When I was younger, I was very athletic and coachable. If someone told me what to do on the court, no problem, I was your person to get the job done. I had a great deal of success athletically because of this and internally I felt that I would be fit forever. However, much to my surprise when the coaching stopped, I found I wasn’t as good at maintaining my fitness as I’d thought. While I still aimed to participate in physical activities like road running, without the coaching I wasn’t having the same type of success I once did. Although I received training advice from friends, no one was actually tracking my progress except for me. It was on my shoulders and was my responsibility to see the training through to the race. I had to more or less completely self motivate. This resulted in many missed workouts and when race day came, a very painful completion of 21km route (which I’d previously ran well trained and easily).
This whole experience was a real eye opener for me. I realized I’d would have to find ways to self-motivate and become a self-competitor. Essentially, I was going to have to teach myself to coach myself and to compete against the healthier version of myself I wanted to become.
I started this journey by reviewing why I actually wanted to be in shape. First thing for me was, I simply like the feeling of being healthy and active. I have more energy and feel better when I’m healthy. From this basis I was able to begin the process of coaching myself. Whenever I had those days when I didn’t want to do anything, I got my “inner coach” out and she told me “You signed up for this race and you hate sucking . . . remember that race . . . everyday matters- every training session matters”. These little pep talks were usually enough to at least get me started. Then the pleasure of being out there washed away that earlier attitude of “not today.” You know that feeling? Been there before??
Once I got going the next step was to keep my momentum going. In order to do this, I had to train my inner coach to support me even when I began to feel self doubt or became personally self-critical. For me this meant that my self-doubt was not allowed to say “you will never be good enough”, instead my inner coach would pipe up “I am proud of you, good job taking care of yourself.” I would even take a moment to say it aloud. Hearing my voice say it had a great impact on me during times of dread. “Keep getting out there you’ll feel better when we’re done!”. And I consistently did!!
The fact is, we have to decide how we want to experience life and what’s important to us. We’ll have periods in life where external motivators (such as a coach) are present, but those can only carry us so far. The rest has to come from within. When I get up to exercise everyday I am not saying it is easy, but it’s something that internally I’ve decided I am going to coach myself through.
I once met a lady, let’s call her Sue, (who had smoked and been overweight her whole life) who began her fitness journey with the initial external motivation of her husband’s ex-wife running a half marathon. That got her started but it clearly didn’t have the power to produce the results. Upon successfully completing her first race, Sue came to the realization that she herself wanted to be healthy, not because her husband’s ex-wife was, but for herself. For Sue, her “inner coach” came alive and was there to tell her that “she was worth it and that she doesn’t have to train to win against others, but to be a winner in her life by her own measure”.
What I really want to say is that you should find the thing inside you that motivates you to live a good and healthy life. Ask yourself, what do you need to tell your inner coach so that they can train you to be your best self? I know it can be difficult, we have different responsibilities and different things in life we can’t control. However, if you can learn to self-motivate and access the supporting voice of your inner coach, I promise you, nothing will be able to stop you.
Please share this with friends if you think might be helpful for them.
Follow us next week with more about how one person leans on their inner coach when self doubt or self criticism is overwhelming.
GoGetFit Communications and Team Coordination lead