Mental Toughness for Weight Loss
Mental toughness, according to military fitness trainer and former Navy SEAL Stew Smith, may be inherent in the personalities of some people. For the rest of us, it is a skill that can be developed. Mental toughness is the result of belief in your ability to reach your goal, your determination to persist despite difficulty and your willingness to endure discomfort along the way. Building mental toughness can help you reach your weight loss goals and will translate to other endeavors in life, too.
Why do you want to lose weight? It has to be your own desire, not because someone else wants you to do it. JoAnn Dahlkoetter, Ph.D., a sports psychologist and author of the book “Your Performing Edge,” explains motivation must be intrinsic. “The goals must be ones that you have chosen because that’s exactly what you want to be doing,” she says.
Any endeavor begins with a vision that sparks your desire and enthusiasm. “The more clearly you can see that picture in your mind,” Dahlkoetter says, “the more likely it is to become reality. Staying mentally tough during weight loss requires using your desire to propel you through the rough spots and keep you working toward your goal.
Mental toughness is largely the ability to make a decision and make it a priority. Once the commitment is made, you have to stand strong against anything that distracts you from the goal. “To notice significant growth, you must live this commitment and regularly stretch what you perceive to be your current limits,” Dahlkoetter says.
Focus on Results
Slow progress, temptation and temporary setbacks can be discouraging, but mental toughness means focusing on the results, not the obstacles, according to certified fitness coach Garrett J. Braunreiter. “Winners dwell on the rewards of success,” he says. “Do what’s necessary now.”
There will be days when you’d rather sleep in than run your 2 miles in the rain, when double chocolate cake seems to be calling your name, when you forget how much your goals mean to you and you want to chuck the whole idea. These emotional dips are temporary; your mind and your will are the tools that get you past the hump.
Mental toughness is built on confidence and self-esteem, according to Smith, who said he became even more resilient during the course of his challenging Navy SEAL training. The willingness to endure discomfort in pursuit of your goal, the knowledge that you have what it takes, and the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing each small step create a positive mindset.