When it comes to working out: think positive

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When it comes to working out: think positive

Let’s be real – CrossFit ain’t easy. But neither is parenting, working, fixing a broken sink, or changing a flat tire. 

We are asked to do a lot of physically and mentally exhausting things in this life. What if we viewed the difficulty of CrossFit as a gift that can teach us how to be both physically and mentally tough, in and out of the gym? I think we would truly begin to push ourselves further than we think we can in workouts, while equipping ourselves to be prepared for life and whatever it throws our way. 

Let’s start with your thoughts 

Next time you workout, I want you to pay attention to the words you’re feeding yourself. Do you create reasons for why you’re tired or feeling off? I want you to notice that I say “reasons” and not “excuses”. If you feel tired, then that’s what you feel, and that’s okay! The problem begins when you let how you feel dictate the rest of your workout and your life outside the gym. 

Gut check the following phrases: 

  • “I’m too exhausted.”
  • “I’m too slow.” 
  • “I’m going to finish last.”

Sound like something you tell yourself mid-workout? Hear me: stop that. 

You made it to the gym even though you were exhausted. You might be going slower than the next guy, but how great is it that your body can move? And as for finishing last, well, the fact that you are going to finish is a victory in itself. 

Let’s rewrite our inner narrative. If you feel the above trickle in your brain, practice replacing those phrases with more positive ones: 

  • “This is hard, but I’m doing it!”
  • “I’m totally capable of accomplishing this.”
  • “I’m just going to take this one lift/round/run at a time.” 

Now why do I want you to give yourself a motivational speech every time you workout? Because psychology is cool. And studies show, most people tend to respond better to positive encouragement over negative encouragement. No, negative encouragement is not ironic, it’s a real thing. Check out the difference between the next two phrases: 

“Do not put the barbell down!” 


“Hang onto the barbell!”

Both are encouraging, but the first phrase has a negative connotation. The “not” and “barbell down” is telling you that you’re not allowed to do what you really want to do, and now all you can think about is putting the barbell down. 

Compared to “Hold onto the barbell” , which offers positive encouragement. Now you’re being told something someone believes you can do, so you’re thinking about holding onto the bar, instead of putting it down.

As humans exert energy and get fatigued, our brains are not able to typically process all incoming information. We stop thinking clearly. This makes it so important to watch our phrasing to others and ourselves. So next time you workout, do your best to analyze your thoughts — give yourself a gutcheck. It’s not always easy in the flurry of movements and exhaustion, but try to reinforce what you’re capable of, instead of what you think you can’t do. If you find yourself doubting your abilities, or even giving yourself some negative encouragement, shift your phrasing to be more positive! It will undoubtedly help you push through, and maybe even allow you to go farther than you thought you could.

If you want to read more about the power of positive thinking, or just don’t believe me, check out this article from the Mayo Clinic. It talks more about the health benefits of positive encouragement, and even includes another list of ways you can spin your self talk outside of the gym from negative to positive.

Okay! Now it’s your turn! Get to working out and start paying attention to how you talk to yourself. Make some changes if needed, and see how much farther your body can go!  I bet you’ll do more than you think you can. 

Who wrote this post...

Mckenzie Souther

Mckenzie Souther

McKenzie is a North Carolina transplant (go Heels) who’s been coaching and attending Renew since 2016. Her favorite benchmark workout is Isabel, ‘cause quick power snatches are her jam. But as a former gymnast, she’ll also settle for any workout that requires her to be upside down. When she’s not coaching or working out, she just wants to be where her friends are -- preferably somewhere on the greenbelt with lots and lots of dogs!

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