Do you remember the last time you felt strong? How about powerful? Fierce? We feel them in our bodies as physical sensations and flood our minds with thoughts that reinforce how we feel. We make meaning of the physical sensations based on our past experience and current environmental context. We can tap this power to overcome obstacles on our fitness journey.
Sometimes I might feel strong following a presentation or asserting my needs successfully in relationship. Other times I might feel strong as I crush a PR (personal record) goals in the weight room. Either way I am powerful. By recognizing how powerful my thoughts and emotions are I can maximize the gains I make by combining how I think and feel with how I execute my action plan.
Often we think about fitness as a purely physical experience. It’s something we measure with our blood pressure or blood sugar levels or cholesterol. We track by paying attention to how much we lift, how fast we run, or how long we can continue our ride. However, fitness starts in your mind. You can lift all the weight in the world, but if you aren’t feeling strong in your person you won’t translate all that strength successfully out into the world.
Sure many find themselves throwing their weight around, bragging about biceps, and intimidating people by dominating space, however when one feels truly strong the drive to prove themselves disappears.
Over my career in the fitness center I have often seen clients feel defeated before they even start the workout. They feel overwhelmed, tired, and despair unsure they will really make a difference in their physique this time.
In the therapy room I have worked with many clients feeling the same even though they are not lifting weight at the moment.
Once we shift their mindset to a strength based foundation, things start moving. They start lifting more, running just a little bit further, and working out a few more minutes. Physiques begin to change and clients are up for the challenge of sticking to the plan.
These clients did not suddenly get more muscle fibers and a better VO2 Max. What made the difference is how they thought. Using your mind to impact your fitness is often an untapped superpower. Ask any elite athlete, they will tell you, the mind game is the one you must win. Lifting more weight, running a bit further, and crushing the PR goals are all won in your head long before they are realized in the training room or the track.
Think I’m talking hogwash? Try this experiment, as you consider what it means for you to feel strong, think about times when you felt capable. Remember a time you felt forceful or dominant. Recollect that time you felt competent and courageous.
Create a clear picture in your mind of those great moments in your past. See if you can remember it through all 5 senses. Think about where you were, who you were with, what you saw, heard, touched, smelled, and maybe even tasted as you experienced that moment when you felt your warrior self.
Pay attention to the shifts in your body as you remember that moment. Notice how the memory of feeling strong brings up a sensation in your body. You might find yourself standing a bit straighter. Maybe some pride up through your chest. I bet you feel a little more self contained, even tough as you think about that time you felt really strong. This is the power of pulling in all your resources as you embark on your fitness journey.
Don’t neglect this superpower as you tackle health goals. When you can harness your thoughts and emotions in the direction of your health goals you are creating a superior workout.
You’ll reach goals you might not have previously figured out. You’ll find the fun and creativity you’ve been aching for, and you’ll find yourself joyful on the path rather than living with deprivation. Fitness is a feeling. Start your health journey with feelings and watch your obstacles melt away.
Stacy Reuille-Dupont, PhD, LAC, CPFT, CNC, licensed psychologist, addiction counselor, personal trainer and nutrition coach. She’s passionate about helping people create a vibrant life using psychology and physiology. With over 25 years coaching people to be their best, she understands how to find adventure and bliss with balance. Learn more at www.studiob.life and www.stacyreuille.com.