Mental Warfare

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Exercise is a battleground. There is no question about it.

In order to strengthen the muscles, strengthen the heart and lungs, lose weight and reach performance based goals, it takes a great deal of physical and mental time.

Without mental patience, you will lose. It's a common occurrence to see new gym goers start a new fitness plan with every good intention, but with a lack of adherence over time they succumb to the idea that the problem is in the finer details.

In our impatient, over inflated culture, which is made much worse by the highlight reel of perfectionism on social media which in turn drives our anxiety and pessimism about the future into the dirt. We often struggle to set reasonable goals and develop long term strategies to reach those goals.

Emotions. Thoughts. Feelings. These can change the tides of war in one of two directions

We can be driven towards achieving success and developing a better, more energetic lifestyle.

Or the scale can be tipped towards unhealthy habits, being overweight and lacking energy.

A person's decision to wave the white flag of defeat often has a psychological explanation behind it.

If you Google 'weight loss' you will be welcomed with the following:

  • How can I lose weight fast

  • How do you lose 10 pounds in a week

  • What is the best way to lose body fat

This not just highlights our impatient nature, but if you dive deeper into the trenches you will find that not much attention is given to training the mind in the pursuit of exercise.

The hardest muscle to train is not necessarily a physical one you can see in the mirror but the mental muscle rattling around in your skull.

It's learning the ability of how to focus on the task in hand and not let the negative thoughts begin to tip the war in the wrong direction. It's having the ability to learn how to fire back at the voice in your head saying:

"It's too early"

"It's cold"

"I'm tired"

Everyone experiences the turmoil of this mental war. We all have moments where we think we are too tired, short on time and don't have enough cash.

Even myself. I have fought on that battlefield for the vast majority of my life. It could have been so easy when the alarm went off at 5am for training for me to fire a fist shaped bullet straight into the alarm clock.

The difference is that I've been in this battle for long enough now to know that whilst I have no intention of getting out the pit of my bed, if I push on and do it, I will reap the spoils of war.

While I find motivation is arguably self directed and a manifestation of one's self belief, we can help turn the tides and teach our brain the desired mindset.

So What Battles Do We Face?


The constant feeling of worry or the threat about your future. These anxious thoughts cause worry and distract you from the task at hand and waste energy.

Sources of exercise anxiety include worrying about meeting goals, physical appearance, being accepted and using the time to exercise for something else.


At some stage in our lives we will experience the displeasure of unhappiness and negative emotions, this is normal. However many suffer from a more serious mood disorder referred to as depression.

Depression is a mood disorder that ranges from mild to severe and can be due to a medical condition, substance abuse or psychopathology.

One factor that influences the effect of exercise on depression, is whether the person has selected and is enjoying the type of physical activity. A second factor that runs parallel is whether the exercise is of sufficient intensity, frequency and duration to improve fitness outcomes which will lead to psychological benefits.


It is nearly impossible to remain motivated and on point if self talk is negative.

I can't do it

I feel terrible

I'm tired

Negative and hostile feelings and emotions can impair the progress of an exercise or daily habit, especially in the early stages of self development.

The problem with negative talk is that it will result in low effort levels and it automatically sets you up to fail.

"One's performance will be consistent with one's expectations"

Examples of negative thinking that serve as barriers to exercise success include:

Lack of Confidence... I can't do this

Intimidation... I don't belong here

Pessimism... I'll never lose this weight

Self Criticism... I can't even run for 10 mins

Impatience... I've been doing this for 3 weeks and I haven't seen any changes

Irrational Thinking... I've always been heavy, so why change now


Perfectionism is a trait that reflects a person's views towards setting an excessively high standard of performance in conjunction with a tendency to make critical self evaluations.

It has two sides, positive and negative.

The positive aspect of perfectionism includes setting and attempting to achieve high personal standards, striving to achieve high but realistic goals often leading to success.

Negative features are not uncommon among people who go overboard in attempting to achieve goals. Traits include:

Feeling deeply concerned about making mistakes, which leads to increased anxiety

Doubts about one's actions, therefore setting unrealistically high goals and expectations

Difficulty about recognising success and over-emphasising precision, neatness, order and organisation

Neurotic perfectionists set unattainable goals and might engage in overtraining or exercise addiction. Their own self talk is based upon messages they received when they were younger. Reminding themselves that they aren't good enough and they can do better. Their expectations of others is also excessive.

So How Do We Fight Back And Win The War?

1. Make A Mental Commitment

Decide on a fitness related goal and fully commit. Write it down. Remind yourself daily.

Decide then and there you will honour your guard of commitment, even when you don't feel like it. You know it's the right thing to do.

2. Create A Mental Catch Phrase

Consciously say it to yourself when your mind tries to sabotage your intentions.

If you start thinking, you're too tired then recognise the negative emotions and counter it with a catch phrase as simple as "I can and I will"

Turn off your thinking and just go do it.

3. Build A Tough Attitude

Perspective is everything. Look at the the goal as a challenge to rise up rather than a threat. Every small step you take towards your goal is a good one.

4. Identify Your Own Demons

Know your own strengths and weaknesses. Decide how you will face them so when they do eventually come... and they will, you will feel confident enough to shoot them down and overcome them.

5. Believe In YOURSELF

"If you think you can, or can't you're probably right"

Develop an ability to do what you have to do when you need to do it, whether you want to or not. Choose to believe in yourself with positive, "I can do" thinking

Developing mental strength is essential. The many that have achieved remarkable results not just in the pursuit of weight loss, fat loss or muscle gain but also in the field of sport, work and life in general all have one thing in common...

They are at the top of their game mentally.

They can stay level headed during stressful moments. Even when the battle and odds are stacked against them, they fail to give up.

Some are lucky in a sense. They have naturally developed mental strength through their life experiences.

However, no matter how old you are, what your background is, if you implement these tools listed above and you yourself can build the strongest weapon in your arsenal and conquer any war.

The war is yours to win.

Need More Help With Your Weight Loss Goals?

Did you enjoy this article and want to know how RMS Personal Training can help you further to achieve your weight/fat loss goals?

Then send us a message to see how I can help.

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