There is no question that self-efficacy is very important, if not the most important, when it comes to sticking to a fitness program!
Self-efficacy is the extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals.
Perhaps you have struggled with following a regular exercise program or are a trainer whose job is to help improve your client’s self-efficacy or are just chatting with a friend about trying to lose those pesky 7 pounds for years… below are some helpful ways to build fitness self-efficacy:
Past experience – As Dr. Phil says: “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” If you have failed in the past, you are likely to feel like you will fail in the future. You think you can’t, so you can’t.
Support – People need support. Make sure you have someone who supports you in your healthy life style and let them know how important it is to you! And if there is no one in your life who can be your support system, join a fitness class or hire a trainer!
Perceived benefits and risks – You have to fully understand why exercise is important. It is not just to look good, but to improve and extend your life! That is no joke! The health risks associated with obesity are numerous and all too common….high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes, stroke…
Attitude – Try to find positive things about exercise: do yoga to relax, walk with your kids, sign up for a race with a good cause, or take a new class with a friend…
De-stress – Life is tough. Use exercise as a release. Or take the day off if you need to. But learning to manage stress is VERY important to your health! Stress can wreak havoc on your body, causing headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and problems sleeping. Research suggests that stress is also linked to heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.
Belief in oneself – If you aren’t failing every now and then, you probably are not learning much.
Start slow – One of the best and simplest tips I ever received about running was to start slow. Slow with your pace, slow with your training, and slow with your expectations! Trying too much too soon is a sure fire way to discourage yourself! Our minds think we should be able to do all these things (which is not always a bad thing!) but sometimes our bodies just need a little more time to catch up!
Positive reinforcement – Give yourself a reward for all your hard work every now and then – buy a new outfit, get a massage, take a day off and sleep in. And don’t forget to give others a word or two of positive praise as well!
Visual reinforcement – Seeing another person who lives a healthy lifestyle makes the whole, big scary change seem attainable. As a fitness professional, exhibiting behaviors that a client can model is critical. You can tell me to build a canoe and it would seem like an overwhelming task, but if you showed me how, I could probably do it!
Set short-term goals – Set realistic and attainable goals that you can work towards and track your progress! Aim to walk for 10 minutes longer than last week or run a 5k quicker than your last time or complete so many push ups…
Have fun - And, of course, have fun! Your health is a serious thing, but fitness can be a lot of fun! Take advantage of all these new classes, workout crazes, and challenges that are out there now a days! Find what works for you and just start moving your body!
Trainers – How do you help encourage self-efficacy in your clients?
Exercisers – Was there a point in your life that you made the commitment to make exercise a part of your every day life? What was it?
Keep in touch, please….with a cherry on top!