Have you ever begun an exercise program, only to stop it a few weeks later? Have you ever made a New Year's resolution to take up jogging or join a gym, then forgotten all about it by Valentine's Day? Maybe you're one of the few who exercises regularly, but you've hit a plateau and need to push a little harder to reach the next level. Or maybe you're one of those really rare people who's made a lifetime commitment to physical health. Wherever you are in terms of your fitness, you'll have even more success in achieving your goals by developing a training mentality for life.

You're probably familiar with the old adage, I wish I'd known then what I know now. It implies that by the time you figure things out, it's too late to do you any good. Your only recourse is to leave a legacy of wisdom to the generation behind you, and hope they'll use it before it's too late.

The previous generation left a legacy for us, though I'm sure it was unintentional. Not expecting to live so long, they were unprepared for longevity. As a result, many of them spent their later years physically unable to do what they wanted.

Luckily, we have an alternative. We can learn from their example and do something different. We can create the possibility of feeling like we're 50 well into our 70s, 80s, and beyond. We can take steps now to stay healthy, fit, and active for many years to come. We can choose to believe that as we get older, we'll have the potential to be at our peak in performance and productivity. However, achieving peak performance later in life requires us to do something no previous generation has ever done before - train for our longevity.

Let's consider for a moment this concept of training and how it differs from exercise. World-class athletes don't just exercise, they train for their success. They discipline themselves to think healthy thoughts, eat properly, maintain their physical health, shape optimistic attitudes, and develop hidden potential. Exercise is beneficial; when you exercise, you feel vitalized. But training involves the ongoing practice of disciplines that help you achieve and maintain a performance state for extended periods of time. It requires a synergy of mental, physical, and emotional variables.

If you're just exercising, you can accept less than full effort in your program. After all, you showed up, right? If you're in training, anything less than your best keeps you from attaining the change and improvement you seek.

If you're just exercising, you can skip a workout or two, and it won't bother you at all. If you're in training, missing a workout sets you back from where you could have been in terms of improved strength, flexibility, and endurance.

If you're just exercising, it's okay to skip the occasional meal or indulge in that sugary snack you crave. If you're in training, you know you need good nutrition to support your efforts in the gym, on the practice range, and on the course. Anything less than your ideal eating plan sabotages the work you've done.

In the same way, adopting a training mentality for longevity can help you make life after 50 your best years yet. Creating a training mentality is as easy as flipping a switch. You simply decide that you're in training for a long and healthy life. That's it. From that point forward, everything you do from an exercise perspective suddenly becomes more purposeful. With a training mentality, it becomes easy to prioritize and make small sacrifices to achieve your goals.