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Cultivating an athletic mindset

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I know firsthand that feeling and desire to want “the win.” I’ve been an athlete all my life and I’ve dabbled in many sports, but my true passions have been as a competitive sprinter and a figure athlete on the national fitness competition stage. The experiences, knowledge and skills I’ve acquired have made me into the professional I am today, with the ability to help others cultivate a winning attitude.

As an athlete among athletes, I was trained to believe that anything is possible as long as you’re willing to work for it. We spend hours studying, practicing and perfecting our craft because we want to be the best. We want to push ourselves to the next level, and we truly believe everything that we want will actually happen if we work hard.

Early on, athletes are told to keep journals to document our feelings, successes and areas to work on. This helped me evaluate my training journey because I tended to forget where I started from when things appeared not to be moving as quickly as I wanted.

Striving for the end result is what makes an athlete push through. When you see even small progress or a glimpse of hope, you keep going until you simply can no longer go on. When you are placed in an environment where you have the best coaches and all your teammates encourage each other, and you see yourself improving, your mind tells you that you must keep going, no matter what.

There’s something euphoric about having all those positive influences around you, coupled with the changes you’re seeing, that propels you forward. You don’t want to be “the odd woman out” so failure is simply not an option. A report from a doctor saying “you can’t” is the only reason an athlete would stop. Indeed, these are tough words for any athlete who has been trained to accept only “I can.”

Yet everyday people can transform their mind, body and soul and find the inner confidence they need to achieve their goals. Not everyone is trying out for the Olympics or trying to make a professional team, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate some of the proven tips that athletes use to stay focused and be successful.

Often people are looking for quick fixes to health and wellness issues. They feel they don’t have the time or that healthy eating is boring. They fear change, they don’t trust the process or they simply cannot see themselves in a different light—at least, not yet. These are all negative thoughts.

Remember that transformation begins in the mind. Negative thoughts are a stumbling block and it takes effort to change your present mindset, then your lifestyle, so you can focus on “winning.” This is especially true if you feel you’re not in control or where you want to be.

There are so many things you can do to stop or push the negative thoughts aside. One thing I remember learning early on—and hopefully this will be a powerful affirmation for you to incorporate—is “negative thoughts are not facts!”

Whenever you have a negative thought, try writing it down. Later, go through the list and ask yourself: Is this a proven fact? If it’s not factual, then erase it from your psyche. Remember, you can’t believe everything you think.

I remember when I decided to enter my first fitness competition. This was a whole new world from what I was used to as a sprinter. I had to revamp my style of training and eating in order to achieve what was required.

Was I terrified? Yes, absolutely. This was foreign territory and I second-guessed everything I was doing for the first few weeks. All my years of being a confident and successful athlete were suddenly in question. I was entering a world of subjective outcomes determined by a panel of judges. It was a complete 180° from where I was coming from.

The thing that allowed me to stop beating myself up during the process was recognizing that I could apply my athletic mindset to anything I chose to do. This mindset is not limited to track and field or even sports in general, but something I learned to use to move forward in all areas of my life.

Cultivating a new mindset can be a challenge. The fear of the unknown is very real and can stop you in your tracks. However, we can overcome fear. On its own, it has no power unless we give it power.

As a fitness professional and business owner, my goal has always been to let every client know that they are embarking on a new journey and we are here to help. We use the word “journey” so you realize that it is a process of personal change and development.

Your success awaits!

Seven tips to cultivate a “winning” mindset:

1- Determine a realistic goal for yourself and allocate a time frame to reach that goal.
2- Visualize yourself achieving that goal at the beginning and throughout the journey. Find a quiet place and centre your mind. Visualize yourself taking the steps needed to achieve the goal. Identify the desired outcome. What does it look like? How will you celebrate? Allow the process to feel real.
3- When you begin this journey, don’t beat yourself up about what you can and cannot do—just keep moving forward.
4- Stay focused. Don’t allow outside influences to push you off track.
5- Keep a journal. This will help you to stay on top of how you’re feeling throughout the journey and document your challenges and achievements.
6- If you’re working with a fitness or health coach, follow the plan and ask lots if questions.
7- Celebrate all your successes, big or small.

Heather Wilson-Phillips is a TV host, fitness expert, online transformation coach and published writer. She’s the owner of The Fitness Empire, Creator of the 30 Day “Fierce N’ 30 Challenge” and co-founder of GLO Events where she’s a motivational speaker and coach.

Find Heather:
Instagram: @heatherfiercenfit
Facsbook: heatherwilson-phillips
Twitter: @heatherfitness
YouTube: heatherisfiercenfit

This article was originally published in OptiMYz 906.


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