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You may not believe it. “An athlete? Ha, Ha!” you say. But it is true! That athlete lives in your head. Your body is only the instrument your mind uses to take more steps, lift more weights, run faster or do any other physical activity. That is, of course, when and if the inner athlete in your head chooses to come out and take action

  • Believe in yourself:  find that athlete inside you and attitude is the key! When it comes to reaching any goal in life, attitude is important.
  • Expectations for yourself: this means self-efficacy, which in this case is the belief that you can do something successfully.

Put the two together and you have a formula for success. However the question may really be: Are you afraid to find your inner-athlete? Many of us get fearful when thinking of taking fitness on and looking for that inner-athlete.

While I’m sure some of us are lazy at times, I’m convinced that one reason we don’t exercise isn’t laziness, but a feeling of dread at the thought of exercise. Physical exertion can be scary if you haven’t done it in a long time and, for some people, moving the body to the point of increased heart rate, heavy breathing and excessive sweating may seem as foreign as flying pigs.

Most of us are afraid to fail and, when it comes to exercise, that failure can be experienced in so many ways-failure to lose weight, to make it through a workout, to stick to an exercise program, to do the right thing, etc.

Do you want to get old fast? Do you choose to retain your flexibility and strength? In your mind’s eye, can you picture yourself running at the beach or playing volleyball? Does it interest you to be able to roll around on the floor with your children or grandchildren?

Attitude Adjustment – The simplest way to deal with this fear is to set a goal you know you can reach. It’s nice to have long-term goals to work for but, for right now, you need to do what you can handle. If you set the bar too high, you also set yourself up for failure and that could become an excuse to quit altogether.

Anytime you do something out of your comfort zone, you’re taking a risk. But, just the act of taking a risk can be all the success you need to keep you going.

“Okay, so I’ll join a gym,” you say. Sure, it’s what we want to hear … but starting an exercise program is kind of like starting a diet. Sticking to either is the difficult part.

It takes work to stick to your resolve and establish self-efficacy. One thing to watch out for and I know because it is something I am guilty of, perfectionism.

At the risk of sounding trite: “live in the moment”, one of those overused phrases that sounds good but, for perfectionists, may feel as impossible as growing another nose. However, paying attention what you’re doing allows your worries (“Am I doing this right? Should I be doing something else?”) to fade away as you immerse yourself in the movement of your body. Practice focusing on your workouts. When your mind drifts, bring it back to the exercise you’re doing with a remind that this is your exercise time. Find the value in your every effort and be proud of your accomplishments. Tune out the negative self-talk.

Here are some other tools that you might like: goal-setting skills, motivation and imagination. Choose images to help you keep going – Put some “before” pictures in plain view. Add some more recent ones of your more active lifestyle. Choose a “hero” (someone whose active life you admire) and put his or her picture up along with yours.

From time to time you may find that your inner athlete has stalled. You can help get it going again by calling upon that part of yourself to direct the action in your “mind’s eye.” You won’t burn any extra calories doing this, but the imagery you create may just get you going … and keep you going.

Close your eyes (leave them closed for 20 minutes) and imagine a limber and flexible “you” go through whatever paces you have designated as helpful and fun.

Now, create a picture of yourself the way you choose to be.

Visualize all the benefits that the exercising is creating for you in the rest of your life.

Remind yourself how good it is to feel comfortable in your own skin…how you are almost there and how you deserve to succeed and maintain you resolve.

You have taken the plunge into a healthier lifestyle. Congratulations!