Many top athletes and sports superstars use visualization techniques to mentally “practice” their skills and hone their athletic ability. They mentally “see” themselves jumping higher, making a basket, hitting a golf ball, crossing a finish line. It is a huge part of sports psychology, coaching and training. You can use those same techniques to visualize your fitness and reach your goals.
Visualization is simply using your imagination to see or visualize something happening. We all do it all the time, only we often do it negatively! We visualize our kids being bratty when we try to get them to eat broccoli, or our spouses being uncooperative when we want to plan a weekend getaway, or our bosses and coworkers criticizing our work or for goodness sake, strangers on the street scoffing at our wardrobe choices or the size of our thighs. We see these unpleasant things occurring and lo and behold, they do.
We are also very bad about visualizing negative things about our bodies. Instead of visualizing fitness, we visualize flab, cellulite, knobby knees, cankles, big ole butts, bouncing bellies, droopy boobs, chicken wing arms, wrinkles, spots, clown feet, bad hair days, “ecru” teeth, clogged arteries, gunked-up lungs, sluggish intestines, pinched nerves, slipped discs, and aches and pains galore.
It’s no wonder we feel bad and out of shape!
In addition to turning off the negative self-talk and the nasty self pictures focus on visualizing and affirming yourself fit. (Affirming is just doing in words what visualization does in pictures.) Here are some ways to do that:
--Anytime you imagine your body in negative ways, change the picture and the message to a more positive one. For instance, when your belly becomes bothersome, imagine it smaller and firmer if that’s what you want. When you think “I’m fat” change the thinking to “I’m healthy” or “I’m fit” and imagine your body looking healthy or fit.
This will not immediately transform you, but if you believe it is happening, then eventually you will see what you see. The more present and real your affirmations, the more powerful, but if you cannot say those things now without feeling like they are great big lies, then say “I am learning healthier habits” or “I am getting more fit every day.”
--As you are exercising, consciously focus on your body and the great things it can do. How do your thighs feel when you are walking? How much nice, fresh air can you breathe into your lungs? Feel your heart beating faster, sending blood and oxygen to your muscles. Feel your spine lengthening and straightening to hold you upright, taller. See your muscles obeying your commands to lift, push, pull, move.
--Once a day, close your eyes, breathe deeply and relax. Then, . See your best self. Your best self, not Heidi Klum’s best self. Picture you at the peak of healthiness and happiness. Really look at yourself—shiny hair, sparkling eyes, big smile, with a body that feels good inside and out, capable of doing the things you want to do.
Imagine yourself running a 5K, riding bikes with your kids, growing a huge vegetable garden, joining in a neighborhood volleyball game, backpacking with your sweetie, living independently into your 100’s, or whatever you want to do. Really see it and feel it. What do your muscles feel like? Are you sweating? Can you feel the wind in your hair?
--Make some visual motivators to put on your mirror, fridge, monitor. If you have pics of yourself looking your best, use those. If not, find pictures of what you want to look like and put your face on them. (This is pretty easy to do if you have a digital picture of yourself—just print, cut & paste.)
--Use a nickname to signify your commitment to being active and fit. This can be a lot of fun. If you want to improve your tennis game, call yourself Venus. Want to run like the wind? Be Flo-Jo or Lightning or Speedy. Want to have great muscles in your arms? Popeye! Want to walk for fitness for the rest of your life? Try “She Who Walks”, or Stepper or Legs.
To learn more about visualization, I have read and highly recommend these books:
Drop by the Walking Forum & share your new nickname and let us know how you plan to visualize your fitness.