Flip Your Script

John J. Schessler, Wellness Coach/Personal Trainer

The Mental Side of Fitness

If you have a goal, any goal, the biggest part of achieving that goal is breaking through those annoying voices in your head telling you that for whatever reason, you can’t achieve it. Any fitness instructor and trainer will tell you that every client they’ve ever had has felt like this at some point, from the very experienced to the beginners. Our mind plays brain games and tricks on us in mostly, if not everything that we do in our lives so having hang-ups about fitness progressions and how somebody looks is no real big surprise or shock to anyone that it happens. The truth is getting beyond it and that’s where it gets sticky because for some individuals merely just ‘getting beyond it’ isn’t exactly an easy choice to make.

Way back in the dark ages….okay probably about 11 years ago now when I first became certified as a personal trainer, I thought long and hard about my ‘Why?’; what was the catalyst that has brought me to this career? After a while, the answer became pretty clear and simplistic: I wanted to help people. I still do thoroughly enjoy watching clients succeed and go on to win competitions, breakthrough boundaries and accomplish really awesome feats. Sadly enough, not everybody possesses skill sets that allow them to be this motivated but it is 100% teachable. Just like tying your shoes, living your life through a lens guided by hope and tenacity are products of a skill set that we all are able to learn and enhance as we age or go through different experiences. Hope is created within someone when we set goals for ourselves. Goals are a means for you to focus on a target and with each tiny victory the level of hope inside you goes up and when you experience a setback, hope levels go down. Goals also require you to put forth effort and push yourself even when you don’t feel like it. That’s the difference between childish behavior and maturity. Adults complete tasks even when we don’t feel like it, children brush it off and move onto the next new and exciting thing.

Throughout your fitness journey, there are going to be a lot of people telling you that you should hang it up because you ‘don’t know what you’re doing’ or ‘you’ll lose interest in it after a short while’. Mentally speaking, these remarks can cause a person to lose the hope the once had and get replaced with feeling of anxiety, hopelessness and defeat. To become successful with anything in life not just fitness, you need a strong support system. These are your cheerleaders, your tribe. People you can call upon when you need a shot of motivation or encouragement. Human beings are social animals so psychologically, this makes perfect sense. No one can do everything alone, even if they tell you that they can. When a person tries their hardest over and over again and the result doesn’t match their own expectations they have for themselves, they beat themselves up. Understandable, right? One phrase I use with clients a lot is to ‘not be so hard on yourself’. Lifting weights and finding yourself within a fitness journey where you basically are cultivating a new image for yourself is extremely difficult. Holding yourself accountable for tiny ‘mistakes’ and mess ups is admirable but not necessary in the long run, they only hurt you. Picture it: you eat badly one day out of the week, yet your trainer has told you that a cheat day is perfectly okay if you are eating clean the rest of the week, yet you still punish yourself for the one day of eating like crap. What exactly are you accomplishing by doing this? Again, don’t be so rough with yourself, you’re only human after all and we’re all flawed.

As somebody who has been through a lot of pain and tough moments in their life, I can tell you this: no one has ever bettered themselves focusing on the negative things in their life. We all have trials that we must face in life and paths each of us have to walk, either alone or alongside others. Things won’t get much easier if you continue to beat yourself up either. Be kind to yourself because at the end of the day, you’re all you’ve got.

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John J. Schessler, Jr. is a Pittsburgh-Based Personal Trainer, Men’s Life Coach & host of the podcast, “ManAlive!”, available on Apple Podcasts. He is also certified as a Social Work Specialist, Sports Injury/Orthopedics Specialist as well as holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Corporate Communications & Marketing from Penn State University. If you have any questions or are interested in training services/packages: please email j.schessler@pghwellnesscoach.com. Thanks and have an inspiring day!

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