Positive Reinforcement

Positive Reinforcement

What’s Better: “Drop And Give Me 50, You Fat Cow,” or “Good Going, Let’s Try for Five More”?
Recently, I was watching an episode of The Biggest Loser, a program dedicated to helping very overweight people lose weight. I was aghast to see one of the trainers yelling, screaming and downright humiliating one of the contestants. This guy clearly was in no shape, physically or psychologically, for the sort of exercise he was asked to do.
I get it that some of us respond better to encouragement, while others of us respond better to fear and guilt – but even so, it was just too much. In my view, getting healthy doesn’t deserve yelling and screaming. There’s a behavior aspect that needs to be adjusted. This particular guy on TV was ridiculed to no end. I did see some positive strides being made, but no positive feedback.
How can anyone treat another human being that way? (Don’t answer that. 😉 It’s vulgar and mean, and I just don’t train that way. If I treated my clients that way, I wouldn’t have clients! Leave the yelling and screaming to the military boots camps. As for the rest of us – we’re training for healthier lives, not for the killing fields, for heaven’s sake.
Positive reinforcement is the way. If we don’t get positive reinforcement, how can we feel good about what we’re doing, let alone move forward? I’m not suggesting we need to be coddled and hand-held every step of the way. I’m saying it’s good to know when you’re doing a great job. Feeling good makes even really hard goals feel achievable.
Some clients ask me regularly about their fitness achievements, and what they can be doing to get to their next level. I love that they ask me! It makes me feel like I’m actually helping them get to their goals, and that they’re truly interested in succeeding. It’s a win-win.
With clients who don’t ask so much, I lay on the positive reinforcement anyway — how much better they’re doing, how much more balanced they are in their workouts. I’d rather say “great job, go for 10 more,” than “drop and give me 50, you fat cow.”!
It’s important to take positive reinforcement into our everyday lives, too. Beyond workouts. “The Secret” is not such a big secret anymore, and parts of it are right on: Staying positive in life is a great way to get through your day. When you come upon negativity that brings you down, take a few deep breathes and re-frame it. Find the positive. It’s always there. And with it, we can get through any pretty much any obstacle that’s trying to block our way.
So there!

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