Self-Efficacy: The Power of Beliefs

I went for an outside run the other day, my first outside run of Spring. We’ve had an extremely long winter here in Alberta, and I just couldn’t will myself to dodge ice and puddles so I opted for a winter of stationary cycling to nowhere. As I was running, the banter within my head started taking over with each stride. “I’ve taken too much time off, my pace is much slower now.” and “I bet I look like Phoebe from Friends when I run.”

As my unproductive self talk skipped like a broken record in my head, I found myself wanting to turn around and go home. I recognized this pattern of discouraging thinking from years of practice. These are the thoughts that give me an excuse to slip back into old behaviours that produce little action. The old version of me who was happy to sit on the sidelines of life and doubted I could be an active person, so I didn’t even try.

I realized this “not trying” thing, is something I’ve done for a large part of my adult life. Dreams are just dreams, because of my fear of failure.

And then out of nowhere, one powerful confident thought popped into my head. “You don’t live there anymore.”

It took me off guard…where did that come from?!

“Those old beliefs no longer serve you. Let them go. Keep calm and run. No matter how slow your pace is now,  you are trying. You’re doing.”

And with that, I kept on running further than I have every ran before. I had some time to think about it when my run was over, and I realized there is always a payoff when living within behaviours that are destructive. So what exactly is the payoff to living a complacent life void of action?  It’s safe within my comfort zone. There’s no failure there, because there’s no trying. Hmmmmm, interesting. And then I thought about the payoff within active living. There’s so many positives, it makes me feel ridiculous for comparing the two.

I don’t live there anymore.

Recently, I decided to pursue a 10 yr dream of getting my Personal Training Certification. I’m half way there. Out of all the information I’ve read through in the text-book, the one term that has stuck with me most is this: “Self-Efficacy

Wikipedia’s definition: “Self-efficacy is the extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals.”

The strength within a personal belief  in one’s ability is a key factor to successfully reaching a goal.

There is both power and destruction within our beliefs.

Self-Efficacy is so interesting to me, as I realized I have the power to mould my actions through my beliefs. I thought back to where I was at the start of this journey, and I truly believed I couldn’t do it. The end goal was too big. How was I going to lose close to 100 pounds?! I believed I was weak, void of will-power, with little motivation. At some point, you just have to dive into a goal and push the negative beliefs to the side. What made me dive in? One tiny little positive thought: “Start small”

I will never forget my first attempt at jogging. I drove to the Vermilion Provincial Park, put on a brand new pair of Nikes, and started walking. I told myself I would walk for 20 minutes, and jog for part of it. I jogged for increments of 20 seconds. I felt both freedom and discouragement within that first walk/jog.

Do it again.

And so that began my journey with exercise. As I successfully reached each small goal, my beliefs turned from “I can’t” to “I think I can” to “I know I can” to “what goal is next?”.

I realized the importance of music to set pace and cope with feelings that I didn’t want to deal with. I ran to Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” when I coped with a miscarriage.

And I ran to Metallica’s “Don’t Tread on Me” when I was frustrated…

And a whole lot of Stevie Nicks when I was feeling nostalgic…

Over the years, my music choices have changed as I’ve grown and learned to embrace life with a lot more positivity. 😉 I’m more apt to choose Top 40 now, as long as it pushes me on.  I love the 8tracks app on my iPhone. Check it out:

I know I have the ability to shape my actions now. I just need to believe I can do it. And just so you know, you can do it too. Your beliefs hold the power.

Here’s an interesting read on enhancing self-efficacy: 

From my heart to yours,


7 Gym Myths Debunked via a Former Couch Potato

Recently at the gym, I was talking to one of the trainers. I commented to him that the gym was abnormally quiet, just a handful of people worked their little hearts out. What he said in reply got me thinking. He said: “it’s the same regulars here today, there’s not an overweight  person in here.”

