Getting stronger: Using simple mantras to push through the suck

Hello fellow beautiful humans (trying this greeting on for size),

I’ve had a mindset shift that’s been proving helpful to me and so I’d love to share it with all of you too (she says knowing that a whopping two people tops see each of her blog posts. But hey, if this blog only ever helps one other person besides myself, I’d still say the effort is worth it!).

Let me start by saying that I’m not a fan of exercise. I’ve given running a valiant effort (motivated by the large number of people who swear you learn to love it over time), I completed a couch-to-5k training schedule, and I went for a jog regularly after work. Did I come to love it? Only if you call enjoying the pride and endorphin high after it was over but hating every. single. second. of the actual running part “loving it” then… I think you need a new definition of “love” personally, but that’s just my opinion. It was too easy to come up with excuses not to do it… oh the weather’s too cold, the weather’s too hot, it’s raining, it’s too dark outside, blah blah, you know my brain is a master at talking me out of exerting effort. The moral of that story is that sometimes I think you have to be honest with yourself about things you hate doing even if it’s a popular means of achieving a goal like staying fit. Start by finding a method that you don’t hate with every fiber of your being.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t still be moments where it sucks. I currently subscribe to an exercise program that has new 15-minute videos every day (It’s MommaStrong, in case you’re curious) and while I find it much more palatable than running with some movements and stretches that I can honestly say I enjoy (though not to the point where I’d ever do them for no other reason than the joy of doing them).

One thing I’ve noticed is that when things get tough, my brain cycles through thoughts like Ugh, this sucks! This is so hard. I need a break. Let’s just stop. These thoughts make it more likely that I’ll take breaks (sometimes lots of them!) and also make it feel like it’s taking forever to get through 30-60 seconds worth of a movement. So I’ve tried something different on for size lately. When things get hard, I tell myself I’m getting stronger! and I just put that one thought on repeat until that exercise is over. This one simple change has made a world of difference when it comes to pushing through the hard parts. Instead of focusing on how weak and awful I feel doing the exercise, I focus on the goal and remind myself that it’s pushing through these hard moments where true growth occurs.

This was easiest for me to apply to exercise, but I’m practicing swapping out my thoughts during other hard/uncomfortable moments too. I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m getting better. I’m doing it. Progress is usually not linear or something we can see or measure after 15 minutes of any one activity, which can be very discouraging, and is why I think it can be so powerful to acknowledge why we’re doing what we’re doing and what is happening in that moment of going for it. Forget for a minute how close we are to our end goal or how uncomfortable it feels to do something we’re not great at, and remind ourselves that just by showing up and giving it our all (or even just our some if that’s all we can muster that day) is movement towards the goal!

Practice makes perfect progress.

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