This post is actually from March 2016. I first posted it on chrisdiamantakos.com. It's an important lesson for anyone who's seeking fitness advice and a great mindset to start the year off with.
The other week I showcased my post-partum client Ashley doing some deadlifts and getting her body back to pre-pregnancy. During our last session Ash told me she had an epiphany that changed her perspective on health and fitness.
It was one of the coolest things for me to hear. Then I realized this is something everyone should know, and a mindset everyone should allow themselves to fall into, in order to achieve any goal they want.
Ready for it?
"I'm so excited! I feel like good things are happening, I can feel my body changing. And you know what's crazy? I used to force myself to come to train, because I knew it would help me achieve my goals, but I viewed working out and dieting as a chore... Now, the past few months, I wake up and can't wait to come into the gym, workout hard, push myself, and eat clean (but obvi still drink on weekends). I feel amazing. I think it's because I know that these are the steps that get me to where I want to be."
That mindset, is not only key to her success in health and fitness, but also to life in general. Having a positive attitude even when there are surrounding obstacles, will keep you motivated and always on the hunt to achieving your goals. It's easy to quit when confronted by an obstacle, no matter how big, small, easy or hard.
In fact, Arnold himself was quoted saying something very similar when reflecting on the film Pumping Iron :
"people always come up to me and ask 'why are you smiling? You're working out up to 5hrs a day, doing the same as the other guys, but the other guys have a sour face, they're pissed off that they have to do another rep or another set'. I looked forward to it! Why? Because I knew that every rep and every set and every workout got me closer and closer to my vision".
- Positive Attitude
Visualization is an over-looked aspect to success. It's usually more associated with athletic performance. You always hear of athletes visualizing themselves either on the podium, or visualizing themselves during game play.
The main reason for this is motivation. Visualizing yourself, gives you clear motivation as to what you want to achieve.
If you're a woman who wants to lose 20lbs of fat and get a nicer shaped butt, imagine yourself in a bikini leaner than you are now with a nicer butt on the beach, loving life.
If you want to Squat 405lbs, you've got to visualize yourself doing the whole movement from the set-up, to un-racking the weight, to taking a deep breath, keeping tight and pumping out one heavy rep of 405lbs with perfect form and lockout.
It's worked for me as well. Sometimes things in life may have you a little down and lethargic which can negatively effect your motivation in general. If I ever feel like that, I take a few minutes before my workout to envision my goals, and it fires me back up. It can even be something totally unrelated. I'm in a band and sometimes imagining us on stage with a roaring crowd fires me up for lifting.
Generally that workout goes exactly as planned and I continue to reach my goal. If you let negative thoughts, lazy mindset or low energy get to you, good luck having the drive to push through those last few reps, sets or metabolic conditioning.
Many of the points are the same as vision but this is where it weaves into your body's physiology.
A positive attitude believe it or not, will help you lose fat, build muscle, strength, whatever you're looking for in fitness and health. Why?
Because your mind and body are linked more than you think.
Research shows that a positive mindset is correlated with motivation, organization, initiative, energy and many other attributes. Oh Yeah, most importantly, it actually physically improves your gut and your body's hormonal balance! High stress, and many other stress related conditions like depression, are correlated with increased fat gain, decreased performance and skewed hormone responses. Unfortunately, many of us are far too stressed and it becomes difficult to overcome. This can lead to negativity, and poor bodily function made possible by constantly over-stressing hormones causing an imbalance.
On the other hand, a healthy and positive attitude sends different neurotransmitters from the brain to the rest of the body to continue producing good hormone responses which promote things like fat loss.
I've also personally experienced this. There have been times where I'm on a specific workout program and eating a specific way with a fitness goal in mind (usually to gain strength and muscle). Things are going well, gains are happening then all of the sudden - I experienced lots of stress from work, school, girl, etc all at once. What happens next?
My performance decreases, body composition changes for the worse and start gaining some fat and I feel lethargic. Once those life stressors subside a bit, I notice increased muscle and strength gains and decreased fat. This is something you can work on mentally to not allow life stressors to effect you so negatively. Focus on the goal at hand.
The Path to health, wellness and performance is not just about exercise and nutrition. Adopting a healthy lifestyle overall, learning and gaining control over your life is paramount too. Applying the work ethic to your workouts, your diet, and the rest of your life outside the gym will help you reach any goal you're after!
As a Trainer, it's my goal to coach you through your journey. That includes everything I mentioned above. Being a good coach is more than giving you a workout program and counting reps. It's about finding what motivated you to change, and applying my knowledge of exercise and nutrition to make you healthy and happy.
If you're interested in training with us, check out the link below for more details!
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Hardy, M. P., Gao, H. B., Dong, Q., Ge, R., Wang, Q., Chai, W. R., ... & Sottas, C. (2005). Stress hormone and male reproductive function. Cell and tissue research, 322(1), 147-153.
Wolkowitz, O. M., Epel, E. S., & Reus, V. I. (2001). Stress hormone-related psychopathology: pathophysiological and treatment implications. The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, 2(3), 115-143.