Excerpted from Big Fit Girl: Embrace the Body You Have by Louise Green. Published by Greystone Books, March 2017. Condensed and reproduced with permission of the publisher.
For many years, I saw no athletes who looked like me and did not have the confidence to pursue my dreams but I finally took the leap and realized that in doing so, I could be an example myself.
On my journey, I discovered that I needed to replace my negative thoughts with positive ones; my “can’t”s needed to turn into “can”s. This meant first acknowledging the negative thoughts and fears that were holding me back. I always thought that athletes were somehow different from me, that they had special powers that I didn’t possess. I would always compare my life to theirs and focus on ways they had an advantage over me. I would make excuses, cancel my commitments to physical activity, and come up with elaborate lists of reasons of why it wasn’t possible for me to exercise. I now know that my fear was fueling self-sabotage.
To be an athlete you need to start thinking like one. What will your life look like when you have unleashed your inner athlete?
What does it feel like to be an athlete?
Over the years I have watched athletes I admire and tried to emulate the behavior that I believe led to their success. Wonderful things resulted. My dedication to a fit life expanded, and I continued to make my athletic dreams reality. Here are some of the habits I observed in these athletes:
- They think positively and visualize success in their lives.
- They set goals, both short-term and long-term, and create solid action plans to support their goals.
- They follow structured training plans or add their workouts to a calendar. Each workout or training session is part of a bigger picture.
- They keep records or logs to track their progress. Measurement is important, though I recognize it is not for everyone. Keep an open mind: keeping track of your progress allows you to see how far you have come. This is a great motivator when self-sabotage comes into play.
- They work out even when they don’t want to, because they know they will feel great afterward and be happy they did so. Not every workout is something you will gleefully want to do, but your mindset quickly changes as endorphins are released. These athletes also understand that every workout is part of the big picture and there are there are seldom shortcuts.
- They practice self-discipline and avoid the temptations of life if these get in the way of their goals (staying out too late, drinking too much, sleeping in).
- They are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. They will get up early, run in the rain, or train before a social event (instead of skipping the training) if they have to.
- They have self-compassion. Not all workouts will be great, but successful athletes learn from their not-so-good workouts and their mistakes and see shortcomings as opportunities to improve. Everyone has a bad workout sometimes. Highly successful athletes know this and show up anyway.
- They are social beings, and most train with groups, coaches, or teams at least some of the time. They value the opportunity to learn from fellow athletes, as well as to push themselves with friendly competitors.
Part of being a Big Fit Girl is thinking like an athlete. Adopt some of these nine habits for a step in the right direction. They will help you to consistently put in the hard work it takes to achieve goals. Keep this list in mind as you create a plan for how you will unleash your inner athlete!