June 21, 2010

Turn Your Life Around - This Summer!

As a personal trainer and wellness coach, I hear a lot of negative self-talk, especially at the outset of working with a new client.  My two personal hot-button statements?  I can't, and it's too late.

The former, I can't, is a common one from all ages, sexes, and ability levels.  Whether it's running a sub-20 5K or being able to jog for a full minute on a treadmill, clients looking to make healthy changes are often intimidated by the scope of their own goals.  Simply saying it out loud - "I want to become a runner" or "I will eat more vegetables" - can be a scary first step.

However, we here at bene-fit are firm believers in the power of, well, empowerment.  The world is full of people that will tell us that we can't.  We are often surrounded by naysayers, sometimes working under the guise of protection or caution, that hold us back from reaching our full health and fitness potential.  bene-fit believes that you can.  You.  No matter who you are. 

Summertime is a perfect occasion to review your personal goals and set some new short-term ones as well.  June marks the midpoint in the calendar year, and for those of us who made New Year's resolutions, it can be a wake-up call on our progress.  It also marks the "race season" for runners and triathletes, meaning goals can be set and reached with accountability to a given event or PR time.

The second statement, it's too late, is the one I most often hear from my older clients, particularly women who have had children or men who were former athletes.  There is a common misconception that as bodies change and mature, they are less capable or valid as they once were because they are not identical to how they once looked and functioned.  Simply because you cannot pitch a 90mph fastball anymore or there's a bit more roundness to your tummy is no excuse to avoid setting - and reaching! - fitness goals.

A simple first step is to combat every negative self-statement with a positive one.  If you look in the mirror and say, "These thighs are too fat to stand," counter back with something like, "But I bet they'll gain strength quickly once I start cycling again."  If you wake up in the morning and skip breakfast, instead of thinking, "Yep, here's another day of unhealthy eating habits," reassure yourself that "This is a great opportunity to eat a high-protein, vegetable-packed salad for lunch."

The second step is to qualify negative self-talk with realistic improvements.  For example, you might honestly say that "I can't run even one mile."  Don't end it there - add a qualifer: "...but with once-a-week training sessions with bene-fit, I will be able to run that mile by the end of the summer."

A final step in combating the negativity in your head is to look forward to the end result.  On mornings you might feel like skipping a workout or eating a doughnut for breakfast, remind yourself about why you began pursuing this goal in the first place.  Telling yourself, "I'd like to have a doughnut, but a bowl of oatmeal is a better choice for my cholesterol" is a great way to reinforce your healthy choices.  Also try incentivizing your goals by celebrating small victories: "As long as I eat a healthy salad for lunch each weekday, I will go see that movie I've been wanting to check out on Friday night."

In a less corny variation on "turning that frown upside down," reverse the negative self-talk in your life by starting sentences with I can, I will, It's never too late, and I want to.  Go find your bene-fit with renewed energy this week!

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