Where the mind goes, the body follows. ‘The man who thinks he can and the man who he thinks he can't are both usually right,’ according to Confucius... on our Instagram feed... Or maybe you’ve seen the Will Smith motivational video spouting lyrical?

Meditation and yoga. Mindfulness and total body cleanses. Retreats and motivational apps. The idea that we need to seriously engage and have an understanding of our mental health is constantly being flaunted in our faces. Wait... I thought the trend was to have a six-pack and booty gains?

The UK fitness industry is worth 5 billion pounds and it’s showing no signs of stopping. People are spending their money on gym gear and green smoothies over an evening in the pub. Nights out are being ditched to be fresh for a morning run and alarms are set an hour before needed to sneak in a workout before a day at the desk. But, much more than before, people are feeling pressured to look and eat a certain way to avoid the judgement of friends and peers. While the effects are generally positive, (if we are to have a vice, exercising is probably better than cigarettes and chip butties, right?) do we ever question our real motivations?

In our thirst for following trends we have also hopped into the ‘holier than thou’ train. We meditate to reduce anxiety and yet we'll rush into the room to take the best spot and ignore the real-life applications of Buddhist teaching. We want quick fixes and transformations. And we want it all to be perfectly Instagrammable.

But what about our mental states? We hide behind our #smilingselfie and #travelinspo shots that sell the image of perfection and togetherness. We get swallowed up in the humblebrag one upmanship and proving our worth through a
series of doctored images.

If we tackle our minds, seriously tackle our minds, there is a seeming limitlessness that comes with that. The body transformation is really just a physical representation of a mental shift that occurred before a weight was even lifted. The travel shots are a glimpse of overcoming a fear of taking adventures alone and the PT sessions are a way of refilling our own cup after a busy day of motherhood.

Ultimately, it is our mind that convinces us to get up and get to the gym rather than snooze and have an extra hour in bed. It is our mind that will push us through our toughest reps and the final sprint. So why not showcase that?

As fighters, we are constantly shown examples of how much the mind can make the difference in who takes the win. It is a dangerous thing to take a fight thinking that you will lose. We must always believe that within us we have the power, even as an underdog, to triumph despite what odds may be against us. And sometimes, that belief pulls you through to the other side with a win against a fighter that, on paper at least, should have beaten you.

And if it is our minds that are the driving force behind it all, why don't we consciously treat it as the powerhouse that it is? We should take the same dutiful care as we do our bodies. We can do this by choosing words of compassion and understanding, nourishing ourselves with good thoughts and positive emotions. Our rest and recovery should involve switching off from whatever causes anxiety and feelings of insufficiency. And the same love we learn to cultivate for our bodies should be shared and extended to our minds and thought processes.

Imagine the power that comes from that place... when body and mind act in unison and there is no saboteur. A cheerleader takes their place. And a life without limits or boundaries begins.

Alanna Sheridan

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Louisa Willoughby