Anyone who exercises regularly knows that the physical activity is only part of the endeavor – whether you’re running, cycling, doing yoga or killing it in a CrossFit WOD. Obviously, the body must fully participate, with the muscles complying, the heart rate elevated, breathing more deeply and perspiring freely.
But the mind is a powerful contributor to any workout, athletic activity or competition. Athletes understand this through thousands of sweat sessions. Exercisers and fitness fanatics can benefit from recognizing how their mind can positively or negatively influence their performance.
It basically breaks down to how we talk to ourselves – before, during and after workouts. This isn’t complicated or super metaphysical, but simply a mindset that impacts our success.
Despite the endless barrage of selfies and narcissism on social media, many of us can be self-critical, particularly when it comes to physical appearance, fitness level, and athletic ability. It can be tough to compete with the idealized images and perfect physiques that we are faced with constantly in the media and online. As a result, we get lots of practice at negative self-talk – such as “I’m fat,” “my belly/butt/thighs is/are gross,” “I can’t run,” “I’d never be able to do CrossFit/kickboxing/Tough Mudders/etc.” and “I’m no good at golf/basketball/swimming/etc.”
Not only does this internal speech defeat us, but it ultimately can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby you never try running, or CrossFit, or whatever, choosing instead to believe what you are telling yourself – typically without real evidence of its merit. Your workouts therefore may be limited and lack the variety that can lead to greater results, new self-confidence, additional social opportunities and valuable motivation and adherence.
The reality is that how we talk to ourselves and what we may believe about our appearance or abilities really matters. Let’s turn this into an asset by instead harboring confidence and willingness to try. Here we take a look at how positive affirmations will change the way you train.
What Are Positive Affirmations?
Replacing negative self-talk with positive affirmations may not come naturally to some, but can be practiced and mastered. Spoken in the present tense, with only positive words (no “can’t”), and as statements of fact and truth (no “might”), these help rewire neural pathways and the brain, which not only shifts our thinking, but changes our behavior.
Here are some examples related to exercise:
- I can. I will.
- I can take care of my body by exercising regularly.
- I am stronger than I think.
- I am grateful for my body and its abilities.
- I can work through discomfort.
- I can accomplish my goals.
- I appreciate each new opportunity.
- I choose not to compare myself to others.
- I do not quit.
- I take care of myself with healthy choices.
- I am open to learning new activities.
- I got this.
- I am enough.
- I am willing to and capable of change.
- I can drive my own success.
- My potential is infinite.
- I am in charge of my progress.
- I can conquer challenges.
- I am becoming fitter and healthier.
- I am a powerhouse.
Of course, you can devise your own positive affirmations that motivate you. Continually replace your negative self-talk with these.
Even if you feel like you don’t believe the affirmations at first, keep saying them repeatedly before, during and after workouts – particularly when you’re struggling or want to give up. Don’t quit. Over time, you may surprise yourself, as your positive self-talk helps improve your mindset, your workout sessions and your performance. Try it!