Say Something Nice to Yourself

Jan 8, 2019 | Wellness

We’ve all experienced it — that critical voice inside our head or those niggling thoughts of self-doubt that creep up out of nowhere. Rather than letting this non-stop chatter steer the course of our day, fitness enthusiasts say greet the thoughts gently, send them on their way, and replace them with loving affirmations.

“Every time you notice you’re doing negative self-talk, don’t judge yourself,” says Katrina Kaufman, 30, who practices meditation. “Just notice the thought, let it pass on by, and then add a positive thought about what you love about yourself.”

There are some important “do’s” when it comes to self-talk.

“Do it often, and by often I mean several times a day,” she says. “State something that you know to be true about yourself — ‘I am smart, I am kind, I am worthy.’ Use your first name when you practice positive self-talk. Personalize it to yourself and get your own attention. For example, “Katrina, you are capable of doing this.’”

Katrina also cautions women to pay attention to what they say aloud about themselves in daily conversation. She even recommends out-loud, sit-down conversations with best friends in which each woman describes her favorite thing about herself.

“Don’t talk negatively about yourself to others. It sticks!” she says.

Katrina, who is an aerialist with Louisville Turners Circus and has competed in bikini competitions, says she has embraced her body in the last two years as she went through pregnancy, gave birth to her 1-year-old son Archer, and experienced all the life changes that come along with being a first-time mom.

“That first six weeks after having a baby, don’t expect to look like you’ve never been pregnant,” she says. “I realized that I was going to have to be patient with myself.”

She credits daily meditation — even on her busiest days — as a chance to create a peaceful environment, quiet her mind, and set positive intentions for her day.

“During my pregnancy I was mindful about meditating every day,” she says. “I wrote down some positive thoughts about the health of my baby. People say Archer is so laid back, and I say that’s probably because I did meditation every day.”

In March, Katrina will host a half-day mindfulness silent retreat at the Speed Art Museum, during which participants will practice mindful walking, eating, basic breathing, and other meditative techniques. A wholesome meal, dharma teaching talk, and chair yoga are also offered.

 

Debbie Nutt Stein, 56, a physical education teacher at St. Mary Academy and a fitness coach at Baptist Health/Milestone Wellness Center, offers these tips for quieting the critic inside our heads and choosing positive self-talk instead.

“I do work to stay in the present moment and think to myself, “‘no day, but today,’” Debbie says. “I step outside of myself and think about how I would talk to one of my best friends if they were saying the negative things that are in my head. I can’t change the past or predict the future. I think about all of my blessings and that helps fuel me to live in the present.”

Debbie also encourages women not to give too much power to their own internal dialogue and not to take their thoughts too seriously.

“Rather than listening to it and believing it, just notice it,” says Debbie, whose current fitness routine includes Tabata, a high-intensity interval training workout. “Cut yourself more slack. Don’t strive for perfection in your life, strive for progress. I don’t react to every emotion I have. Some days, you just have a bad day. It’s nothing more than that. I don’t give it energy.”

When it comes to fitness, the thoughts and information we consume are as important as the food we consume. Healthy food and thoughts result in a healthy body. Food low in nutrition and media or thoughts that are harsh and negative contribute to poor health.

Katrina and Debbie both encourage women to set realistic fitness goals and start small to increase their chances of success. Don’t start with a 5K race or a weekend of wilderness survival training. Start by walking in your neighborhood or trying a new fitness class.

Both Katrina and Debbie also encourage women to celebrate milestones along their fitness journeys and recognize “non-scale victories” like looser fitting clothes, greater energy, and better sleep. It’s important to reward ourselves along the way. “I love buying new fitness wear, and a trip to lululemon is always fun!,” Debbie says.

Recommended books that can help with changing thoughts and habits include The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins and Atomic Habits by James Clear.

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