Just say “yes”

by • January 6, 2017 • Fit in the 49th, Highlights, Home DisplayComments (0)1003

Even after 30K, Olympic Nordic skier Holly Brooks has a smile on her face. The power of positivity can do wonders for performance. Courtesy Holly Brooks.

Even after 30K, Olympic Nordic skier Holly Brooks has a smile on her face. The power of positivity can do wonders for performance. Courtesy Holly Brooks.

New Year’s fitness goals can flourish with the power of positivity

If I asked for a show of hands regarding who has “failed” at a New Year’s fitness resolution I’m willing to bet everyone’s hands would go shooting up, mine included. Why is it so hard to eat less sugar, get regular exercise or actually run that first half marathon? For some it’s the practice of setting unrealistic goals, but
often I think the most limiting factor sits six inches between our ears – that is, our brains and our occasional negative attitudes.
We’re all familiar with the standard list of excuses, but perhaps even more damaging is that negative voice in our heads that sometimes
gets the better of us. It preaches that we can’t or we won’t or we’re too heavy, too slow or our jacket is pink when it should have been red. We
tell ourselves the most ridiculous things to procrastinate and derail us from meeting our goals. In this case, internalized pessimism or the
tendency to see the glass as “half empty” gets the better of us.
I am one of the lucky ones who usually sees the glass as half full. In fact, my Twitter handle bio reads “eternal optimist,” among other things. I’m convinced that my ability to remain positive and find the silver lining in almost any situation is largely responsible for my professional athletic career. Physical talent was never my greatest asset; my ability to put a smile on my face, maintain a stubborn tenacity, and find the good, or learning opportunity, in each low moment kept me going.
A relevant example could be the snow-making loop out at Kincaid Park – groomed for cross-country skiing. Kincaid is home to more than 50 kilometers of trails, yet last year we had only 3 kilometers covered with artificial, manmade snow. Time and time again, I heard excuses from people who like to ski that they didn’t go at all last year because they didn’t like to ski on boring, little loops. (By the way these are the same people who run on treadmills constantly going nowhere.) Did I miss the other 47 kilometers that Kincaid has to offer? Absolutely! But what if we reframe the snow-making loop into
1) an opportunity to practice agility dodging all the other skiers, and
2) a chance to meet, greet and socialize with friends; all of whom are skiing in the same place. The added bonus is that you could be late for a ski date and always find your training partners. These two outlooks on the same situation represent two entirely different opinions,proving that it’s always a matter of perspective!
I know my perspective doesn’t pay homage to the solitude many seek when cross-country skiing, but the power of positivity is like PURE GOLD when chasing down fitness goals. Call it overarching optimism, resilience, naiveté … call it what you will, but understand the strength of positive conviction. If you are not one of the lucky ones born into optimism, do not fear! A positive mindset is something that can be learned.
Here are a few tips to use when making your New Year’s fitness goals, no matter how full (or empty!) your figurative glass may be:
Failing to plan for a goal is the first step toward watching it slip away. Goals should be SMART goals, which is an acronym for “specific,” “measurable,” “agreed upon,” “realistic” and “time-based.” Schedule your training a week in advance, set an alarm, hire a coach, find an accountability buddy. Writing down a plan makes it real.
Internalizing and reminding yourself of the “why” for your goal will make it more meaningful and hence, easier to get out the door or turn off the T.V.
Make gratitude your attitude. Being gracious for what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have is the “glass is half full” mentality. Try a gratitude journal first thing in the morning or right before your head hits the pillow to foster a positive mindset.
This is the record that repeats in your head. Using positive mantras pushes negative talk out of your head.
Working toward a goal is a process that can be viewed as enjoyable with the right outlook. Challenges can be fun, especially when you start to see or feel progress.
I was always known on the ski circuit as the “smiling racer” even when my body felt like it was going to explode with lactic acid. The simple act of a smile sends a message to your brain that everything is OK, allowing for either a higher pain tolerance or a more pleasant experience or in theory, both. Good luck with your 2017 fi tness goals. Now go exploit the power of positivity.
Holly Brooks is a former professional athlete and two-time Olympic cross-country skier. She has recently opened a private practice, Holly Brooks LLC Coaching, Counseling, Consulting and Motivational Speaking. Learn more at hollybrooks.com.

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