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Turning “I can’t” into “I did!”: The Power of Positive Thought and Support in Fitness Success

on March 25, 2013

480446_10151481772458950_52293864_nI was recently inspired when I saw this picture on the NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Facebook page and felt it was appropriate for this week’s blog post. Part of the work I do daily – both with personal training and mental health clients – involves helping people recognize their potential, ability, confidence, and competence. Far too often we turn to that nagging voice inside our head that says “you never will” or “this is too hard”. One of the biggest challenges people have with overcoming adversity (whether physical or mental) is falling back into a web of negativity. I’ve experienced this, too, during numerous training runs, Crossfit workouts, and even personally stressful moments, so I’m no stranger.

That being said, I feel there are two important ingredients to overcoming the negative psyche. One, is to identify and intervene on what thought or behavioral patterns keep you stuck there. The second factor is to not solely rely on yourself: Identify those in your life who will motivate and support you to reach your goals, and reach out to them when you get stuck. This person could be a coach, parent, friend, partner/mate… whoever. I’ve found that the clients who have gained the most from their work with me were those who found themselves able to turn to others in times of distress, ambivalence, or uncertainty.

That being said, let’s talk about Crossfit and how this all relates in a segment I’d like to call: “The Coaches, the Community, and the New Crossfit-er”

I know when people hear “Crossfit” a LOT of various things come to mind: “those people are nuts”, “you are going to get injured”, “you are in a cult”, “um, are you trying to be good at exercise…?” Maybe I just stumbled across the right home base for my Crossfit-ing… but I’ve had an entirely opposite experience. I’m a member at Crossfit Conshohocken, a gym built from the ground up by owner and coach Jay Ross and his wife, Lori. When I first started, I had never heard of crossfit, let alone picked up a barbell or a kettlebell. I had never experienced trying to get through a difficult workout or group class at a gym with people cheering things like “You’ve got three more reps in you!” or “You’ve got this!” It was a bit daunting at first, and as I watched people power through these challenging workouts, those pesky thoughts came to mind: “I don’t think I could ever do this”.

Well, it’s been over a year now, and not only have I become stronger, fitter, and healthier because of Crossfit, but I’ve been amazed by how the coaching staff and community at CF Conshy creates an environment of support and motivation as we tackle the daily workouts or “WODS” (workout of the day). Relating back to my second ingredient in overcoming one’s negative psyche, the coaches and members of CF Conshy work together to put a positive spin on fitness. My fellow athletes know I am struggling to get an unassisted pull-up, so when those show up in workouts, you can best bet they know when to cheer me on. When I see fatigue and defeat on the faces of my friends in those last minutes of a WOD, I know they need to hear my voice say, “You can do it!”langanclean

Head coaches Jay Ross and Nick Tini take the time to get to know each member and identify where the “positive push” needs to occur. Struggling with a rope climb? Jay recognizes where you seem to be stuck and instead of yelling like a drill sargent to “get the hell up there!” encourages you to recognize where you are strong, and play off that. “Put in your best effort, and we’ll get you stronger from there” is a common theme. Frustrated as hell you can’t get that annoying “double under”? Nick relates that he’s been there, too, and helps you bring your focus back just when you feel like slamming that jump rope through the wall behind you. You can be sure the next time you are faced with these challenges, the coaches voices ring loud over the booming workout music: “You can do this! Nice work, Caitlin!”

Eventually, with time, the words of your supporters become your own internal thoughts. You realize that others see something in you that you may not see in yourself – after all, we’re often our own worst critics. This is why when I work with families, couples, or even individuals, I strive to help people recognize the patterns of negativity we get tangled in – whether it’s how we communicate with each other, or how negative thoughts fuel our actions. It’s amazing what happens when a child who thinks he’s doomed to be the “bad kid” hears his mother say “I’m proud of you”, or when a family recognizes that years of conflict have derailed what used to be healthy, happy functioning. I’ve seen personal training clients have the same look on their face I did when I walked into CF Conshy that day: “Wow, you will never catch me doing that!”…. But I did, and they will, and soon enough, that nagging, negative voice becomes quieter, and we recognize that even our small successes are a step at intervention from old, unhealthy patterns of being.

Take a moment and consider the areas of thought you struggle with, as well. Why is it so hard for me to think, “I can!”? Who in my life believes “You can, and you will!”?  I’d like to take a second to promote Crossfit Conshohocken and Crossfit Fort Washington (same ownership) and encourage everyone to try a class, especially if you’ve struggled with adherence to fitness in the past (for whatever reason!) I can’t put a price on how my experience here has changed my physical and mental strength for the better. And hey, you can best bet if I’m there at your first WOD, I will be yelling “You’ve got this!” all the way ’til that buzzer beeps “time”.

Happy Crossfitting, and until next time….

http://cfconshy.com/

http://cffortwash.com/

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3 responses to “Turning “I can’t” into “I did!”: The Power of Positive Thought and Support in Fitness Success

  1. […] that” are common themes. Remember my post on the importance of support in fitness success? (here) Well, sometimes even the loudest cheerleaders don’t help you make the play (…hopefully […]

  2. […] too. From here, I joined a very supportive Crossfit (see my post on that sense of community http://healthymindhealthybodyblog.com/2013/03/25/turning-i-cant-into-i-did-the-power-of-positive-tho&#8230😉 and continued to recognize how people believing in me and supporting my goals only fueled my drive […]

  3. k-cup says:

    Loved this and totally can relate to it. Great Job, lady…sorry I’m just seeing this months later!

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