I’ve been competing in horse shows for the last four years. As an adult coming into a sport full of kids (many of whom are extremely talented, accomplished and seemingly fearless!), it has been tough to be a “beginner.” I have slowly risen through the ranks at the local level and have finally found a barn where there are other adults to ride and show with. During this time I have worked hard to improve my skills and it has definitely paid off. However, the one thing that has challenged me more than any of the physical work, is the mental aspect. Mainly, self confidence. So, like anything else I want to get better at, I read as much as I can about improving my mental game and overcoming anxiety about performing in front of others.
So what does this have to do with weight loss or fitness? Well, for starters, in any sport you will have goals. Whether it is to win against another team, run a marathon in a certain time, or jump a clear round of fences, there is a goal. To reach a goal, you have to make a plan to get there. Weight loss and fitness are no different. First, you decide what your goal weight is or the ultimate level of fitness you want to obtain. Next, you break that into smaller weekly or monthly goals. Then, you make a plan. For example, if you want to lose a pound per week, you may decide to work out 30 minutes a day and cut out snacking after dinner.
But, what is your mental game plan? By this I mean what are you going to do when the negative self talk starts? This usually happens when life gets in the way of your plans. Imagine a work event pops up, so you miss your gym time and end up overeating that night because you worked through lunch. What do you say to yourself? Do you wallow in self pity and say you’ll never reach your goal because everything always works against you? Well guess what? You have no control over what happens TO you, but you DO have control over how you handle it, including what you say to yourself.
Negative self talk gets you nowhere but backwards! I’m currently reading a book by Jane Savoie, called That Winning Feeling. She says “If you consider yourself a fat person, the will power to diet might work for the short term, but eventually your body will return to the size and shape you perceive it to be. Whatever you believe and vividly imagine will inevitably come to pass.” In other words, what you say is what you get! So be sure you want what you say.
This really resonated with me. When I think about the things I don’t want, I am actually attracting that. So, part of my goal setting for riding is positive talk and positive imaging. Whenever a negative thought creeps into my head, I will say “STOP!” and visualize a big red stop sign. I have thought of a few positive images that I can conjure up when I start envisioning things going wrong, such as the horse jumping in perfect form as I confidently guide him around the course. The key is to imagine every detail in slow motion including the sounds, smells, and feelings. I’ll say “I have trained for this and I am ready!”
What will you do and say? Think of a positive image of you at your goal weight or physique. Imagine effortlessly slipping into a pair of smaller jeans, or walking confidently on the beach in a new swimsuit. How great would that feel? Now believe that is you! Remind yourself of past successes, no mater how small or large. You could say “I worked out three days last week and I turned down the pie at that party yesterday, so I can do it again!” Say “I eat healthy,” or “I am powerful.” Whatever works for you. If you don’t believe it yet, say it often enough and you will make it true. As Jane Savoie says, “The winner knows he can’t alter the facts, but he can always decide how he’ll react to those facts and what he’ll say.”