The Voice in your Head

“As you listen to that voice in your head, that voice becomes your best or worst coach. Nobody will coach you more than that voice. If that voice was projected over the loudspeaker, would you be proud of it?

– Ben Bergeron.

Have you ever found yourself mindless scrolling through social media until a post comes along and grabs your attention? Well, this quote did just that for me while looking for “fitness motivation”. And by
“fitness motivation”, I mean I actually searched “Ben Bergeron quotes” on Pinterest. Yes, true story, but that’s besides the point. We are all typically our own worst critics. We’ve all heard this before, but have you ever paid close attention to what you tell yourself during the day? Or, for the purpose of this post, during a workout?

There is power in positivity, so why do we so often resort to negative thoughts/self talk during a workout? Ever since becoming a coach, I’ve sometimes felt like quite the hypocrite when it comes to this quote. I will tell you, “you CAN do this, to keep going, to stay strong, dig deep”, etc all class long. But, when it comes to my own workouts, that voice can quickly change into: “gosh this sucks, why are you so damn out of breath right now?, why can’t you go faster?, why are you
still resting? PICK UP THE BAR” I will physically start to shake my head when I feel like I should be doing better (just ask Coach Meg, she saw me do this). Sound familiar during your workouts? Maybe. Let’s keep going.

Think back to a day when you could barely perform or string together a movement that typically came easy for you? Or the weight on the barbell felt SO heavy when usually light? For me, one day in particular pops into my mind. The WOD was called “Flight Simulator” and it goes as follows: 5-10-15-20-25-30-35-40-45-50-45-40-35-30-25-20-15-5 unbroken DU/SU’s for time. A workout of straight double unders? Sweet, I got this. 5…10…15…20…25…26, 27, 28, gosh, I could do this all da– and then it happened. I broke the set not once, not twice, but three times. I started to feel defeated by the workout. At that moment I knew, or at least told myself, I wasn’t going to finish the workout. The amount of obscenities coming into my mind (and let’s be real, out of my mouth) was absurd. So, what was the most logical thing to do in the moment? Grip those handles harder than ever, violently whip that rope up and around my body and show it who’s boss, right? Hard no. All I ended up with was what seemed like hundreds of rope marks on my shins and a time capped workout at 20min. I left in a sour mood with thoughts of how badly I had just failed that workout.

I’ll let you in on a little not-so-secret secret. We have the ability to control our thoughts and the voice in our head. The pressure we may put on ourselves before and during a workout? We create it. No, it’s not easy to change our thoughts especially in the middle of a tough workout, but it is something worth practicing.

Fast forward to the second time “Flight Simulator” came around. I knew I had to change something in order to finish the workout. Was I any better at double unders? Maybe, but not likely. Was I using a better rope? No sir, same one. Was I able to change my self talk during the
entire workout? You bet I was. After every single round I told myself, “breathe, stay calm, you only have to do 5 more reps than that set”. And guess what magical thing happened? I finished Flight Simulator completely unbroken. The “you suck at double unders…you can’t finish the workout…you might as well give up” voice turned into “just five more reps…you freaking got this…breathe and do another set, just like the last.”

Have I mastered the art of positive self talk and mindset? Heck no, but I have experienced what can happen when you switch that negative voice to a positive one. To the voice you want to hear over the loudspeaker, not the one you’d be embarrassed of others hearing. It can be as simple as, “Wow, this sucks. But I CAN do it. I AM doing it. Just keep going.” As a coach, I can encourage you all workout long, but a little positivity from that coach in your noggin’ helps a helluva lot
too. Whether you are trying to hit a PR or simply trying to finish a workout, don’t lose grasp of what your mind says to you. Don’t let it tell you that you can’t or that you won’t. I challenge you to try it out next time you workout. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, grab a few friends and give Flight Simulator a whirl.

~Coach Jennifer DiNizio