By Vanessa Hampton
Imagine this scenario. Several years ago, while working out at the gym, I noticed a woman doing her
She appeared to be almost in tears and looked very frustrated. Then I heard a person talking to her. This person was awful! They were telling her she sucked. They told her she should be able to lift more weight and move faster. I actually heard them tell her that she should just quit because she was an embarrassment. FOR REAL.
At the time that I was witnessing this, I did nothing about it and it was not appalling to me like it should have been. How could that be, you ask? Because that woman was me and the person talking to her was the voice in my head.
This was not a one-off situation either. Unfortunately, it was a regular occurrence and it took a lot of time for me to let go of that awful person in my head.
I look back at how I used to talk to myself during workouts and it actually makes me very sad. Being a personal trainer, I see the same thing going on in other’s heads all the time. I recognize the expression on their face and the look of the negative self-talk that is taking place.
Let’s think about this. When you began reading this, were you thinking about what you would do in that situation if you heard someone verbally abusing someone else in the gym? Would you confront the abuser and stand up for that person? Would you ever tolerate that happening to a friend or a loved one?
So then why would we possibly tolerate treating our own selves this way? The simple answer is that we shouldn’t. We need to change conversation going on in our own head.
Think about some of the things you say to yourself when you are working out. Have you ever paid
The truth is, the things we tell ourselves is what we start to believe.
If we are constantly criticizing ourselves during workouts (or any other time), thinking that we should be able to do more or that we aren’t good enough because it’s difficult, we begin to believe it. If we do this consistently, why then would we choose to continue walking through the gym doors? Maybe we will for a while out of sheer determination, but why would we continue to subject ourselves to such harsh judgement and criticism?
I was able to change conversations going on in my head over time. These days, I find I cheer myself on in the same way that I cheer on others during their workouts. I use terms like, “You are a rockstar sister” when I do more than what I thought I could. Sometimes, I remind myself that I have done harder things than whatever it is in that moment that seems so difficult. I actually encourage myself with thoughts like “you’ve got this V.”
If I can’t find those positive thoughts in some moments, I just sing. Yep, quite literally find a song in my head to stay focused and keep out any negativity. I am especially fond of the song from the Disney movie, Finding Dory, “Just Keep Swimming.”
If I need to control my breath or can’t think of anything else to hit the play button on in my head, I sing ABC’s. This one I will actually do out loud. It gets me a look or two, but I don’t mind because it’s about me … just like your workouts should be about you. They are for no one else to judge.
Just like it’s not for anyone else to judge how much, how fast, or in what manner you are taking care of yourself through your workouts, you should not be harshly judging your own self. Goals and expectations are wonderful, but not if you are beating yourself emotionally into the ground while attempting to achieve them.
Do you know what happened when I started being my own cheerleader? I got better. I got stronger both inside and out. I actually started loving my time in the gym and having fun.
Just like when someone else lifts us up with praise and love, the same thing happens when we do this for ourselves. So, strive to be the best version of yourself. This always begins on the inside. ALWAYS.
There will be difficult workouts. There will be times when it’s tough just to walk through the door. There will be things that you are not so great at, and there will be days when you fight a sense of failure. We ALL go through it.
In these times, if you find you are less than kind to yourself in what you are saying in your head, start
changing the conversation. You are the one that controls it. You got this!