“Think like an Athlete” – Part 2 – The keys to fitness success

In my career as a personal trainer, I coined and used the expression “think like an athlete” to enable and inspire Hans, one of my clients, to move past his limitations (you can read his story here). The idea behind this expression is that we can overcome any obstacle and accomplish our goals if we realise that we live in comfort zones – places in physical as well as mental space – that tie us to our past decisions and experiences. Thinking like an athlete can set us free.

It is critical for us to understand that our thoughts create our reality and thinking covers the totality of life itself. We ARE our thoughts and our thoughts become our beliefs – and sometimes those things that we believe to be true are no longer true – or relevant – to our present circumstances. I use this thinking in my own training and know it can help you too.

The Keys to Fitness Success

1. Visualization

I am constantly visualizing my training activity before I even begin the actual process. I envision every aspect of my selected program and also make sure I bring into play my emotions – the feelings I may generate in actively pursuing my goal for that training session. For instance, I see myself running: I feel my legs as they move through their stride, and I sense my breath and the feeling of excitement that running generates. I see the smile on my face as I increase my speed and feel my body flowing over distance.

I first set my course mentally and emotionally, and then quiet my mind and relax into the session. Relaxation and results go hand in hand. The more relaxed you are, the better the results will be. Remember that your mind is powerful and you get to control your thoughts and emotions. All athletes use visualization techniques in some form in their training – and subsequently “practice makes perfect”. In many ways, visualizing your success is way more powerful than seeing failure as your outcome. “Pushing your boundaries” in your mind works in the real world. Use it!

2. Imagination

Imagination is the “workshop of the mind”. Walt Disney is perhaps one of the greatest examples of using his imagination to the fullest. When he visited the land in Anaheim that would eventually become Disneyland – he didn’t see orange groves – he saw Fantasyland, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, Frontierland, and all the other aspects that would come to define the character and wonder of the “Happiest Place on Earth”. I love this example because it shows the power of the imagination at work.

I use my imagination during my prayer and meditation time to imagine a world in which I get to play the role of speaker, teacher and inspiration to people seeking new vistas to conquer and new horizons to reach. My imagination is same one used by Disney only not as advanced in its current form – but I am working on that daily.

In becoming “childlike”, we can throw off the shackles of adulthood with all its limitations and explore territories in our own consciousness that are awaiting our awareness. We “play in our minds” before we can ever play in the world of the conscious world. Steve Jobs used the very same principles to create Apple and ultimately the IPhone that has changed the very nature of life as we know it today.

3. AffirmationPositive self talk boost performance

Just as visualization and imagination play a huge role in the success of your fitness activities, so too does affirmation. What you say is what you get. Words have power so choose them wisely. Never say things that you will regret later. This is even more true today since we interact in cyberspace almost more than we do in “real life”. Affirmation can assist you in “programming your subconscious mind” for success. I use positive affirmations daily in my mediation practices to reinforce the power of my goals and ultimately my life. An example of an affirmation that will help your subconscious mind accept a new reality is:

“I am a powerful runner who is strong, vital, and in harmony with my body”.

Thinking is affirming and affirming is thinking. Through the process of affirmation you are confirming the types of thoughts you want to entertain in your conscious life. The thoughts that are carrying you now may be old, outworn thoughts that can hurt you going forward. An example of such a thought is “I will never be strong or flexible”. We are told by others all our lives what we will become or be in life and my question is: Who gave them the power to know that about me? I say DUMP the thoughts that are holding you back and move into your future with the confidence that ANYTHING is possible if “you just put your mind to it!”

Nick’s Tips

  1. Don’t believe all you hear.
  2. Don’t believe all you read.
  3. Don’t believe what “they” say.
  4. Don’t accept mediocrity into hour life.
  5. Don’t ever sell yourself short.
  6. Believe in yourself and never stop moving forward.
  7. Take time daily to reflect on your thoughts and feelings about different aspects of your life.
  8. Become a student not only of life – but YOUR life: learn from your experiences.
  9. Take time to inform yourself on matters that you care about.
  10. Never stop trying – trying is the only way to success.
  11. There is no such thing as failure – there are only steps that don’t work as planned.
  12. Plan to fail or fail to plan – make sure you work out the difference.
  13. Love yourself today and set you expectations high.
  14. Reach beyond your comfort zones and share what you have – and more importantly who you truly are.
  15. Guard your thoughts wisely and never let another determine what is best for you.
  16. Take time each day to be grateful – and forgive whenever possible. Forgiveness frees us to be who we want to become.

For more fitness advice, you can read Nick’s book “Healthy Aging and You”.