I consider myself a lot of pretty impressive things – but an athlete is not one of them.
The only physical game I’ve ever won was dodge ball back in 5 th grade. And to be honest, it’s mainly because the boys took each other out one by one, leaving me to win by default. I was a cheerleader in high school, but it was for the basketball cheerleading squad, which (I’m not gonna lie) was kinda known for being the less talented of the school cheerleaders. It was basically just glorified dancing, no tumbling knowledge required.
All this being said – I honor my body’s need for exercise.
And that’s what is great about exercise. You don’t have to have balance (I fall over just standing up sometimes, so good thing!), you don’t have to have speed, or any real skill to start. You can take it slow and build those qualities as you go – that’s the point.
There’s only ONE thing you have to have before you can start a workout program. It’s not bulging muscles or a firm booty – in fact, it’s not even something that you can see!
It’s the proper mindset.
Without a mindset that is focused and determined to stick with a workout plan, the only progress you’ll see is your stomach progressing to a larger size!
So how can we prepare our minds for a healthy exercise program? And most of all, how can we use our minds while we exercise to make the most of our workouts?
I have 4 mindful exercise tips that I am going to share with you today that will transform the way you view your workouts. These are workouts FOR THE SOUL.
First of all, what exactly is Mindful Exercising?
Mindful exercising is when you use your thoughts to assist your physical movement in a positive way.
For example, imagine you are on the treadmill, running faster than you have in weeks. Which of the following thoughts would help you continue this pace? Would it be…
“Ughhhh heeeeelp this hurts! Ugh my toes are all cramped, my legs are on fire. Please, someone put me out of my misery!”
or would it be,
“I am strong and supported. I am FIERCE. My body works for me, not against me. I can take on the world.”
There was a time when I used to have thoughts like the first scenario, BEFORE I EVEN GOT TO THE GYM. Just waking up early on gym mornings was enough to get my negative thoughts rolling full force! And I hadn’t even lifted a single weight yet! The only positive thought I had was that the covers were soooooo warm on those mornings. Can you relate?
But which train of thought is going to help you finish that workout and give you the biggest boost of energy for the rest of the day?
It’s the second scenario thinking that is going to point your workout efforts in a positive direction, which will help you run faster, workout longer, and achieve better results.
Mindful exercise is available to you in many forms. Here are 4 mind exercises that you can try to bring a positive punch to your next workout.
Sometimes I feel like I might as well bring a suitcase when I go to the gym, because I pack SO MUCH STUFF with me.
My soulmate makes fun of me for it, but I know that in order to motivate myself for the next hour, I need to rely on some heavy positive distraction .
Positive distraction can take many forms. For example, if you workout on a machine, such as an elliptical or treadmill, you can bring an with you and prop it up on the machine’s built-in-shelf. Personally, I love bringing my with me to the gym. , so it only takes a small movement of my hand to turn the page. Plus, I can enlarge the text on the screen, so it comes in handy when I’m running and don’t want to compromise my speed.
For me, I only read self-development books when I workout on the machines. They are motivational and packed with thought-provoking topics, which make them the perfect material to pass the time in a positive way.
I won’t even read more than 2 or 3 pages at a time during my hour long workout – I enjoy soaking in each sentence and really meditating on the message, figuring out how I can apply it to my own life.
If you’ve created a Mini Mobile Vision Board (instructions can be found here!) you can place your cell phone next to your Kindle, so you can LOOK at your vision board as you read! Talk about some powerful manifesting; now is that brilliant or is that brilliant?!
My personal favorite self-development book to read while working out has been . If you were thinking about cutting your workout off early, this book will kick your butt into gear again, or at least make you feel really guilty for giving up! It’s impossible to talk yourself out of an workout program while reading this book (trust me, I tried!)
If reading gives you a headache when you are in motion, you could also listen to an audio book or a guided meditation instead.
I’ve written about it before , but it’s worth repeating – is music to my ears at the gym. These meditations are upbeat, so you won’t risk losing your speed or energy while listening to them. My favorite gym track on the album is #1, the Body Love Meditation. If you don’t feel sexy as hell after that meditation, you might want to go to the doctor and get your ears checked. It’s that good.
Taking an upbeat, fun exercise class is a classic method of Positive Distraction.
Soul Cycle is great because it’s filled with affirmations and upbeat music.
