Inner Peace while Working Out
How your self-talk can sabotage getting fit.
Does any of this sound familiar?
“I can’t do this posture…I’m so stiff…I’m so out of shape…my body can’t do this.”
“Look at my stomach…I’m so fat…everyone is watching me.”
“I’m no good at this…why do I even try?”
The other morning while attempting a new posture in yoga, I heard my self-talk.
Other then a sun salutation now and then, I haven’t had a regular yoga practice for a very long time – about 10 years.
As I slowly tried to balance on one foot while lifting and extending my other leg back, I could hear myself say,”Ohh…this feels different”, “hmmm…I need to shift a bit”. It dawned on me that none of my self-talk was critical as I struggled along. My next thought was, “Wow, no wonder so many people hate exercise or trying something new.”
I know too well the body-bashing that goes on in people’s heads…especially women.
A lot of us are not very nice to ourselves when exercising. I couldn’t actually get to the posture I was aiming for. I did what I could. Kept breathing, stayed with experiencing what was happening in my body, and, appreciating what my body could do.
Trust me, I haven’t always been so kind to myself.
Feeling frustrated with our body, or comparing ourselves to other women in a class is very common.
Even in those serene and peaceful yoga studios, there’s a lot of chatter from the inner-critic.
That inner-critic can be so familiar that you don’t even notice it. You’re so use to the sound of the critic, it’s become the norm.
And, some of us believe that we need an inner “drill Sargent” to keep us striving to be better, “Look at that flab! 50 more push-ups!”.
We may push harder but the motivation then comes from a place of self-loathing – not a source you want to be drawing from.
If self-loathing is your motivation, it can become a vicious cycle. You hate your thighs. You berate yourself. You starve yourself. You whip those thighs into shape with a gruelling workout. You look in mirror (or get on scale). You hate your thighs.
At this point and depending on the day, you feel like giving up and indulge (“what the heck, I might as well eat”). Or, become more determined to whip those thighs into shape.
There may even be a deep fear that if you aren’t hard on yourself, you will become complacent and never get off the couch.
When we engage in negative self-talk about our body, it will always lead to feelings of
shame, embarrassment, and guilt.
When we feel these painful emotions, we will often turn to a substance (food) or behaviour (watching TV) to numb ourselves.
If this all sounds too familiar then try something new and radical.
Love your body now…even if you don’t “love” your body.
Trade-in your inner “Drill Sargent” for your inner “Best Friend”.
A Drill Sargent shames you into action. Your Best Friend encourages you into action.
Your “Inner Best Friend” also believes in you, accepts you, is honest with you and wants the best for you.
The next time you go running, walking, to yoga, or do weights – be nice to yourself. No criticizing.
And if comparing yourself to others is a habit, a painful habit, then focusing your attention on your own miraculous body will give your busy mind something to do.
Being kind and curious with your body is a very different mindset for most of us; but the payoff is huge.
And, just to be clear, I’m not saying not to stretch yourself physically and see what your body is capable of. The majority of us are capable of far more athleticism then we imagine, no matter what age we are.
You will enjoy your body and your workout more if you work with it. Encourage it. Feel into what is happening in your body. Breath into the areas that are tight.
I use to work out and do yoga with my “inner Drill Sargent”, and as much as I enjoyed moving my body, those good feelings didn’t last for long.
Endorphins, better circulation, and all the physiological benefits were no match for my inner critic.
Learning to love and accept myself, forever changedhow and why I workout.
Compassion and kindness are not just something we do for others. It has to start within ourselves…and that includes when we are exercising.
Be well. Be at peace, and love that body of yours into shape!
Helen Croza MA, RCC
therapy + coaching for wellbeing