How to Stop Sabotaging Your Fitness Goals

Lean and Fit: Week 3

Sabotage is an underhand interference or any undermining of a cause. We can do it to others, others can do it to us, and we (inadvertently) do it to ourselves. For instance, when we internally justify eating goodies because “we earned them” or because we “don’t want to make others feel bad by not joining in.”  Most of us do the same with exercise.  We don’t do a planned workout because “we’re too tired (or sore)“, “can’t do it well enough (to meet someones expectations, often our own), or “have other things to do” (that supposedly are more important).

Admit it! We let procrastination, fear, and laziness, get the best of us; instead of exerting our positive attitude, willpower, or focusing on our motivation for why getting more fit is important.  Also, for the under 30’s out there, I don’t think the sabotaging thoughts get easier over time. Sure over the years (as illustrated below) you’ll get more experience in overcoming them, but the responsibilities and overall life fatigue add up.

My story of how I overcome sabatoging thoughts to still get my workout it.

In this story the words in italics represent my thoughts.

Today I was supposed to do a vigorous 1 mile swim. It’s a beautiful day in our Kailua Bay. It’s Saturday and I have no time constraints, but I’m still sore from a week of sitting on my butt and my glutes and scapula are killing me from last night’s workout with my sweet but effective trainer at ‘Anytime Fitness.  My dearest workout buddy, my husband Scott, has left me behind to do his old men’s Soccer with the boys…I could take a nap, finish my novel, call my sister (she really needs me), make some of my great chocolate chip cookies that my husband really wants….NO!  I will not give in!  This is the day I’m supposed to swim and I know from my past that all I need to do is get in the water and I’ll make the rest up.  I will do it!

I’m a believer in fake it to you make it, so I took some Advil, put on my sunscreen, my foxy swim suit, a snappy workout skirt and my running shoes, and told myself “I will put in 60 minutes in the beautiful HAWAI`I sunshine to get some Vitamin D (and maintain some semblance of a tan).”

 Running shoes to swim!?  This is called “know thyself!”  The most effective excuse  I’ve used  in the past to sabotage a swim workout is that I am too cold to swim. Yes it’s 85 degrees outside….but (past memories of hypothermia)…nothing like a jog at 12 noon in Hawai`i to get warmed up. In my mind the “run” was going to be a 5K…but 1M was good enough to break a sweat.  I was warm enough to take the big plunge without any wimping out at the shore line. It really wasn’t cold and i knew it, but getting warm before taking a plunge always helps me not back out.

In reality, there really was a current and choppy waves, and the water was cloudy, and my bikini suit and goggles kept slipping off, and my legs were dead and were dragging, and my right shoulder hurt bad….Yeah, I really was tired (that darn Gia!). But, instead of turning around,  I focused on swim technique, only swam down wind with an aim of 1000K swim (lowered my expectations), and started hunting for fish. YES! the fish distraction (making the workout more appealing) really worked.  At 1/3 of the way I’d swam through a couple of schools.  I also enjoyed the babies circling the buoys.  Sure enough, when practicing underwater breath holding techniques (more distraction) I see a phenomenally colorful school of trigger fish and really remembered why I really do love to swim.

Seven steps to overcome sabotaging thoughts that undermine either a workout or your overall fitness.

  1. Awareness: (See Day 19 below).
  2. Focus on our motivation (that’s why we focused on clarifying motivation or advantages previously)
  3. Have a back up plan or plans: Switch days, postpone it or reframe the workout to make it more appealing (make it easier, totally different or just more fun).  Remember YOU are in charge of your fitness; you don’t have to do key workouts on any one else’s agenda, just yours.
  4. Focus on the long-term success vs. the short-term discomfort. Think of how goood you’ll feel afterwards about how your body will look, feel, etc.  Remember how good you felt the last time after a challenging workout.  Think about how you’ll regret it if you don’t do it.
  5. Workout with friends or a trainer, who expect or even depend on you to show up. Don’t let them down!
  6. Focus on something noteworthy you’ve accomplished in the past, perhaps a past athletic event, winning a contest, getting an A, etc., even if it has nothing to do with fitness.  Remember how good it felt to be “good at something.” Transfer those feelings to what you want to accomplish now by focusing on how you accomplished it, your fears or struggle, how you overcame them and “broke through,” didn’t give up, got help…whatever, you did!  Tell yourself that, “I did it before, know I can do it again!” Then, think to yourself, “What did I do then that I can apply to the current situation?
  7. Just do it! Show up, look good, have a snack, and start easy. Give up expectations of speed or your best performance; cut back on distance or duration.  Mindfully, enjoy what you can do. Stop and rest when you need to.  Warm down, stretch and congratulate yourself for what you did do, which was a lot more than nothing, or letting yourself down.

Lean and Fit: Week 3.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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