The Power of Positive Talk

Being positive about your workouts and fitness and embracing a ‘can-do’ attitude can turn around the amount of progress you make in the gym and with your nutrition.  Studies have found that those of us who practice positive self-talk during exercise go longer, harder and faster than those who just do their usual routine.

So, next time you hear the person next to you grunting ‘Come on!’ in the gym, stifle the giggles and give it a go yourself. No need to actually grunt of course, if you’re more of the strong and silent type an inner monologue will do just as well.

Spotting negative self-talk:


Do you feel like you’ve failed at yoga if you can’t do every pose perfectly? Perhaps you leave dance class feeling dejected because you couldn’t do the routine. This kind of thinking, (the ‘I must do well and win’ attitude) is a common form of self-defeating talk. So what if you can’t do everything, just focus on yourself and accept you are a fallible human being and keep trying to do your best day in and day out.


How about this one: your trainer asks you to perform a glute exercise and you think ‘Oh but my glutes are the weakest part of my body’. Focusing on your weaknesses prevents you overcoming challenges. Tell yourself to snap out of it and visualize yourself scaling each challenge and succeeding.

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Be wary of negative feelings that come from focusing on weight loss such as ‘I ONLY lost a pound this week’.  By minimizing your accomplishments you increase the stress placed on yourself and that makes you more likely to stray from your path. Try focusing on feeling proud that you are sticking with your program.


Now forget about Mondays. Why Mondays? Mondays are the day we’re most likely to start a new thing, such as ‘I’m going to start my nutrition plan, for real, on Monday.’ Mondays are the most stressful day of the week for many of us, with work commitments and plans to make for school and, you know, life. Try starting new things on a Friday, including nutrition, (because weekends are going to happen for the rest of your life, so why not just get the first one out of the way) and make your plans to get going a couple of days earlier on a Wednesday.

Need help to overcome negative thinking?

Check out the PsychSkills class at Pinnacle Performance. This Sunday session (5 in total over 10 weeks) teaches you mental skills, concepts and exercises that can aid consistently high performance across all sports as well as work/life balance and you don’t have to be an athlete to benefit from some positive thinking.

If that’s a touch too sports-focused for you why not try mindfulness as a tool to help you focus on the now and overcome stressed thinking. The Hong Kong Centre for Mindfulness has orientation courses and longer courses designed to teach you how to use mindfulness as a life tool.

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Elle Kealy runs Lithe Fitness, a fitness and wellness coaching service for women in Hong Kong.  Contact for details of personal training, nutrition coaching and postnatal wellness.


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