Some people are super motivated and have almost endless self-control. Others struggle to set a fitness regime, and then really battle to stick to it. Whatever stage you’re at, these fitness psychology 12 fascinating facts can help your fitness – by giving you a better understanding of some important psychological facts.
1. How to overcome the common excuse of it’s too difficult to get into good shape
This is one of the most common excuses that puts many people, just like you, off becoming fitter and happier in yourself. The harsh reality is that becoming fitter will make you happier and more focused. One of the main reasons that some people find it too difficult, is explained below in the next point – no.2.
Getting into good shape is really not as hard as you think, but it does require consistent work, effort and motivation. Imagine were to be diagnosed with a serious illness? Would you consider avoiding treatment as it all just seems too difficult? Yes I know that seems like a radical comparison, but if you get your subconscious mind on side, it will all be so much easier. The difference between dealing with a serious illness and a fitness regime is actually quite simple. With a life-threatening illness you have the choice either to fight or flight. Most people will choose the option to fight.
With a new regime, fitness or financial, or anything that requires a new practice in your life – some people may choose flight over fight. In many cases the reason for this is because the subconscious, which is in fact 88% of the mind, prefers knowns as opposed to unknowns.
Unknowns can be very pleasant, but are as yet not known to the subconscious. Knowns can be both pleasant and very unpleasant, but as the subconscious knows them already they are readily accepted. That brings us onto the next point.
2. Think about what inspires you
Particularly in the early stages of changing your eating and fitness habits, it can really help to concentrate on what inspires you. This works so much better than concentrating on what you feel you might be missing out on. The reason for this is because the subconscious, which accounts for 88% of our minds, actually wants to hold on to the known.
The known to your subconscious mind, may actually be something rather nasty. However it is known. The known is considered to be safer to the subconscious mind than the unknown. So this means that if you put yourself into the state of thinking about what you are changing, or giving up, your subconscious mind will object.
Therefore focus on what inspires you. What inspires you will already be known to the subconscious mind. This is something you can build on in a healthy way.
3. The 1st phase of fitness
This phase is actually so quick, but with some people it could come and go in a flash, and they may not make it to the next stage. This phase actually takes as little as 3 seconds, as it is when you get that initial inspiration about becoming more athletic or more fit.
4. Can you make it to the 2nd phase?
Making it to the second phase of fitness means making it through the next 2 to 3 weeks, at which stage you have started to build some good habits. These young, newly built habits can feed your motivation and excitement about continuing your new way of life.
Both of these situations also apply to people who are actively practising a fitness regime, or sport, but who want to move it up a level or two.
5. The 3rd phase is when doubt can creep in
This is quite natural, and the best thing to do is embrace it, recognise it, but get over it as soon as possible. Remember that even seasoned sports people and high end athletes enter a period of doubt. When this happens to you, this is when you need to be mentally strong in order to conquer this phase that could ruin what you’ve done up to now. If you’re using a personal trainer, talk to him or her about why you’re having doubts at this stage.
6. When you reach the 4th phase… you should start to feel quite excited
At this stage you have conquered those niggling doubts. At this stage you should feel an improved connection between your mind and body. Additionally by phase 4, you should started noticing how your improved fitness is creeping positively into other areas of your life. This should help give you the motivation stamina to continue to improve.
However this little loop of phase 3 and 4 can arrive at various stages in the future also – this happens to even the most experienced athletes. Once you have overcome any doubts before, you should find it a little easier next time around. Recognise it, embrace it, and let it go …as soon as possible.
7. The 5th phase..and a new you
Phase 5 is when you have entered the period when you identify yourself with other healthy, fit people, and you may have already started to inspire others. Your self-confidence and identity has greatly improved by this phase. It can be very helpful for you to reach out and inspire another aspiring athlete, or person who wants to become fitter.
8. The 6th phase of fitness …you’re on a journey
Phase 6 is the time that you feel ready to set even more interesting goals and challenges for yourself. By this phase you have embraced fitness as a journey, not a destination.