I hadn’t noticed the physical shape of anyone there, I was focussed on my workout. While I didn’t take that comment as judgmental, but rather an observation of the gym culture at that moment, it did put me right back into my pre-exercising head. I wondered why I didn’t feel like I “belonged” at the gym when I started this journey. I remember being fearful of the gym, all that equipment that I didn’t know how to use, all those fit bodies…like they would all stare at me and judge me while I worked out. I wish I knew then what I know now.

So I’m writing this to the fearful 242 pound couch-potato Me of the past…

Chrissy heaviest 02


from the dorky gym-lover of the future…

Leduc Rec Pic


Myths and Fears of the Gym

Myth #1: Everyone will stare at me or worse yet, they will laugh at me.  

Everyone at the gym is there to get their sweat on. No one is looking at anyone else. Chances are, many of them have the same insecurities as I do. The gym is just a place to go to work all your frustrations out, and show a little love to your heart and body in the process.

Myth #2: I’ll be embarrassed by my red-faced sweaty face.

Sweat is just our body’s way of cooling our internal rising temperature as we exercise. If we are sweating, that means we are working hard. If we are working hard, we are achieving our goal to get our heart rate elevated. As our heart rate elevates, we are actively burning calories. Further to that, the calories we burn at the gym are just a small part of the calories we burn after we leave the gym. Are you sweating during your workout? Congratulations, you are working hard! Personally, when I see someone sweating a lot during their workout, I have a lot of respect for how hard they are working. It motivates me to work even harder.

Myth #3: No one will show me how to use all that equipment. 

There are always attendants & trainers walking the floor. Most gyms will show you free of charge how to use each piece of equipment. You probably have a friend who knows how to use them all. Ask them. Ask a stranger at the gym how to use a piece of equipment. People are happy to help.

Here my friend Kristine helped me out one day by showing me how to stretch using a roller after my run. Like a weirdo I took pictures of her so I’d remember how to do it for next time. ha!

Kirstine web

Kirstine2 web


Another day, my friend Linda showed Bon and I how to use a Squat rack…



I’m very thankful for their help!

Myth #4: The weight training area is for Men. Women will get big and bulky if they lift weights. 

I bought into this myth big time. I used to think the weight training area was for “muscle heads”. If anything, strength training is especially important for women as we naturally have less muscle mass than men do. Further to that, as we age, we lose muscle mass. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine:Loss of muscle mass, also known as Sarcopenia occurs as a result of aging. After age 35 you will lose between .5-1. Percent of your muscle mass annually unless you engage in regular physical activity to prevent it.  By engaging in regular resistance training and following a sound diet that includes adequate amounts of protein, you can prevent most of the muscle loss associated with age. Health experts recommend that you engage in some of the resistance training that focuses on all major muscle groups a minimum of 2 times per week and up to 5 times per week depending upon your goals.”

Ladies, don’t worry about getting big and bulky because of weight training. We just don’t have the genetic makeup for that (or the testosterone). I also didn’t realize how hard it is to build a lot of muscle. I used to picture body builders when I thought about strength training; however to achieve that form, you need to follow a very strict diet and spend a lot of time focussing on each muscle group. It’s not a reality for most of us. So muscle your way into that strength training area and reap the benefits of improved body composition (muscle is more dense than fat, so it takes up less room), improved resting metabolism, sharpened mental focus, reduced signs and symptoms of chronic conditions (arthritis, back pain, diabetes, depression), improved muscle strength and tone (which leads to improvements to daily life activities), improved posture/mobility/balance, reduced risk of osteoporosis, improved blood-pressure, and increased self-esteem. The benefits are endless.

Hire a trainer to show you how to lift with correct technique or join a class. There are also tons of free online resources. My favourites:  and

Before you know it, your confidence will rise to the point you no longer feel out-of-place. Our bodies are incredible machines that adapt quickly & positively to increased demands. Adding strength training to your exercise program has huge positive benefits for your future health. Think of it as an investment towards aging with vitality. Everyone belongs in the strength training area. What makes one person more privileged to be there over another?  Nonsense. 😉

 Myth #5: I don’t have time to go to they gym. 

