Guts, Focus and Compassion

3 Secrets For Fitness Success

Guts, Focus and Compassion - 3 Secrets For Fitness Success
Today’s post will cover three topics that have really resonated with me along my fitness journey. Whether you’re starting with losing weight or building muscle (or both), we all need to embrace our imperfections and know that it will be an extremely tough road requiring guts, focus and compassion—in that order.

It Takes Guts

The first step does…and the second step…and every step after that. I have been lifting weights for a long time and it feels like the more I grow and accomplish, the more guts it takes to get to the next level. You need guts to wake up in the morning and decide that you’re going to have an incredible day, regardless of the circumstances. It takes guts to start from the bottom and get to the gym and begin making a change. It you are a fitness competitor, it takes guts to let the world judge you only to place last and then to get back to it the next day to make improvements. You need guts to get out of your comfort zone. It is not going to be a comfortable ride.

Finding Focus

Focus means so many things when it comes to changing your physique. You have to have tunnel vision focus in order to stay centered on your short and long term goals, but you also have to keep an open mind in case you need to change things up and roll with the punches. That is a hard balance to maintain.

You also have to be aware of your surroundings, especially your family and personal life, to make sure everything around you does not fall apart because of your laser focus on your goal. You don’t want to end up with a great physique and a healthy body, but have no one to celebrate with.

Focus In The Gym

This is where I see so many women go wrong. They go to the gym, throw some weights around – either hopping from machine to machine or beefing out in the squat rack lifting extremely heavy. All of this is great to some degree, but if you are not completely focused on the mind/muscle connection that needs to be happening throughout every single rep, you will not likely sculpt the physique you desire. Let me explain…

Mindlessly jumping from machine to machine and not lifting heavy enough usually means you are just “going through the motions.” This will not result in much of a physique change. Lifting heavy changes your physique, builds beautifully toned and curvy muscles (no, women don’t get “bulky” from lifting heavy), burns fat and revs metabolisms more than cardio alone.

In contrast, if you are not a power lifter and are lifting too heavy for your goal of building muscle and losing fat, you are probably using momentum to lift the weight and putting yourself at risk for injury. You will be recruiting other muscle groups to help lift the weight, which makes it hard (almost impossible) to focus on the mind/muscle connection of the muscle you are trying to work.

Next time you’re in the gym, check your ego at the door and try lowering the weight a bit. Get rid of all distractions (chatty friends, your phone, etc.) and make your intention during every single rep to go slow and actually feel the squeeze and contraction of the exact muscle or muscle groups you are seeking to work.


This is perhaps the most important thing one must have to sustain a long and happy fitness lifestyle. To wake up in the morning and think that no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, you are enough. It’s getting into bed at night and thinking, I am imperfect but I am worthy. Maybe you had the best training session of your life yesterday and today’s was complete crap. It’s OKAY. Maybe you’ve been eating clean for weeks and weeks and just couldn’t control your cravings at the work happy hour. It’s OKAY. Have some compassion for yourself and know that YOU are doing a great job and tomorrow is a new day. Smile!

Jessie Hilgenberg

Jessie is an IFBB Figure Pro, Team NLA for Her & Athlete, registered yoga instructor, health & fitness coach, bootcamp director and fitness model. Her goal is to inspire others and illustrate that a healthy lifestyle of training with intensity, staying consistent and eating clean can truly change your life!

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