Thursday, 06 June 2013 10:04

How Do You See Exercise

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How Do You See Exercise







Do you often find yourself asking questions like: How can he/she exercise and enjoy doing it? Or why do I always sabotage myself when I start to see results? Or why have I always been so terrible at sport?

To shed some light, I want you to take a minute and try and remember your childhood experiences of health and fitness. Were you encouraged and supported to participate in sport? Did you excel when playing sport? Or was health and education the most hated subject at school for you? As you answer these questions, also try and recall your parent’s involvement in leisure activities? Were they active? Did they enjoy exercise? Or was it their view that sport is only played by a selected few?

This article will analyse these questions, and your early experiences to sensitise you to the reference systems you may have developed and utilised to filter your thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs on health and fitness.

Anthony Robbins ( noted that references come from your conscious and unconscious experiences of life. He metaphorically describes references as a giant network in the brain, whereby every feeling throughout life you have touched, tasted, smelt and heard is stored.

From this giant network, Robbins ( makes the point that some references are organised and connected together to related categories to form a belief. For example, you may have an organised category of references in your mind that makes up a belief: health/ sport/ exercise. Every thought sensed in your mind about health / sport/ exercise is filled under this category. This organised belief may hold positive references or negative references depending on your own personal experiences. For example, if you hold the belief now that you are a fit and healthy person, I would argue that you have been influenced to a great extent (both consciously and sub-consciously) by positive references in you life.




So what makes up a belief?


Beliefs are merely a feeling of certainty where your behaviours have been continuously reinforced (whether it be positive or negative) and rewarded. For example, for someone to hold the belief that they are a fit and healthy person, they may have been continuously told and thus reinforced throughout their life that they look healthy/fit/athletic or that they are great at sport. Their parents may have also been very active and thus consciously or subconsciously provided excellent reinforcement through being a good role model (

I must note that these are only examples and not conclusive to every persons belief system.


What if though, you had only had negative references throughout your life to support a belief? For example, what if you were constantly ridiculed for being terrible at sport, or constantly ridiculed for being overweight and lazy. Wouldn’t it then be difficult to achieve positive beliefs when all you can rely on for certainty is negative references? No doubt most of you would probably now answer yes especially after what you have read, but I am here to tell you clearly that this is not the case.

Up until now, this article has sensitised your focus on past and present references and their significance in ones belief system. I want to clearly point out to you who have been influenced by negative beliefs, that the references you have gathered are merely pictures in your head of sensations that you generate and feel when you focus on them (Anthony Robbins, This simply means that references are highly suggestible and can be changed at anytime and at stage in your life. All you need to do is:


Seek out new references

Control you focus and perception on how you interpret a reference

Use future referencing as a source




How do you do this I here you ask?


If you believe for example, that you always sabotage yourself when you are trying to lose weight, it is imperative that you seek out new references via people who have had success. This may mean literally asking people how they managed to succumb fear and doubt and overcome their obstacle (losing weight), or it may mean reading literature on people who have succeeded, or it may even mean joining an association that allows you to meet people who have had success and speaking to them. It does not though mean that because you were never encouraged or given positive references to boost your self-image, that you are a failure and that you should never try. It was a good friend of mine, who said:

‘One simple move away from your current situation may be all it takes to provide the catalyst to encourage change in your references’.

References may be invaluable, but it is also what you choose too do with those references that determines whether you achieve your goals or not. You must realise that you have full control on how the outcome will be perceived and interpreted. Note, just because you may have failed before, it does not mean you are going to fail again. The past does not equal the future. To provide an example of this, it was believed that Thomas Edison attempted the light bulb 2000 times before he succeeded. Imagine if Thomas was influenced and controlled by past references. Do you think he would have finished his creation if he believed he was a failure? Thomas never felt he failed, instead believing that every failure was a step closer to his success.




If you find that you are sabotaging yourself when losing weight, don’t immediately respond by cursing and putting yourself down. Instead utilise your experience and try and determine how you could use that reference to your advantage. It may only mean making a slight adjustment in your routine or focus, or it may mean trying something new, but it will never mean giving up.

Future references also provide an excellent source to assist you in reaching your goals and changing your behaviours. Because references are highly suggestible, your imagination is probably the strongest source of reference you can implement. As long as you have a vision of how you want a certain outcome to be and your persistent, you always create the reference system you desire. Let me repeat that:


As long as you have a vision of how you want a certain outcome to be and your persistant, you always create the reference system you desire (


Wilma Rudolf (3 times US Gold Medallist) did just this: She was born prematurely and her survival was doubtful. When she was only 4 years old, pneumonia and scarlet fever left her with a paralysed leg. But by the age of 13, she had developed a rhythmic walk which doctor’s thought was a miracle, and so decided to be come a runner. She entered a couple of races and came last. For the next few years, every race she entered she ran last. Not the best reference system is it? But Wilma new something that everyone else didn’t! She was constantly told to quit and that she was wasting her time running. But Wilma had a clear vision, she knew how she wanted her references to be, so she kept running. One day she actually won a race and then another and before long Wilma won 3 Olympic Gold Medals (Canfield & Hansen, 1993).


What was the Key?


Wilma didn’t have the references that she could utilise like so many of us do, to provide the certainty and reinforcement necessary to succeed. Instead Wilma used her vision and imagination which was so vivid and detailed that it created certainty where doubt resided; belief where fear stood but most of all faith in knowing that her goals and dreams could be achieved when one believed and focused on them (Canfield & Hansen, 1993).

Whether you have been encouraged or cursed, rewarded or condemned it is never too late to change your reference system. Some of the greatest athletes have overcome great adversity to achieve their goals and reach their dreams, and I am positive you can achieve any physical feat imaginable if you put your mind to it. To conclude I will finish with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though chequered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither question their references to enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat” (Loehr,Evert 1995, p173).




1. Anthony Robbins (


3. Hansen, M. V. & Canfield, J. (1993). Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit: Health Communications.

4. Loehr, J.E. & Evert, C. (1995) The New Toughness Training for Sports: Mental Emotional Physical Conditioning: Plume.

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