The other day, I mentioned how setting a physical fitness goal — and achieving that goal — can lead to all sorts of great things besides just being more fit and healthy.

Improving your physical fitness can also improve your mental fitness.

About four years ago, I was in a place where life had become extremely mundane. Not enjoyable at all. Basically, life had kicked my ass for a while and I was worn out. I was tired, depressed, stuck deep in a hole I didn’t know how to get out of.

I was in such a deep hole that part of me didn’t even care anymore. There was no way out, so what was the use?

Why bother trying?

Along with my mental fatigue, I had let myself get in terrible physical condition — the heaviest and most out of shape I’d ever been in my life — and although that was only part of the problem, it was a big part.

Through a series of somewhat miraculous events — divine intervention, maybe — I found a way with the help of others to climb out of that hole and turn things around. I started taking action and managed to start getting back in shape, and I started feeling better about myself, and about life in general.

It was sort of a combination of feeling better physically, and that led to feeling better mentally.

But which came first — the chicken or the egg?

In my case, I had to start feeling a little better mentally before I could start working on the physical part. Then, as I started feeling better physically, I started feeling better and better mentally, as well.

Last week, I saw something on Facebook from a friend in Minnesota who once was a professional pole vaulter and now coaches pole vaulting all over the country.

He was talking about winning championships, setting records, collecting medals, all of which are nice but how useful are those things really in the long run? I guess if you are famous and get lots of product endorsements, commercials, and such that put money in the bank, that would be a good thing. Other than that, some nice memories and good stuff to show your kids and grandkids, right?

But what else?

What is really useful, he said, are the skills you acquired along the way as you trained, sweated and sacrificed along the road toward achieving those goals, setting those records, winning those championships.

Things like determination, discipline, stick-to-it-iveness, problem-solving skills, managing failure and success, testing your limits (physical and mental), managing emotions, etc., and the positive effect that learning those types of things has on the rest of your life.

Those are mental gains produced by physical achievements, aren’t they?

That made me think about exercising. Making a commitment to improve one’s physical condition — and sticking to it.

Setting and achieving a physical fitness goal gives a great sense of accomplishment. Makes you feel good. Proud of yourself. Builds confidence that can spill over into other areas of your life.

It shows you that you have what it takes to do whatever you set your mind to do.

Who knows where it all might lead?

Let’s face it, moving from a sedentary to an active lifestyle can be a huge challenge, both mentally and physically. Getting in shape and becoming healthier is not just something you can decide to do one day and boom!

There ya go. Congratulations, you did it!

Making a decision is a great start, but it’s just the beginning.

We’ll talk more tomorrow about how to move from making that decision to turning that decision into reality.

Have a great day and let me hear from you in the comments below!!!

Masters pole vaulters competing in Belton, Tx