You Can Do All Things!

On my forearm I have some beautiful words tattooed – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  This comforting statement has profound meaning. It means that because of my Higher Power I can do anything. I can set goals, I can dream, I can live a life of passion, and I can have hope. 

 

Lately this reminder has helped encourage me. As I prepare for my first competition in 3 weeks I am more tired and I am training more. I am sore all over. I am doing more cardio than I prefer and I am hungry. I want to cheat or take it easy. I walk into the gym each day and have difficulty getting motivated. However I get started. And each and every time I push through. I push harder.  I get stronger.  I run faster. I keep going when I want to stop. Not because of myself. But because I have a strength inside me that allows me to do all things. 

We forget our power. We forget the power we have through our Higher Power. We allow our own flawed thinking and skewed perceptions of ourselves to hold us back. A friend stopped me at the gym the other day to compliment me in my progress. I accepted graciously and then proceeded to tell her where I felt I was lacking and cast doubt and skeptism on my progress. She reminded me my perception was not accurate and that what I saw was not what others saw. She related and talked about her own skewed thinking regarding fitness.  For my friend she was feeling tired, overwhelmed, and exhausted. She had personal issues that were impacting her life and her family. This would cause anyone to be more tired, stressed, and vulnerable. Yet she continued to do!  She kept working out, she kept taking care of her family, and she kept doing well at her job. 

The ability to keep going despite adverse circumstances or a desire to dedicate your self to an activity requires strength. I am not an athlete because of genetic or situational factors. I am an athlete because I have a Higher Power that allows me to do all things. Alone I would not be competing, nor would I have the displine or commitment to keep training. But because I believe in a Mighty and stronger Higher Power I know I can compete and I know I can stay focused and consistent. When we become self involved our thinking becomes narrowed and too focused on self. We start to evaluate our weaknesses and remember our failures. We compare ourselves to others. I am not an athlete. I never compete in anything, nor did I want to. I always quit when things get hard. I do not want to be challenged. Honestly if my training were up to me alone, I would have quit. However my inner power keeps me focused and shows me every time I workout that I can. 

I can do all things. I can!  When I remember the Power I have I am stronger. I am braver. I am more confident. You are stronger than you think. You are braver than you think. You can run faster and longer than you think. You can have self-control around food. You can do one more push-up. You can lose weight, find health, and love your body. You can if you remember your Power!  Your Higher Power is with you all day, every day, and it will give you strength, courage, and passion to all things!

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The ONE Thing You Can Do To Improve Your Workout Gains

I have been working out consistently for about 7 years. I have also maintained healthy eating consistently during that time. Granted the intensity at which I worked and the dedication to my meal plan have not always been 100 my commitment, passion, and interest to maintain fitness and achieve physical goals with my body have always been consistent. 

Despite all my work I still see areas of my that need improvement. I am probably like most girls that complain about particular areas of my body. A lot of my commitment and dedication to working out and eating well was an attempt to change my body. And still after all this time, I struggle to accept, appreciate, and value areas of my body. In fact I felt ashamed of parts of my body and I would try to hide these “flaws”.

Outsiders see my body and have their own opinions and I have been called crazy for not fully accepting my body. People may say “you are so skinny”, “you are so fit”, or “I wish I looked like you”. However kind those words may be I struggled to accept their compliments because all I saw was “thunder things”. How I viewed my body, known as body image, was not accurate and was based on a skewed idea. 

Researchers posit that body image consists of an individuals thoughts about their body and these thoughts are based on the individuals situation (Bruin, Oudejans, Bakker, & Woertman, 2011).  For example you see your body as it relates to an idea in your head that developed from seeing others, watching TV, and reading magazines. When what you see does not match the idea in your head you will start to judge your body. Judging your body and having negative thoughts about your body will prevent you from seeing your body accurately. It will cause you to have negative thoughts and feelings about your body. If you think you have “thunder thighs” then when you look at your body you will see “thunder thighs”. This is not just an issue that will impact individuals with eating disorders. No, body image will also impact people that strive for fitness and health. This is known as “athletic body image” (Bruin, et al., 2011). Athletic body image is based on your evaluation of your body as compared to another athlete or fitness professional. You may be working hard but if you are comparing your progress to someone else’s you can develop a negative body image. This will only cause you to continue to compare, continue to make you feel bad, and keep you from seeing all your hard work and feeling proud about that work. 

Your progress toward a healthier body is directly related to how you think about your body. For example if I see my thighs as big and fat then I will see my thighs as big and fat when I look at them.  All of this information is necessary to tell you the one thing you need to do to improve your body and make progress on your fitness and health goals. 

Simply change your thinking! 

Your work in the gym and your dedication to healthy eating is working but if you continue to judge your body you will not see this progress. As I shared above I have really struggled to accept my legs. Despite all my hard work I continued to judge my body and dislike my progress. There is power in thinking!  So I decided to hink differently about my legs. I decided to praise them. I choose to see the positive and remember that my legs are strong. I expressed thanks and gratitude that my legs help me move, walk, lift, run, and live a blessed life. This thinking shifted my attitude. Once all the negative thinking was out of the way I was able to see my body in a different way. I was able to see progress in my legs. I was able to see the muscle definition I had been working toward. I was able to embrace my legs and found excitement in the progress. 

Embrace the things you do not like about yourself. Honor, respect, and value your body. Identify your problem area and point out all that is great about it. Rather than criticize your body for what is disappointing, praise your body. Doing this will allow you to see the progress. Thinking more positively will help you learn to love and enjoy your body, flaws and all. 

Tell me, what is your favorite thing about the least favorite part of your body?  

