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I thought the beginning of the new year would be a good time to reflect on the issue of a seemingly common, quite negative attitude that many develop towards fitness. Over time, I’ve come to the realization that a great number of people view the gym, or any form of fitness for that matter, as much more of a foe than a friend; a burden or chore, if you will. Lately, I find myself wondering why this is the case, and how we can try to make efforts towards changing this common attitude and stigma towards fitness, in order to begin forming a positive outlook, and a more upbeat connection.
This is that time of year when tons of people make resolutions, particularly to become more physically fit, healthier, and content/comfortable in their own skin. Unfortunately, it’s simultaneously a time where people quickly give up on these goals, lose sight of their motivation, and simply quit without realizing that they were already ahead of the game simply by starting!
That being said, I am taking now as an ideal opportunity to approach this topic head on, in an attempt to inspire and motivate anyone – resolutioners and gym rats alike – to approach fitness in 2015 from a more positive angle.
Let’s be honest. Everyone knows that beginning on January 2nd of each new year, gyms become packed with new faces, sudden lines for the treadmill, and an overall hustle and bustle that was virtually nonexistent on December 31st. I can vouch for this, as I attended my normally quiet kickboxing class the second day of the 2015, only to find a full house and one bag left that I was lucky to get my hands on. (Sidenote: This is in no way directed negatively towards anyone committing to fitness, joining the gym, etc. in the new year. These are simply my observations throughout research for this entry. Good for ALL of you, keep it up, this is your year!)
However, in the time between February 1 and March 1, the rapid influx of new faces seems to drastically dissipate. The ‘regulars’ are left, the treadmills are free, and the gym returns to the state of “normality” it possesses the other 9-11 months out of the year. Evidence: I made sure to go back to that same boxing class one week later to check in on the turnout, and it was pretty much back to its original state.
My big question is: Why? Why do so many people quit and give up on their goals so quickly? Why does this pattern persist each year? What’s up with that?
I am a routine gym goer, but sometimes even the most bona fide gym rats battle a negative attitude towards getting to the gym. I’ve learned over the years that it’s ALL about ATTITUDE. Only I control whether I’ll be negative or positive; proactive or inactive.
Yes, everyone misses days here and there and that’s totally normal and fine, but this is really geared most towards those who just can’t seem to maintain their fitness habits. The BEST piece of advice I can give to those who are reading and relating to this entry is this: Working out and being healthy is not just about making efforts to train your body. You must train your mind, as well. Positivity is crucial, and the overall results will follow.
I’ve concluded this: the mindset must change.
All these pressures: strict deadlines, viewing fitness as an awful chore, separating your mind training from your body training, are the very things making you roll your eyes, get down on yourself, and hate thinking about going! In thinking negatively about fitness, we are only ever hurting ourselves and our results. Below, I’ve composed a list of eight tips that, if truly accepted and put into practice, can influence a sway in anyone and everyone’s attitude. They work for me, they’ve worked for those near and dear to me who are not daily gym-goers, and they’ll work for you too, whoever you are and however you relate.
How To Transform the Gym from Foe to Friend:
1. Don’t start on the first day of the new year, and don’t give yourself a deadline.
I respect and understand the point of New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve never been a big fan of them. I consider myself a fairly disciplined person, and I’ve made plenty, and they just seem to fade away in the wind with January 1st. The emphasis on the first day of the new year tends to ultimately outweigh the resolution itself. There’s SO much pressure involved in committing to a lifestyle goal when you give yourself this strict start and finish line. If you’re a certain distance from your ‘deadline’ and you’re not where you’re ‘supposed’ to be, of course you’re likely to quit! You’ll think negatively, get down on yourself, and lose motivation. Here’s what you should do: just start today, and go again tomorrow, and then go again the next day, and keep on going. If you miss a day, so what? We all do! Like Forrest Gump said, “I just kept on runnin!” If you don’t have a finish line in sight that says “PASS” or “FAIL,” going to the gym will simply become a positive aspect of your life. Relieve yourself of this weight on your shoulders, and the real results will begin to show.
