[TAKING BACK YOUR MIND]
Initially, we don’t want pain.
When we are first starting out in this game, the cultivation of the habit requires us that we make it easy and comfortable and do-able (take note Resolutioners). We don’t want our brain to get freaked out and run away so we keep pain to a minimal.
Eventually, however, we will need more. Past a certain level of experience, we must learn how to make our sessions better (i.e. a higher quality). Often, this entails learning how to push through pain (the good kind of course) and going toe-to-toe with the naysayers in our head.
If you are playing within the realm of the mind, you will need weapons.
This post is a tribute to ours.
THE TOP 11 WAYS TO PERSEVERE
1. PROPERLY WARM UP
When the right muscles are working, joints are doing their job, and the brain has had a chance to prepare for the fight – exercise is made infinitely easier. Still think 5 minutes on a treadmill is a good warmup? Read this.
2. DO IT IN THE MORNING
Willpower is greatest in the morning. While not everyone will able to rock an AM session, there are still things you can do to keep this “fuel reserve” from depleting.
3. DRINK COFFEE
Caffeine not only goes well with those morning workouts, but it is tremendously helpful at blunting pain.
4. DISTRACT YOURSELF WITH MUSIC
Music that is inherently stressful (such as dubstep and rock) will help you “get up”. Aside from that obvious reason, it is also a great way to distract yourself. This inappropriate song has distracted my “worry thoughts” long enough to break multiple personal records in olympic lifting (where the risk of dropping a weight on my head is a real concern).
5. FIND OUT WHAT’S POSSIBLE
If we do not know how others have fared with a particular workout or exercise, it’s likely that we will give in a lot sooner. Because of this, having “benchmarks” are essential and a great place to find them is on Youtube or being apart of fitness communities.
6. INVOLVE PEOPLE
Even for the non-competitive person, adding in more eyeballs will help them to work harder. If you cannot recruit a training partner or exercise around people, your next best bet is to move online for accountability (like through coaching).
7. USE POSITIVE LANGUAGE
From a survival perspective, it doesn’t make much sense to our body to do things that we hate and that hurt us. So like I discuss in The Non-Gym Mindset, we must learn how to lie to ourselves (or at the very least, modify our language). With time, these lies turn into truths and we start to enjoy that which we used to hate. To say this is a powerful tool is an understatement.
8. OVERSHOOT THE WORKOUT
Our mind has a peculiar way of sabotaging us when we are so close to the finish line. To make sure we achieve what we want (and then some), we must aim audaciously high.
“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” – Bruce Lee
9. THINK WITH THE END IN MIND
Whether we are doing this for our self or others, thinking about what we will attain afterwards is our fuel. The more powerful reason we can create here (like becoming healthier for our kids or how we can use this to become a better person) and the more reasons we have (try combining feels, looks, and performance), the stronger this fuel will be. If you are struggling to find a good reason, this might help.
10. KEEP IT SHORT(ER)
It’s hard to be intense for long periods of time simply because of this reason: We are not meant to be. Like a car, we switch gears after a certain amount of reps or mileage. To stay in the gear that will yield the most beneficial results for us, we will want our workout to be between 20 to 45 minutes (not including warmup). If you’re looking for some examples, take a look at these.
11. USE PERSPECTIVE
If you think your exercise is painful, think back to pregnancy. If you don’t have that kind of reference, think of life in Africa. Or think of life a thousand years ago. Thought experiments such as these along us to overcome our current states because, well, we see it’s not that bad (and that we have much likely done harder things before). If that’s not enough, then let’s remember this “burning sensation” type pain goes away rather quickly (not as true for the mental variety).
With experience in this game (and as the habit is built), you will find that you’ll rely on these tips less and less. Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you will experience “states of flow” as your actions become automatic and the mind goes dark. Until then, however, I suggest you work on what you can achieve within it (and you can start here for that).