I had a difficult time writing this article, because I felt it needed to be about workouts, or how to lose fat, or build shapely arms. But it only felt fitting to write this post about the one thing that helped me be successful in my personal fitness journey: The Power of Affirmations.
As a fitness competitor and personal trainer, I’m often asked what do you eat and how do you train? But the best advice I can give to anyone starting a fitness journey, and is fundamental to any transformation, is to talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you LOVE! Simple.
A Constant Reminder Of How Far I Have Come On My Journey So Far
Changing the way we speak to ourselves is so profound because it builds resiliency during times of change and stress and is positively correlated with improved mental health. Bottom line, once you learn the power of affirmations, it can be incredibly liberating, and fun! So, let us begin with the power of affirmations in my life so that you can get to know me a little more and how you can use this powerful life skill to transform your life too.
Fitness has always been a part of my life but after my divorce, it literally saved me. At the time, I felt alone, angry and in terrible physical and mental health. I was waiting for everyone to be there for me in my time of need, but it was me that needed to take personal responsibility for my life. No one was to blame for me wanting something better for myself but I did a good job loathing in self-pity and even worse, guilt.
This time in my life was pivotal and started a profound shift in the way I thought about myself and what was possible for me. I began participating in a boot camp as an outlet for my anger and frustration. Looking back at this time in my life, I realize that at first I was physically punishing myself for feeling guilty about my separation. Each boot camp class I beat myself up more, but I actually enjoyed it because I felt powerful. What I wasn’t expecting was the high that I got from working out. The endorphin rush felt amazing and I craved how it made me feel good.
Each time I surpassed a challenge at boot camp, I was reinforcing that I was strong enough to handle this divorce. This is when I starting telling myself I was tough, I could handle anything! I started being more patient and loving to myself with my words and actions. Acknowledging that I had gone through a traumatic event and that my feelings were all normal, helped me start the slow process of healing.
It was then that I felt reborn. I could do anything and that started by saying to myself “Renata you are going to be ok. I am going to make sure of it.” I learned to be my own best friend. I wanted to stand up for myself. I wanted to always be there for myself in sickness and in health. I spent many years blaming others for my lack of personal power and put my happiness in the hands of others who were not able to create it for me. And really, how could they? I gained personal power by taking responsibility for my life and what I had created.
To move forward I knew I had to forgive myself and I was still deserving of good things in life. That shift was key. Me! Wanting something better for myself. I see now this was the first of my affirmations to love myself just as I was.
My Feature In Strong Magazine
Remember the saying, careful what you wish for? Well, sorry to tell you but you don’t have to say “I wish” to make it come true. We have created everything in our lives and it is all a result of the beliefs you hold about yourself, the world and what you deserve. This can actually be really frightening at first, as it’s a hard pill to swallow for most people! It certainly was for me to the point where I felt hopeless and suicidal during my divorce.
What helped me get past that was having self-compassion and acknowledging that I did the best I could at the time with the knowledge and resources that I had. Promise yourself to not criticize yourself! Talk to yourself like you would a new born baby, with gentle, tender words of encouragement and understanding whenever you have a thought or feeling that makes you sad, angry, anxious etc,
Research has shown that we have between 45,000 and 51,000 thoughts a day. That’s about 150 to 300 thoughts a minute. Research has also shown that for most people 80% of those thoughts are negative. Affirmations make you consciously aware of your thoughts and when that happens, the world is your oyster because now you have control to change it. It’s like having a genie in a bottle. When you start making conscious positive thoughts, anything is possible!
To be successful in any type of endeavour, a clear visual image is needed, no matter how farfetched it is. What does happiness look like for you if anything is possible? Next, what do you need to believe about yourself to have it now? And that’s exactly what an affirmation is and why I believe that any transformation needs to begin with this exercise.
Affirmations are simply your thoughts and you can change any thought with short powerful statements because they put your wishes in the driver’s seat. My vision at the time of my divorce was to be a competitive figure athlete which was way out in left field for me. I had never done anything like this before but wanting to see what I was truly made of, I made it my mission to learn everything I could about the sport of fitness competitions and personal training.
The mental fortitude that someone needs to be successful at this sport was very appealing. I figured if you can handle 16 weeks of intense training and dieting, you could do anything. I wanted to test myself and see just how tough I was. Focusing on the affirmation “I am a hard worker and I’ve got what it takes” helped to silence my inner critic who kept screaming at me “Are you kidding me, no one will take you seriously! You are lazy! You are a failure!”
With the support of an amazing contest preparation Team T-Rex and my coach Adam Headland, we won Six 1st Place and 3 Overall Titles! I would say with 100% certainty that I would not have achieved this success without Affirmations and surrounding myself with people who believed in my vision.
Written By Renata McEwen