During my 6 years as a health science student, we talked a lot about self-efficacy and how it contributed to behavior change and positive health outcomes.
This sounds boring. I’m sorry. It gets better.
Self-efficacy is the belief that you can perform a certain task, and it’s a key factor in making lasting, healthy changes that will lead to weight loss or improving your overall health. If a person believes they can quit smoking, that puts them even closer to the goal of actually quitting. If they believe they can cook healthy meals at home, their confidence allows them to try without fear or reservation. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…
Why am I yammering about all this? I haven’t been to the gym for over 2 months. First it started with shin splints, and then it was the diet and a doctor’s note not to exercise that kept me away. The longer I stayed away, the harder it was to go back (this leads to so many other facets of my life, but let’s not open Pandora’s Box this late at night, shall we?). Long story short, I went back to the gym tonight for the first time in way too long. It took a friend going with me (hi, Rachel!!!!) to actually get my butt over there, but I went (and at its busiest time, too!!). I’ve usually shied away from working out with friends because, in the past, I’ve slacked off on exercising in favor of socializing, or I’ve cut it short before I needed to. It’s weird when I drive there with someone else, because it’s difficult to gauge how they’re doing and when they want to leave, so I would usually finish quickly and use them as an excuse to leave early (does that even make sense?). We met there, though, and I wanted to get some stress out, so I was ready to WORK!
Tonight we did 20 minutes on the elliptical and 10 minutes on the rowing machines. That might not seem like a lot to all you gymrats out there, but while I’m on less than 1000 calories a day and haven’t worked out really hard in a long time, it was plenty. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my friend or that I’d feel faint and have to cut it short early on, but I held my own.
We hopped on two side-by-side elliptical machines, one earbud in, one out so we could chat, and decided to go for 15 minutes. We talked the whole time and those 15 minutes FLEW BY. We agreed to go for 5 more minutes to see how we felt, and I only felt woozy once. I slowed down until I felt better, then sped back up. I rocked it the entire time! I was able to talk, but just barely, so I was working at just the right intensity. When we had done 20 minutes, we moved onto the rowing machines and busted out a solid 10 minutes, and I only slowed down a couple of times!
So, back to self-efficacy, going tonight with my friendly support helped me realize that I was just being a pansy and that I CAN go to the gym and not be afraid. I can be successful at working out in public, and nobody’s going to stare at me or call me names, and I (probably) won’t hurt myself. A little hand-holding never hurt anyone, and in fact, it made me stronger. I could’ve kept going (with a rest break), but the crowd was just too much to deal with, and I didn’t want to overdo it my first time back. I felt amazing afterward (as I always do…if only I could remember that when I’m trying to get my ass there in the first place!) and might even go back tomorrow!
And again with the self-efficacy: we looked in on a Zumba class and declared we’ll try it next week. I hope Rachel still wants to go, because I need her to hold my hand and increase my self-efficacy! It’s such an asset to have a gym buddy, but only if they hold you accountable!
What kinds of things have you done (or want to do) to increase your self-efficacy? From watching cooking or exercise tutorials to practicing self-affirmations and budgeting exercise time, what steps do you put in place to ensure success in different areas of your life?
PS – I watched Julie & Julia tonight and it was super cute, but the ending/outcome frustrated me!! I also made a new killer crockpot dish that I’ll blog about tomorrow. I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine (I hope this post was coherent enough!) and am about ready to PTFO. Night, all!!