Changing Your Mindset To Overcome The Mental Struggle Of Exercise

One of the hardest cycles to break out of is just getting into the gym or putting on those running shoes… and that first stride taken in the run.

It’s a horrible mental struggle because the mind says the body doesn’t want to do it and yet it’s the body needs to do it and needs your mind to kick it’s butt out the door.

When we are not healthy, we are more prone to laziness and not being motivated to exercise. And not just exercise, but when we aren’t healthy we are more prone to having no motivation to do well in life… relationships and work can suffer as well.

In essence, our whole mindset needs to change.

I know that when I’m in a more healthy place and I’m exercising, not only do I have more energy to do what I want and need to do, but my attitude is better, my outlook on life is more up beat and my mind is more focused and sharp

When I change my mindset… I’m better.

The benefits to a healthy life are greater than the negatives… are there negatives to a healthy life? I doubt it. Let me know if you have found any.

Let’s talk about another mental struggle of exercise.

When I’m faced with some long miles in my running shoes or on my bike… or a tough work out in the pool, there are days where I just don’t want to get through it. Immediately my mind says “Your body can’t do this. Your body doesn’t want to do this.” And that’s where the lie sits. While the mind is extremely powerful, it can also be a weak motivator. The mental struggle can only be fought in your head. Confusing right?

I had an old friend tell me one time. You need to run at least one marathon so you can get through the mental challenge of the race. The first 20 miles is the warm to the last 6 miles, which is really where the marathon begins.

What he meant was this. By the time you get to the race, your body can run the marathon. You have trained for it and you can do it. But most people hit a wall around mile 18 or 20 and they think they physically cannot finish the race. What you have to realize is your body really can finish, you have to fight with your mind to tell your body it can finish and to keep going until you finish.

Some of you know what I mean. It’s the mind playing tricks on us and wanting to quit.

So what I do is start to set little goals to get to my end result. “I will run to this next street corner before I slow down a little… I will stay calm and pedal my way up this hill one more time before I take a break so I can keep going… This swim will only last 10 more minutes… I can do this.”

It’s a pep talk for the mind and have to keep telling myself… this is good for you Spence. Go to the gym. Put on the running shoes… eat that healthy meal. It will only help you and the physical sacrifice and hard work is worth it. It’s your healthy life we are dealing with here.

So while starting a new exercise routine can royally suck, just know it has more to do with your mental motivation than whether or not you can physically do it. You must change your mindset.

You can do it. Just take that first step. Or in the words of Nike… Just Do It.

How do you break the cycle? What mental struggles have you had to overcome? How did you do it?


The views expressed here are those of a personal nature and do not reflect the corporate view of my employer or anyone else who employee my services.
  • Pat Alexander

    Spence, I am in awe of anyone that takes on a marathon. It is not something I have ever aspired to as I’m not a very athletic person. However, I think the approach you apply to training is the same that applies to so many things in life. 

    A few months ago I received a medical diagnosis that made me move into action. I need to change my eating habits and foods and loose a good deal of weight and it needed to start immediately. As with anything worthwhile I needed a plan for the short term and long term.

    I found out what might be the best food management app. I ended up with MyFitnessPal. I read all the information I could get my hands on about the types of foods I should be eating. I set my weight loss goals for 10 pounds at a time.

    Since November I have lost 40 lbs through mostly diet alone. I have about 20 more to go, but I have a plan. I amy not perfect every day, but I have learned to not beat myself up, but get back on track. You are so correct that when you manage you health well you have more energy and a better attitude overall about life.

    I love watching your achievements. Know that I will be cheering for you from afar. Thanks for inspiring many of us.

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