As you know, from time to time we’ll have a guest Blogger.  Here’s a great article from Anna Gnegy, she’s a Personal Trainer and a 3rd degree Brown Belt in Kenpo, she owns a successful gym AG Fitness in Newport Beach.   Anna is a great motivator and teacher who is always willing to assist, guide and educate people to get out and be healthy.  We are honored to have her write for Kenpo Women and look forward to seeing more posts from her.  Thank you Anna.   Andree


Positive Mental Attitude: Change Your Life and Athletic Performance

Written by: Anna Gnegy

If you are like me, you love to cater to that little negative voice in your head. You know the one. The one that says you can’t or it’s too hard or just give up. It’s a voice that is probably soothing because you have heard it so often and for so many years. Like an old friend it makes you feels comfortable. Here is the thing about feeling comfortable, while it feels super nice and cozy you are missing out on a whole world of opportunities!! What if you said YES instead of no? Or I CAN instead of I can’t? What if you could flip that voice off like a light switch and change your outlook? What if you could change your life and athletic performance just by reprograming your thought pattern? When I first met my husband I thought he was overly happy and upbeat. You know those people who are always happy and you kind of want to punch them? Well that’s him. If you ever ask him how his day is he will respond with “Fabulous!” At first I thought, what kind of antidepressants is this guy on and where can I get some?! However, antidepressants had nothing to do with it. It was all about attitude. Positive mental attitude. He believes that every day IS fabulous and therefore, it is. Even through hard times or stressful events he would still consider his day fabulous. I on the other hand would come home from my dead end office job and do nothing but complain. Brad would always cut me off and ask, “What was good in your day?” I usually responded with an eye roll or sometimes I yelled at him for having no compassion or not listening. He would reply by saying, “If you believe your life is great it will be.” That got another eye roll. Ten years later I look back to those early days and laugh. I now come home from my job as a personal trainer and feel happy and satisfied, maybe even fabulous, EVERY SINGLE DAY! Do I still have “bad days”? Sure. Sometimes I am tired or I am stressed about money or losing a client. But I CHOOSE to look at it differently now. I might have a stressful event or a problem to handle but I don’t let it ruin my whole day like it used to. I see my day as more of a road. Sure there might be speed bumps or pot holes but I know if I slow down or go around them it will all be ok. Those flaws don’t ruin the rest of the road do they? Rolling your eyes yet? Good. Because that means you know deep down somewhere what I am saying is true. Great, so how do you get there? That now is the real challenge! You can read all the self-help books on the planet but if you never implement the ideas then you have wasted you $8. I wish I had a fancy program that I could enroll you all in. I could give speeches, do webinars, we could role play and make dream boards. But all you really need is a mental image of a spray bottle. What? I know this blog post is getting weird. A friend of mine trains her dog with a spray bottle. When he does bad things or has bad behavior he gets sprayed with the bottle. See where I am going with this? It’s all about retraining your brain. This is not an easy task but starts with baby steps.    

Listen to what you say: Listen carefully to what comes out of your mouth. Are they mostly complaints? Is it all negative? Gossip? Try to not complain for a day and you will see how often you lean towards the negative instead of the positive.  

Listen to what you think: Be aware of your self-talk. Do you tell yourself you can’t or that you’re too stupid or not strong enough? Pay close attention because those are little affirmations you are making to yourself. Imagine if you trying to brainwash yourself with your own thoughts. Wouldn’t you want to tell yourself to go for it! To be strong! To be brave! That you are a beautiful person who can accomplish anything!

Put it into action and most of all be patient: Spend a day or so listening to what you think and what you say. Then build a plan. If you are visual maybe use a journal. If you like pain maybe a rubber band around your wrist. If you can mentally grasp the spray bottle idea, use that. Basically when a negative thought comes up you’re going to spray yourself in the face. A little Cesar Millan action if you will. Cut it off immediately and replace it with a positive thought or comment. Think of an affirmation that you can say that will give you immediate confidence. I like to think I am strong or I can do anything. Be patient with yourself. This takes time.

How it will change your life: When you believe that you can do something it is a powerful feeling. When you give yourself 100% commitment you will be amazed at the things you will accomplish. That old voice might still come up and try to rear its ugly head but you can quietly shut it down. I spent 20 plus years beating up on myself. It took 10 years to unravel bad behavior and retrain my brain. Slowly but surely I noticed Brad never has to ask me what was good in my day because that is all I CHOOSE to talk about. Not that there isn’t stress or things to deal with but I know if I believe that my life is fabulous, it will be. I WILL have the strength to deal with what I need to deal with because I haven’t wasted by time with negativity. When I made the decision to quit my stable office job and run my own gym I had such bad anxiety and negative self-talk. It was hard to sleep sometimes because that voice would just nag all night long. You’re not smart enough, you don’t have any experience, you’re going to fail, you’re going to have to beg for your job back, people are going to laugh at you, no one will help you and on and on and on. For two years now I have ran a successful business. I love what I do. I never wake up and dread going to work. It is empowering beyond belief. In fact any idea that crosses my path I think yeah I can do that to! I am going to sell my photography, make my own website, play the violin, take hot yoga classes, try anything and everything and know that I will do great!

How it will change athletic performance: A friend of mine ran professionally for years and told me that when you are racing or doing anything competitive your mind can only hold onto ONE thought. So you better make damn sure that it’s a positive thought. The second you let that voice in is when your race or event is going to unravel. I did an experiment with my last race. I had done the race before so I knew it was going to be a challenging course. Days before I mentally imagined each section of the triathlon. In the swim I felt my arms pulling through the water, strong and efficient strokes. On the bike, I felt my legs pushing up each hill gaining strength and power. Finishing with the run, I saw myself running with perfect form, no injuries and breathing nice and easy. The night before Brad asked me how I thought I was going to do and I informed him that I was going to swim strong and smooth, bike fast and run nice and easy. Don’t get me wrong, that voice did try to creep in a few times but I shooed it away like an annoying fly. The day of the race I found myself in the middle of the swim pack and I was so surprised. I thought hey I am keeping up with these ladies! Ohmygodohmygodohmygod! On the bike I found myself thinking it’s working! My legs are so strong look I am even passing a few people here and there! The run well that was tough. My feet felt like they were burning, my quads were screaming from the bike and the hilly course left me panting like a dog. That’s when the voice thought it had won hahaha you suck! I knew it! Better luck next time loser! So I slowed my breathing down by thinking on the inhale I AM STRONG and exhaling I CAN DO THIS. Suddenly my feet stopped hurting, legs started pushing a little harder and I could finally breathe. I wanted to scream out of happiness oh my god this positive mental crap is working!!! This is amazing!!!!In the end I was 12 minutes faster than my time last year. I was over the moon. I was hoping for a few minutes but 12 is a lot! It took a few days for all of this to sink in and to realize the power of my own mind and acknowledge what had happened. If only there was a way to bottle this feeling and remember it the next time doubt tries to sneak in. I hope that by writing it down I will remember. I hope that by sharing my story it will inspire someone else. It doesn’t matter what sport you do or what your dream job is you CAN do it. The possibilities truly are limitless when you realize that you can do anything and that the only person standing in your way is you.