Building resilience is a crucial success factor to ensure you progress in life. Maintaining the dream fitness lifestyle isn’t purely physical. It requires a positive mental mindset, for as you go through the ebbs and flows of that fitness lifestyle, you need to adapt and show resilience.
After all, resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. You can liken resilience to toughness.
When all is good and everything runs smoothly, you might think the gains will never end. But when the progress slows, performance plateaus or we hit motivation lows, a mental resilience will keep you going.
You only have so much will-power to propel you forward, and although some of us want to be this perfect machine that's always accomplishing, progressing, and winning; the concept of “living your best life” or “being the best version of yourself” needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
If you base your whole existence on the positive, then anytime something not so great happens, you’ll tend to give up completely, and then of course later regret stopping… perhaps even many years down the line.
When it comes to fitness, if we feel we’re not progressing as much as we’d like, it’s easy to become frustrated and view ourselves as failures. Keep in mind that the journey to reaching your goal or the point of optimum performance is the majority of the battle, so learn to enjoy fighting for it. The one thing you need well equipped to defend yourself along the way is a strong mindset.
Personally, I’ve invested a lot of time into building resilience to achieve the mental state I’m proud of today. Anxiety, self-doubt and a hell of a lot of stress are some of the battles I’ve faced, which is why writing this article and helping others in building resilience is extra special to me.
So here are 7 effective strategies that will help you to build a positive mental mindset, which goes hand-in-hand with high performance and your journey to fitness stardom.
1. Invest more time in yourself
Knowing yourself and your core values are important. For instance, you may want to be a professional bodybuilder, however, one of your core values is that you don’t believe in taking steroids or other possible illegal substances that may be required to get you there.
Anxiety tends to occur when a situation unfolds that’s not aligned with your core values. The more you stay true to yourself, and accept who you are, whether good or bad, the clearer the choices you’ll be able to make, and the less anxious you’ll be in general.
So, don’t give yourself a hard time, if anyone needs to be on your side it’s you.
It’s also good to keep in mind that you are not “what you do”, meaning your identity should not be based solely on what you do… it runs far deeper than that.
2) Be realistic
Don’t try to accomplish everything in one day. Proper periodization (ie: setting your program up in periods or cycles) of a training program allows for adequate recovery. Train hard, but don’t push yourself to the max every day. The relationship between volume vs intensity is key to understand.
The old adage, “stimulate, don’t annihilate” is very appropriate for fitness, and if you’re a full on an intense personality (like me, admittedly), you may need to pull back a bit, (and learn to be okay with that).
Proper sleep, nutrition, and the right attitude are all equally important in the fitness equation. Anxiety can again be triggered by lack of sleep, as well as when your mindset isn't right. Aggression and mood can also be triggered by low blood sugar, so make sure you fuel your training sessions correctly. Give your body what it needs.
If you’re having a not-so-perfect day, remind yourself that it’s not the end of world; just get back on track when you can. This is key to building resilience into your training. Consistent training is more important than training perfectly, as being consistent helps build long-term training habits, nutritional habits, and results in overall success.
3) Don't be a perfectionist
Perfectionists tend to think if they can’t do anything right the first time, they shouldn’t do it at all. In reality, you get better with practice, and you learn from your errors, so keep that in mind when you’re thinking that your training should be perfect from the get-go.
The all-or-nothing mindset is another thing you need to avoid. Progress is progress no matter how small, every effort really does count. Don’t beat yourself up for off days, they’re a natural part of the process.
4) Avoid catastrophizing
Catastrophizing is when you take a minor situation or thought and build it up in your head as a “catastrophe”, when in fact it may not be. The mind can be very misleading if you always listen to the “little voice” inside your head, especially if your go to voice is always negative. Try to tune out that negative self-talk in order to allow more positive thoughts to emerge.
So what if you ate that cake? It was delicious and boosted your mood! Enjoy it! Accept it and continue along with your training plan and the mission to better yourself.
5) Take all the breaks you need
Although it’s important to always push your limits in order to progress, rest periods are when the gains happen. It’s easy sometimes to get caught in the storm of always training hard, out of fear of losing the momentum and thereby losing out on progress.
Down time helps your mind to disconnect and recharge, which is great for your mental health! If you’re already burned out or close to overtraining, taking a few days rest will ramp up your drive to get back to the grind!
After all, resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, in other words, toughness.
6) Building resilience - tracking
It really helps to track your mental state and your emotions with your workouts. I use a journal to help me with this. Tracking will help you detect what can be changed or modified, how your mental state affects your workouts, and what ‘triggers’ you.
This will help you to achieve better progress, and a better understanding of yourself, which will equal greater progress in the long run.
7) Reward yourself! Be your biggest fan!
Your mental state and the resilience you exhibit as an athlete is a direct consequence of the way you view yourself. You need to be your biggest fan!
Yes, there will be difficult or rough patches. Yes, sometimes you may feel insecure or like you’re not progressing. Those feelings of despair and frustration are perfectly normal, and unfortunately all part of the process…
That said, never lose sight of your why! Always keep your eyes on the prize and don’t stop supporting and pushing yourself until you get there.
If you would like help with your training plan, building a strong mindset and accelerating your progress, then check out our expert online coaching.
See you in the next blog!