We all know how effective the right exercise can be, but how effective is the right talk? What we think and, more importantly, say to ourselves can have a significant impact on our workouts and what we actually achieve.
I like to call this ‘Talk-out’ and it can be very beneficial to put as much thought and planning into this as you do into your actual physical workout.
Self-talk and self-monitoring show positive results in many studies and you only need to try for yourself to feel the benefits.
Negative thoughts can hurt your performance, reduce your benefits and even keep you from exercising as frequently as you should. Positive thoughts can have the exact opposite effect.
Here are my 5 top "talk-out" tips to try:
1. Think, "Yes, I can and I WANT to"
Generating positive thoughts can help you perform better. It may feel artificial at first, but research shows that people who use positive self-talk, actually saying to themselves, "I am strong, I am able, I can do this" really do perform better than those who talk negatively.
If you struggle, find anything positive that is true like “at least I am here”, “I have made it this far”, you will soon find other positive thoughts come flooding in.
2. Avoid "bagging" yourself
Insults will not get you motivated or fired up to exercise better. The more negative talk people use, the worse they perform.
Wipe statements such as "I am lazy; I am clumsy; I am a failure, I am already fat, why bother?, nothing works”. Just think how insults affect other people or children; you wouldn't use such comments on family or children so why use it on yourself?
3. Keep an eye on the RIGHT ball
Trying to keep time in an aerobics class or trying to catch a Frisbee can be frustrating enough to make some people feel like a failure and give up exercise completely.
To increase your chances for success, monitor what you do right when performing those tasks, such as doing the right step at the right time or throwing the Frisbee well, rather than focusing on what you did wrong.
You are not ignoring your mistakes. You are just concentrating on what you do correctly, which reinforces those actions. It also makes the sport more fun, so you are likely to be motivated to try again.
Whether you are out for a jog or at the gym, thinking "This is really hard" or "I cannot do this" may actually make you suffer more.
Try replacing self-defeating thoughts with positive ones to keep you going and make exercise feel easier. For instance, counter "Oh, it is so fresh out here" with "The sun feels so good". Or, counter "I am so tired" with "I am going to feel so energized when I am done!"
5. Diversion time
Sometimes we can feel inadequate and like a failure if we are surrounded by people who can do things better than us.
Next time you are at the gym, try stretching in between exercise rather than watching other people, or if in an aerobics class, just focus on your little area and pretend you are the only one in the class.
If out jogging, wear a hat and sunglasses and a music player and take yourself away from the traffic and other runners in your mind. This gives you something to focus on so you do not worry about what other people are doing.