9. Comparison vs a role model
Whether you’re entering a new phase of fitness training, or you’re quite new to the concept – the idea of having a role model can be very helpful. If you have a role model in mind, you need to be very confident that you’re not choosing your role model for the wrong reasons.
There can be a thin line between comparison and real motivation because of a good role model. A well chosen role model will be somebody that you admire both physically and mentally. At the outset you need to be clear that it’s unlikely you’ll end up as a physical carbon copy of this person. If you choose your role model wisely, it will be a combination of their mental strength and examples, along with the physical results that they have achieved.
If on the other hand, you get sucked into the media world that we live in, then you could easily find yourself comparing your physique to that of someone else. Although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with aiming to have a better physique, hoping to end up looking exactly like a particular athlete or any other person, is a bad idea.
You are genetically different to anyone else you compare yourself to, and on top of that it is unlikely that you know how much time they put in to looking so fit.
Psychologically it will be very motivational to choose a realistic role model, who you have thought about properly beforehand, to ensure that that person is a complete package of both mental and physical attributes.
10. Can What You Wear Affect Your Performance?
Enclothed Cognition is actually a term that has been used by researchers. A 2012 study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology answered this question with a very definite yes. It was the two researchers who actually worked on the study who came up with the term enclothed cognition. For example, one group of volunteers for this study were given regular clothes to wear, whereas the second group dressed up in a lab coat. The two groups of volunteers would then perform attention related tasks, and throughout the study those wearing lab coats were far more successful at the tasks.
One of the researchers confirmed that they believe that this principle can be applied to many other fields, including fitness. The reason for this is that their research has shown that it is actually the symbolic meaning associated with the item of clothing that they are wearing.
11. Motivation As A Couple/Or Fitness Partner
You’d imagine that exercising, or setting up an exercise regime, with your significant other should have a higher chance of great results. Unfortunately this is not always the case. To simplify the findings of a recent scientific study, let’s look at three different couple types:
Couple A – both partners unfortunately possess low self-control. You will be surprised that in this case failure is practically guaranteed. This is because each individual’s lack of self-control has a knock-on and compounding effect within the relationship.
Couple B – this couple is however a little bit more surprising. One of the partners has high self-control, whereas the other one has low self-control. It’s easy to imagine that the partner with high self-control could take on a leadership position and encourage the partner would low self-control.
Here’s where this scientific research may surprise you! In fact across A range of seven different experiments, which included both finance and fitness, something quite different happens to this couple.
This couple, instead, will jointly head towards the lower self-controlled spectrum. Essentially you can’t outsource your self-controlled to your partner, or vice verse. Whether it’s you, or your other half, who has the higher self control – what the study found was that the person with the high self-controlled actually wants to please their low self-control partner. Their desire to make their low self-control partner happy, and indulge them in their desires, overrules their natural inclination towards high self-control.
Couple C – Both members of this couple have high levels of self-control. This means that there in the perfect position to make decisions and set goals, for fitness, finance and other life areas.Essentially they are like the golden couple, who are perfectly matched and well set up to reach their goals.
If you’re in your partner are like this, whether you decide to train together, or set regimes are in tune with each other, you are sure to succeed. However, if you fall into either couple A or B categories, then you can tell yourself and your partner a big favour by separating out these type of goals.
If this subject is of particular interest to you, check out the study that we have based this information – click on Understanding Self Control Decisions in Dyads
12. Did you know that exercise is one of the most effective therapies to prevent, or heal depression without drugs?
You may have read that headline, and thought: “well actually I’m not depressed”. Or of course you could have read the headline and realised that you do feel depressed. Either way, exercise can help you…
A number of studies over the years have shown that exercise can cushion both humans and animals against stress, and make them more emotionally resilient.
So even if at the moment you just find one area of your life a little bit stressful, more regular exercise can balance this out for you. If your situation is more stressful than this, than exercise is known to help and you should consider starting to motivate yourself with what inspires you. Think about this and find the best way to start improving your exercise schedule…be it a walk or cycle in nature, or using a personal trainer to help you inspire a happier, fitter you!