Having worked in the fitness industry for over 20 years, I have seen how our own words to our own selves can encourage or discourage. Popular movement memes often have a dark undertone of pain and injury, or they foster an all or nothing mindset that leaves the average person giving up before they begin.
So I’m not talking about phrases that GUILT you into your workouts. I’m asking you to ponder what actually encourages to start moving and come back for more later.
That photo up there was taken of me in 2018 as I slowly worked my way up South Sister in Bend, Oregon just 9 months after I had spine surgery. Emphasis on “slowly” because I was still very much recovering and was having trouble keeping up with my friends.
The phrase “personal practice” was one I originally heard in Yoga. I have begun applying it to many things though. It helped get me ready for that hike – one of the hardest you can do without ropes – and it helped me get through that hike.
I had practiced with smaller hikes, and as I climbed that mountain (which, by the way, has one too many false summits) it occurred to me that I was still practicing what I knew.
I like it because it releases the pressure of my expectations in fitness. I also like the word “personal” because that means I don’t have to live up to the world’s standards of what a fitness professional should look or act or dress like.
Personal practice means you make it work for you, and it’s just practice. It’s not a test. It’s not a final score. It’s not the olympics. It’s not even a dress rehearsal.
You’re just practicing things that your body enjoys… just like baseball pitchers practice their throws, and gymnasts practice their dismounts. Practice is seldom perfect, and no one is judging you right then.
Try this: Swap the “practice” into any sentence about your need, ability, or desire to do anything fitness related and see how it makes you feel. For example, instead of saying, “I need to be able to do a side plank,” you would say, “I need to practice my side plank.” You might also say, “It’s time for my personal practice of Yoga” instead of “I have to go to Yoga.”
Right now my personal health and fitness goals include practicing my handstand against a wall, practicing going to bed earlier without screens, practicing my pistol squat, practicing a faster walking pace, practicing eating new sources of healthy fats, and practicing consistency in doing something everyday to move my body in ways I enjoy.
Practice makes perfect, but practice isn’t perfect yet, and I have an easier time engaging in a personal practice of habits that benefit my health than beating myself into doing them
How about you leave a comment and tell us:
What phrase helps you approach movement with a healthier mindset? What are you practicing? How does this verse hit you when you think about the things you say to yourself about your body and personal fitness: “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what is useful for building others up.”