Sports psychology is at the heart of Baby2Body’s mission. That’s partly because our CEO and founder is a Sports Psychologist, but more so because it’s a field of study that focuses on the connection between physical activity and mental health — and you know we’re all about the mind-body connection! Traditionally, sports psychology has been used to help elite athletes reach peak performance, but the thing is, the principles apply to everyone wanting to set and achieve new fitness goals!
In fact, everything in our app that helps you create healthier habits is rooted in the fundamentals of sports psychology and today, we’re talking to Baby2Body founder, Melinda, about how applying those fundamentals to your workouts can help you achieve your fitness goals.
When Melinda was working as a fitness trainer after receiving her masters in sports psychology, she noticed that people weren’t aware of the importance of the mind in ensuring you get the best workout you can. She felt there was a gap in people’s thinking about what it meant to be healthy and fit: people were happy to focus on exercise and diet but were neglecting mindfulness and emotional wellbeing — leaving them unable to reach their full potential.
She knew this was particularly important for new and expectant mothers because of the individual set of challenges they faced. During this period, our priorities change so drastically and our time is completely taken up by our baby. Melinda wanted to provide mamas with the tools to allow them to refocus on their own health and wellbeing, allowing them to be the best mother they can be. She started with one-on-one sessions with clients and now provides this service to millions of women through the Baby2Body app.
We’re turning the rest of this post over to Melinda, so she can talk all about how you can achieve your fitness goals and build healthier habits using the principles of sports psychology.
How to set effective fitness goals
First of all, it’s essential to set your goal(s) clearly and concisely. If you get in a car but don’t know where your destination is, then you’re not going to get very far and you’re going to waste energy in the process! In order to achieve anything, it’s essential you know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what the steps are to get there. It’s so hard to maintain a behavior if you don’t understand and appreciate its benefits.
One way of setting clear and concise fitness goals is to follow the SMART approach; goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. It’s really important to work through each letter of the acronym — for example a goal of “I’m going to workout more” is vague and immeasurable, so how do you know once you’ve achieved it? Instead, something like “I am going to workout 3 times a week to help me gain x amount of muscle over the next 6 months”. It’s important to note the achievable aspect because you need to set goals that are realistic for you, otherwise no matter how hard you try you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.
This method of goal setting is great because they are so easy to set and understand on your own – you don’t need a sports psychologist on hand to figure it out! SMART goals remind you to be mindful of what you can achieve and how.
What It Means To Build a Habit & Why That’s So Important
A habit is a behavior which we don’t really have to think about. We don’t consider “should I do this thing?”; we just do it as a part of our lifestyle. Like brushing your teeth.
Setting small SMART goals will mean that you can start rewarding yourself for achieving them, and that reward system can be powerful in habit building. For some people, these reinforcing rewards will simply be feeling physically and mentally stronger or taking pride in what you’ve accomplished.
An important idea in sports psychology is self-efficacy, or your belief in your ability to make things happen. As you complete your goals your self efficacy will improve, making you feel more in control and it acts as an internal reward system. All of these feed into a positive cycle which reinforces the habit of exercising, eating right or being more mindful.
However, it’s also OK if you need some external rewards to get you started, for example if you achieve your monthly goal you can try and reward yourself with a massage, your favorite meal, or maybe a date night with your partner. Again, specificity is super useful so you have something concrete to aim for.
And give yourself time to commit. It takes around 9 to 12 weeks to form habits, but once they’re in place your lifestyle can really change for the better.
How to Deal with Setbacks
The thing with habits is that they are easy to fall out of if there’s some sort of disruption (like having a baby!). It’s important to not be too hard on yourself. Everyone’s life gets interrupted sometimes and you can’t be on top form all the time. When this happens, it’s just about regrouping and rebuilding the habit as quickly as possible – it’s much harder to get back into your usual routine if you leave it for weeks (or months) on end.
The Secret to Staying Motivated with your Workouts
Tracking and monitoring your process is really important for keeping yourself motivated, and this is where Baby2Body comes in. The simple act of recording your workouts and meditations can make you feel motivated, as you can see straight away “Wow – I’ve completed all my workouts 4 weeks in a row!”. This creates both a sense of accomplishment and accountability, which will keep you coming back for more!
It’s also helpful to try and find a workout buddy or team (something that can be done through reaching out through the Baby2Body Squad facebook page). Setting goals with another person, working out together, sharing your stats and progress, and holding each other accountable is super useful in keeping yourself motivated.
Keep reminding yourself on the benefits of exercise. Often you can’t see the long term effects like improved heart health, anti-aging, and better mental health. Don’t be disheartened when you don’t see a huge result after a couple days of exercising. Just take each day as it comes and you’ll feel the benefit over time, I guarantee it.
Utilizing the Mind-Muscle Connection
The mind-muscle connection is a key area of study in sports psychology. What we’ve learned is that it’s really important to keep focused on what you’re doing when you’re working out, as although mindless exercise will still have some benefit, it’s so much more helpful mentally and physically to bring your attention to how your body is feeling.
Focusing on the muscles you’re working and the way your body responds to activity can actually make your workout more effective and give you a break from your busy thoughts. Your muscles will respond better and you’ll find yourself performing at a higher level — and that quicker path to success will make it easier to reach your goals, reward yourself, and build habits.
The Most Important Takeaway
Remember you don’t have to be a professional athlete to benefit from the principles of Sport Psychology to improve your performance! You can just borrow the things that benefit you and incorporate it into your everyday workouts. Baby2Body is designed by sports psychologists, (including myself!), with every feature carefully thought out to improve your fitness and mental wellbeing.