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The Psychology of Fitness

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Understanding the Psychology of Fitness 

When you think about any growth process from goal achievement, fitness training, business / career goals, there is a unique journey that takes place that is not typically easy. In fact, the journey maybe riddled with doubts, failures and learning experiences that can start to replace the focused hard work that you have put in to getting to where you are at that point in time.   

I have often used the five phases to describe to people how they are going to feel in the near future about starting a fitness program whether as a beginner or as an advanced athlete preparing for Navy SEALs or Special Forces training. I have found that both the out of shape beginner and the advanced Special Operations candidate develop into their goals through the process described below, but really, any goal is developed and achieved this way too:

Decide to Try

The first phase of fitness requires a person to make a decision to get healthy or become a Special Operations candidate. This phase takes 2-3 seconds, but it actually takes about 2-3 weeks to make habits that will fuel your desire to obtain your goals. Hang in there at least that long and BUILD GOOD HABITS. This phase is filled with motivation and a general excitement about fitness and exercise. Everyone like to get to work on a sunny day!  Standby because your motivation has to evolve into discipline to get past the hard days.

Doubt Enters the Picture / Even Failure

In the second phase, doubt enters and can either crush your progress or make you stronger. The realization that this process is going to be a lot of work hits hard. Nothing worth going after is easy so hang in there and keep moving forward - one day at a time even if you have doubts. It is absolutely natural to have doubts about what you are undertaking. Take some confidence with you because most people DO NOT EVEN TRY. Keep working - as it will all come together with some consistency and continued effort. My advice is to start doubting yourself as quickly as possible and get over it. Realize self doubt is part of the process. But have an answer for your WHY you are doing this question that pops into your head.  What is your answer when your will is tested? I call this the MOMENT of TRUTH.  Even SEAL trainees doubt themselves, but those who become SEALs conquer their doubt. Likewise, those who lose 80-100 pounds in a year, conquer their doubt as well.

          pic from - Navy SEAL Uncommon Grit (book)

Reframe Failure into a Learning Experience / Decide You Can Do It

Phase Three is one of the most exciting phases when you realize you have conquered your doubt. You may have to redo this phase continually throughout your quest for fitness, difficult goal achievements, or for Special Forces status, but once you do,you can do anything you set your mind to. This is where the mind and body connect. Use the workouts to be a catalyst in all areas of your life: work, relationships, school, etc...I am a firm believer that exercising your body will give you the stamina and energy to exercise your mind, spirit, and achieve those life long dreams you have.

 Work Through the Storm of Doubt, Fear, and Failure - Just Keep Going...

Improve:  Performance, Confidence, Focus - You CAN Do This...

Phase Four is the total identity change and self-confidence realization period for most people. You now associate yourself with fit and healthy people. Now you are fit in mind and body. Your example will inspire others. Be a role model to another heavy person or aspiring Special Operations soldier. People will be amazed by your new work ethic at work and play. Eating healthy is now a habit for you too. In fact eating fast food or unhealthy snacks makes you feel slightly ill.

Keep on Growing - Fitness is a Journey

Goal Achieved! But What is Next? Phase Five is the next step, but the journey never ends. Enjoy the moment of your success - congratulate yourself and take the new found confidence and crush something else!  Whatever you like - run, swim, bike, weight lift...Challenge yourself to run a 10k, lift 400 lbs, do a triathlon. Fitness is a journey – not a destination.

Consider learning about Seasonal Tactical Fitness Periodization where you change the training cycles every quarter so you do not burn out or over-use yourself and get injured. This method of training is a way to avoid being one dimensional with your training, avoid weaknesses developing, and reduce the likelyhood of injuries too. 

Check out the Store for Beginner Programs, Tactical FItness Programming, Seasonal Periodization, as well as specific training for military, special ops, police, and fire fighters. 

Who Is The Coach, Trainer, Author Stew Smith?

 I'm the former Navy SEAL that special ops candidates go to for books, ebooks and online coaching to prepare themselves to get to and through intense tactical assessment and selection programs and qualify for service in their chosen tactical profession.  See More at

What Programs Are Right For YOU?

Other Tactical Fitness Programs Specific to Your Goals

These Seasonal Tactical Fitness BLOCK Periodization programs will walk you through 4 x 4 weeks cycles with 16 weeks of each season in two programs. (32 total weeks)

The Specific Military / Special Ops Physical Fitness Workouts 

Navy SEAL Workout Phase 1
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 2 - 3
Navy SEAL Workout Phase 4  Grinder PT
Navy SWCC Workout

Army PFT Workout (Prep For Rucking, OPAT, ACFT)
Army Special Forces / Ranger Workout
Army Air Assault School Workout
Army Airborne Workout


Advanced Running Program - Special Ops Supplement Plan
USMC OCS / TBS Workout


The Combat Conditioning Workout
Air Force PJ / CCT Workout  Battlefield Airman Prep Course
The UBRR Upper Body Round Robin Workout / Spec Ops version


The Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer / Navy SAR Workout
The Service Academy Workout (West Point, Navy, Air Force Academy)
The Navy, Air Force, Marine Corp Boot Camp Workout


The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Workouts

The FBI Academy Workout  |   FBI Workout Vol 2  
The DEA Workout
The FLETC Workout - Ace the PEB
The PFT Bible: Pushups, Sit-ups, 1.5 Mile Run
The Fire Fighter Workout - Ace the CPAT


Online Coaching Options

Online PT CLUB - Weekly Workouts created personally for you.

New Member's Only Content / Services Program!

If you want access to years worth of workouts, many of the top eBOOKs, favorite workouts of the week, free fitness APP, closed Facebook Group, video / picture library of exercises, and more access to LIVE Q/A sessions check out the Stew Smith Fitness Members Section

The dashboard below has the links to all the information, archives, videos, and links to workouts, podcasts, live Q and A lessons. 

Consider this! - A Membership Program and Gain Access to Exclusive Content
(click for Fitness Club Dashboard - members only)


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