This week, we’re going to talk about 5 things that are keeping you from reaching your full potential and how to overcome them. They’re not physical obstacles we can jump over or push against; they require a shift in perspective.
There is a well known quote that says, “Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body will. Feel the fear and do it any way”. Who said it? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I have personally experienced this phenomenon and thus say this line to myself when my mind is complaining but I know my body can handle more reps.
As much as we talk about how fitness requires regular and consistent physical programming, let’s talk about our mental programming. Let’s talk about ways we can shift and reset certain thought patterns that are holding us back from being the healthiest and happiest Us we can be.
1. OTHER PEOPLE’S DEFINITION OF SUCCESS
Ask 100 people what they define as “peak physical fitness” and you will receive 100 different answers. Plus, if you spend time asking 100 people what they define success as, that is A LOT of time you could have spent working on your fitness.
What do you define success as? Is it to wake up feeling well-rested every day? Is it to keep up with your active friends, children, grandchildren? Is it to hike Kilimanjaro? Is it to participate in or win a lifting competition?
Set your eyes on that THING and don’t let other people’s suggestions tear you away from what will make you feel happy, proud, and successful.
Someone else will think you need to be stronger. Another person will say you need to be faster. A third party might urge you it's all crap unless you are vegan/vegetarian/Paleo/Keto.
Your body is your own. Your health is your own. Own it by focusing on what matters TO YOU.
2. LOOKING GOOD
Looking good; looking smart; looking competent; it’s easy to feel confident when all these align.
But do you know where true success comes from? It’s a much less glamorous, vulnerable place.
If looking good at the gym – whether it is physically or intellectually – is your main focus during your workout, you are missing out.
Having the perfect hair and workout outfit when you leave the gym and having a completely composed face and stifling your grunts or heavy breathing throughout the workout might actually be a sign you aren’t working hard enough, rather than you’re flawlessness.
Likewise, if you are so afraid to look stupid that it holds you back from lifting a weight you might need to bail out of; or scaling a workout you know will make you stronger; or asking someone to teach you a new skill or technique; you will continue to drive yourself around a roundabout. When you are ready to exit the mindset that everything you do needs to be perfect every time, you’ll finally allow yourself to continue on your fitness journey.
Embrace sweating. Embrace struggling. Embrace learning.
“The most successful people I know are not busy. They’re focused.”
When it comes down to your schedule and your gym goals, busyness does not equate to success.
First, make time to work out, sleep well, and eat well. Being a busybody from 6 am to 11 pm isn't a sign of success. But if working out is a priority, treat it as such.
Same goes with your workout routine. Focus on the skills and techniques that are important to you. Not that you need to specialize in one fitness modality; it is important for you to make time for your strengths and weaknesses.
Scattering your time and energy among 5 skills that change every week rarely leads to progress. Consistent and focused effort at regularly programmed intervals throughout the week for a select group of skills will help you get the pull-up you always wanted, or the pistols you are dreaming of, or finally help you nail Camel Pose in yoga.
4. ENTERTAINMENT AND DISTRACTION
ENJOY YOUR TIME AT THE GYM!
How incredible is it that you can lift 90 lbs? Aren’t you in AWE that your legs can carry you 5 KM? Do you know how astounding your body mechanics are and the coordination that is required to allow you squat and press and stretch and lunge?!
So much of that focus and appreciation is taken away when your eyes are glued to a TV, or you rush through a set of lifts to check if anyone liked your Instagram post yet.
>Plus, if you aren’t loving – or at least liking – the time you spend at the gym, how can you change that? Is there a class you can join, a new gym you can go to, or a friend you can bring a long that will help with this.
Enjoy the journey, not just the results!
5. “KINDA GOOD” OPPORTUNITIES
There are so many instances where I had a goal in mind, and then I got distracted by a “new program” or someone said “hey, I see you’re doing this, have you thought about doing that instead?”
My opportunity to accomplish my Personal Fitness Goal gets derailed by something that – although being fun, cool, and having it’s own benefits - is unrelated to my long term goals.
Most times, it’s something that will make me feel “kinda good” in the short term, but isn’t part of my “real good” long term plan.
For example, in 2014, I was training for a fitness test for my Forest Fire Fighting job. Around the same time, a friend of mine said, “Hey, you are really great at squatting! Want to do a Bulgarian Squat program with me?”
I said yes because that sounded fun: I love squatting and working out with friends! Training for the fitness test was NOT fun; but what was the harm?! At least I was still working out!
I ended up getting up to 295 lbs on my back squat… and also needing to retake my Fire Fighting Fitness test because I didn’t train my aerobic capacity to the level that was required.
I am ECSTATIC I nearly reached 300 lbs on my back squat, but my marker of success – achieving National Standard on my Fitness Test – was not reached. Ultimately, I did not achieve the success that mattered to me the most.
It sucks we can’t work on 20 things at once; but your time and efforts are limited. Keep your eyes on the prize and keep moving forwards, not sideways.
RESET & CARRY ON
Becoming aware of these 5 factors and how are impacting your workouts and fitness habits are essential for figuring out how to make your journey more successful.
Bottom line: Focus on what matters to you. Not what others are telling you. Not other's perception of you. Not the TV playing in the background. Not the funner/cooler/easier route.
Focus on YOU.
This blog is heavily influenced by a post I found on Medium titled, “The 5 Things You Must Sacrifice To Have a Better Future”.
Since I find that skills I have developed at the gym have helped me succeed at life in general, I unsurprisingly found these 5 Sacrifices to be directly translatable to ways to have a better Future in Fitness. The Headings were borrowed from this article, but with my own analysis and application to fitness.
Let's overcome these obstacles rather than continue to stumble over them!