Fitness Tip of the Day:
Focus on having a positive attitude towards your challenges.
Have you ever been in a group fitness class and wondered why some people are super happy and excited to be doing plank holds and push-ups, while others (maybe even yourself) are cursing under your breath, wanting to punch the instructor in the teeth? Do you find yourself wondering:
- Are they “superhuman”?
- Do they not “feel” the agony I’m feeling?
- Are they doing the exercise correctly?
- Am “I” doing the exercise correctly?
- Are they under the influence of some random medication?
- Are they a masochist (and enjoy the agonizing pain)?
The exercise that everyone is doing is the same … but the attitude that each person has to the exercise (overall experience) is the difference between enjoyment and discomfort.
What is “Attitude”?
According to social psychologists:
Attitude can be defined as evaluations of ideas, events, objects, or people. Attitudes are generally positive or negative, but they can also be uncertain at times. For example, sometimes we have mixed feelings about a particular issue or person.
Regardless, attitudes are an important topic of study for social psychologists because they help determine what we do (i.e., what we eat, how we vote, what we do with our free time, etc.).
Attitudes are also made up of three components:
- Affective – emotional reaction to an attitude object (i.e., fear or anxiety when one sees a spider)
- Behavioral – the way one behaves when exposed to an attitude object (i.e., avoiding the object, screaming when you see a spider)
- Cognitive – what we consciously think about an attitude object (i.e., we dislike spiders and anything to do with spiders)
In simpler terms, we form an attitude towards an object (i.e., a person, place or thing), based on our previous experiences with this object (typically positive or negative) and form beliefs that create our underlying beliefs about an object. For example, if we had a negative experience in a group fitness class, or didn’t particularly like the instructor, we will form a negative attitude to group classes in general. As a result, we are more like to avoid group fitness classes (which may sabotage a goal to lose weight or get more fit). The bad news is that this attitude may translate to all fitness experiences. The good news is that attitudes can change!
It’s not as simple as changing your mind (because that would be too easy … and everyone could do it). According to social psychologists, this change requires three steps:
- Compliance – a person doesn’t necessarily change their belief, but recognizes a benefit to overcoming that belief (i.e., they don’t like exercise but know that if they do it, they will reach their weight loss goal sooner)
- Identification – identifying a role model or someone who has the desired attitude and being able to “relate” to them (i.e., a friend or co-worker that they admire or look up to who exercises regularly)
- Internalization – the actual change in attitude and beliefs when the person finds the experience to be internally rewarding, leading to a genuine change in attitude towards that object (i.e., the person starts to look and feel better and buys into exercise being a positive activity)
For more information on attitude and behavior change, click here.
In the end, it’s up to you whether you are your own worst enemy or your best ally when it comes to making fitness work for you. Take a good look at your attitudes towards fitness and see how you can turn that around and make it a positive part of your day!