Mental Trails - Fitness is All in Your Mind

Never underestimate the power of the mind. Your mental attitude will determine your success or failure before you even begin working on any goal. Taking the time to establish a positive, long-term mental attitude will pay off in the long run.

But, what do I mean by a "positive, long-term mental attitude"? Telling yourself that youíre a nice person and that people like you? Well, that may be a true statement, and happens to be positive, as well. However, my focus here is not on gaining the warm and fuzzy feelings associated with the pop- psychology self-talk trend. Iím concerned about the long-run. And, if you want to achieve lasting success with any goal, you will be, too.

Our "hurry up and wait," convenience-demanding, time-obsessed society has produced millions of impatient, Jones-chasing individualists who want what they want, when they want it- which is usually "Now!" There is something to say about determinism and assertiveness, but letís leave that to the ladder climbing in Corporate America. For our purposes of achieving lifelong wellbeing, however, we need to be aware that a high need for instant gratification can lead to long-term regret and unhealthy lifestyles.

Gaining a long-term mental attitude takes commitment. We need to re-program our minds to think for the long-haul, to learn to live for life, and for a lifetime. This can be done through acquiring new information, learning new habits, and repetition.

Receiving new information calls us to action and holds us accountable for the choices we make. When is the last time you read about the benefits of exercise, looked for the fat grams in your bran muffin, checked your blood pressure, visited the dentist, or performed a self-exam? Have you kept track of your water consumption or evaluated the ways in which you handle stress?

Itís important to keep in mind that we donít check up on ourselves in order to put ourselves down or give ourselves something else to stress over. We do it for awareness and peace of mind.

Once we have become informed about something of which we were previously unaware, we have a decision to make: we can continue in our old behavior and ignore the new information, or we can incorporate the new information into our way of thinking and change our behavior to correspond with this new data. Either way, we own the consequences of that decision.

If we chose a new behavior based on the information we have learned, we face yet another challenge: turning that new behavior into a habit. Habits are made through repetition, which means we must perform the new behavior/habit as often as possible.

Imagine a trail that has been created in the woods. That trail did not come from someone walking on it once, but several times over a period of time. The same is true for the trails we create in our minds. We need to walk down the new behavior trail many times before it becomes an ingrained habit. We also need to leave the old trail alone so that the bushes and trees can grow over it until it no longer exists.

While we would rather have a quick fix, our brains simply do not work that way. Creating new mental trails takes time, practice and yep, patience. So, get out your hiking boots and start walking.

Happy trails.

Melinda Rice is a fitness consultant and writer based in Northern California. She manages Successful Fitness (, a personal training program that incorporates concepts of psychology, nutrition, wellbeing and fitness into a Lifestyle Transformation plan. You can reach her at

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  • Name: Melinda Rice, CPT
  • Date: 01/10/06 at 11:28
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