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Create a lifelong fitness mindset

3 Ways to Create a Lifelong Fitness Mindset

The best athletes attribute their victories to resilience and inner drive. Those virtues are skills honed through exercise, just like any muscle. It's possible to cultivate a mental state that increases one’s motivation and consistency. This is called a fitness mindset, and it’s what sets apart mighty legends from might-have-beens.

The term ‘mindset’ can have different meanings depending on context, and pop psychology has muddied the waters. For our purposes, mindset is the set of beliefs that inform one’s thoughts and behaviors. Think of mindset as the stories we use to explain ourselves, to ourselves.

Pop culture prefers a high-intensity mindset, reminiscent of a Rocky montage.


how seriously do you take your fitness?

We see quotes like:

Your body is your slave; it works for you.

     -Jack Lalanne

 Unless you puke, faint, or die, keep going.

      -Jillian Michaels

As it turns out, this attitude doesn’t typically lead to success. It's the same spirit as New Year’s resolutions, which fail so commonly it’s practically a cultural joke. An unsustainable mindset is probably why most resolutions don't live to see summer. The select few that complete their resolutions aren’t just lucky or talented–they've mastered mindset.


heres what works in fitness

So, here are three ways to forge a fitness mindset that'll last you a lifetime. 

1. Embrace Failure

 We tend to think of success and failure as a dichotomy—either you’re winning or you’re losing. This either/or mindset is harmful because performance fluctuates. Think of it like the stock market—imagine that anytime an investment value goes down, you assume it's a failure and jump ship. Performance is like a trading graph: if you’re too busy being upset at a temporary loss, you'll miss the overall upward trend and quit before reaping your rewards.

Whenever you experience failure in any aspect of fitness, don’t think, ‘I’m worthless. I will never reach my goals.’ Instead, embrace setbacks as part of your journey by thinking, ‘I will recover. This is normal and temporary. This does not define me.’ Be patient with yourself and take the shame out of failure.


2. Don’t Set Goals About Results

Whatever your goal, focusing on the outcome is counterproductive. Instead, establish goals that impact habits, making sure they’re reasonable and time-sensitive. Goals like 'I will run an eight-minute mile,' are far less likely to succeed than, ‘I will go to the gym five times this week.' The first ignores efforts in favor of outcomes. The second goal focuses on that which is entirely within your control: your behavior.

In this way, every workout you complete becomes a reward, regardless of performance, and builds a positive association for the habit you’re building. Think about it—we've all heard of people who met their goals and plateaued, and all fitness gains are temporary without consistent reinforcement. Don't set goals that build just enough muscle to get to one finish line, set goals that build perseverance and grit so you can conquer every challenge you meet.


3. Positivity Over Punishment

Have you ever skipped a gym day, or eaten junk food, then paid penance with an extra hard workout? If you have, it's time for a mindset shift. The trouble with using exercise this way is that it implants guilt into what should be positive, healthy habits. And guilt is the foundation of excuses.

Excuses are the stories we use to mitigate discomfort. Everyone knows the feeling of not meeting expectations. Saying, ‘well, I had a stressful week. It’s the weather. I haven’t had enough sleep,’ is a way to shift the blame, a salve to the bitter sting of guilt.

Don't use exercise as punishment. It's human nature to avoid punishment, so you'll likely perceive your exercise routine as unpleasant and use excuses to escape from it. Instead, associate exercise with its positive aspects: improved sleep, mood, immunity, appearance, and health. It's about self-care, not self-flagellation.

fitness is supposed to be enjoyable

 Exercise is an integral part of wellness for the body and mind. Treating it like another dull chore, or a tool to be used and abandoned, is setting yourself up for disaster. Instead, create a sustainable mindset to incorporate fitness into your lifestyle permanently. Who knows? You might one day be legendary.


Written by: Amanda Toran

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