Health, Weight Loss

My Most Effective Workout Mantra

News Flash:

I’m insanely sore from my group aerobics/hip hop cardio class last night. (Think hard-to-walk-up-stairs and cringe-anytime-my-trunk-twists kind of sore). Note: This is a news flash because it means I am unable to help anyone move any large pianos or participate in any push-up contests for the next 48 hours or so, and I’m just giving a heads up beforehand so you know I’m not a total snob. Normally I wouldn’t achieve this level of body tenderness after this particular class, but my regular teacher had called in a sub, who admittedly liked to say things like, “I want you to HATE me tomorrow” throughout the class.

It’s nice in some ways, though; I’ve always thought that a bit of soreness is a vivid reminder that whatever you’ve been doing must be challenging your body in some way, which will eventually bring you the fitness results you want. (At least that’s what I try and tell myself as my eyes tear up at the thought of going up another ten steps to get into our apartment.)

When I first started doing this particular hip hop aerobics class a year ago, I could barely make it through. In fact, 15 minutes into that first class, I was basically only doing the moves half-heartedly (or even quarter-heartedly) and repeatedly checking the clock to see how many minutes I had left to endure.

But, despite my less-than-stellar performance that first time, I stuck with it, pretty much week after week after week after week. And eventually, once I started being able to actually keep up for the full hour, I sometimes started looking for other ways to push myself even more, like saying, “Okay, today I’m going to do the harder version of that squat,” or “Today I’m going to elevate my aerobics step to the next setting up.”

And then sometime earlier this year, I was watching a Biggest Loser episode and heard for the first time what is now (and maybe forever) my most effective workout mantra:  

“Talk yourself into it, not out of it.”

Like 99% of humans, I don’t always want to exercise–sometimes, my mind tries to convince me to sleep in instead of waking up to do my long run, or sometimes my body, when I’m trying to get it to squat lower or hold a plank for longer or keep on going despite a sideache, threatens to quit on me if I keep on going. But then I just repeat in my mind:

Talk yourself INTO it, not out of it.

And the rush of positive thoughts that follows, like “You are way too strong to be wimping out on this move” or “You can do this!” gets me to push through, and after months and months of repeating this to myself, I’ve noticed big gains across all fronts—weight loss, endurance, strength, aerobic capacity, etc. etc. etc. 

So last night, when we were doing the routine from purgatory and my body screamed that it could not possibly do one more squat jump to save its life, I talked myself into it instead of out of it. (Spoiler alert: I did not puke, pass out, or have anything remotely terrible happen to me as a result, unless you count a medium-ish amount of soreness today.)

All in all, my fitness over the past 12+ months has been a series of hard-won battles that I’m proud of myself for sticking with, and every time I can convince my mind to talk my body into doing something more challenging than it wants to, I count that as a pretty solid victory.

Next time you notice you’re trying to talk yourself out of something that will benefit you in the long run, try repeating this mantra to yourself—

Talk yourself into it, not out of it.

I promise it works. 

What are your most effective workout mantras for getting you to push yourself? 


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