Motivation Articles

Think Yourself Fit!

How Your Thoughts Affect Your Body

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I love motivational quotes. One of my favorites is, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right!” I believe that there is a lot of truth to that statement. As a runner, I know that if I focus on the fatigue setting in, it seems as though everything goes downhill (or uphill, for a better euphemism). There are also times when, no matter how badly I feel, I tell myself that I am going to make it. That my legs are strong. That I am going to be OK. It's funny, but the positive thoughts are what carry me to the end. And I'm convinced that focusing on the positive instead of the negative makes all the difference.

Mind Over Body
To give you another example of the power of the mind, there were some fascinating findings from a recent study from the University of Cape Town. Researchers examined the muscle biopsies of exhausted marathon runners and found that their muscles had plenty of glycogen and ATP (fuel for muscular contraction). Their conclusion? Fatigue sets in not when muscles run out of energy, but first when the brain tells them to conserve energy. Translation? Your brain tells you to shut down before your body does.

For the average exerciser, this means that your mind can carry you a lot farther than you think! Positive self talk can literally help you think yourself fit.

Develop a Mantra
Author and athlete Chris Bergland insists that projecting a positive attitude can reprogram your brain to enter a euphoric state while exercising, allowing you to go longer and harder. Researchers at Wake Forrest University agree, stating that feelings of pain and fatigue are a result of both immediate and expected events. The best way to fight fatigue is with positive self-affirmations such as, “I am strong. I can do this," and "I am becoming more fit and healthy.” You can develop your own mantra, which you repeat to yourself throughout your workouts. Ironman champion Mark Allen's mantra for competition was "Strong and smooth." Over and over, he would repeat his mantra while he swam, biked and ran. And in moments of great fatigue, his brain took over to push his body to greater heights.

You can develop a mantra too—something positive that you tell yourself during your workouts, to help yourself stay focused and keep your body working hard. Any word (like strong, fast, finish) or set of words will work, as long as it inspires you and is positive in nature.
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About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.

Member Comments

  • I will try to motivate myself to get to the gym or do exercises at home. Whether I want to or not. thank for the advice.

    Confuse1 - 11/17/2014 12:25:55 AM
  • I will adopt a mantra, thx! - 4/3/2014 11:23:12 AM
  • I need to practice this. Thank you. I am ALWAYS putting myself down before I even begin. I love this advise. - 1/24/2014 6:12:23 PM
  • Like the article. I don't let my mine take over any more. If you listen to it you will never do it. It's like your mind say stay in bed and you listen. We have to push harder. - 10/5/2013 8:09:38 PM
  • For my last marathon, I used "Just keep swimming, swimming...." over and over, from Dory in Finding Nemo. It worked. - 4/17/2013 10:09:48 AM
    I'm a firm believer in positive self talk -- I'm always doing it and getting in longer workouts, accomplishing more at work, and just getting lots done - 3/2/2013 4:16:09 PM
  • My motivation is not only for myself, but for my family as well. Especially my parents! They both have cancer and have TERRIBLE diets. I want them to see what I'm doing and my results. Hopefully they will jump on with me!
    The new products I found are helping too! - 3/2/2013 4:09:40 PM
  • I find the repetition of swimming very zen... I am up to 75 minutes non stop and use a mantra and find it relaxing and enjoy the endorphins too. - 1/5/2013 12:12:06 AM
  • Loved this article. I try to use positive self-talk in most areas of my life. Thanks for the suggestion of visualization. My daughter is an athlete and I do this with her before her competitions. I never thought of using for myself. - 11/25/2012 11:59:33 AM
    I can definitely agree with positive self-talk. When I am running and I feel exhausted, if I let the fatigue make me stop, then I feel weak but when I start pep-talking myself into finishing my run, then I always find it to finish! - 9/30/2012 9:12:27 AM
  • I try to do this. Some times though my body just doesnt want to listen to me lol Gotta keep pushing through though - 9/17/2012 7:36:33 AM
  • I always say I can stop after I adjust to my longer stride after the crest of the next hill, knowing fully well that I will have recovered from the hill by then and I won't feel like stopping! - 8/30/2012 6:35:27 PM
  • I recently found out that when I get tired during a workout, I just keep telling myself, it's just a feeling, I have to push myself instead of needing that easy break... that which I can push through until its over. If I always gave in, I sure wouldnt be making progress. - 8/30/2012 4:06:35 PM
  • Loved this artical! My mantra is usually a song. Right now I'm singing "With a smile & a song, life is just like a bright sunny day, your cares fade away......"
    It helps when I'm not remembering who & what I am!
    *~LIGHT - 8/30/2012 2:51:58 PM
  • Yogi Berra reportedly said "Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical." You can apply that to any exercise, not just baseball. - 8/30/2012 1:35:00 PM

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