Developing mental toughness for fitness.

Atilio Sbrana
Jan 16 · 4 min read

Self-introduction.

I’m just an average Joe who has been seeking to be fit while carrying a career outside of the fitness world and a healthy personal life — pretty much like most of us. I’ve gone from non-fit to fit several times, and I think I have two cents to add while combining different methods for achieving fitness. I’m blogging about my fitness program in my Instagram channel @atiliosbrana.

For starters, prepare your mind.

If you are trying to get fit, having the mentality of achieving fitness is obviously the first step. You have to start putting fitness as a priority over other things that you like — be it binge watching Netflix, playing video games, or going for beers after work. I’ve never developed any of those habits because I was focused on other things that were more important to me — such as my career, family, and personal relationships — and with whatever time I had left I tried to dedicate myself to fitness.

For most of my career I was living in New York or London and working in investment banking, with bad work-hours and constant traveling. I was the happiest when I had the determination to pursue fitness. I could say that it was one of the things that made me handle everything else. It was my mental therapy and one of my main life goals, and if I could do it, so could anyone else.

Fitness also largely counts as health, and health is the backbone of happiness. Being healthy and guaranteeing the health of your loved ones is the only real priority. You should not be trading your health for your career, or grades, or whatever hobbies you have. It’s not worth it. If you don’t take care of your health today, you’ll be taking care of your sickness tomorrow.

Be mentally ready for sacrifices.

When pursuing fitness, the main three sacrifices you’ll face are in terms of (i) food, (ii) time, and (iii) mental stamina.

You’ll have to prioritize fitness over food, such as that weekend ice-cream — there’s not escaping this, accept it already. After all, you are what you eat. Your body and mind will thank you later. If you are going to whine about giving up unhealthy food for the sake of fitness, you may want to consider not reading the rest of what I have to say.

Time is a scarce resource in our lives. Sometimes work, school, family, sleep, or any unpredictable factor will get in the way of your fitness goal. Time management is an art, and you’ll have to be good at it if you want to be fit. In today’s modern world it’s hard to be happy without developing good time management skills. Manage to find time to dedicate to it.

Finally, everyone has a certain limit of mental stamina to dedicate to their priorities. If you have too many things that you need to worry about, you won’t be able to focus on your fitness goal, trust me. In fact, if you have too many goals, you may end up failing in achieving any of them, as your mental stamina will be so diluted into so many targets.

Establishing fitness as one of your life goals.

Trim down your life goals to about five tangible things and stick to it. For me, it’s typically some combination of (i) money, (ii) career, (iii) fitness, (iv) community (ie family and friends), and (v) some extra stuff I like.

When I say tangible, I mean something like “I want to be worth $10mm in assets by 35”, or “I will communicate at least once every two weeks with my loved ones, and see them at least once a year”, or “I want to look good in the mirror with less than 10% of body fat”, etc.

Write them down. This will help set up your mindset for achieving them. Your subconscious will get used to pursuing your goals and thinking creatively for solutions towards them. When you have fewer, very objective goals is when your mental stamina shines the most.

As a side note, my fifth goal used to be getting my MBA, but now that I’ve finished it, I’m still looking for a replacement. There are too many candidates, and I’m not in a hurry. In the meantime I’ll have more stamina to work on the other four goals. If you fall short of five, go with the others that you are already sure of.

Conclusion

In summary, if you don’t narrow down your priorities AND include fitness in it, I doubt that you’ll go anywhere no matter what diet and workout plan you have. You’ll fail, not because of the program, but because you couldn’t attack the problem that made you lose your fitness in the first place: your priorities were not in the right place to begin with.

I’ll try to write about what I think is a good fitness program in my next posts.

Cheers,

Atilio

Atilio Sbrana

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I have a hard time describing myself: @atiliosbrana