Self-doubt happens to all of us at some point in our lives. On the journey to reaching a specific goal, negative thoughts make us question if we can achieve the very thing that we set out to accomplish. It's these negative thoughts, when left untamed, which can affect our actions and lead to negative results.
Our patience can be particularly tested when it comes to reaching physique, strength, fitness or health-related goals where results are slow, or we feel we have less control over the outcome. Learning to catch negative thoughts as they happen is key to avoiding the slippery slope of negativity and ensuring you stay on the path you have set out on with a grateful, and optimistic outlook.
Let’s use this scenario as an example. You head to the gym on a Monday and have an awesome lift. You're feeling good about yourself because you added 10 pounds to your bench and 20 pounds to your deadlift. In short, you feel like a BEAST!!! You wake up the next day, rush to the mirror and promptly start looking for changes, expecting to be rewarded for all your hard work (or…at very least, another glance at those gorgeous muscles you saw poppin yesterday). Instead you feel fluffy — not at all what you expected — and you’re holding water (100% normal following an incredible lift session!). Suddenly your attitude towards the day goes from “I’m ready for you!” to “Why should I even stay on track or hit the gym today?” Negative thoughts start to creep in and you’re convinced you have failed.
This is when you have to practice stopping those negative thoughts in their tracks. Try using the following tactics to keep your mind focused on the positive and stay headed in the right direction.
Remember how far you've come – On days where you’re struggling with the person in the mirror, or worse, the number on the scale, remember all that you have accomplished. Are you a reformed VLCD eater who now nourishes their body with the nutrients it needs? Are you a recovering binge-eater who no longer feels out of control when eating trigger foods? Have you overcome any physical challenges like being able to play with your kids without getting winded or, heck, maybe you can push a car! These are all victories that don't reflect back to us when we are looking in the mirror or standing on the scale. Each and every one, no matter how big or small, should be acknowledged (often), celebrated, and used as fuel to push on.
Try something new – If you do the same routines week in and week out, it might be time for a change. Scratch that, it most definitely is time for a change! Consider adding phases to your routine to be sure that you are getting the most out of your efforts. At a minimum, try a new exercise class, take your workout outside or invite a friend to the gym. Change it up. You will be amazed by your body’s ability to adapt to something new.
Be grateful for what you have – There are people who don’t have the health that allows them to get up every day and work out. Understand you are blessed to have this opportunity. View exercise as a way to thank your body for all it is capable of. Every day that you are able to push harder and get stronger is a gift.
Doubt can creep up at any time, not just during our weakest moments. Next time you feel a negative thought coming on, counter it with a positive one. Instead of thinking “my stomach looks puffy today,” try saying something like “I have strong, muscular legs.” Don't let negative thoughts take you off the course you have set for yourself. Win these small battles one at a time. Your mind believes what you tell it, whether it is fact or fiction. Be sure you are feeding it positive thoughts.