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Human Motivation = Peak Performance

“Speaking generally, all parts of the whole body which have a function, if used in moderation and exercised in labors to which each is accustomed, become thereby healthy and well developed, and age slowly; but if unused and left idle, they become liable to disease, defective in growth, and age quickly.” -Hippocrates

All of my clients experience a dramatic shift in their consciousness immediately after reading that quote from “the Father of medicine,” which I have engraved on a plaque hanging in my office.  Instantly, they feel more motivated to exercise.

Welcome to the inner circle of knowledge.  Many people have asked me what the secret is to achieving optimal results from an exercise program.  There is no secret, only information; and I am the gatekeeper to the most life-altering piece of information that you will ever read.  Optimal performance is the result of, first and foremost, optimum behaviors and secondary optimal programs.  My “Triple-M” approach capsulizes maximalist thinking with respect to the behaviors needed to achieve results.  Firstly, make up your mind to exercise, secondly, watch what you put into your mouth, and thirdly, put your body into motion.

I consider the following 6 concepts essential traits for successfully adhering to an exercise program, so let’s take a look!

Create An Optimum Mindset
Please read the following sentence aloud: “I am in the business of maximizing my health.”  Good, now read it aloud a maximum of three times a day for the next 90 days.  After all, it takes 21 days to change bad habits and 90 days to change behaviors.

Muhammad Ali is my role model because of his enduring philosophy: “To believe it is to be it.”  With that in mind, as soon as you wake up in the morning, purposefully state these two sentences: “I am one training session away from feeling great,” and “I train not to feel better, but to feel right.”

My hero is Winston Churchill because of his unwavering positive attitude.  When faced with adversity he adopted the approach of ebullience (unspeakable joy), alacrity (cheerful readiness), and enthusiasm.  When conditions were harsh, he would utter at the top of his voice the following three letters: K.B.O., which stands for “Keep Buggering On.”  I encourage you to do likewise.

Direct Your Thoughts
Thoughts are the prescriptions that we fill at our internal pharmacy.  We develop patterns and habits of thinking based on the interaction between our heredity and our environment.  These patterns can be changed.  In the words of James Allen, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”

The following instances will help clarify your purpose.  Just as going to the doctor will not make you healthy, attending class will not ensure learning the material, or dressing in the uniform of a soccer player will not make you a professional soccer player, emphatically stating that you are going to begin and adhere to an exercise program is not enough to affect a permanent lifestyle behavioral change.

To help direct your thoughts into fast-paced, focused, and action-oriented behaviors, I will introduce you to a toolbox of truly cutting-edge mental strategies that really work, time after time, situation after situation.  Allow me to present the tried and trusted, C.V.E.A. formula of human motivation.

C – Conceptualization.
  When I think about working out, I reflect on how exercise will benefit every organ system in my body.

V – Visualization.  When I visualize my heart racing and my muscles contracting with power, I imagine, see, sense, and tell myself how training with my brain will give me more bang for my exercise buck.  You will give yourself an advantage by doing more in less time and getting better results for your efforts.

E – Emotionalization.  With every workout, I feel energized, exhilarated, and excited.  I have an eager desire to continue with my exercise program.  Exercise is no longer a chore or obligation.  It is a pleasurable habit.

A – Actualization.  The outward expression of the energy developed through the process of conceptualization, visualization, and emotionalization, in the form of action and behavior, is to respond by training more consistently and intensely.  Remember, it is the coupling of optimal behaviors with optimal exercise programs that produces optimal performance.

Steadfast Belief

As a young lad growing up in South Africa, my friends and I enjoyed exploring the wilderness every afternoon after school.  On one occasion, we came across a cliff with a 100-foot drop into a river.  The only way to get to the other side was to walk across a 20-inch wooden plank for a distance of 50-feet.  Initially, I doubted my ability because of the consequence of falling 100-feet into a rocky riverbed.  Finally, I believed that I could walk across that 20-inch plank regardless of where it was positioned.

Realize that while your ultimate potential is unknown, your capacity far exceeds your performance.  What is known is that with exercise there is only one way to go- up.  Exercise will get you a lot closer to your health and fitness related goals than any other alternative.  Learn the lesson now:  You must believe before you can achieve.

The Astonishing Power of Purpose

The purpose of exercise is to improve function, independence, and self-efficacy and to prevent the secondary complications and degenerative changes that typically follow a disease, disability, and/or a musculoskeletal injury.

With that in mind, the purpose must come before the goal.  Let me use a simplistic example to make my point.  On one of my travels, I met this interesting chap.  His purpose was to head east.  His goal was constantly changing based on the accomplishment of his purpose.  First, he traveled from West Los Angeles to East Los Angeles, then to the East Coast of the United States of America.  The last I heard is that he was on his way to the Far East.  To him, I say “Good luck on your venture.”

Society’s perception is the truth.  In order to change the truth, one has to change the perception.  It is my hope that society at large will adopt the must-do rather than the like-to-do approach with their health status as they do with their financial status.  To elucidate this point, I guarantee that if the bank told you that you will have $1,000 deducted from your bank account every month if you do not go to the bank in person every day for a minimum of 20 minutes – it is going to happen, it is not even open to discussion.  When your health standing becomes as important as that of your finances, it will get done, won’t it?

Exercise With A Buddy

Surround yourself with others who share your goals and commitment to them.  Just being in the presence of like-minded individuals will have the consequence of serious dedication.  When you have an exercise buddy, each exercise session becomes a social occasion as well as a workout.  You look forward to getting together.  You can compare notes and encourage each other.  When someone cares about you, you in turn begin to care more about yourself.  Your devotion to your exercise program will become stronger by osmosis.  This can be one of the most result-producing decisions you ever make.

Self-Education is Key

Having a vague notion that exercise is beneficial does nothing for your motivation to exercise.  You must read up on the specific, concrete rewards of exercise; find out exactly how exercise strengthens the muscles and boosts endurance; and discover how exercise can help prevent, control and reduce the life-threatening secondary complications, and even reverse a chronic condition like diabetes.  Even talk to enthusiastic exercisers.  Ask them to tell you how they feel during and after working out.  Inquire why they exercise.  Catch their excitement.

With respect to my clients, information is their drug and I am their dealer.  During the initial consultation I let my clients know that if I give them a piece of fish, they will eat for a day.  If I teach them how to fish, they will eat for a lifetime.  However, if I teach them to think, then they do not have to eat fish every day.  Knowledge is not power, it is the application of the knowledge that is power.  Practice is king.

Once you take control of your fitness, everything else falls into place.  As you become fit in the body, you will become ready in the mind and high in the spirits.  The decision is more important that the action because it is what precedes the action.  The first step is to go from “nothing” to “something better.”  In order to take your next step, you need to know where you stand.  I encourage you to assess where you stand, prepare a plan, and then plan on perfecting your plan.  Do this now – if not now, then sooner.

Taylor-Kevin Isaacs, MS, MFT, CSCS, MELT, was named Personal Trainer of the Year in 2002.  He is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist/Kinesiologist and instructor of Kinesiology at California State University Northridge.  He teaches therapeutic exercise for special populations and trains clients at the university’s Center of Achievement for the Physically Disabled.

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