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Physical fitness requires mental toughness
Scripps Howard News Service


July 27, 2006
Thursday AM

Many fitness battles - to exercise or not to exercise - are fought, won or lost from the neck up. Before we can pry our buttocks from their deeply contoured positions on the living sofa, we must have the mind to do it.

Since our thoughts guide and influence our behavior, it's important to focus in on those attitudes and convictions we need to possess and to chuck the ones which do us absolutely no good.



Chuck the idea of ...

Ultra fast weight loss: When we attempt to correct the results of months or years of poor fitness behaviors in a few weeks we're simply setting ourselves up to fail. Any dietary plan that promises you'll lose more than 1.5-2 pounds a week is unhealthy and unrealistic. Patience is a virtue as well as a necessity.

Finding a magical diet: A recent Consumer Reports magazine survey found that an overwhelming majority of 32,000 successfully dieters lost weight and kept if off, not through food deprivation or elimination, but through exercise and permanent healthy dietary and lifestyle habits.

Not having to work at it: There's a reason they're called "workouts." So don't buy into the it's-so-easy infomercial spins. Sweating and breathing hard will not feel "easy" and initially will even feel a bit uncomfortable. But, while getting fit is not effortless, with moderate, gradually progressive workouts, your body will adapt.

Own the fact that ...

Getting into shape takes time: Many people fail in their attempts to get fit because they want it quick, fast, and in a hurry. Think of your exercise program as a lifelong commitment and mentally prepare yourself to go the distance.

You'll make mistakes and you'll need options: At some point along your life path you are bound to encounter setbacks and/or obstacles. Plan on it! And while planning, plan also to forgive your mistakes, learn from them without wallowing in them, and move past them.

It's also important that your fitness plans include one or two contingency options. If you can't go to your favorite class, if your treadmill breaks down, when vacation time rolls around, what will be your fallback fitness plan? Thinking and planning ahead will help you to be what you need to be more than anything else: consistent!

You must be willing to learn, change, and adapt: The saying, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten," is very true. But, when you're willing to try new things - new cooking styles, new types of food, new forms of activity - you can accomplish new things.

Of course getting fit involves more than owning some lines of thought while chucking others. It's nonetheless important to realize that before we can win our physical battles - we must first win the mental ones.


Wellness specialist Eugenie Jones writes for The Sun in Bremerton, Wash.,
and may be reached by email at eugeniek(at)
Distributed to subscribers for publication by
Scripps Howard News Service,

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Ketchikan, Alaska