Self-Criticism – Just Don’t

This morning was the start to “one of those days.” Nothing out of the ordinary happened, my morning workout went as planned. I just could not shake my negative mindset. It was a struggle to get out of bed, although I had slept great. Halfway to the gym, I wanted to turn around and go home. At the gym, I was grouchy about Lord knows what.Then I stepped on the scale and plunged myself into an even worse mood. I’ve been working out twice a day consistently for the last week, and yet the scale rose by four pounds. How?!

Now, I’m absolutely not working out to lose weight. That is not one of my objectives by any means. My primary objective is to do as well as I possibly can at the Half Ironman I’m racing in June. But, in order to be in prime race shape, I could stand to lose 5-7 pounds. (There’s a whole formula for your ideal race weight, here). A setback of four pounds is substantial.

I was truly upset. I sat on the bath tub and criticized myself so heavily! I looked at myself, pinched the extra around my waist, and mentally said some horrible things to myself.

“You should not have eaten that bagel yesterday, you fatty.”

“You should have pushed harder on the bike, you know you could have.”

I almost brought myself to tears over four pounds! I generally fluctuate around four pounds on a given day! I don’t know what it was this morning, but I was painfully critical of myself.

In the middle of my dizzying bout with self-criticism, I remembered something I read on Pinterest or Instagram.

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I stood up, looked at myself in the mirror, and gave myself the best little pep talk I could manage. And shockingly, it helped. I felt a little better about myself. Over the next half hour, whenever a negative thought cropped up, I pushed it away and replaced it with a more positive thought, such as “You’re doing great. You’ve already worked out today!” And frankly, I’m in a great mood now! It’s Friday, it’s nice and warm outside, I love my job, I have great weekend plans!

Some days we just have negative days. Days where we rip ourselves apart. As athletes, especially those trying to self-coach, we have to be critical of ourselves to push past our plateaus. But not all criticism is positive or constructive, and the ability to distinguish between that mental feedback is crucial. If you find yourself spiraling into unproductive self-criticism, try to remember to talk to yourself as you would a friend. It really does help. And, if you can’t stop yourself from mentally spiraling, reach out to a friend or a training partner. I guarantee they don’t view you with a negative filter like you view yourself. They will see the best in you, and won’t hesitate to give you that mental positivity push you need! Stop with the criticism and go kill that workout!

 

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