Want a better workout? You should go and love yourself.
For too long, people have approached exercise from a place of self-criticism. In an attempt to get motivated, we listen to a negative inner voice that tells us we’re lazy, we’re not good enough, we need to lose weight. Not surprisingly, neuroscientists say this kind of self-criticism can actually push us further away from our exercise goals.
Exercise is most successful when you start with self-compassion. February is the perfect time to show yourself some love as part of your workout routine.
The key is to celebrate what your body can do and to make the extra effort to maximize your exercise time. Regular exercise is a chance to take care of (not punish) yourself, says Kim Lavender, who specializes in the role of neurolinguistics in exercise performance, as national director of team training with GoodLife Fitness.
Lavender suggests these ways to add more self-compassion to your fitness routine.
Banish negative self-talk. If you’ve been using self-criticism in an attempt to motivate yourself to exercise, it’s time to switch that around. Find a more positive message that will motivate you to become healthier and happier. A great example is ‘If I make it to the gym three times this week, I’ll feel healthier, less stressed and more energetic.’ Write down your positive message and post it somewhere you can see it every day.
Don’t just burn and run. Instead of rushing to get home for dinner or back to work, allow extra time to warm up, cool down and stretch on either end of your workout. This focused pre- and post-workout routine helps put you in tune with your body, can help prevent injuries and encourage a better workout.
Start training for life. Fitness is not just about burning fat and sculpting muscles. To show extra self-love, incorporate fitness moves into your routine to build strength, endurance, and flexibility for daily activities.
Take care of your mental and physical health. When it comes to exercise, a lot depends on your state of mind. Minimizing stress, practicing mindfulness and getting mentally prepared will help you get the most out of your workouts. Take better care of your body by eating properly, sleeping enough and drinking lots of water. Also, take time for recovery after a tough workout…you’ll perform even better after a rest.
Wear your favourite workout gear. When you dress the part, it has an unconscious effect on your performance (it’s called enclothed cognition). The right fitness wear boosts your confidence and enables you to push yourself without being distracted.
Take a break from social media. It’s no secret that social media can prompt self-criticism. Not only that, but it’s distracting when you exercise. If you truly want to show yourself some love, shut down the ‘Gram when you work out. Disconnecting enables you to focus on yourself and take time away from the outside world. It helps clear your mind to focus on form.
Celebrate your achievements. Fitness can feel like a slog if you don’t take time to recognize your successes. Reward yourself when you make it to the gym three times a week, or you lift a heavier weight or keep going on the elliptical for an extra 5 minutes. Notice how your body, your mood, and your health is changing and mark those changes with a meal out, some extra ‘you time’ at home, or new fitness gear. Fitness is about challenging yourself and being consistent, and it all starts with confidence and self-compassion.