Most people don't start a workout resolution feeling ambivalent. You were probably fired up the day you decided that this time you were going to chase your fitness goals with no mercy, and this time nothing was going to stop you.
You went for a run one morning, and then went to the gym to lift weights the next evening. Maybe you hit the indoor pool for a swim or signed up for a yoga class. You did great for a little while.
But then it fell apart. You skipped a day because of a scheduling conflict. The next day you were super tired and couldn't muster the energy to deal with your downward-facing dog. All of a sudden you looked at the calendar and realized that you hadn't done anything more strenuous than browsing Netflix in two weeks.
Another fresh start, another fail. Maybe you should have meditated first.
Wait, what? What does meditation have to do with fitness? A lot. Meditation might not rev up your heart rate like 30 minutes on the treadmill does, but it can have a major impact on the likelihood of you meeting your fitness goals.
Meditating is one of the best ways to maintain focus and connection. It can serve as a constant reminder of why you're bothering to go outside for a walk or a run, why you're going to the gym straight after work, and why you're unrolling your yoga mat before breakfast. If you're simply trying to force yourself to exercise without thinking about what drives you to do it, then it's far too easy for it to be shelved for another day.
There are many perfectly valid ways to meditate with (and for!) success, but one of the simplest ways to meditate your way to your personal fitness goals is by using affirmative mantras.
What is a mantra?
A mantra is a sound, word, or simple phrase that's repeated silently or out loud to help focus your attention and protect your mental space from distracting thoughts. In traditional meditation, a mantra might look like simply repeating, "Om."
What is an affirmation?
An affirmation is a positive statement that helps you to rewire your thinking by pointing it in a positive direction. An example of an affirmation you might say for stress is "I am safe. I am calm. I am in control of my well-being."
What is an affirmative mantra?
You've probably already guessed this. An affirmative mantra combines mantra and affirmations into one powerhouse tool that steers you directly toward your goals. Instead of simply repeating a word or random phrase, you repeat a positive, present-tense statement to yourself that describes exactly where you want to be and what you want to achieve.
You can create your own personalized affirmative mantra simply by identifying your primary motivation and goals. Are you trying to lose weight? A great affirmative mantra would be, "I am fit and toned and feeling great in my new dress!"
If your purpose is to reduce stress and anxiety you might try, "I am melting away my daily stresses with every step."
Whatever you choose to use as your affirmative mantra, be sure that it reflects you and exactly what you are aiming for in your fitness goals; don't be wishy-washy! The important thing is to make sure that your mantra is absolutely positive. Never use negatives in an affirmative mantra, even if you're saying, "I'm not tired." Instead, flip it to, "I am so energized!" Positivity is key.
Try it first thing in the morning to set your intentions. An affirmative mantra reminding you of how strong you feel will help you to get out of bed and lace up your shoes instead of rolling over and hitting snooze. Using one as you tuck yourself in at night will keep your subconscious revved up for another workout while you sleep.
Best of all, using your affirmative mantra as you work out will keep you motivated the entire time.
Please be sure to use your mantras in the present tense. Instead of saying, "I will lose 5 pounds and fit into my new pants," say it as though it already happened—"I love the way I feel and look in my new pants!" By saying it as though it is your reality right now, you avoid keeping your goal in the distant future and bring it to your present moment. Your subconscious starts to accept it as being real, increasing your chances of success.
Every January (and every day) people flock to the gym or buy a new pair of running pants or order a set of instructional yoga DVDs with high hopes that this one will finally change their life for the better. They have the best of intentions, but statistically so many of them will stall out when life gets in the way.
Learning to use meditation and affirmative mantras will set you up for so much more success than depending on sheer willpower. Where do you want to be next month, in six months, in a year? Create the fit life you want—with the body you want, the inner peace you want, and the great health you want—by tailoring a mantra that is perfect for you.