Gritting your teeth isn't the best way to get through a tough workout. When you're struggling to push through that last shoulder press or to run just two more minutes, turn to one of your strongest resources: Your brain. Here are a few ways to use your brain during exercise:

  • Borrow a motivational tool from professional athletes: Positive visualization. A tennis player pictures the angle of her racket as she serves an ace that leaves her opponent breathless. A quarterback imagines his arm gunning the football 60 yards.
  • Create a mantra. A mantra is simply a word or phrase you say to yourself repeatedly that simultaneously calms and motivates you. "I can do this" or "Success" are two examples; the most effective mantras will be very personal and unique to you.
  • Keep your eye on the prize. You may be able to push through simply by remembering your ultimate goal. Better yet, find a picture that represents your goal (such as a bathing suit you'd like to fit into) and, if possible, keep it within sight during your workout.
  • Use your head for one more task: Know when not to push yourself. Stop the exercise if you experience pain or can't maintain good form. Instead, take a break and congratulate yourself on what you have achieved.