We love to bust myths and share exercise tips around here. And this tip is something you can do whether you've never jumped onto the exercise bandwagon, fallen off it a couple of times, or have set-up camp there for decades. It works for yoga, for cardio, for strength-training, circuit, boot-camp, Pilates workouts--you name it. You don't have to be a certain weight to do this. It requires just a few seconds of your time. And it doesn't cost a penny. But, I swear it's one of the most important things I do. Set an intention and find something to be thankful for.
Establish your mantra for your workout. It may sound all new-agey and hokey. I don't care.
Pick some words you can bring your mind back to when the workout gets tough.
I wrote a post a while back about body positive affirmations, and this is a similar idea. One of the affirmations I shared in that post "my strong legs carry me through the toughest of obstacles," is actually one of my favorite workout affirmations.
It reminds me why I'm doing this--so that I can be strong and healthy. And it serves as a distraction while my little quads are burning during sumo squats! I just keep saying it over and over again to myself and it (sometimes) takes my mind off of the discomfort.
Another one that I use often is, "a building is only as tall as the foundation is strong." I heard that in an core-focused class once, which makes sense if you think of your core muscles as the foundation from which your body moves. But it also works in a more general way. What I'm doing every time I exercise is taking care of my physical body, because when it's healthy and strong it's the foundation upon which all of the other things I want and need to do rest.
To start out with, maybe you choose something that reflects how you want to think of exercise. Perhaps for you, the thing you struggle with most is a negative association with exercise. Those kinds of affirmations are great too. Something like, "exercise makes me feel good/energetic." Or maybe, "today I'm choosing to honor my body with exercise."
You can Google exercise affirmations for ideas, if you have trouble coming up with one on your own.
The reason this is important is because what you think and say to, and about, yourself and your body becomes your reality. It really does.
If what you think to yourself is that you can't do it, or you hate exercise, or your body is too big to exercise; those things will become deeply ingrained. They will become true even though they're not.
The good news is that if the negative thoughts can become reality, so too can positive ones. Tell yourself these things even if you don't believe them today or tomorrow or next week. If you keep at it--meaning you practice saying these affirmations to yourself multiple times a day--you will start to believe them.
The affirmations are something I do before and during my workouts. But I also do something at the end that has improved my life.
I end my workouts by sitting or laying down, closing my eyes, and thinking of one thing I'm grateful to my body for that day. If I exercise in the morning, before I've had a chance to accomplish much, it's going to be related to my workout.
It might be gratitude to my body for leaving it's comfortable, warm bed and hauling itself to the gym. (Many days it's simply that.) Or it might be thanking my arms and back for holding me up during those last few seconds of that plank exercise, when they were shaking and wobbling and when I just wanted to drop.
It can be general or specific, but the deal is that I can't get up and get on with my day until I've said a genuine thank-you to my body.
I'm telling you guys, focusing on gratitude has transformed not only the end of my workouts, but also how I approach the rest of my day.
So, are those the secrets you were expecting when you were reading the first paragraph of this post? Do you have affirmations, mantras or other tips for nurturing that mind-body connection? If so, share them below!