Stephanie

References: 

Bruin, A. P., Oudejans, R., Bakker, F., & Woertman, L. (2011). Contextual body image and athletes’ disordered eating: The contribution of athletic body image to disordered eating in high performance women athletes. European Eating Disorders Review, 19(3), 201-215. 

Think Like a Champion

We all watch athletes as they excel in their various sport.  We are inspired and intrigued by their skills, talents, and their athletic ability.  Athletes are to be admired.  Athletes work hard and their hard work pays off.  Champion athletes demonstrate skill that is to be admired and respected.

A champion athlete is a champion because they excel, champions win!  Although athletes win because of their physical and technical skills, athletes become champions because they demonstrate behaviors and thinking that propel them to success.  Perhaps you do not have the genetic and physical attributes to play and win like a champion, but I can guarantee you can have the ability to think and act like one.

  • Champion athletes think they can!  An athlete does not enter a situation thinking they will fail.  In fact thinking that you will fail will lead to failure.  Research tells us that what the brain wants to think the same thing as the body.  If your mind is telling you you cannot do something, your body will not perform (Wachtel, 2001).

      To think like a champion you must eliminate “can not” from your vocabulary.

  • Champions practice.  A champion athlete does not become the master of their sport from the moment they show up for their first practice.  An elite athlete becomes a champion because they practice.  Generally the winning athlete is the one putting in more time and more hours perfecting their craft.  If you want to be a champion you need to practice.  You will not ace your test without some studying (unless you are one of the few true geniuses out there).  You will not lose weight unless you put in the daily effort to practice diet changes and physical activity.

To be a champion you must work daily to pursue your goal.

  • Champion athletes work hard.  Not only do champions put in extra work but when they work they give their all. You can train like a champion when you decide to give your task your full attention.  Eliminate distractions.  If you are seeking to train harder in your physical activity train in an environment where you can focus on your exercises.  If possible obtain child care or workout when children are preoccupied so you have time to focus on yourself.  Most gyms provide child care so that you can have “you” time.  Wear headphones and listen to a book, show, or music to eliminate distractions.

This does not apply to just physical fitness but to any goal.  If you want to succeed you need to be present, open, and available to improve your task.  Research supports that paying attention will improve performance and will help you remember better, work better, and perfect your skill (Lopez-Vicente, Sunyer, Forns, Torrent, & Julvez, 2014).

To be a champion eliminate distractions and focus on the activity in the moment.  

  • Champions have goals.  An athlete that wins has a goal, to win.  Perhaps they want to win a gold medal, a trophy, or improve their personal best time.  Whatever their goal, they work to make progress toward that goal.  Champions know what they are working toward.

To be a champion define your goals, write them down, and keep it where you can see it.

  • Champion athletes rarely work alone.  In fact the most successful have a coach by their side.  This support challenges them, encourages them, and guides them.  A coach leads the way to success.

To be a champion have a coach or a person that is motivating you and encouraging you.

  • Not only do athletes have a coach but most have a mentor, someone to look up to, and someone that can teach the athlete how to be successful. Ask any successful person who they looked up to and they will name another successful person in their field.

Be happy for the success of others.  Seeing others succeed is the information we need to know that it can be achieved.  Others success is your reminder that your goal is realistic and possible.  Use others success to motivate, inspire, and teach you how to be successful.

To be a champion, find a mentor.  Find a person that is doing what you want to be doing and seek their guidance and advice.

  • In addition to having a mentor and a coach, champions accept feedback and follow direction.  The athlete is successful because they follow the steps of the leaders before them.  They understand that their coach and/or mentor knows what it takes to be successful and they are wiling to follow their direction.

Following direction can be a challenge, particularly when we want to do things our own way.  You can be creative with the advice you are given and it is OK to apply your own unique twist.  However to be successful you must listen and accept advice from others.  If you want to lose weight you will need to change your diet and you will need to increase physical activity.  If you want to be promoted at your job you will need to follow the direction of your supervisor.

To be a champion accept that it is sometimes OK to follow.  

  • Champion athletes study their craft and their skill.  Elite athletes will not only practice their physical skills but they work to strengthen and improve their mental ability too.  They observe, read, memorize, and learn the rules, the expectations, and even trends.  Having a strong mind that is aware and knowledgable of the skill will help the athlete perform better.

To be a champion do not be afraid to learn.  Study your skill.  Read research, blogs, and magazines.  Things change all the time.  You can stay on top on of your game when your mind is mentally sharp.

  • Champion athletes love and honor their bodies.  Athletes respect their body is the reason they are successful.  They see their body as a machine that works perfectly with proper care, nutrition, movement, and rest.  If the athlete does not care for their body sufficiently their skill and performance will decline.

To be a champion love and respect your body.  

This can start now!  Thank your body for waking you up today.  Thank you body for allowing you to breathe and think.  Honor your body for the ability to move with little effort. I understand people have illness, injury, and disability that limits their movement, but the body still functions on the inside without little effort of your mind.  Your body is so awesome it can work and allow your brain and your soul to love others, have fun, and seek fulfillment.  Thank your body for allowing you to enjoy life.

Research suggests that athletes have different thinking, behavior, and motivation and it as a result they find  success.  You may not have the physical skill of a champion athlete, but you can think and act like one.  The tools discussed above can be learned by anyone; truly, we are all champions inside.

References:

Lopez-Vicente, M., Sunyer, J., Forns, J., Torrent, M., & Julvez, J. (2014).  Continuous performance test II outcomes in 11-year-old children with early ADHD symptoms: A longitudinal study.  Neuropsychology, 28(2), 202-211.

Wachtel, B. (2001).  The language of becoming: Helping children change how they think of themselves.  Family Process, 40(4), 369-384.