Using the Olympic Mentality

I joined the millions of viewers who watched NBC's coverage of the 2012 Olympics in London last night. In truth, my heart aligns with the swimmers who are able to cover that Olympic-size pool in a fraction of the time it took me to do the same in the 25-yard pool we had in high school. The old swimming instructor in me loves to watch the amazing stoke techniques, breathing patterns and turns. I join with the crowds yelling for them to bring it home. But that wasn't entirely what I was focused on. I was watching for signs of the athlete's elite Olympic Mentality.

Mentality is said to be the single most important factor responsible for success. Mentality encompasses beliefs, outlooks, and the ideas that each individual embrace. Does that mean that the single most important determinate of a talented athlete who achieves Olympic greatness is what goes on inside the head? The simple answer is yes!

Achieving and maintaining your healthy goals is tough. Wether you want to lose weight manage your blood sugar level, we can use all the help we can get. Perhaps losing weight and keeping it off isn't that much different than working to achieve reaching the Olympics. Well, I said maybe! As I worked with my On the Way to Wellness groups this week, I've been sharing some of the many mental techniques used by athletes to improve performance and increase their level of success.

Elite athletes must develop a true belief in themselves and their ability to succeed.  When belief is high, confidence, skill level and drive to try hard increases. Success follows.


The use of positive self-talk to improve performance is critical: words do matter. Whether you hear a message from another person or you say it to yourself, your brain simply registers the message and saves it. If you say,"I am fat," often enough, you can end up believing. Behavior follows belief: couch potato time with a bag of chips. Focus on adding POSITIVE messages if you want that svelte, buff, healthy body.

Affirmations have been shown to increase belief.

  • Let's say your health quest is to lose weight and improve your health. One possible affirmation to use would be, "I am becoming a healthy and fit woman/man." Use words that feel great to you --buff, svelte, or amazing can easily replace "fit." Post it on your refrigerator door or somewhere you'd see it often.
  • Say your affirmation everyday. Read it, write it, say it to yourself or aloud. Whatever would imprint this message more effectively for you. Repeat often.
    • Keep in mind that it's works best if you focus on consistency instead of how many times you say it. Even 5 minutes a day works.
  • Perceive yourself a success, believe in your success, be a success


The use of positive self-talk to improve performance is critical: words do matter. Whether you hear a message from another person or you say it to yourself, your brain simply registers the message and saves it. If you say,"I am fat," often enough, you can end up believing. Behavior follows belief: couch potato time with a bag of chips. Focus on adding POSITIVE messages to become that svelte, buff person.

Listening to music you love. It's been shown to increase success. Beach Boys anyone?

Watching the OlympicsMotivational---fine motor skills
Instructional--large muscle tasks
sharpens focus,
increases confidence,
puts brain on auto-pilot,
Dissociation: less conscious though allows muscle memory to take over
improves performance

Music you like
Proprioception: taking a sense away.
Eye focus narrow focus the eye fovea or the center of the eye makes objects appear larger than with peripheral vision. Belief that the target was larger increased confidence, skill, performance




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