Strong spirt plus strong brain equals unlimited growth potential

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. 

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

Despite all indications and arguments to the contrary, most of us don’t know what we truly want out of life. We may think we want unlimited wealth, but what we are really striving for is freedom or power. We may believe that we’d like celebrity status, but that really translates into a desire to feel recognized. Now is the time of year when everybody is thinking, “What do I want for this year?” But perhaps we ought to be thinking in terms of “What does my spirit want?

If you have set a goal of being stronger and able to bench-press an additional 20 pounds, how might you set about achieving that goal? Certainly you would not simply place that much additional weight on the bar, attempt to press it overhead, and then harshly judge yourself if you failed.  That behavior would be counter-productive. A more prudent – and safer – approach might be to start with adding smaller increments of weight, perfect the move, and keep adding weight, until you could successfully bench-press that additional 20 pounds. 

The same process applies to training your brain and your inner spirit. These perform much like a muscle, and as such, need to be “exercised”. By establishing a daily plan to exercise your self-control muscle not to condemn you if you do not have immediate success, this will eventually become an ingrained process, allowing for the desired growth. Not having success yet simply means the muscle needs more exercise. If we ask our brain to worry, it will become good at worrying; yet if we challenge our brain to concentrate, soon it will excel at concentrating….or at exerting self-control.

A good exercise is to begin each day with an “I will” and an “I won’t” statement. For example, upon waking, you might declare, “I will drink more water today” and “I won’t dip into the cookie jar on the kitchen counter.”

Forsyth School ad

Next, think about how your health will benefit from obtaining these goals.  You might also ponder who else might benefit from your success: a spouse, perhaps, or children, or even your boss.  By reminding yourself that your “I will” and “I won’t” statements are reflective of your brain and spirit exercising and growing stronger, it will become easier to see that better choices lead to better outcomes for all.  Soon you will have cultivated strength and self-control.  If you do slip up, it just means that those “muscles” are not yet fully developed.

We have an entire year ahead of us, open to new possibilities and growth.  Find your spirit, listen closely to what it is trying to tell you, and then go confidently in that direction.  Strength is on its way!