Mindfulness can change the way you approach your exercise and nutrition and, ultimately, your progress.

Many of us aren’t mindful during our workouts. We go through the motions and do things we’re supposed to do, but are we paying attention to what’s really going on?

Are we mindful?

Mindfulness is the ability to be present and fully aware of where we are and what we’re doing. It’s “being in the moment.” Have you ever sat in a meeting where people are talking and you’re daydreaming? That’s not being mindful. Or have you been driving down the freeway and realized you weren’t paying attention and can’t remember driving the last few miles? That’s not being mindful.

Watch a concerned mother who’s watching her kids play at the park. She’s hands off but paying careful attention to the kids. If something happens with a child she’s going to know. She’s being very mindful. Or watch the student in a compelling lecture. The professor is lecturing, and the student is “into it.” The student is very mindful.

Everyone can be mindful. You can decide to pay attention and be present in the moment. You can concentrate on your surroundings and be very present with what you’re doing.

When you’re working out you can be more mindful of what you’re doing and how your body is reacting. Instead of “4 sets of 10” as a principle and not paying attention, use “4 sets of 10” as a concept and be conscious of how you’re reacting to it. You may find that you’ve been going too easy or too hard on yourself.

When you’re doing planks, are you aware of the parts of your body and how they’re responding? Can you feel your abdominals and lower back? Is something straining? Are you breathing appropriately?

Mindfulness can play a significant role in your diet and nutrition. It’s so easy to eat without really paying attention to what you’re eating. It’s especially true during trying and emotional times. You go on autopilot and just eat.

It helps to work from a plan. If you have a nutrition plan, you’re following, your meals are typically laid out beforehand. If you’re mindful of following your plan and you’re making conscious choices, you’ll be fine. Any deviations you make from the plan are conscious choices you’re making and not mindless eating.

Your workouts are the same. If you’re following a plan in the gym your workouts are structured and you can pay attention to how you feel and what’s happening to your body during your workout. If you’re at SHIFT in a group class you’re following the instructor. You can concentrate on your breathing and your intensity. You can focus on your form and concentrate on your results.

Learn to be more mindful during your workouts and with your diet and you’ll find you get better results all the way around!