One of my favorite classes at Miami is Sport and Exercise Psychology. It is incredible how much information you gain about life, business, mental disorders, team-building, and coaching to victory. One piece of clear truth is your outcome is derived from what is inside your head. Everyone needs different mental preparation to motivate them through the finish line and different approaches work for different people. There are professionals that work with teams to improve their performance. You could be Peyton Manning, but if you have a catastrophe it could make you a JaMarcus Russell. It is all on how you prepare, face obstacles, and what you choose to do after. Confidence is key.
Here are a few tips for building the right confidence from scratch:
1. If you are currently a couch potato, walk at a slow pace. You heard me. Start slow to build the brain’s ability to know where you are in space. This gives you confidence with each step. You program the body to know where you are and it boosts your confidence to take another step and go faster. Think about a baby learning to walk. He or she slowly gains confidence to let go and take more and more steps. Then they run!
2. Eat well. When you eat well you are more likely to make other healthy choices. Who feels like running after scarfing down a Big Mac? When you make small good choices, you are teaching your body to enjoy it and it begins to crave good choices.
3. Visualization. As silly as this may sound, you can motivate yourself by imagining yourself exercising or doing some physical activity. If you cannot honestly picture yourself, think of someone who you know can. Maybe even imagine someone whose physical fitness you admire. Understand that it is a possible feat for even you. The 4 minute mile was thought to be impossible until someone did it. Then several people were able to do it.
4. Tell yourself that you can! List reasons why you need to and ways you can start small and build up. Squeeze in small bouts at first and then soon you will find ways to make more time, if schedule is the problem.
5. When you fall short, do not beat yourself up. (Preaching to the choir here.) Some people use failure to fuel their need to succeed. For others it can keep you from even trying. You cannot succeed if you never try. It gives you a place to improve and a goal to reach. Failure is an option. Not trying should not be.
6. When you do something good, reward yourself. Take a moment when you complete a task to soak in the good feeling. Absolutely enjoy and revel in the moment as big or small as it may be. Some may need a physical reward, like new gear or new music. Take in praise from others and allow their words of affirmation to sink in.
7. Keep it up. Catch yourself when you start to make excuses and dispel them. You can do it as long as you have reasonable but challenging expectations.
With all of this in your mental toolbox, you can be unstoppable! Go from where you are to where you want to be. The only thing keeping you from your goal is your mindset. Success is just around the corner. Go get it!
What motivates you to be healthy? Any tricks you use to stay motivated?
Here are a few related research articles and literature to check out for more information:
1. Impact of Treadmill Exercise on Efficacy Expectations, Physical Activity, and Stroke Recovery by: Marianne Shaughnessy, PhD, CRNP,1,2 Kathleen Michael, PhD,2 and Barbara Resnick, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP2
2.Promoting walking as an adjunct intervention to group cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders—A pilot group randomized trial by: Dafna Meroma, Philayrath Phongsavana, Renate Wagnerb, Tien Cheya, c, Claire Marnaneb, c, Zachary Steelc, Derrick Silovec, Adrian Baumana
3. Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. by: Bandura, Albert
New York, NY, US: W H Freeman/Times Books/ Henry Holt & Co. (1997). ix 604 pp.