

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