I like to exercise because it helps me stay in shape physically and mentally. I am lucky that my fiancé, Gery, also enjoys the benefits of a good workout and that has allowed us to support and challenge each other not only in fitness but in life as well.
Today was leg day and I was not looking forward to this workout. It is Saturday morning, waking up to a relaxing day, browsing the net and having pancakes in bed seemed better than a session at the gym. But, after some contemplation we got ourselves up and out the door.
As we are moving on to the second exercise, the Hack Squat machine (not a big fan), I am now struggling with the last rep of the first set. In that moment something happened, an internal shift, when I realized that my lack of enjoyment for the workout, for the exercise, and for the gym at that time were all in my head.
If I think of leg day as horrifying and unappealing, that is exactly what I will experience and do you know why? Because that is what I focus on. I tell myself that I don’t like it, I complain (to myself and in my head), and of course I start to feel annoyance, irritation, and resentment.
My decision was instant, so I decided to increase the weight and stop whining about it, because to see results I have to up my game. In order to achieve what I don’t have I must do things that I haven’t done before or do them differently.
This internal shift led me to changing what I expected of myself in that moment. I immediately increased the weight and instead of feeling defeated, I became in control of the situation and somehow my physical and mental strength increased as well. I no longer felt weak or displeased and instead began to have fun enjoying the workout and the time with my partner.
I then changed my strategy and instead of feeling defeated and displeased I was able to push through, have fun, and allowed myself to grow and progress, in other words, I got out of ‘my own way’.
Get out of your own way.
I had a great workout, additionally I felt accomplished because I managed to challenge myself mentally and physically. I realized how amazing it is to actually feel alive and be able to workout and move my body in such ways. I felt closer to my goals because I showed up to my training, increased expectations of myself and gave it my all.
That allowed me to feel more successful and in full control about what I was doing. I started thinking how great it feels to enjoy life’s most beautiful gifts, yet many of us go through life complaining about the weather and Mondays. I went from feeling unmotivated, annoyed, and maybe even upset to felling happy, fulfilled, and accomplished. I was reminded yet again, about how strong the human mind is and that you can truly change how you feel in an instance.
It is in a moment, a millisecond, when your decisions are formed and most importantly your LIFE is created.
Once you made the decision, it is time to take action. You see, I decided that I wanted to enjoy my workout, feel good about it, and accomplish my goal. So I made sure to act on that right away, not the next day, or the following session, or next year, it was an instant change in behaviour.
You have to continuously keep yourself accountable to those higher standards you set for yourself every single day. You have to keep moving forward day in and day out in order to transform all these actions into habits, because habits (good or bad) become your life.
How to raise the bar and set higher standards for yourself:
- Your circle: Hang out with people who don’t just set goals for themselves but also hold themselves accountable to these higher standards. If you hang out with people who are comfortable with where they are in life, you will be too because you will feel the need to lower your standards to fit in or feel like you have something in common, and let me say this, there is nothing wrong with that if that is what you want. But if you want something else, something that is different from what they’ve got, then you have to do things differently. Can you push yourself beyond your limitations if your friends think mediocre is acceptable? This is true for your workplace and the people you work with, families, romantic relationships, and friendships.
- Your beliefs: Change your limiting beliefs about your circumstances, your abilities, your opportunities and your life. Beliefs about what you can and cannot be, because you were born that way. Beliefs about what you cannot do because you are too busy, and believes about what you have or don’t have that is getting in your way between you and success. Beliefs about what works and what doesn’t. Understand, that excuses will always come and go, your accomplishments will be yours forever.
“[Luke:]I can’t believe it. [Yoda:] That is why you fail.”
- Your vision: Clarity is power. Unless you are absolutely clear about what you want, you will have a hard time getting to the destination. How can you know what directions you need to take if you are unclear about where you are going? When you have a clear and compelling vision you make things happen. You must have a really good reason you want what you want or it won’t last.
- Your practice: Create a practice or a routine and do it daily because practice makes perfect. You cannot become strong just by going to the gym once, you need a practice or a routine in place and followed for a period of time in order to see results, and that is true for your mind as well. The more you train your body the stronger it becomes and life’s chores and activities become easier, more possible and more enjoyable. You are able to lift your kids up, spin them around, run with them in the park, and take them on bike rides. The same is true for the mind as well. The more you commit to your goals and you practice that every day with all your heart, the stronger your mind will become and you will see great outcomes. The physical body you have now is a reflection of your practice, or your routine. If you are overweight or have health issues it is a direct result of your every day routine and the standards you have in place for yourself.
- Your nutrition: You probably know how important food or nourishment is for your mental ability to make decisions, follow through, and live a vibrant life. Nutrition becomes a crucial component because you know it will dictate how you feel for the rest of the day and even life. I know that if I eat a box of doughnuts or muffins for breakfast, I will feel lousy, unmotivated, and lethargic for the rest of the day, and I also know that this feeling will last for longer than a day. Food is important because on a molecular level it affects your decision-making abilities, your mood, and the quality of the energy you have throughout the entire day and in some cases weeks.
- Your energy: Emotions are created by movement. Exercise will make you feel better by increasing your oxygen capacity, circulation, immune function, serotonin production (your happy hormone) and you will look and feel amazing. Sedentary life, like couch-activities will breed lousy emotions, feelings, and unfulfilled expectations.
Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself. Moshe Feldenkrais
Whatever your goal is whether to lose weight, have more energy, live with more passion, have more joy in your life, have better relationships, whatever it is, you can make that happen for yourself. Follow these steps outlined above and you will experience better results in any area of your life.
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