The Inner Game of Exercise: Mindsets for Killing it Fitness and Loving The Journey
The Inner-Game of Exercise: Mindsets for Killing it in Fitness and Loving The Journey (Excerpt from my upcoming book)
Myself or anyone else could provide lots of technical info about the benefits of exercise and how to perform it properly. But before knowing the how-to, the most valuable thing you can have is the right mindset going in. Adopting an optimally healthy, positive, and exciting attitude toward your exercise journey is what will help you stick with it in the long run and love the process. Below are several tips I came up with to help you maintain such a mindset. I can say this from experience, being a person who loves physical activity.
Tip 1: Knowing the benefits
When you have a clear and comprehensive understanding of all the benefits for something, it becomes an inexhaustible source of motivation. This is true for anything, including fitness. You could say there are two main categories of benefits. One is the objective, third person benefits of exercise. For example, benefits of exercise may include more serotonin and dopamine, higher energy levels and alertness, stress relief and relaxation, fat loss and improved physique, lower inflammation, less aches and pains, increased detoxification, increased immunity, increased life span, hormonal balance, sexual function, sleep quality, general mental health and well-being. This list is extremely brief, and barely scrapes the top of the ice-burg; You could un-pack each point with a stack of information. The second category of benefits is the more subjective, first-person intentions for how exercise is relevant to your life on a personal level. It is your personalised list of intentions and benefits, based on your own situation and personality. To implement each of these approaches, I would recommend 1) studying literature on the benefits of exercise, and 2) Creating your own intentions for why exercise is so useful and relevant to you.
Tip 2: Having fun and flow states
The essence of this tip is around having curiosity, intention, and playing games. Any workout can be made more enjoyable when you have a positive focus on what you are wanting to achieve. What are the hard metrics you are looking to hit? How much weight are you looking to pull, or in what time are you looking to complete the run? Considering your target metrics and how you can achieve them is where curiosity comes into the picture. It can be a real science trying to hit metrics. But even more subtle than metrics, what kind of state are you looking to be in? Are you looking to be aggressive and dominant, a competitive winner who is jacked up? How about fluid and creative? Do you want to have the feeling of being effortless, running on air? Having intention for the types of actions, thoughts, and feelings you want to experience during a workout can be very fun and beneficial. It becomes a game and piece of art, a sort of performance piece where you show what your body and mind is capable of.
Tip 3: Let it be part of your identity
As you get fit and find your own unique strengths and niche within the world of fitness, you can let it become part of your identity. Your fitness skills can boost up your self-image and self-esteem. There is nothing wrong with having a positive self-image. You can always remain humble by looking to the top, seeing the people who are shining at the apex of peak-performance. You then acknowledge the areas you still could work on. But what gives you the self-esteem is your doggedness, your ambition to get up and keep on going, constantly developing on the path and moving past plateaus. Exercise and fitness becomes part of your identity and life journey. It ties into the story of what you value, what you enjoy doing, and you take great pleasure being in the community of that activity while advocating it to others.