August 2012 - No Pain, No Gain: Time for a New Mental Health Mantra

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When trying to get in shape, our most powerful ally is not a diet drink, a pill, or a personal trainer. Our most powerful ally is our mind. Yes, it all begins in your head with you playing the mental tape for your success or failure. That's why the slogan of "no pain, no gain" never really appealed to me. It's the emphasis on the "pain" that turns me off. This slogan inserts a negative message into your mental tape recorder so that you expect to associate a negative experience (pain) with your efforts to get in shape. Pain most often serves as a deterrent to doing something, not a motivator. This common mantra that programs our subconscious to anticipate and embrace pain in order to achieve a positive outcome, may in fact, be responsible for thousands of people choosing to forego fitness because of the "pain factor."

If your workout regimen has been sabotaged by the "no pain, no gain" mantra, rather than associating pain with the benefits of getting in shape, why not flip the mental script, and play a different tape that emphasizes what you're gaining. Instead of focusing on the "pain", why not focus on the "gain." In fact, I'm suggesting a brand new mantra as your mental fortification as you approach your fitness regimen each day: Remodel, Reposition, Reclaim.

Think about it this way-every day that you take steps to get in shape, you're actuality remodeling your body-the house for your soul. You're strengthening your bones, your muscles and your cardio-vascular system. You're lowering your blood pressure, your cholesterol, and your blood sugar. You're strengthening your immune system, losing weight and lowering your risk for heart attack, diabetes, cancer and stroke. When you think about your fitness regimen in this context, you're repairing and remodeling your body to support you for the rest of your life.

Without question, getting in shape is hard work and yes, sometimes you will be hot, sweaty, sore or breathless (often, all at the same time!!). But research has shown that a strong mind and body are integrally connected. So, as you prepare for your workout, don't spend time focusing on "pain." Approach your workout as your personal "remodeling program." Remind yourself while you're working out that you're making progress in recreating a new, stronger version of yourself and repositioning your body and your mind to function at maximum efficiency. Tell yourself that this is time and effort you're investing in reversing the effects of poor eating, inactivity, the assaults of the environment and the stresses of everyday living.

Fitness is a life-long journey that requires dedication and consistency-all of which begin in your head. So do a little mental gymnastics to get yourself motivated and get your mindset in shape. When you grab your gym bag or your MP3 player, remember to also bring along your new mental attitude. Instead of dreading "no pain, no gain", repeat your new mantra to reclaim your personal best: "Remodel, Reposition, Reclaim!!"

With you on your Journey To Wellness...
Dr. Mary S. Harris


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