2. Get out of your own way.
This one requires you to stop thinking and start making moves. The only person stopping you from getting up and going to the gym is yourself. Don’t over think the process. Stand up, put your leggings on, tie those sneakers, blast your favorite music, and get your booty to that gym. Anyone can find ten reasons they can’t/won’t/shouldn’t go to the gym today. A one hour workout is 4% of your day. The rest of the stuff in life will be there for the other 96%, and you deserve 4% for yourself. Every minute you spend on excuses could’ve been filled with burnt calories and pumped up endorphins!
3. Focus on your future results, not your past attempts.
So, you tried to maintain consistent fitness habits in the past, and you totally failed? Or you’ve gained 15-20 pounds in the last year, and you feel horrible about it? The worst, most negative thing you can do in situations like these is to be hard on yourself or think about your past. Good God, if I dwelled on every fail of my past, I’d never get anything done! The day you step into that gym, you are stepping into your future and towards an amazing lifestyle change. Forget what happened. It’s over, you can’t change it, you learned from it, and it made you who you are right now. Try your hardest, every single day, to focus on the fact that you’re motivated enough to act and make a change. Just because you failed once or twice, or maybe even three times, doesn’t mean you’ll fail again. However, if you focus on failure, failure will follow. Focus on success, and watch what happens…
4. Don’t be mad at the gym. The gym has your back.
I’m definitely guilty of this one sometimes. Walking into the gym after a long day like, “Ugh, I can’t believe I’m here. I’m so not feeling it today. So out of it. I really, really can’t stand you today, gym.” When this happens, I try to stop for a second and check myself. Chances are, you’re probably frustrated about something else going on and it’s trickled down to this. But remember, the gym is your FRIEND! It has your back and it can be your sanctuary! Work out your frustration and clear your mind with a good sweat and a deep burn. Run fast, punch a bag, lift some weights – pump your system up and out of whatever else is going on. Throw yourself into your workout and your whole attitude will change. A solid workout can fix many things.
5. Start viewing the gym as a place that will change your life.
So many people walk into the gym like it’s there to get them. Yes, working out requires you to push your limits, and it makes you sweat, and your body aches and burns because of the things you do there. But it’s a positive challenge, a healthy, invigorating sweat, and aches and burns that are confirming amazing results that you’ve been working for! If you envision the gym as the sanctuary you visit to improve your body, mind, and life, you’ll be much more motivated to go than if you think of it as a dungeon of torture. It’s a place where you can improve your health, your skin, your mindset, and your body! Sounds good when it’s said like that, right?
6. Make the gym your personal escape.
So many things in life are out of our control. Walking into the gym, I feel a sense of independence and freedom that allows me to escape and enter my own world for a little while. Once my headphones are on, and my heart starts to race, I’m somewhere else. After a long day at work, or chasing kiddies around, or if you’re going through tough times, there are few things better than drifting off into a solid workout. Running is like a therapy session. Treat yourself to this escape, and be thankful for the opportunity to regroup and, in theory, run away from everything for a bit. Before you know it, fitness will become your escape, instead of you wanting to escape fitness.
7. Associate fitness as part of an overall lifestyle routine.
I once heard someone say “you can’t out-train a bad diet.” This could not be more true. I don’t say this to kill your vibe or de-motivate you. I say this because if you’re truly working towards change and you want positive results, you must treat fitness as only one aspect of your overall lifestyle. To reach your goals and see amazing changes, your healthy lifestyle should consist primarily of three things: fitness, delicious clean eating, and a positive, upbeat attitude. Once you put a little less emphasis on gym gym gym, and disperse your energy into overall healthy living, you may put less pressure on yourself when working out. As a result, the gym will be associated with more positive feelings, and fitness will become a source of joy and satisfaction in your life.
8. Remember to connect your mind and your body; they are a team.
Finally, I ask that as you work through this list, you remind yourself each day that your body and mind are one. Remember to keep them connected and listen to them as a joint voice; a team. They drive results. Your attitude will reflect in your efforts and motivation, and how you treat your body will impact your state of mind. Believe that you can work hard and push yourself, and your body will reflect that work. It’s a simple, natural equation. You just have to train yourself to connect every single day. Negativity draws failure, and positivity draws success. This is true for all things in life.
I wish you success, health, and the results you seek not only in the new year, but every single day! Be well, be happy, stay positive. Much love 🙂