We are our own biggest critics. Our daily look, performance at our job and perception of how we are as a husband, wife, mother, father, and friend are picked apart and analyzed to see if they live up to our sometimes-impossible standards. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in our personal body image.
There is nothing wrong with looking for opportunities to improve, but if the only self-talk going on in your head is negative it can completely tear you down over time. It is easy to blame a lot of things such as time, work schedule or kid’s activities as to why you can’t stay consistent with your health and fitness, but a lot of the time you are defeating yourself before any of these other things come into play. Whether it is a lack of confidence in following through that prevents you to start, bumps in the road that require adjustments, the comparison game or your rate of improvement; all the negative, deflating thoughts in your head are working against you. You might not even realize how much you do this. Here are some situations that can possibly trigger those negative voices and ways to shut them up.
1. Starting something new: If it is new then it is a change from what you are currently doing and anything that requires change always gets the critics talking. All the thoughts and excuses resisting this change will come to the surface. Chances are if you are thinking of trying an eating plan or workout routine that you never have it is because you have already tried several other things that haven’t worked. Failed attempts will affect your confidence, but think of it this way; if you don’t try this new thing you have no chance of changing your current situation. So what is worse? The fear of the unknown or the hopeless feeling of being stuck?
2. Making Adjustments: Things are going well. You are making healthy food choices and crushing your workouts, then it happens. Change in work schedule, injury, new activity your child wants to start…fill in the blank with any life situation. Now what? Your mind will tell you to just wait until things calm back down so you can get back to your routine. I hate to break it to you, but things will never calm down. If you are ever waiting for the perfect time in life to do something, especially when it’s new, it will never end up happening. Remember when you started? You had to overcome a lot to get the ball rolling and make all of this a part of your daily routine in the first place. No matter if you need to modify the type of activity you are doing until something heals, change the night you meal prep or the time of day you work out, you have done it before and you can do it again.
3. The Comparison Game: This is a big one, especially when it comes to health and fitness. Your mind will tell you over and over again, ‘You will never look like her, you will never be able lift what he does, you will never be able to do the workout as fast as them, you will never be able to wear that.’ Don’t every try to be anyone except the best version of you. Look in the mirror…that is your competition. Focus on being better than you were yesterday every single day. If you truly take this attitude and apply it consistently you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.
4. Improvement slows: As a beginner the improvements and gains can be quick and rather sizeable. The longer you continue the smaller those gains become and the harder they are to achieve. It sucks, but it’s science. Those voices are really going to speak up now and tell you why even bother if you can’t keep seeing huge results. Look, I have been lifting weights for over 22 years. If I could lift more every time I walked into the weight room I could bench press my house by now. Before you get discouraged and start listening to all of that nonsense in your head, understand that it takes time for plateaus to happen. Secondly, it might just take making small adjustments on what you are doing to get your progress back on the steady incline. This is why tracking is so important. Maybe you need to adjust your calories, the amount of miles you run or how fast you run them. What it definitely doesn’t mean is to quit.
Ultimately you need to look to make lifestyle changes that will benefit you for the rest of your life, not quick fixes. Your health and fitness are a life long journey that require you to persevere through the tough times in order to consistently achieve your goals. Life can be hard enough, don’t make it worse but constantly beating yourself up.
Written by Kiel Holman - CrossFit Coach