Positive self-talk matters in fitness.
It’s January. That means gyms are packed with everyone super motivated to pursue new years’ resolutions and streets are a bit more crowded than usual with runners and walkers alike. If you are new to your fitness journey, sometimes it’s challenging to feel like you even belong in these spaces.
Something we may not often discuss is how we motivate ourselves in pursuit of our newly formed fitness goals. How you talk to yourself matters.
What’s your mantra?
My latest mantra has been, “A body in motion stays in motion.” This is what I tell myself to get out the door. And “One foot in front of the other.” I repeat this as I run to keep myself motivated.
Personally, I made a lofty goal of running a spring marathon this year. I’ve been struggling on my runs recently, really since I had Covid in August. Runs that feel like a 10:30 paced mile are actually around 12 minutes. It’s very humbling! Yet still, I keep repeating my positive mantras.
My mantras weren’t always this optimistic. In fact, when I first started my running journey, I heard, “Nanny-nanny boo-boo,” in the sound of the pattern of my feet striking the pavement. It took a while for that negative noise to change, but I can still recall clearly the moment that it did.
I was training for my first marathon: the Richmond Marathon, in 2014. It was an incredibly hot and humid day, and I was in mile 15 of a 16-mile run. I was having a good day despite the brutal weather, and I finally felt like finishing the marathon distance was feasible. Suddenly, in the midst of my exhausted runner’s high, I heard a mariachi band telling me, “You can DO it!”
I use mantras when working with my patients, too, as a physical therapist. So often I find that those in my care suffer from crippling anxiety when approaching mobility training. Imagine suffering a fall that results in a fracture, and someone less than half your age who you just met is asking you to trust them as they assist you in taking those first steps.
So I teach them the words of one of my first running coaches: “Breathe. Relax. Believe.” We take a deep breath together, release some tension, and refocus on the task. This usually works! And success is followed by high-fives and a joyous mini-celebration of accomplishing the seemingly monumental task at hand.
As we approach the second month of the year, it may seem easy to simply let go of trying to form new, healthier habits. Maybe it’s our innate nature to engage in self-sabotage. Maybe it’s in the way we talk to ourselves.
When you set out to complete a workout, it’s not a time to punish yourself for seemingly less-than-ideal food choices or for past inactivity. It’s a time to celebrate the ability to move your body!
Remember that we are human and are allowed rest days and that we also deserve to treat ourselves with kindness. Life happens, and sometimes we can’t accomplish all of the things we tried to put on our plates. But this doesn’t mean you have failed. Shift your mantras. You are worthy of healthy habits, including in your conversations with yourself. You can DO it!
Are you striving to form new healthy habits this new year? I’d love to hear about it!
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.