If you live in the NYC area, my favorite Positive Distraction class is JumpLife . It’s basically a dance party on trampolines in the heart of TriBeCa! They get the disco ball and glow lights fired up, and it’s like a childhood dream come true! It’s so much fun, you’ll forget your exercising.
Or you can try treating yourself! Do you have a favorite book or music artist? Try only allowing yourself to indulge in those items during your workout. This way, you learn to associate the workout with your favorite things, which will make you want to stick to your exercise routine. Tricky, tricky!
There are so many ways that you can use positive distraction to your favor while working out. Hell, find a hot guy at the gym and focus on him for awhile! That will make the time fly by!
Don’t get so distracted that you hurt yourself though. Let’s not be silly now…
The main point is that you keep your mind busy by focusing on positive, life-altering thoughts. Let these thoughts infuse into your muscles and push you further. Prove to yourself that you are capable of an enjoyable, positive workout. With positive distraction, not only will you no longer focus on that dreaded workout, but you will be using that time to formulate your goals and dreams. If you can leave the gym with a positive mood AND a hot bod, that’s a HUGE win.
Now this one is my favorite!
When you are working out, focus on the feeling of the movement in your body. Feel your leg muscles moving, or your arm muscles flexing.
Whichever part of your body that you are working on strengthening, pretend that those toned muscles…ALREADY exist.
Feel the healthy, fit person within you right at this moment . You don’t have to physically see your body looking that way right now to know that it’s inside you.
It’s almost as if your current body is an old outfit that you are wearing, and going to the gym is like shopping for a brand new sexy wardrobe. Why not “try it on” now?
Your fit and toned muscles, the muscles that you are bringing into fruition right this very moment, are just hidden by your current exterior. And with your hard work and dedication, this exterior that you are wearing now, the “old outfit”, will simply dissolve into oblivion! Poof!
Love handles might be loving on you right now, but feel the fit strength hiding underneath, and send it all your love and concentration. Focus on the future fit – and the future will be here sooner than you think!
What better time for gratitude than at the gym?
When you are sweating and panting, give thanks for the miraculous gift of your body.
Give thanks for your lungs that supply you with the breath you need for this workout.
Give thanks for your heart that pumps your blood to all the different parts of your body.
Give thanks for your strong legs that can take you long distances, or your arms that can lift such large weights.
Give thanks for your overall health that allows you to go to the gym in the first place!
It might feel a bit strange, but look at your muscles as you work them out and be amazed by them! I want you to be “that guy” checking yourself out in the mirror at the gym! Be amazed by your changing body, it’s a beautiful and miraculous thing! That’s you!
When I was a cheerleader, I used to have these cute little biceps I developed from lifting team members in the air. Ever since then, when I do my upper-body workout, I love to watch my arms in action. I see those tiny biceps come out of hiding and I give thanks for them!
I call this Go-Go-Go Gratitude because giving thanks is not something that requires any time or energy at all. It’s as natural as breathing and it can be done any time, anywhere – even if you are on the move.
Give thanks for your body and you’ll watch it transform right in front of your eyes.
Now for some people, not thinking while exercising helps them relieve the most stress. It’s called Meditative Movement, and when combined with exercise, it can prove to be very calming.
My soulmate prefers this type of mindful exercise. Running allows him to release his thoughts and escape his day-to-day worries and stress.
If you find yourself unable to do this naturally, focus on your breath as you exercise. Just as you would in meditation , focus on the in and out motion of your breath, and release any thoughts that might come up, especially when they are thoughts about how difficult the exercise routine might be feeling at the moment! You are not your pain .
Acknowledge the thought, and let it float right on by, just as if each thought was a little log floating down a river. Or better yet, visualize each thought as a jogger that just can’t keep up with your pace. You are in first place and no thoughts can catch up with you!
If you are digging the idea of meditating while working out, you might just love Kundalini yoga. I tried this yoga practice a few months ago , and found not only is it relaxing, but you will leave the studio majorly sore. Nothing wrong with being a spiritual cutie with a six pack!
Having less thoughts is much better than experiencing negative thoughts while exercising, so this mindful exercise is especially helpful if you find yourself dreading your workout.
I hope you’ll try some of these mindful exercise tips the next time you decide to workout.
Have any mindful exercise tricks of your own? Don’t be a hog, please do share – I’m excited to hear what works best for you!
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