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The Most Often Overlooked Secret to Fitness Success

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happy and fit woman Do you know why so many people continue to have setbacks in reaching their fitness goals?

It’s because they’re simply leaving out the first and most important step in getting fit. They’re failing to first spend time on the most powerful part of their body, the part that takes the most work, and the part that will ultimately set them up for success or cause them to fall back into bad habits – their mind.

Yes, you must ready your mind to get you through the tough times as you begin your transformation, so it can help you arrive at your final goal – a healthy and fit lifestyle and body. These steps apply to anyone beginning a fitness journey, no matter what your specific fitness goals may be. When you’re prepping your mind for fitness success, it must start long before you hire a personal trainer, or even begin any exercise program.

If you condition and strengthen your mind before you focus on conditioning and strengthening your body, you’re preparing yourself to succeed.  I’ve seen how it plays out with clients, and years before I became a personal trainer, I actually lived this struggle myself, and can tell you from these experiences that taking the time to work through this mostly overlooked preparation stage will determine your success more than anything else.

Your First Step – Preparation

When you are making the decision to get fit, there are several things to consider before jumping into any exercise program.

First, if you want to make a change, and make it a permanent change, you need to realize that you’re making a lifestyle change, and must not rush. This preparation stage should take anywhere from weeks to months. Take your time! You’re in the extremely important preparation stage of your journey, and are planning to do things differently for the rest of your life. Plan, but put nothing into action yet!

Some of the self-motivating techniques I used, and suggest to my clients to use to get, and keep their mind on track are these.  Imagine yourself 20 years in the future looking back to today. What decision do you want to see yourself making about your health? Do you want to see yourself make the easy decision to stay the same, or commit to the difficult decision to become the healthiest, most fit version of yourself?

Visualization is the other technique. Create a very clear picture of what you will look like when you’ve changed your lifestyle and reached your goal. Think about how you will feel, look, the clothes you’ll wear, being able to tuck your shirt into your jeans, etc. Write these thoughts down, and come up with your own self-motivating thoughts. Think of these throughout your journey, especially when the road gets difficult.

Take Responsibility

This is another tough, but necessary step in preparation. 

Time to be completely honest with yourself about what needs to be changed, and how your own actions got you into this unhealthy situation.  Once you’ve accepted responsibility for creating your weight gain, you’re able to see that you have the power to change it. Once you’re able to say aloud, “Yes, I take responsibility for my choices and actions that put me in this unhealthy situation”, you’re beginning to accept that you have the power to make the changes that will affect the outcome of your goal.

Taking responsibility also means you’re committing to the process of change. The other phrase you should get comfortable saying is “Yes, this change is hard, but it’s worth it; I’m worth it!”

Take Action

Now that you’ve identified what needs to change, and taken responsibility for those bad habits, it’s time to begin to take action and make some changes.

By this I mean very small changes. Begin moving more in your daily life. Gradually make changes to your diet. Rather than beginning with taking things away, add something healthy to your diet and reduce you portion sizes. You still have plenty of time to make more dramatic changes to your nutrition after you gradually accept tiny changes.

Start experimenting with healthy recipes at home rather than eating out. Cut back on your sedentary hobbies. Drink more water. Build your support system. Start planning how much time and money you’re truly going to dedicate toward your lifestyle change, and write it down. Start taking walks. Create a simple movement schedule chart where you will plan activities like your walks and yard work. Put it somewhere where it’s easily visible and learn to follow through! The most important step in conditioning your body is to first condition your mind.

I cannot stress enough that this lifestyle change should be a slow process. As you ease into your new lifestyle, you’re preparing your mind to take on even greater commitments in exercise and healthful eating. Believe me, even the tiniest healthy action repeated over and over, will start you moving toward your goal even before you’ve officially begun your exercise program.

Let the Workouts Begin!

Now that you’ve completed the preparation stage of your journey, you’ve truly built the foundation of your new healthy lifestyle.

You’ve arrived at the point where you’re ready to plan an exercise program, and begin easing into it. This is where the guidance of a certified personal trainer will help you outline long and short term goals, offer support, identify major obstacles and create a plan to work around them, and design a progressive exercise program that is specific to your needs.

Don’t leave out the preparation stage of your journey. Condition your mind before, during and even after you’ve reached your fitness goal. Never stop reinforcing to yourself that you have the power within yourself to stay on a healthy track for a lifetime. When you change your mind, you’re removing all the “can’t” clutter, which leads to a change in your attitude, and ultimately your life.

Take it from someone who’s been there, you’ll find that the greatest transformation at the end of your fitness journey will not only be your body, it will be your mind, and the knowledge that you have the power within yourself to develop a fit body and a healthy future.

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Author Profile: Rochelle Ramirez

Author's Website Rochelle Ramirez is an enthusiastic personal trainer and wellness speaker. She holds personal trainer certifications from the NSCA and ACE, is a certified group instructor through AFAA, a certified Aqua Fitness instructor through APAI, and is a Battling Ropes Level 1 Coach. She also holds a BA in Liberal Studies with a minor in English from Cal Poly Pomona, and graduated from CNI College with a certificate in Personal Training / Exercise Science. Read more...

Disclaimer: The views of the author are his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ask The Trainer.

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Post Category: Mind-Body, Misc, Physical Fitness