Time management is tricky within our busy lives. Once you really look at the benefits of exercise and how it will positively affect all aspects of our life, isn’t it worth it? Even 30 minutes 3-4 times a week can produce big results. Don’t have 30 minutes in one chunk? Split it up into 10 minute segments. It takes about three weeks to turn an activity into a habit. Just keep at it, and before you know it, exercise will become an essential part of daily life. I often think about how exercise is essential for my positive mind-set. I wish there was a camera showing people their facial expressions before and after a workout. Exercise releases endorphins. There’s a reason they call it “Runner’s High”. You actually feel a high when you are done! ha! How great is that?! Go get your daily exercise high. 🙂

Myth #6: I don’t “belong” at the gym. I’m not one of those fitness junkies. 

Oh my, did I believe this myth. Now that I’ve travelled this road to reclaim my life for 10 years now, I now understand the importance of a well-rounded balanced approach to health, happiness, and vitality. It’s not about a number on a scale or a short-term diet. For me, it requires a lifestyle of eating healthy (I follow the 80/20 rule), cardio, strength training, flexibility, and a focus on those elements that feed my soul and mind with positive. The old me would have read that last sentence and rolled my eyes. I just didn’t realize the joy that would come from living this way. The idea that another’s health and well-being is more important than my own is ridiculous. I used to believe taking that time for myself was selfish. It’s not selfish to take care of your body, mind, and soul. It’s essential for health and happiness. Of course we all belong at the very place that houses equipment to improve our cardio/muscular health.

Myth #7: I’ll go to the gym when I’m more fit.

I had to take the power & intimidation out of the word “gym”. It’s just a space to sweat and work. That’s all. What I’ve gained from that atmosphere is something I didn’t expect. Although I prefer to workout alone, I have gained social interaction I didn’t expect. The people I have met at the gym are amazing. There are no classes of people there. Those business professionals who sport a suit in their day jobs wear sweat pants just like I do. We are all the same, working towards a common goal. It’s not about your external appearance, it’s about pushing yourself a little further every time. Gaining confidence with each workout. It’s about feeling pride within your efforts. Why does one have to be at a certain fitness level to enjoy those elements? Again, ridiculous nonsense.

If you share any of these myths that I once believed, I hope I encouraged you to think about the gym atmosphere in a different way. Go try it out if you’ve been fearful to do so…what do you have to lose (except a bunch of calories burned and a whole lot of stress of your shoulders)?

From my heart to yours,


Challenging Old Beliefs

It’s true in life there are some things that are out of our control, but there are also many things that are absolutely in our control. The key is to discern between the two.

There were so many things in my life that I thought I couldn’t do.  For example, I convinced myself I couldn’t run a 10K. I woke up one day and actually said aloud “Why can’t I? Who says I can’t?”  Well, I said I couldn’t.  I thought I wasn’t athletic or a runner. Why did I think that?  Because I was living in an old belief. I believed that I would always be uncomfortable in my own skin. I believed that I was too big to run.  When I was growing up, I was raised on a farm which was 20 minutes from town.  My mom worked full-time opening a business, and so I wasn’t into organized sports. Having said that, I also didn’t want to be either. I believed that I wasn’t athletic. It just wasn’t my reality.

Bull shit!!!

Recently I was attempting to do two sets of tricep push ups….well I could only get through one set. I find tricep push ups so tough to do. I was immediately discouraged. How was I going to be able to do two sets when I had a hard time getting  through one set?  You know how?  I just have to keep at it!  I have to continue to challenge my muscles, and guess what…I will get stronger!  It’s a fact.

It’s the same with one’s mind-set.  If you are replaying the same old beliefs in your mind, and it’s not serving you in any way, the way to overcome it is to challenge that belief.  Keep challenging it.  When your mind says “I can’t”, then you need to challenge it.  Why can’t you?  Who says you can’t?  WHY do you believe you can’t…get the heart of the tired belief. Most often than not, it’s our own mind that says we can’t do something and it’s based on a past belief that no longer holds truth for us (and did it ever hold any truth in the first place?!).

I have many old beliefs. I have started leaving sticky notes on the mirror at the gym.   They say something different each time.

