I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about what Mental Toughness means. The most obvious aspect of mental toughness is pushing through something that is causing physical discomfort. The obvious one is when you’re working out, and you start to feel pretty out of breath, like your muscles are going to give out, and you start telling yourself “ok that’s good enough”. In other areas mental toughness can be positive self-talk, positive thinking (glass half-full), or being focused on something (not multi-tasking when you need to be focusing on one important thing).
I’d say I’m a newbie at the mental part of training, because I hadn’t actually thought about it until the last year or so. There are tons of aspects to it, and it isn’t just present or required in the fitness side of your life. Mental toughness is a muscle you can exercise in all aspects of your life – work, family, health, etc.
Have you ever said any of these things (even in a joking way):
- “I can’t do that”
- “I’m not strong enough”
- “I’m too tired”
- “I’m not built that way”
- “I’m so stupid”
- “I couldn’t do that job”
- “I always screw things up”
- “There is no way I could ever do that”
Or anything like that? Well I know I do, and luckily I’m getting more practiced at hearing it and changing the thought pattern. Here’s the thing, your mental state and the self-talk (out loud or in your head) will completely affect your attitude at any given moment. And your attitude towards an occurrence or challenge will completely affect the outcome.
THRIVE on knowing that if you just work hard, you can do anything
Here’s the thing, if you say “I can’t do that”, then you never will. Because you’ve already subconsciously decided that it’s not in the cards, or that you’ll never put effort into doing it. And then when it doesn’t happen, you won’t be disappointed because you said so. Well what a boring life that is – knowing what you can’t do and then never doing it, but it doesn’t matter because you always said you couldn’t?
How about being different than the norm? How about putting your mind to something you want, making a plan and then grinding through the work until it’s achieved? How exciting would that be!? How about enjoying the work while your doing it because you thrive on knowing that if you just work hard, you can do anything? Sounds crazy, but it’s that simple.
I’ve literally changed the outcome of some of my performances just from changing my attitude towards those things going into them. For example, I woke up recently feeling utterly exhausted. My body was sore, I hadn’t slept more than 6.5 hours, and I was up at 4am to take 4 clients before my 9:30am workout. By the time 9:30 hit, all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and sleep until my next client at noon. I heard the voice in my head say “I’m so tired. I could just go back to bed for 2 hours, who cares about missing training today?”.
And then I remembered all of what I preach. I got into my car, threw on some upbeat, energetic music (it was definitely Spice Girls) I could sing to, and drove myself singing loudly all the way to the gym to start my training. I kid you not, by the time I got there I completely forgot about how tired I was. I killed my training that day – lifted awesome, was focused, didn’t cut the workout short or go lighter on the weights. And the BEST part was I felt so energized after that, and brought that energy with me to my clients the rest of the day.
Attitude is a choice, and the one you choose will change your world
We all have goals of some sort, and those goals require consistent action every day to reach them. It’s easy to let myself off the hook when I don’t feel 100%, but that is part of the training. It’s doing the GRIND even when you don’t want to. It’s easy to take action when you feel great and want to, but that’s not going to be the case all the time. So here are some tips to use to get outta your head and start GRINDING:
1. Make Your Attitude Productive. Ask yourself whether or not the attitude you have currently is doing anything for you. The answer will almost always be no. Being down on yourself, being negative, reacting in frustration, are all things that are counterproductive. They will only make you feel like a victim and guarantee poor performance. They will also push people away from you, or bring others moods down. Instead, change your attitude to something that will be useful. Make someone smile, crack some jokes, or get super fired up about something and notice your problems shrink away to nothing.
2. Wake Up and get excited. Drink a big glass of cold water, get out of bed and reach your arms up to the sky and literally tell yourself what you are excited for that day. (A certain person you get to see, a workout you get to have, a yummy heathy meal you’re preparing/eating later). This can be anything but you need to look forward to it. Example: “I can’t wait to see (insert name here) because they always give me a laugh!”.
3. Fake it till you make it. If you are feeling tired, sad, like a victim, or just down, you need to turn it around. It’s not always easy, but looking at the good side of any situation or day will start to shift how you feel in the moment. Even if you don’t believe it at first, find something good about the situation and change your attitude to excitement, happiness, determination – anything productive. You will start to feel happier and more energized by this positive energy. Example: “I can’t wait to work out because I’m going to feel AMAZING afterwards!”
4. Revisit your GOALS: Look at your goals every day or every week to remind you why you are doing what you’re doing. This is necessary to stay focused on what you want, and to stay in action to get there.
5. THRIVE on your GRIND: This means enjoy and protect your routine. For example, to me that means not eating out during the week, and always protecting the time of day that I exercise so that I never have to choose between training and something else. Protect that daily GRIND and start enjoying every step that you are taking to get closer to your goals. They are MUCH more achievable when you have a good attitude about working for them.
These little tips seem super simple, but they are most important when you feel down, unmotivated, negative, defeated, or any other attitude that is unproductive. Attitude is a choice, and the one you choose will change your world. Make it an exciting and fun world to be living in!