My wandering eyes followed their usual pattern while I was running on the treadmill this morning, eliciting thoughts such as:
- How much is that person lifting?
- How fast is my treadmill neighbor running? (It always feels like a competition…)
- Any new headlines on one of the multiple channels broadcasting right now?
- Hey, I think I know that person! *avoids eye contact because I look like a sweaty tomato*
- Ugh, I wish I looked like that girl.
So on and so forth the dull musings continued until my eyes landed on two words boldly emblazoned on the wall above the TV screens:
Simple, yet effective.
I pondered the fact that, while I have been a member of this gym for a few years now, I never really considered the weight of the phrase (I cannot resist a corny pun). At first, “No Critics” seems like a straightforward warning: do not make other gym members feel inferior or uncomfortable. And, on some level, it is. Every single person at the gym has a story, and they are there to do the best that they can in order to better their health. The “No Critics” rule fosters a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere at the gym.
On further thought, somewhere before almost losing my sanity on my second-to-last mile, I realized that there was another ‘critic’ that we all need to be warned of: ourselves.
I realized that there was another ‘critic’ that we all need to be warned of: ourselves.
Have you ever talked yourself out of an exercise because you thought you just couldn’t do it? Ever said something to yourself such as “Ugh, I can’t keep running. I’ll just stop now.” Perhaps you had a goal in mind and quit before reaching it because you thought it wouldn’t make a difference in your weight-loss journey. Or, maybe you are just hesitant to even begin a certain type of workout regime.
The bottom line is, maybe you are holding yourself back from reaching your full potential; perhaps, the voice in your mind is your worst enemy at the gym. Are you your own largest critic??
If so, you need to remember the rule: NO CRITICS.
Here are some ways that you can correct those negative thoughts in order to achieve your full potential at the gym:
- Pre-Workout. Begin with a plan! While stretching or warming up, take a few minutes to envision your workout. In your mind, run through exactly what you want to accomplish, visualizing from start to finish. This mentally prepares you to tackle each task and follow it through to completion.
- During Workout. Keep focused- on the right thoughts. Count your reps, your steps, or your breaths- whatever works for you! If that doesn’t help, utilize helpful distractions, such as listening to your favorite playlist or an intriguing audio-book, or running through a debate in your mind. Controlled distractions and cognitive stimulation keep negative thoughts from creeping into your mind during exercise.
- Towards End of Workout. Picture yourself finishing, and visualize the benefits. Think of the sense of accomplishment you will have after running so long, or the bragging you can do to your buddies after you lift so much! Imagine fitting into those jeans again, or being able to keep up with friends at a fun, 5-K race! You can also reminisce on past good workouts, and how great you felt afterward. Yearn for that euphoric feeling again.
- Post Workout. Take a few minutes during your cool down to do a mental review of your workout. What did you enjoy, what could you do better, how certain things made you feel, what helped your motivation, etc. This gives you “food for thought” during your next work out, and can help you set goals for the future.
- Post-Post-Workout. Plan to do it again- and soon! The more often you push your body’s limits, the more comfortable you get to be with the pain of endurance. This means that your body will come to be able to handle the lungs-on-fire-want-to-die feeling during a run, and soon, it won’t feel so bad to go even farther than you ever have before!
For me, I always hated running. I had great endurance and stamina, but I would be so bored and it felt as if my mind was holding me back from lasting for long periods of time. Lately, by putting some of the tips above to practice, I have been able to go farther and faster than I ever thought I would- and it feels amazing.
So much of a successful workout is attributed to just pushing through the pain and sweat; in fact, you could say that mental strength is almost as valuable as physical strength when working out. Some people even find that it takes just as much practice to “fortify” your determination as it does to train any physical muscle group.
It does take some willpower, but you can overcome a negative attitude towards exercise and silence that disparaging voice inside your mind.
After all: no critics, right? 🙂
Do you have any workout or exercise motivation tips? I always like to hear what you have to say! Leave me a comment below!!