Who’s Your Cheerleader?

We all know that a little encouragement goes a long way.  Think about your favorite boss, teacher, or little league coach…odds are the person that pops into mind made you believe you had it in you to pursue whatever endeavor you were intent on pursuing, even when doubt and fear was telling you otherwise.  Most of us thrive on the positive kind of reinforcement rather than the negative kind.  Sure there is something to be said for the adrenaline/testosterone combination that kicks into overdrive when we are hit in the face with a negative comment.  Anger is usually a wasted emotion but can on occasion spur a pretty powerful strength training workout (or boxing if you have the resources available).     However, over the long-term even the strongest of personas will eventually be beaten down by constant negativity.  When you are told something often enough you eventually come to believe it.

The beauty of this fact is that it works both ways.  If you are told something positive often enough you will also come to believe it.  Unfortunately, when it comes to thoughts about ourselves we tend to believe and recall the negative comments much easier than we do the positive ones.  Remembering this is especially important when it comes to health and fitness.  Surrounding yourself with positive people will only boost your resolve to stay the course.  Studies show that obesity is often “contagious”, or in other words the people who surround you daily help to inform your concept of what normal is.   If you notice the people in your daily life are having a negative effect on your health and fitness, try to surround yourself with a new normal.  You may have to work a bit to do this, especially if the problem people are family members.  Though you can’t change someone who does not want to change you can incorporate your own healthful beliefs into your home.  It might be as simple as inviting family members on a walk after dinner or as complex as replacing the contents of your cabinets with nutritious, healthy options (depending on the adaptability of your family you may get some backlash with this one but keep trying, it’ll get easier).  You can’t always change the people you live with but you may be able to improve on your household situation.

Another option is to find the inner cheerleader inside your own head.  Most of us are well-aware of the tiny drill sergeant in there.  The one that tells you why you can’t do something, why you’re not good enough, and other bad news of the like.  Tell that little guy to take a hike and start working on ways to banish him for good.  Affirmations are a great way to start the process.  Sure it feels a little hokey at first to stick a post-it note on the bathroom mirror that reads “I’m a fitness rock star” (or whatever little phrase turns you on) but eventually that post-it becomes as much a part of the scenery as your toothbrush holder.  The only difference is the phrase gets stuck in your head like that irritatingly catchy tune you hear on the radio 24/7 and just like those bad song lyrics it will keep repeating somewhere in your subconscious and you are thinking without realizing…then believing without realizing…then doing without realizing…and soon you have realized your goal.

Of course you can always rely on the encouragement of a health and fitness professional.  There are a handful out there who will yell and scream in your face Biggest Loser-style and like I mentioned earlier and the extra boost of adrenaline might help for a bit (or might drive you to punch their face instead of the heavy bag depending on your personality…).  However, most of us are just regular people with an irregular love of all things fitness related who want to cheer you on (and sometimes incessantly correct your form).  There are many ways to motivate yourself but if all else fails you can pay someone to do it for you.

Before you set foot in the gym or press play on that workout DVD, be sure you’ve got your head right, your body will soon follow.