Lauren Steadman, our Gym Buddies columnist, is a Paralympian, double World Champion paratriathlete and currently holds the European title, which she has won five times.
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One thing a lot of people lack when it comes to fitness is positivity. You’ll no doubt remember when you stopped mid-class or didn’t go for a run because of the bad weather. But instead of beating yourself up about the odd mishap, remember to focus on the small wins.
I learnt to think positively during my early days as an athlete. Even if I underperformed my coach told me to find the one small thing I did do well in the race, even if the bigger goal wasn’t achieved.
During my world championships in 2016, I crashed out on the bike section of my race. It was exceptionally hard to think positively, yet I found something: I had transitioned well between swimming and cycling and, by 4km into the bike, I had increased my lead to 45seconds. I held that positivity to fuel my drive in future sessions, and on the same triathlon course this year, I know I could ace that part.
You will not always have good days and sessions, but there is always one positive thing you can take from each session — even if you just turned up or remembered your gym shorts.
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So how can you achieve mindset this yourself? Here are five tips to help you focus on the good.
Become A Morning Person
Start the day with a positive outlook, which will set you in good steed for the rest of the day.
Having to drag yourself out of bed is common, even for athletes. For 8 years my alarm was set for 04:30am, to be poolside by 05:00am, the only way to wake myself up was to splash cold water in my eyes, and walk zombified to the pool. I could have hated these mornings, but instead I tried to embrace them. Having this routine meant by 9:00am I had already achieved so much and it created a positive mindset for the rest of the day.
Creating a routine will help you to make the most of your day and is a healthy approach to increasing positivity and happiness. Who knows? You may even start to love mornings.
Listen To Music
Music can serve many purposes when it comes to exercise, whether that’s pushing you to work harder, helping your workout fly by, or helping you to slow down and recharge.
Before the London Paralympics I created a few different playlists, one for chilling, one to motivate me, one for bedtime playlist, and a race playlist, the simple act of listening to your favourite music can help boost your positivity and refocus you.
Try creating a few different playlist’s and experimenting with music to boost or change your mindset. [Sign up to our HuffPost’s Gym Buddies playlists here.]
Enjoy The Journey
Remember how it used to feel to leg it around a park as a child? As adults we’ve taken all the fun out of fitness.
Exercise and regular activities can increase our levels of endorphins, which is your body’s “feel-good” hormone. Endorphins, which are often compared to morphine, are natural painkillers and make us feel pleasure or euphoria. This is why you feel so good after exercising.
Maintaining this positive mindset is tough though, so try to remember these moments or keep a log or diary, you could even use social media to share your successes.
Don’t Do It Alone
Working out on your own can be tedious and challenging, yet if you surround yourself with training buddies, the workout becomes increasingly more achievable and enjoyable.
I’ve always found training alone to be very isolated, but if I’ve got a training partner or group to train with I push myself harder and time flies by. I love to challenge myself and I enjoy training with able-bodied athletes to reach new levels.
So find a friend to exercise with, or join a new social work out like Zumba or netball and create a new circle of friends, and challenge yourself to something different, it really does boost morale, and seem less like a chore.
Take Time Out
Another trick I use to increase my ability to maintain a positivity is having my ‘own time’. Giving myself free time to reflect, relax without rushing, and work through my thoughts, is equally important as socialising and exercising regularly.
I’m often told I’m useless at relaxing, and sometimes my coach even sets me a ‘relax’ session, where I’m not allowed to do anything but chill out! I love simple things such as reading novels, baking cakes, making cards, watching movies, and roller blading along Southsea beach in Portsmouth.
Find your own way to recharge and savour it.
ParalympicsGB is the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team competing at the summer and winter Paralympic Games.
We know that the outstanding performances of our athletes have a powerful impact on the British public and can shift perceptions of disability in society, helping to inspire a better world for disabled people. Find out more at Paralympics.org.uk