Work gets in the way of life all the time, and when you have to work an 8 hour day, coach a 3 hour class and then go back to work for another 5 hours without so much as a nap break then work affects your workouts too.
I am lazy, I admit it. But there is a silver lining to that statement. I learned a long time ago to ignore me because I can’t coach myself. Not only that, I have learned that a plan, if you allow it, will supercede any lazy thoughts you may have. Let the plan be your coach, and learn to survive without encouragement. That said, skipping my second workout in a row made me feel guilty, but I was just too tired after a marathon 16 or so hours on my feet and then only 4 hours sleep before going off to work again. My Firstbeat Athlete Coach agreed and downgraded me to an 8.0 from 8.5 in light of my modified schedule but I decided that I would not argue with the science that less than 6 hours sleep shouldn’t be followed with a workout.
I was discussing the whole “voice inside your head” thing the other day with a few different people and realized that it wasn’t until I stopped paying attention to my head that things really started to take off. I remember back in University I was residence staff, an RA and then a Don for a total of 5 years and we did a lot of counselling training and self-motivational training. After I left university and had to help myself I spent a great deal of time reading pointless self help books written by delusional happy addicts who try to convince you that you can change the way you think. Believe me, the adage that a leopard can’t change it’s spots outweighs sixteen tons of thought change books. Now I don’t want to say that having a positive attitude isn’t a good idea because it is, everyone loves a positive person (unless they are the manic, uber happy cheerleader type that you want to beat with a yoga block) and being filled with positivity gives you a happier feeling of self worth. However, there are dangerous potholes in the road to self worth… Many, many people think that arrogance and inflated sense of self importance is the same as confidence and belief in yourself. It’s not. In fact, one of the biggest problems with our society is over-bestowing confidence on our children so they grow up with this overinflated sense of self and delusional self value. Fact is, self worth that is given rather than earned is doing more damage to people than they realize.
Back to the voices. The problem with most people (as Tony Horton expounds during Chest and Back) is that they stop what exercise they are doing before they should because something inside them tells them they can’t do any more, or it’s too painful to do more. The fact is that you need to use that voice not as an absolute but as a starting point. Exercise is funny like that, when your mind tells you that you have done enough, that is the point at which the real work and the real benefit begins. Failure to go beyond that point means you may as well just kick back with a can of coke and watch your DVDs from the couch. That tipping point is the gateway to fitness and health and in order to breach the beachhead you need to shut up and get to work.
This is something I wish someone had told me in simple terms when I was younger. Instead I learned it from coaches who drove us into the ground on the rugby pitch, drilling us with merciless laps, sprints and piggybacks up tall grassy hills. It was those experiences and the results gained that drove into me the importance of doing what you are told, no matter how hard, no matter how painful it is, you will always succeed if you just do the work. There is a whole industry built around this theory, shirts, advertising campaigns, soft drinks, power drinks, protein bars, and almost everything else that can benefit from being tied to being healthy promotes pushing yourself to the limit. But it’s not the limit that you need to worry about, it’s your brain that you should be wary of.
For those who are not fortunate enough to have competed in athletics when younger, or sadly, those kids nowadays who get “participation trophies” won’t get to understand the requirement to going beyond the pain (read: discomfort) barrier in order to get their reward. Sports nowadays have been reduced to participation events with no winners and (god forbid) no losers. Unfortunately in a world where everyone is treated that way, everyone loses. Call me competitive, I don’t consider it an insult, in fact I think a competitive nature should be fostered and worn like a badge of pride. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE has the ability to compete, but only if they are encouraged to and shown the rewards of success and are allowed to feel the sting of defeat.
The sting that for most people comes from seeing themselves in the mirror after years of neglect, even months in the gym failing to pass that point of improvement, giving up because it’s just too hard. The frustration of plateau, which for most people comes after a few weeks of going from zero to something but never pushing beyond. They are the people who have learned to “listen to their body” which they translate as a get out of jail free card for their efforts. So what do you do?
Get someone to push you. Get someone to yell at you for once. Have someone tell you that you aren’t trying hard enough. Get someone to force you beyond your comfort zone and do something you can actually be proud of. Stop listening to that whining lazy voice in your head and just do the work.
Just do the work. Give yourself something to achieve and don’t give up. Set a goal that scares you and then achieve it. Then set another unbelievable goal and hit that too. Find out where your total exhaustion lies. Discover where your absolute boundary is, when your body, not your mind gives up. Spend time there, enjoy the journey and be amazed at the destination. It doesn’t matter if it is 10 chinups or 500 pushups, it doesn’t matter if it is running a mile without stopping or doing a sub 3 minute Fran pick something, write it down, take it with you to the gym, to the park, to your basement and don’t stop until you finish. I promise you from the bottom of my heart you won’t regret it. Then, do it again tomorrow.
Maybe you find this a little too out there… Maybe it’s too “hardcore”. Let me be honest, you probably wouldn’t know hardcore if it ran you over with it’s car. This isn’t hardcore, this is self improvement. It’s something I wish I could teach everyone, and it’s something I strive to teach my girls as gym because it’s not just about fitness, pushing past that limit will improve every aspect of your life and every aspect of your future. But don’t take my word for it, give it a shot and let me know how it goes for you. But remember, don’t listen to that voice in your head, it’s just trying to hold you back.