Motivation Continued

Training, specifically the occasional really tough session, strengthens your mindset in a way that transfers to your entire life. In those difficult physical moments you can train your brain to react with a certain mental toughness that can not only get you through races, competitions, and training, but also through work, relationships and any curve ball life throws at you. You can train your brain and create better habits. 

What is mental toughness?  Let’s break it down. 

Quitting in the middle of a work out or eating foods we know make us sick are not physical limitations, they are situations in which we listened to the little voice in our head that said:
"I can’t”
“I'm not good enough”
"I'm tired"
Mental Toughness is having the ability to work through these moments and push your limitations instead of listening to this voice. It's the ability to stay motivated to make healthy choices day to day. It  means having positivity and not giving up when something goes wrong. 

How do we change it?
It’s pretty simple actually, we just teach that little voice to be on our side. 

Step One: Bringing awareness to your everyday self talk

Ever hear yourself saying things like "I'll just eat the cookie, I already blew it anyways! God, I look awful in this shirt". Would you ever talk to your best friend like that? I hope not! So why do we think it's okay  to speak ourselves that way? Start by noticing your inner voice when it tries to bring you down. Simply acknowledge the feeling and keep going. You don’t have to act on any of those thoughts, or believe them for that matter. Instead of immediately reaching for the chips, think, "interesting, my brain wants me to eat those chips, but in reality I want to feel good, so I don't them". You'll be surprised at how calling out your cravings and thoughts actually starts to change  your mindset. Every time you stop and don't act on the thought, you are breaking that habit and rewiring your brain to make better decisions. 

Step Two: The 3rd Person

3rd person self talk is a tool for in the heat of the moment when you start to struggle. 

For many years I thought my self talk meant I was crazy. Since I can remember I’ve referred to myself as ‘Hil’ any time I was doing any difficult like sprinting up a trail, “common Hil, you can do this”  or “just get through the next 30 seconds, you can do anything for 30 seconds”.
 
The main thing I noticed is I am 100% more positive when I’m thinking like this.
As it turns out, according to Psychology Today the top performers in business and athletics all consistently refer to themselves in the 3rd person. The science behind it? “Essentially, we think referring to yourself in the third person leads people to think about themselves more similar to how they think about others, and you can see evidence for this in the brain. That helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can often be useful for regulating emotions.” -  Jason Moser, http://msutoday.msu.edu

Next time you feel like quitting, give it a try! Maybe even practice it when you're face to face with those chips. Nobody will hear you so why not right? 

With these two tools you can train your brain to be a positive influence, break through your limits, and stay motivated

Motivation

The #1 question I get asked is how I stay motivated. There's no denying that I got lucky with intrinsic motivation for working out, but there's way more to health & fitness than just that. There are many aspects of living a healthy lifestyle which I find difficult. These are the tricks and tips I use to overcome them and stay focused.

In my experience there are 3 levels of motivation:

1.  The overall reason you want to be healthy
2.  How to stay motivated to work to that goal daily
3.  How to stay motivated in the moment when the going gets tough

1. Your Reason.
Figure out WHY you want to make a change and write it down.
 

  • I want to feel good
  • I want to be able to play with my kids
  • I want to be able to do things when I'm 60 (my parents are older than 60 and always valued exercise. Guess what, they get to ride bikes across countries in Europe and eat ice cream without worry)
  • I want to be a better soccer player 

Get specific and personalize it to you. My why is simple:

I want to know what I'm capable of. I want to live with no regrets and know I experienced everything I possibly could have. 

2. How to stay motivated to put in the work every day.  

Motivation is essentially accountability. I’m no more motivated than the average person, I’ve just figured out how to hold myself accountable.

Left to my own devices I will let myself down when it comes to too many glasses of wine or neglecting proper rest. These are just as essential to health & fitness as the exercise itself.   

Strategy - Find outer accountability.   

I find some sort of outside accountability that means A LOT to me.
I use races because they work perfectly for my personality. I love to win, I hate knowing I could have done better, and I will do everything in my power to be the fittest possible on that day. I want to experience that race the best way possible (see how it ties into my why) so when I'm faced with a choice to eat a cookie or go to bed, I'll just go to bed.  

Hate the idea of a race? What about money. During off season I have a deal with my fiancé that every time I have more than 2 drinks I pay a charity $100, and HE has to pay a charity $50 because he was probably there and didn’t say sh*t when I poured my 3rd glass.  

I also have a coach. When I need to cut weight for an event, I know exactly what to do, BUT when I’m faced with the choice of having a latte instead of black coffee I can really easily think “well it’s just one”, and those choices add up. When I have to send my coach photos, measurements, and a food log every week, black coffee is a no brainer. 
 
Action Step: Find out what will hold you accountable.  

Gretchen Reuben’s The 4 Tendencies is a great resource. These 4 tendencies explain how you generally react to expectation, and from that you learn what naturally holds you accountable. Check out the link below this article to take the quiz for some personal insight.

Strategy - Self Talk & Imagery.

Sounds complicated but it's not. Whenever I'm faced with a choice (hit snooze or go to the gym) I say to myself, "choose the thing you want to become a habit". 

I imagine my future self. I can literally be standing on the edge of a board trying to will myself into a back flip and think it's too hard. Then I think about myself an hour later, how happy I'll be if I jump, and how disappointed I'll be if I wimp out. It works, just try it. 

3. How to stay motivated DURING a workout when you just want to stop.. I'm going to save this for the next edition. Mostly because this is already a novel.