“You are more powerful than you even realize”.

“You are enough.”

“You are beautiful. Be good to you.”

I have no idea who notices them or if it affects anyone, but I do know that if I was looking at those notes before starting my work out, it would lift me up and start things off on a positive. They challenge inner-beliefs that I struggle with.  I do realize this is a bit odd. But, I keep writing those pick me up notes in the off-chance someone else struggles and needs to hear it.

Also, most recently I have decided to embrace my odd, geeky side! Hey, it’s part of who I am. Authenticity builds relationships of trust, value, & respect. So just be you. We are all flawed. It’s OK, because it’s honest & refreshing in all actuality 🙂  Maybe it’s weird to write strangers sticky notes who I never actually see reading them (unless I hide behind the garbage can which is a weird stretch even for me).  Whatever, I’m weird. I write pick-me-up sticky notes because my heart tells me to.  ha ha

The other day as I was getting ready in front of my mirror I thought to myself “I hate my legs.” I had to snap myself out of it, as much as I have challenged those old beliefs, they still crop up from time to time.  My next thought was, if I truly believed I hate my legs, then I should have no problem approaching someone who’s in a wheel chair and say “hey, how are ya? Do you know that I hate my legs.”  Humbling moment. I’m thankful that I have healthy legs. I’m so excited to ride my new bike.  Bring on the sun and cleared biking paths! 🙂

Be good to you. You are worthy. You are enough.  Challenge those tired old beliefs. Forget about status quo.  Give yourself permission to really look within your own heart and follow the path that is right for you. Trust yourself to make the healthy choices that lift you up.

And then when you are in a place of strength, you spread the love.  Love, strength, and positivity are contagious.  🙂

From my heart to yours,


Love, Peace, and a Little Understanding

As I was running yesterday, this phrase popped into my head.

Love, Peace, and a Little Understanding goes a long way!

I’m not really sure why it popped into my head, but lately I have realized how good it is for the soul to drop the judgments and replace it with a little understanding.  There will be times in life when those around you will not agree with your choices/thoughts/perceptions and you may not agree with theirs as well.  I have realized that their choices and opinions are theirs alone and have nothing to do with my own choices.   I can only control my thoughts, vision, plans, behaviour…etc so I’m wasting time and energy trying to change something I have no power over!

I have the power to change my perceptions, to accept others just as they are, to show love/peace/understanding because I haven’t walked in their shoes and they haven’t walked in mine!  We are all just people. 🙂

It takes very little to turn a bad attitude into a good one and I know that’s why the running bug has bit me.  Now don’t be fooled into thinking that I’m a graceful runner nor am I a fast runner…I was passed by a toddler followed up by a gentleman toting a wheeled oxygen tank on the running track yesterday.

I know I talk A LOT about how amazing exercise is for the body, mind, and soul but when you find something that brings you so much joy, it’s hard to keep it in!  If I’m having a bad day and my heart hurts, I can’t wait to push myself at the gym to the point that the physical pain takes over the heart ache.  I know that sounds odd, but for me exercise turns heart ache, into physical pain (if I push myself), into pride and joy…all in the course of an hour.  I may go in defeated, but I always leave uplifted.  I actually wish there was a camera that captured the expressions of people walking into a gym and then the expressions walking out.  There would be great proof in the healing power of exercise and the pride that accompanies it!

Exercise heightens a good day as well.  It turns a good day into a great day.  I often have to repeat in my head:  “Don’t break out into spontaneous dance in the middle of the running track, someone could trip over you.” and “Don’t start singing loud while on the treadmill.”

Here’s the song that made me want to dance it out yesterday during my run.  Instead I opted for a slow jog/fast walk…heavy on the hip sway accompanied with a head bob and a finger snap.  Yes, I am a dork.

Anywhoooo….just thought I would sing the praises of exercise once again!  It brings moments of clarity to my heart.   If you believe exercise is not something you could enjoy, I encourage you to try it out consistently (even a couple times a week) for a month, and see what it does for you!

Here’s to Love, Peace, and a Little Understanding to all we encounter in life. 🙂