Change Your Mind 2
During my 1st semester of junior year in college I was busier than I had ever been in my life. I had 2 work study jobs, the mail room (which I had worked at since my freshmen year), and a newly acquired position as a Personal Trainer/ Strength and Conditioning Assistant Coach. The second job was part of my major thus required. It was always my passion so I loved it. Unfortunately what this meant was I was up early with the swim team at 5:00 am, had a full class schedule, rugby practice, personal training clients and hourly gym shift, mail room shifts, and more sports teams at night, when all said and done, my day went from 5:00 am – 11:00 pm (no joke). Luckily I had 2 lifting buddies at this time who were also in my major and experiencing similar schedules so we kept each other accountable to our work outs, don’t you worry! Needless to say with such a busy day, I wasn’t always the best at paying attention in class.
I was extremely lucky because during this semester I happened to register for a class called Stress Management. This was a 3 hour class that met 1x per week from 6 – 9 pm, another words, it would have been easy to skip it and go to dinner… or bed for that matter. We covered a variety of stress management techniques, some of which I still use today, some of which I have long forgotten and could most definitely use a refresher on. The teacher was a very soft spoken petite woman, who loved yoga, and meditation so every class started with 5 minutes of yoga, half way through we would take a 5 minute break come back and do meditation. This was my first, and so far only experience with guided meditation. I at first thought it was very silly, but when my professor gently said the words “and if you feel yourself beginning to fall asleep, do not fight it, instead allow your mind to be at ease and let yourself be engulfed by it” I was hooked. Whoa! A professor that encourages me to fall asleep during class… I never missed one!
I can’t tell you what grade I got in the class, or even how we were graded because the professor did not believe in tests (they caused to much stress), but I can tell you this was one of the most helpful classes I took in college. Before this class I had 2 ways of managing my stress, pretend it wasn’t there or hit someone extra hard on the rugby pitch. Can you say disaster waiting to happen?
We learned a lot about thought processes of human being, how we tend to focus on negative things. The theory behind this was that it is genetically programmed in us to do so. At some point in the early times of humans, you had to focus on your weaknesses (negatives) in order to improve them so the neighboring tribe didn’t come murder you and take all of your stuff. The idea was that if you were always satisfied with what you had you would never make progress. This was a true life or death situation. Now days we do not really have to worry about that. Sure we have our careers, our family, and other things that may feel like life or death situations. If you really think about it though, would you really die if you lost your job? No, you may have to make lifestyle sacrifices but you would be able to find a way to survive. This really opened my eyes to what I was stressing about. I literally could not help but stress over these things that at the time seemed like life or death decisions, they were programmed into my DNA. Well that’s just not fair!
So how do we fight this over whelming desire to focus on the negatives? Well my professor had an answer for this as well. She challenged us to keep a journal of positive affirmations. Before we went to bed at night we would write down 3 things. Number 1 – Something nice we did for someone. Number 2 – Something nice someone else did for us. Number 3 – something we were proud of ourselves for that day. At first this was very difficult. It felt wrong to pat myself on the back and say wow you held the door for someone to day, you are awesome! Eventually after doing this for about 2 months it began to change the way I felt about my day. I no longer went to bed thinking how bad I had it because I was so busy, poor poor me, no one has it this bad. Instead I went to bed thinking wow I conquered that day, and I looked good doing it!
This could work for health and fitness as well. Sometimes my clients tell me they almost canceled… and that’s when they showed up and didn’t actually cancel haha. When asked why, it is usually because they are stressed out, short on time, mentally and physically tired, or any number of other reasons. At the end of the work out I ask how they are feeling and the answer is always the same, “better than when I came in”. So why, if every time you work out you feel better, do we make our work out the first thing to go when life gets hectic? Friggin DNA is making us associate the challenge of working out as a negative, and at that point you are so stressed about everything else in your life you do what I used to and pretend it isn’t there (aka cancel), or come in and request we make the whole work out boxing, with the faces of your boss, your client, your spouse, the MBTA, mother nature… you get the point, glued to my mits. So let’s change this, and make your work out the thing you look forward to every day! Thinking this way will make reaching your goals much easier!
Here is my challenge to you. Before you go to bed WRITE DOWN, three things.
1) How did you get extra movement into your normal daily routine?
2) Regarding health and fitness, what did you do that you are most proud of today?
3) How did you improve in today’s work out, compared to your last work out?
At first this will be a challenge. For some of you it may seem silly, for others, it may add yet another stressor to your life. However, I truly believe that you can change the way you think about your health and fitness by doing this consistently. Eventually you will look forward to taking the stairs, or eating an apple over a candy bar, or doing an extra rep or two!
Feel free to share your first 3 positive affirmations from today in the comments, be proud of your progress!
Best of luck to you!
Mike Gilmore - Fitness Together Newtonville