By: Benjamin Cole
What does it mean to be mentally fit? Is it one in the same as physically fit? Do they build upon each other, does one build the other, or is one needed to first to build the other? In this short piece we are going to explore what it means to have mental fortitude and how your fitness journey is a crucial step.
What is mental fortitude?
From Latin, fortis "strong, mighty; firm, steadfast; brave, spirited," mental fortitude is a skill that can be honed every day with small tasks that build upon the previous day. Synonymous with mental fitness, to have mental fortitude means that one is able to persevere through struggle, stress, or duress despite the current moment's want to quit--emphasis on the want. Just because our body or brain wants to quit doesn't mean we have to or will; this is fortitude--to be able to overpower our body and brain's want to quit using our mind. Overcoming regular struggle is the best way to build this mental ability.
How do I build mental fortitude?
One of the best ways one can engage in building their mental toughness is by engaging in regular, vigorous exercise. In intense physical exercise we experience moments of the want to quit. Our lungs burn, our legs shake, our noses run and eyes water. "When will it end?" we think. Thoughts like "Maybe I should stop here," or "I'll save that rep for next time" begin to creep into our mind trying to stop us from going further. But it is precisely this moment in which we can decide to continue, where using our mind we elevate above the body and brain's want to quit and decide to persevere through the moment's struggle.
It's these split second decisions to continue that show us our true grit, our real ability. This is what builds mental fortitude. It's moments like this that build our ability to overcome struggle of all kinds, not just in the gym. The gym becomes the sandbox for building our mental fitness as well as physical fitness.
How does this carry over to my life?
Many people will go to the gym for the bodily benefits. And with good reason, as our body is what will carry us through life and a healthy body is one of the most valuable investments we can make. But it's often an overlooked facet of working out that we are simultaneously building the mind. It's the day in and day out routine of the repetitions of weightlifting or cardio, of deliberately activating your core in a pilates flow, of prepping and cooking the same meals for macros that a build a strong, capable and hard mind.
The carryovers from this to everyday life are abundant and there is truly no limit to what this can do. This mental fortitude carries over to our studies, to our work, and to even our family life. Wherever it is that we need to be mentally stronger there is carryover; the gym is just a proving ground.
Are there other ways I can build mental fortitude?
Absolutely. Meditation is a great way to build mental strength and resilience. The very act of sitting still has become a near impossible task for many in today's hyper-stimulated digital environment. The ability to let go of our phones and digital media for extended periods of time is an act of building mental fortitude. The act of fasting is a way to show ourselves that we can use our mind and not be used by it.
Taking cold showers, forgoing our favorite foods or snacks, and even reading a book are all ways to build mental fortitude. The point is doing something hard, doing something beyond what we think we can. It's going beyond our perceived limits that shows us just how strong our mind's really are.
Opportunities to build our mental fortitude abound. Evolve Fitness Studios is a place where we teach mental fortitude and show you how you can elevate above what you thought you were capable of by empowering you to excel in every workout, every time. Join us this week in one of our group classes!
About Benjamin Cole
Benjamin is a multimedia freelancer and health and wellness practitioner. He has been training the mind and body for nearly a decade and writes and speaks regularly about the benefits through various channels and pages. Through his work he hopes to inform people on how they connect to their inner guidance and higher self so that they may live more illuminated and inspired lives.
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