The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between
Last New Post for a While ~ 11/21/11

Last New Post for a While ~ 11/21/11

Over the past three years, I’ve been discussing writing a book about “The Psychology Of Fitness.”

When I first started thinking about the book, all I saw was a huge cluster-f#%* of information that was completely overwhelming for me.

Mind you, I had been thinking about why people don’t work out as part of my job for the past 6 years straight.  How do you get more people to join a convenient gym?  What causes some people to come in and make a dramatic change to their lives versus someone that comes in for a week and leaves discouraged a week later?

What is it that causes someone to like being a masochist in exercise versus someone that simply wants to be healthier?

But more important than that, what are the factors that play a role in getting someone who genuinely wants to make a change of adding fitness into their lives, actually allow that person to add exercise (and healthy eating) into their lives?

Since I wasn’t sure where to start, I did what any highly impulsive individual would do.  I bought $1,000’s of dollars of books from Amazon.  For example, in order to buy the “last” books I would need to get started on this book, I bought 75 books from Amazon in the past month and a half.  This comes out to close to a $1,000 in books.  This is after I spent close to $8000 in workshops and certifications this year alone.

In addition to reading about 10 articles a day on health, fitness and the brain, it’s finally coalescing into something that actually makes sense.  The most important factor for me with this project is that it would be something that people could use based on the science and real world implications and not one or the other.

Do you know one of my favorite parts of my job?  It’s that I get to run larger scaled programs.  Every program, from top to bottom I’ve always been on the lookout for things that worked.  Not only with exercise, but also with adherence to the program.

In the countless programs I’ve helped run throughout my 6 years (about 8 per year), each has been my own little “research project” in what increases adherence.

From all of those “research projects” I’ve realized (what may be self-evident when I say it) that adherence comes down to 4 major things:

1 – Belief in the system –  What this means is that the person believes in what he or she is doing and that through that “exercise system” he or she will get the results they are seeking.  In psychological terms, this is self-efficacy.

2 – A “Safe” or “Fun” Environment – The environment and group spirit the person feels “comfortable” and supported in.  This environment can range dramatically from a CrossFit environment to a women’s only gym to something like Cressey Performance.  The individual feels “at home” when going to the gym.  Just as Starbucks was built around the concept of the “third place” after home and work, many people that stick to exercise feel that way about their gym.  In psychology, this means it’s not simply the environment, but the collective spirit of the individuals who frequent that environment.  The two closest terms in psychology are Connectedness and Social Learning Theory.

3 – Energy to do the Work – This is more of a physiological phenomenon and can be related to a huge number of issues.  I honestly believe that exercise makes most people feel good, but not all.  In fact, for many people, the thought of working out is an arduous task in and of itself because their energy levels are crap to begin with.  In psychological terms it’s called “willpower” or “self-control.”  Having properly balanced neurotransmitters, correctly functioning blood sugar and mitochondria will fix close to 90% of all chronic issues that Americans face.  Exercise is a way to get there, but sometimes, too much or too intense of exercise, too early will cause more people to see exercise as torture rather as an aid to give them more energy.

4 – Simple Desire – You can have the best workout program, a great environment and enough energy to do the work, but if you don’t want to workout, then you’re not going to.  It’s just that simple.  For many people that “don’t” want to workout, but dislike their body, the psychological terms are Learned Helplessness and Cognitive Dissonance.  For those that are generally healthy and skinny and don’t workout, it becomes a low-level priority.  The psychological term for this is motivation.

With knowing the basics, explaining how all of this comes together and how you can increase your motivation, correct your energy issues, doing workouts that work for YOU, while finding the correct environment for you has not been the easiest thing to try to put together.  Finally, after years of thinking about it, after years of reading psychology books, after reading countless articles, studies that make my eyes bleed and attending a number of workshops and certifications, I finally have a gameplan to write that book.  So that’s what I’m going to do.

With that said, there are over 200 separate posts on this website.  At least 75% of them are related to psychology directly and 100% indirectly (workout posts help with self-efficacy, etc).

This means that I won’t be putting up new posts, but if you’re on my mailing list, you will receive links to posts you may have never even seen.

This is where I should end this post, but since it’s my last in a while, I’ll add the sections of what the rough draft of the book is looking like right now.  There’s 6 sections:

1 – Why You Don’t Workout (The Psychological Theories and how they look in “the real world”)

2 – What You Need to Do to Get Started – Pick your goals, your level of expertise, find your why, etc.

3 – Keeping Yourself Motivated – This will present the solutions to all the issues presented in part 1.

4 – Re-balancing hormones, neurotransmitters and overall energy levels – This easily could be 5 books in and of itself, but I’ll just focus on the things you can do to correct the issues.  If you have low energy, the solution isn’t necessarily the cheapest and you may have to experiment with a number of different tests and techniques, but the information gleaned from those tests along with the suggestions will fix most of your low energy issues.

5 – Exercise – What you should do and the order with which you should do it.  This is probably my strongest point, but I rarely think about it because I’ve been doing it for so long.  In other words, I feel that everyone just “gets it,”  but in all actuality they don’t.  After you get through with this section, you will be more knowledgeable than 90% of the personal trainers out there.  This is also one of those sections that could easily be a couple of books, but I will focus solely on the most important movements, how to fix them, how to organize your workouts and how to adapt them as time goes on. This section will focus almost exclusively on Fat Loss/Muscle Maintenance (not hypertrophy methods).

6 – Stories of people who have overcome the issues presented – from low energy, to fat loss, to weight loss, etc.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let me know.  Also, the best way to stay updated would be to sign-up to the mailing list by going to the Free Reports page (or the side of any single post).

Goodbye for now...I'll be back in a couple of months.

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