Motivations, Affirmations and Mantras - Oh My!

"Smile. It's all good. Trust me."
Photo: Photos8.com

We’re starting to get into that tricky time of our fitness journey where maybe we’ve had some early successes but now things are slowing down and we’re becoming a little bit anxious as to whether we can actually really pull this thing off. Nothing succeeds like success but where’s there a pithy saying about spinning, crashing and burning when you need one? Not that any of us are doing that but if you’re starting to use phrases like “treading water”, “getting back on the wagon”, “keeping the porch lights on for Jimmy Hoffa” – well then, you might need a little pick-me-up.

The great - and horrible - thing about motivation is that it is entirely up to us. It’s easy to stay motivated when things are going well but less so when all your hard work stops yielding results. Staying in a positive frame of mind is essential to reaching your fitness goals and so anything that keeps us upbeat is a good thing.

I don’t get to say this very often but lately I’ve picked up a few good habits. Whether it’s from being a member of Cranky Fitness or just not getting enough fiber in my diet, I tend to get crabbier than your average bear; especially in winter. To try to accentuate the positive, I have been keeping a gratitude journal that I write at least three things in every night. I’ll grant you that some nights I do have some trouble getting all three in. We all have those kinds of days. But then it helps me to look over past entries for an immediate boost, reminding myself that bad times don’t last forever – it just seems that way sometimes.

I’ve also picked up a daily affirmations book that I like to use: The Daily Book of Positive Quotations by Linda Picone. It helps me maintain some perspective in my otherwise self-absorbed existence. There is a huge variety of books in this genre and if you can’t decide on one; pick two. Couldn’t hurt.

Increasing the laughs has been something I’ve been doing more of lately, too. Laughter is a natural and immediate mood booster. There’s nothing like a good laugh to clear the decks of any worries or concerns that have been dogging us lately – if only for a little while. Some great current TV comedies are “The Office” and “30 Rock”. “I Love Lucy”, “Cheers”, “Frasier”, “Arrested Development” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” are classics that are always worth another look. I also found this hilarious article called “The Chuck Norris Guide to Self-Motivation” that you might enjoy. And everyone’s favorite, Jack Sh*t, is truly snort-worthy.

The other, most portable habit I’ve picked up has been to develop a mantra – a short phrase I say to myself to stay focused and lift my spirits. There are even some articles written about how to develop a mantra or affirmation if you’re so inclined with tips such as keeping it positive (duh) or representing the present versus the future (Really? I kind of like both). I have my own homegrown version that goes, “Every Day”: I need to do my exercise and mind my eating “every day”. I don’t focus on how big the overall task is - that's too scary. Instead, I’ve cut it up into one manageable thought that won’t overwhelm me. Stringing enough good days together starts to become a very good habit.

What do you all do to keep your head in the game? Do you have a mantra that helps you stay on track? And if so, what is it?

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