Have you ever noticed how much people love to talk about attitude? “That guy needs an attitude adjustment.” “She lost the game, but she still had a great attitude.” Speaker and author Charles Swindoll famously said that “life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” Patti LaBelle even wrote a song about it (“I’ve tidied up my point of view; I’ve got a new attitude!”). Considering that October is Positive Attitude month, we thought it fair to ask: what’s the deal with attitude? If it really is that powerful of a force in your life, does it affect your health and fitness as well?
A study that came out in 2013 showed that when people are powerlessness, they will view a task as more physically challenging than they normally would. Also, Stanford Research Institute study found that success is 88% attitude and only 12% ability or education. And, Heartmath.org found that positive attitudes help athletes perform at a higher level. Even Walt Whitman observed that if you “Keep your face always toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.”
If you walk into the studio with positive thoughts about your workout, you’re more likely to feel stronger, more confident, and capable to handle what your trainer has planned for you. Your workout will be a more positive experience for you and your trainer. Plus, if you harbor positive thoughts about your fitness journey, and are therefore more tolerant of yourself and your current body condition, then you’ll be much more likely to meet your health goals.
Pretty great, right? That so much of your exercise success can be determined by a positive outlook? Well, unfortunately, it’s not always easy to “tidy up your point of view” when it comes to your health and fitness goals. Here are your top three ways to improve your fitness attitude:
- Put on a personal pep rally. We all know that words are powerful. However, you might be surprised at what is the most motivating kind of self-talk. The European Journal of Social Psychology found that participants who spoke to themselves in the second person (“YOU will run two miles”) versus in first person (“I will run two miles”) are more likely to be excited to exercise, and therefore more likely to meet their goals.
- Be a label maker. According to one study from Harvard and Yale, labeling yourself as an athlete, weight trainer, or fitness buff, versus just saying, “yeah, I work out” can inspire bigger and better results. Why is this? Researchers think that it’s because this kind of self-branding turns your goals into your sense of self and your identity.
- Hang out with people who share a positive vision with you. It’s true that the outlooks of the people you spend time with leave their attitude imprint on you. Good for you that you hang out with a trainer who happens to believe that you WILL reach your goals (and thinks you’re pretty cool for working so hard).
As you exercise this month, we challenge you to strive to raise the level of your attitude a couple of notches from where it is right now. Whether yours is super low, or pretty decent, it can always get higher and better. Once you get in the “good attitude” groove, we think you’ll be surprised at just how far your workouts can take you.