From the Ground Up: Five Qualities to Build Your Fitness Foundation

22 Sep

I’m an avid reader when it comes to fitness and nutrition.  I enjoy many “how to” articles that gives strategies on getting fit, loosing weight and staying healthy.  However, I often think there is an element of fitness being ignored. Beyond just understanding topics such as how to work out and what to eat, there is a deeper level we must strive to understand.  How do we change our mindset and develop a foundation for creating a healthy lifestyle?  Like building a house, you start from the base. You can’t put a roof on something without the foundation from which to build.

How does one build the foundation for fitness then? A good place to start would be to look at what fit, healthy, balanced people do. Across the board, I found there are certain characteristics these people share.

1. They make fitness and healthy living a priority.
It’s easy to forget about ourselves in the game of life. This is particularly true for those of us who are caretakers and moms. We are taught to give all of ourselves and often times that makes us feel worthy. While admirable, those who have mastered fitness and health as a way of life seem to recognize that in order to best serve others; they need to care for themselves first. This requires spending some time every day on self-improvement. Just as sleep, family and work are priorities, so is fitness. They find creative ways to incorporate it, encourage others to participate and embrace a lifestyle that promotes balance. They make “we” time but also make “me” time.  This isn’t always easy, but it seems to be essential as a base for achieving healthy living.

2. They are mindful.
This can be a confusing concept. I know this because for years I couldn’t really wrap myself around what it meant to be mindful. I think all the time, sometimes too much. Does that make me mindful, apparently not. To be truly mindful you need to connect your inner voice with your outer actions. It’s the mind/body connection that creates this.  How does mindfulness play into fitness then?  Let’s consider this; how many people do you know who work out all the time but never achieve their fitness goals?  There are a lot.

The answer to this is thinking very hard about what you are doing while you are doing it.  Quiet your mind to all the other things in life and pay attention to your body. When you lift weights, do you notice the way it makes your muscles feel? When you run, do you pay attention to your breathing, how hard you have to push yourself, when to back off, when have you rested enough and should be quickening your pace?  When you sit in yoga class do you go through the moves or do you feel the pull of your body, think about every part of you and what it is doing, let everything else go and simply be in that moment? When you do the simplest of moves, like a sit-up, do you rush through without engaging your muscles or do you pay careful attention to making every contraction of your body count? This is what turns a 15 minute workout into something powerful.

3.  They are confident.
Generally fit and well-adjusted people exude a unique confidence.  Confidence comes from believing in yourself. You have to believe you are worthy and important. You deserve this. The best way to find this is to start by changing the voice in your head. What does it say to you?  Do you wake up and think to yourself, “I am beautiful”?  I am important and have valuable things to share with the world”? Start there and listen to your self-talk and if you notice it is not positive then change it.  Say something positive about yourself out loud.

Beyond telling yourself positive words of affirmation, begin to tell other people. Find the things you admire in others and let them know. Self-confidence is not just about seeing yourself as beautiful and worthy; it’s also about seeing that in others. When you can begin to celebrate others successes and achievements very genuinely, you can also begin to celebrate your own.

4.  They have passion.
Passion fuels action. I always think about those around me who are good at what they do, but they really don’t love it. It’s the love for something you do that makes you great at it.  Find a fitness activity you are passionate about, and spend time working on it. In his blog, photographer, writer and public speaker James Patrick often asks his clients, would you rather have passion or talent? Both can lead you to success, but only one can keep you there. Passion is what drives us and makes us want to do it better. Develop the passion for something active, anything, and work on becoming better at it.

5. They seek support.
People often succeed in groups surround by others who support them. Pick up any self-help book and you are likely to find a chapter about building a network of strong healthy relationships. These are what allow us to get through difficult times. One resolution I always keep is to have at least three people in my life I’d drop everything for if they truly needed me.
You should not only be that person for someone, but have people who serve as that for you. You get what you give. Give others support and you will be surprised how they reciprocate. Giving support doesn’t always have to be with your time.  It can be kind words of affirmation, small tokens of affection. Don’t underestimate the value of the smallest thoughtful gesture; those are sometimes the most meaningful.

When we develop a support network in our fitness world, we surround ourselves with like-minded people. Those who value what we are trying to accomplish.
Your quest for health and fitness may be a big change for you. As such you could be met with resistance and unforeseen obstacles. At that point, you really have to decide which relationships to keep and which to let go. Carefully choose from whom you will draw your energy. Let people know about your goals and seek out support networks. Surround yourself by people who believe in you.

Fitness is a journey.  It’s something we re-make over time and continually strive toward. Even the people I most admire in the fitness world have goals they work toward. Whether you are starting from the beginning, or well on your way to achieving health, keeping the principles of balance, mindfulness, confidence, passion and support can help you along the way. Take the time to build the foundation because that is what will support you in the long run.


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