Operant Conditioning in Physique Sports? How to Rewire Your Thinking so you can do What's Best For YOU without Pressure from the Industry
This is a semi-confronting topic buttttttt I’m a big believer in raising self-awareness and a big part of that comes from education and understanding
In the sport of competing we are constantly being conditioned on a subconscious and conscious level
Unfortunately, sometimes that can lead to unhealthy habits, thought patterns, and behaviors
It can also create really awesome versions of those things!
So let’s talk about it ;)
If every time you send a check in to your coach you get a positive response you’ll be more likely to look forward to check-ins and continue your efforts because they are giving you positive reinforcements
If you step on stage and are given a trophy this is a positive reinforcement so you’ll feel good and be more likely to continue competing or feel further validated in your experience
HOWEVER this could be working against you without your knowledge
It’s called Operant conditioning. I talked a little bit about it on my Instagram stories this week
Essentially, behavior is influenced with either positive or negative reinforcements
Ones I see most often among competitors?
Let's start with the scale
People! It is 2019 why are we still stressing about what that damn thing says anyways??
That’s for another day
When we step on the scale and have an emotional reaction or tell someone else and they do, it acts as a reinforcement
On prep or during diets we constantly get noticed and applauded for looking lighter, tinier, thinner, smaller etc
When we lose weight, hit new lows, or show new measurements we get ooos and ahhhs, lots of attention applause and kudos.
This feels GOOD and gives us more validation! (Even if we don’t want to admit it or aren't aware that it is happening)
But when it goes the other way; wop wop wop
You don't step on stage deep into off-season and get a trophy or get applauded for your less conditioned physique. Many competitors are also more 'comfortable' in their prep season body because it 'represents' the 'bikini competitor' identity 'so much more'. I also don't see tons of girls being applauded for gaining weight at all.
And with everyone posting about 'staying x pounds over stage weight is ideal' or coaches and teams posting about all their girls who are still lean or look x way in the off season or are 'doing it right'. It sends a subconscious signal to our own brain that tells us, maybe you aren't 'as good' or doing it 'right' or 'shouldn't be eating x way or gaining x weight'.
So of course? Our brain is like “I want to feel good and fit in and be loved and accepted!!!”
And tells you well the last time you got this was when you were leaner lighter tighter so let’s diet and lose weight and feel bad about ourselves until we do
Same thing happens with food, or the shape of our body, or the way we eat and train. Any promotion of hierarchy or
But how can we notice conditioning when it’s happening, stop it, or do something about it???
This is real, for so many competitors, for so many women! I am sure if you have read this far, you GET it and have likely experienced this or are. If you are struggling with this and would like more personal support, please send me an email to inquire about working together.
I do offer 1:1 coaching virtually with phone calls, daily accountability/availability, personalized action steps, and various programs/systems.
If you are ready to take the next step and commit to something beyond the internet, my podcast, posts I share, emails I send, and freebies I provide, then now is the time to reach out. I am opening up 1:1 coaching spots for September. Let's see if we are a great fit :)
Contact me now to see what we can do together