We’re back to our regular-scheduled programming here. Did you enjoy the guest bloggers I featured last week?
I had a really productive yet relaxing week. My boyfriend was out of town so I took it as an opportunity to work a little later than usual, and I had access to a car which made daytime errand-running much more efficient.! I spent far too much money and came to the realization that if I was a single girl living in the city I would be poor and probably overweight. Jordan keeps me in check when it comes to spending too much money on clothes and food 😉
Things are back to normal around here, but after having a couple of quiet nights to myself I’m feeling recharged and ready to grab life by the horns again. I started teaching a new group fitness class designed specifically for runners on the weekend and I’m so pumped to work with these awesome people for the next five weeks! If all goes well I’m hoping to continue the program, either as another six-week installment or on a continuing basis.
I’ve got a few ideas I’m working on putting into action, upping my marketing game, and am all-around satisfied with the direction my business is going. I still have some work to do before I can leave the hotel to do this full-time, but so far it’s all steps forward, no steps backward.
When I think back to where I was a few years ago and the direction I was headed, I really am amazed at where I am now.
I was a pretty negative person for most of my life. I was generally happy, but I always expected the worst. I didn’t want to look forward to things because I didn’t want to be disappointed. My motto was “don’t set goals and you won’t fail”. I always thought there were hidden intentions between peoples’ nice gestures, and if my parents were more than 1 minute late I thought for sure they had died in a car accident.
I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I didn’t really care because I spent most of my teenage years and early 20’s in an alcohol-induced stupor. I ditched University when I was 19 to go live and work in the mountains, and when I was 20 I paid $800 for a fifth-wheel trailer to live in. It was at that point I set my first goal: to one day live in a double wide trailer. Lol, seriously.
Fast forward a few years and a lot of mistakes later and I finally pulled my crap together. At this point I had managed to earn a diploma in Hospitality Management in six months while working (and drinking) full-time, so I was somewhat confident in my ability to do something I set my mind to. I had lost a little bit of weight by doing P90X and cleaning up my diet a little bit (and I really emphasize a little bit), so when I made the decision to stop drinking I threw myself into fitness full-swing.
I had a lot of mental garbage I really needed to sort through, and while busting my ass in the gym gave me an outlet, it didn’t really give me the chance to deal with everything. My confidence in myself was growing and I didn’t have quite the hot temper as I did while I was drinking, but I was still very reactive and the second something went wrong everything was “totally fucked up and ruined and I’m stupid for even trying”.
If jeans didn’t fit well I was “fat and ugly”.
When I had a bad hair day I blamed it on my “ugly bald head” (I have alopecia, a condition that causes my hair to thin around the hairline).
If I misunderstood something, reacted to it, and then became embarrassed, I was a “fucking idiot”.
The negative self-talk goes on and on. Not really the best way to talk to someone who was trying to change their life around.
When I was growing up my mom was big on the whole “positive affirmation” thing. Like many other women, she watched The Secret and talked about “manifesting your future”. I thought she was full of crap (sorry Mom). When I was going through the confusing time of trying to change my life yet feeling held back by my negative brain she suggested I try repeating some positive mantras to myself.
I thanked her, but told her that kind of stuff didn’t work for me. My nice way of saying “you’re full of crap”. (Again, sorry mom).
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but eventually my mindset shifted. After having landed the job I wanted, running my first 10k and then first half marathon, finding and applying for what seemed like the perfect apartment in Vancouver for my boyfriend and I, and working my way through the personal trainer certification process while working full-time those voices in my head that told me I was fat, stupid, and ugly started to get a little more quiet.
When I would begin to get hesitant about a scary new undertaking, I was able to remind myself of my track record for kicking ass as opposed to worry about how I could screw things up. Not only were my tough workouts and regimented eating habits teaching me discipline and willpower, they were also transforming my body into something I felt good about.
“Fat”, “stupid”, and “ugly” became even more quiet.
The first time I can actually recall repeating a mantra in my mind was on one of my first treadmill runs last year after taking a break from running due to my IT band. I was determined to make it 10k. I’m NOT a treadmill runner when it comes to anything other than sprints. I can’t stand the thing. So combine that with increasing pain on the outside of my knee, and those last few kilometers were pretty brutal.
I needed to stop focusing on how much I hated my life at that very moment. I don’t know where it came from, but in my mind I started repeating “you are strong, you are powerful, you are capable, you are confident”. I told myself I could look to see how long I had left after repeating that 10 times. Then it was 20. Then 30.
Those statements became my “thing”. I started repeating them in my mind during tough cardio sessions, when I nervously walked to meet new clients, and when I totally freaked out before having to step out of my comfort zone and talk to complete strangers.
Those statements still regularly make their way into my mind, as does “COME ON GIRL! YOU CAN DO THIS!” “you’ve done this before, you can do it again!” and “I AM WOMAN! HEAR ME ROAR!”
Does it sound totally lame? Yes. I’m cringing at the fact that I’m even sharing this with you. But does it work? 100% yes.
Now I’m all about the vision boards and manifesting the life I desire. But those things alone aren’t enough. I know that in order to get what I want I need to take action, and saying these seemingly silly things in my mind over and over again boosts my confidence in my ability to do so.
I’m not saying I’m a happy-go-lucky positive ray of sunshine all the time. Those fears and doubts still make their way into my mind. I still get scared when I voice my ambitions to people because “omg what if they don’t happen?” Last Monday was a pretty rough day in that not only did I left other people’s negativity get to me, but I also let my own self-defeating thoughts get the best of me.
But because I’ve been fakin’ it till I make it with positive affirmations, I’m able to talk myself out of a mentally messy situation in substantially less time than I used to, with substantially less of a temper tantrum.
While genuinely trying to change your outlook on things can seem like a constant challenge, it’s easiest when things are going well. “Sure, I can stay positive when things are working in my favour.” “I can be happy about my healthy food choices when I’m surrounded by crappy garbage I don’t really enjoy.” “I can enjoy a sweaty workout when I’ve got nothing better to do.”
But it’s when the odds are against us that old habits try to come back into play. In my case, it’s something not going as planned that triggers old emotions. For some it may be certain foods that make them want to totally jump off the healthy eating ship for life. And for others, all it takes is one social event to skip a workout and abandon all future workouts.
I’ve found that being overly, almost embarassingly, positive about life when things are going well, helps me to be at least a little positive when shit hits the fan. So readers, I want to pose a challenge to you.
Celebrate EVERY SINGLE LITTLE SUCCESS this week.
Make it through a full workout without skipping a rep? Give yourself a massive pat on the back and an internal “YOU GO GIRL!” Cross everything of your to-do list, even if it just consisted of “go to work” and “cook dinner”? Scream “YOU THA MANNNN!” in your mind with relentless enthusiasm. Turn down a cookie at the office? Revel at your iron willpower and reward yourself with something other than food.
Keep doing it over and over again, no matter how silly it feels. Eventually it will come naturally. This isn’t some weird spiritual voodoo crap. It’s basic psychology. Positive reinforcement is how babies learn to function as members of society. It’s how dogs learn how to sit and roll over and do things like this:
And it’s how we are going to learn to conquer our negative thoughts, our goals, and possibly the world. If that’s what you’re into.
So tell me readers: do you use the power of positive thought to lift yourself up? Have any mantras you feel like sharing? What’s a small goal you can set and conquer this week? Spill it!