Is it possible to think yourself fit? Can you imagine yourself into the healthy physique you really want? Envisage your glowing skin and lithe limbs into existence?
We use visualisation techniques all the time. Anytime you've played out a difficult conversation in your head or imagined yourself on the summer holiday you want to book, you're actively visualising your goal and the steps you'll take towards it.
Years ago I heard of a Pilates Instructor who encouraged clients to engage muscles as to almost create the movement but stop short of actually moving. It sounded fairly mad to me at the time but perhaps there's more to it than I first thought.
"In one notable study that appeared in the North American Journal of Psychology in 2007, athletes who mentally practiced a hip-flexor exercise had strength gains that were almost as significant as those in people who actually did the exercise (five times a week for 15 minutes) on a weight machine."*
What?! Strength gains without the workout? Yes! So can we turn this into a tool for us? Yes! Do we need a PhD in daydreaming first? No! All it takes is an uninterrupted moment to think about your goal and how to get there.
I've looked up a lot of visualisation websites and there's a bunch of crazy chaff in amongst the usable wheat. Many of them seem to want to make you rich, even more are focused on the ethereal plane. I'll let you delve into them on your own time but here's some simple steps you can take to think yourself into action today.
1. Keep it positive. Think about the actions you'll need to take to achieve your goal, not the hiccups and failures you experienced last time you tried.
2. Be yourself. If you want to feel more confident at a party, don't imagine yourself overpowering the room like Brian Blessed. Remember occasions where you comfortably achieved the best "you" and think about how that felt.
3. Use all your senses. In the article about the Reticular Activation System, I explained why you should load up on the thoughts that drive you towards your goals. Enriching these images with sounds, textures, smells and tastes helps shortcut this process.
In the final "planning" segment of my remote training programme (distance personal training - read more here) I encourage clients to use these techniques to set themselves on the their right path. It's a great way to Enjoy Good Health.
*excerpt from a great article on Visualisation