Happy Friday! Here’s a success story to start your weekend with. Today’s story is shared by Katherine Swan, from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at the University of Montana. As we focus on mental health this year, Katherine’s story is an awesome reminder of the power of perception, and how a small change of thought and attitude can have a tremendous impact on how approach daily challenges. In this story, it’s the difference between “I can’t do that” and “I can’t do that yet.” Norman Vincent Peale famously said, “Change your thoughts and you change your world”, and Katherine’s story is an excellent example of this concept. Thanks for sharing Katherine!

Growing up, I was always the chubby girl, the last girl picked in gym class, the girl who failed miserably at every test of fitness. Fast forward to adulthood and I am now pretty fit, working out 5 to 6 days per week. I am in great shape, but the mindset of the chubby, non-athletic girl has stuck with me. The result was that I would look at a workout and think “Yeah right. I can’t do that.” The result is that I would end up failing because I didn’t really try. I would still get a good workout, and still be generally fit, but would leave workouts feeling discouraged and like I would never make progress.
Finally about a year ago, I decided that I needed to actively work on changing my mindset. Instead of looking at a pull up and thinking
“I can’t do that,” I look at a pull up and think, “I can’t do that yet.”  I had to up-talk myself through some of the tougher workouts, but that has become more and more natural. And as it became more natural, I started trying to make better progress. I would pick one movement in the workout to really challenge myself and focus on that one thing. So if the workout had thrusters, pull ups, and pushups, maybe I would worry less about getting a heavy weight on the thruster and worry a little more about getting stronger at my pushups (or vice versa). This made the workout approachable, and I could leave feeling proud about pushing myself. I also started staying after class and working on pull ups, pushups, and double unders (three particular weaknesses).  Over the course of the last year, I have gone from zero to 15 linked double unders, zero to 3-4 linked pull ups, zero to several rope climbs, and zero to 1:00 min+ hand stand hold (against a wall). Better than all that is that fact that I now look at my workouts (and myself) with a  better lens. So a workout is challenging? Okay, it gives me something to work on. And as long as I go in and give what I can on that day, then I can leave the workout feeling like I am not the unfit girl from elementary school, but like I am a strong woman who can tackle the day.

Katherine Swan, University of Montana

One thought on “Flipping the Mental Switch

  1. Thanks, Katherine, for an inspiring story. I have had some injuries over the last year and this is a good reminder to focus on small goals.

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