One of the most subtle, yet toxic parts of a workout can be our own inner dialogue.

Do you know that nasty voice in your head squawking at you when a workout gets rough?

It can sound like “don’t sit down during spin class which means that you are weak”, “why aren’t you as flexible as the super-fit woman next to you at yoga?” or “are you really going to slow down during this run, you suck”.

At its core, the message is that if you are not doing the workout perfectly or as hard and strong as someone else you are less than in some way. This voice can be a conglomeration of messages we have hears from friends, family, media, or any other oppressive system that has tried to keep us small in the past.

I have had a few clients who stopped going to yoga because they didn’t know how to stop the incessant negative self-talk and the shameful feelings that followed.

Regardless of its origin, I believe it is important to recognize this voice and handle it in a way so that it doesn’t taint your workout or worse cause you do not want to return to the class.

Here are some tips that can help release and often halt the nasty inner critic.

Step one: Notice when you are having negative self-talk.

  • When we are witnessing our thoughts, this can create some distance between us and our thoughts then increase our ability to have agency over them

Step two: Practice compassion & curiosity

  • You are human and your brain will often try to protect you from experiencing any sort of pain or discomfort, so this is quite normal

Step three: Remember that your brain will often want to give up before your body will or needs to

  • One thought you can practice is “Even though it feels like I need to stop, my body can probably go a little more.”

Step Four: Practice more neutral or positive thinking

  • I will often say to myself “Let it be hard, or it is supposed to be hard”, acknowledging that discomfort is part of what will make me stronger

Step Five: If I do stop or slow down there is no need to beat myself up

  • Sitting down during spin class, walking during a run, or modifying a yoga pose is not an opportunity for self-criticism. Sometimes a quick rest is what we need to continue moving forward.

In summary, it is important to remember that our brain does not like discomfort and it is normal to experience negative thinking during a workout. Using these steps to manage our minds can make the experience more tolerable and keep us from quitting it altogether. 

Exercise is a form of self-love and doesn’t need to be a time

for negative self-talk.

If you would like some support with this or any other issue in your personal life feel free to reach out or connect with me here.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Mind Your Strength,

Melanie Shmois

Melanie Shmois, MSSA, LISW-S

Melanie Shmois, MSSA, LISW-S, is a licensed social worker, holding a Master’s Degree (MSSA) from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. After spending 2 decades helping others achieve their mental and personal goals, Melanie worked with Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo, and became a certified Life and Weight Coach through the Life Coach School.


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