I used to have a bad mindset about working out. I thought it was something I HAD to do and when I did get into the gym, I was incredibly bored. Thanks to a psychology class I took and a new gym I found, I’m back on track and getting into the gym about 4 times a week. Having the right mindset about working out is so important. It will help you work out for the right reasons, find motivation, and be inspired. Here are my tips for developing the right mindset
1. Skill Development Attitude
This is going to sound kind of silly at first, but hear me out on this. You need to have skill development attitude about working out. Think of going to the gym as a skill. You have to practice this skill. You won’t wake up one day and be ready to go to the gym every day for the rest of your life the same way you won’t wake up one day and be the next Olympic athlete. It takes practice to build a habit of going to the gym. Once you can think of going to the gym as a skill you have to practice, it will be easier to build this habit on a good foundation.
2. Expect Mistakes
Now that you are thinking of going to the gym as a skill and you are practicing, focus on not being too hard on yourself. If you’re practicing serving a volleyball, not every serve will be perfect. If you’re practicing singing or playing an instrument, not every song will be perfect. It’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay to miss a day or two or a week of going to the gym. You’re going to make mistakes, but you need to continue to practice a skill so that you make fewer mistakes as you go along.
You need to make mistakes so that you can see what does and does not work for you. When I was practicing serving spots in volleyball, my mistakes taught me much more than my successes. Take a skill development attitude towards your mistakes and see them as something to learn from rather than something negative.
3. Add, Don’t Restrict
Working out obviously takes time and it is going to take time away from the things you did before. Instead of thinking “I can’t watch my TV show anymore” or “I can’t hang out with my friends anymore”, think of it as “I’m adding healthy habits to my life” or “I’m adding endorphins (the happiness hormone) in my brain”. This can especially come in handy if you also decide to eat cleaner. Instead of “no ice cream”, think of it as “adding healthy foods”. I know it’s a small change, but this positive thinking will go a long way. When you suppress a thought or action, you are setting yourself up to rebound back into that bad habit. Think positive!
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4. Find Positive Motivation
Motivation is so important, but the wrong kind of motivation can be detrimental. Don’t work out because you don’t like your body, because you want to lose weight (in an unhealthy way), as punishment for eating a certain food, or anything similar. These are negative reasons to work out and will never last as long-term motivation. It’s so important to find positive motivation that will keep you in the gym. Positive motivation can be the endorphins released (a.k.a feeling happier), a healthier lifestyle, or to get stronger.
I love to take strength classes because I’m able to challenge myself and do more than I think I’m able to. I love yoga because it’s relaxing and centering. My body also feels better when I’m active. I sleep better at night and my skin stays clearer. It’s going to get hard when you are tired and sore and you just don’t want to go to the gym. But, if you have positive motivation, it can change your thoughts from “ugh I don’t want to go and there’s no use so I just won’t go” to “I’m tired and sore, but I know I will feel better/stronger/healthier/etc if I go”.
5. Believe That You Can
Believe in yourself! Whether you are overcoming a plateau or getting into the gym for the first time, you have to believe that you can build the skill of going to the gym. When you believe you can accomplish a goal, you try harder, use better problem-solving skills, get less distracted, persist longer, and you are less likely to give up in the face of failure. If you’re sitting here reading this thinking “I just can’t do it and I know I can’t”, then I’ve got some good news for you. Your belief in yourself, much like going to the gym, is a skill that can be practiced and built.
Here are a few tips to help you increase your belief in yourself.
- Focus on the change and the journey rather than the final goal.
- Remember that your past self is not the same as your present self. Just because you couldn’t do it before, doesn’t mean you can’t do it now.
- Keep a record of your progress by writing down when you workout or by mirror selfies.
- Remember that being emotional in a challenging situation does not mean that you can’t do it. Feeling upset means that you feel upset, not that you can’t accomplish your goals.
- Find goals that you can easily accomplish and build up to the harder ones.
6. Set Small And Specific Goals
Goals can help you stay motivated and keep you on track so be sure to set the right kind of goals. If you’re new to working out, your first goal shouldn’t be to run a marathon (obviously). Start small and stay specific. Maybe your first goal is to workout once a week. Small? Yes. Impactful? Definitely. This is an accomplishable goal which will also help you build confidence in your ability to workout. As you meet your goal, make new goals that challenge you further. Just be sure to always keep your goal within reach!
You also want your goal to be very specific. I want to be healthy is a very broad goal. How do you define healthy? Is it working out once a week or four times a week? Is it going on a walk every day or going on a run? There are so many different definitions of healthy. Make your goals as specific as possible. A good goal would be: I will go on a two mile run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday right when I get home from school. A bad goal would be: I will run more. Stay specific, start small, and keep it within reach!
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7. Replace Unwanted Behaviors
This is probably one of the easiest steps. Replace your unwanted behaviors, like watching too much TV, with desired behaviors, like working out. There is no such thing as a behavior vacuum. You can’t just stop doing something and expect to never want to do it again. If one of your goals is to watch less TV, you are going to have to plan something to do during that time when you are watching less TV. This is where you can fit in a trip to the gym, a run around the block, or a walk with your dog. Replacing old habits becomes especially important when working towards eating cleaner, but I will have a post up soon with more information about that!
Creating new habits can be hard, but I hope these tips give you the guidance you need to change your mindset about working out. It doesn’t have to be a boring chore. Turn it into something positive and get your sweat on!
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How do you keep a positive mindset about working out? Let me know in the comments below!