The Mental Edge: Aligning Values for Peak Performance

People often ask me how I make the process of sticking to a regimented nutrition and training program so easy. The short answer has always been that I make it fun. I like to say, if it is not fun, I am not doing it. And that’s the truth. I competed for 20 years and it was always fun. The only show that was not fun was my last one. That’s how I knew it was time to pursue other endeavors.

But is prepping food every morning for an hour really fun? Is eating practically the same food every day really fun. Is waking up before the sun does to do cardio really fun? This has been difficult for me to articulate to people how exactly I make the process fun. The key to having a successful and enjoyable journey toward any fitness endeavor is to act from a place of values rather than emotions.

Our emotions can be so strong. Sometimes they come at us with reckless abandon encouraging us to lay on the couch because we deserve to relax. Our emotions tell us to have some popcorn with our family because it feels so good to snuggle in and laugh with a big family size bowl of buttered yumminess. According to Hayes, Strosahl, and Wilson (2012) the co-creators of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, when we are able to act from our values instead of our emotions, we can have and honor our feelings and at the same time act from a place of integrity with what is really important.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself the next time you are feeling emotional and are ready to act from a place of emotion rather than from your values.

  1. What is really important to me here?
  2. What do I want my (fitness journey, contest prep, weight loss, etc.) to be about?
  3. What is this emotion letting me know is important to me?
  4. What is the big picture of what I am creating in my life?
  5. What are my top ten values and how does my goal help me live those values day to day?

When we live from a place of values, we get to live with purpose in the moment. We are not waiting for some time in the future when we can have x, y or z. When we live from our values, we get to feel good about honoring what is important at a deeper level and not just what will make us feel good in that moment.

It is also a great idea to frequently update big picture values such as honesty, personal development, integrity, passion, authenticity. This helps us to consider what is overall most important so that we can leave from a deeper place without being reactive to our day to day feelings.

Getting back to the example of getting up early to do cardio and making food, when we come from a place of values it is easy to take action that moves us in the direction of our goals. I think about my WHY. Why am I doing this? That helps me to be motivated and also to enjoy the process.

I hope this has been helpful if you have been struggling with making the journey fun. Think about your values, and I promise you will be saying it is easy too.

Until next month,


Hayes, S., Strosahl, K., & Wilson, K. (2012) Acceptance and commitment therapy. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.



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