Want to know one of the best workout secrets I’ve learned? Attitude is everything. You’re either mentally in the game or you may as well be sitting on the sidelines. Not only does your attitude help motivate you, it’s the only tool that guarantees lasting results.
Ask any professional athlete: So much of their training is mental preparation. If pro athletes are not mentally pumped and focused on winning, they’re almost guaranteed to lose. But for those of us who aren’t pro athletes, no amount of encouragement from a trainer — or even an upcoming high school reunion — will help you achieve long-lasting results. But your attitude can.
Attitude, along with a motto, helps maintain a focus that is everlasting. It’s a simple theme that translates from pro sports to even the simplest children’s book. For example, in "The Little Engine That Could," a long train gets stuck up a mountain only to be rescued by a much smaller engine who continuously repeats, “I think I can, I think I can.” Yes, the train was small, but mental prowess saved the day.
Here are 6 ways to improve your attitude and help you get in shape and stay there:
#1. Get a Motto and Use It
Mindset is a powerful tool that can motivate and encourage big changes, along with lasting results. With the aid of a motivating motto, that little train did something none of the larger engines could achieve. The power of words can drive a person to completely change herself.
#2. Value Your Mistakes
Altering your outlook will guarantee results if you stick with it. And if you get derailed from your goals of eating healthy and regularly working out (like many of us do), shrug it off and learn from your mistakes. Treat yourself with the same compassion you would offer a close friend. You’re human, so cut yourself some slack — no one is perfect. If you happen to skip a workout or end up eating more pizza than you planned, dust yourself off and start fresh. Tomorrow is a new day.
#3. Celebrate Your Victories
Remember that it’s important to set realistic goals when beginning a new workout regime. Celebrate the minor triumphs; one day they will become big ones. In my book, "Strong Is The New Skinny," I encourage people to start a brag box where you can stash mementos and reminders of your greatest accomplishments (i.e. your first 5K race number). Your very own personalized brag box will be your greatest asset on days when you’re feeling unmotivated or like you’ve fallen off the wagon.
#4. Invest in Yourself
No one will take care of you like you, so take care of yourself. Imagine the best version of yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally. Keep that image alive in your mind as you continue to pursue your fitness goals.
#5. Update Your Strategy
Just because you think of yourself as "Xena: Warrior Princess" once, it won't mean that every time you look in the mirror you’ll see a powerful warrior glancing back. Sometimes you need to shake things up and re-strategize. Back in 2013, shortly after having a baby, I received a great opportunity to create and appear in a new Weight Watchers fitness DVD series — an experience I could not pass up. The only problem was I had just had a baby five months prior. I needed to motivate and fast! What did I do? I instantly took action. Aside from eating wholesome foods, I changed my outlook, confident I could achieve my goal. The idea is to fake it 'til you make it, genuinely feeling strong and powerful until you ultimately get there.
#6. Visualize the New You
Take a minute and imagine how you’d look, move and feel if you already had the strong, fit body you’ve always wanted. Stand tall, walk, run, or dance with assurance. Adopting a posture that suggests confidence can literally change our feelings, our behavior, and even our hormone levels, according to the research of Harvard Business School social psychologist Amy Cuddy.
Not only did I improve my posture, but I also posted pre-baby photos all around my house in an effort to motivate myself back into shape. Everywhere I looked, I had visual reminders reaffirming that I, just like the Little Engine That Could, was going to make it.