Closing the Gap Between Where You Are & Where You Want to Be
This word has been in the forefront of my mind for a few weeks now. I’m constantly thinking about how to train my brain to prepare my body for the things I need to accomplish, whether that be in school, training, or even my spiritual life. Mentality has become the key piece of my understanding to how to achieve my goals.
It’s a random Thursday morning, around 7:30am. I’m getting my session done for the day, however, I don’t typically train on Thursday’s, so my schedule is a little off. I’ve been extremely stressed in my school and personal life. I force myself to go in anyway.
The workout is fairly straight forward: a strength piece of bear complex (one of the nastiest CrossFit complexes there is) and a 12 minute EMOM (for my non-CrossFit friends, EMOM stands for Every Minute On the Minute). The EMOM consists of 2 legless rope climbs and 30 seconds of max double unders with the jump rope. Simple enough, so I thought.
However, beginning at about the third round in the EMOM, my arms started to fail on the rope climbs. I had to use my feet and I was struggling. My mind started to spiral into a negative pit. “You were a gymnast, rope climbs should be no problem for you.” “You can’t even get your footwork right to use your feet, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway.” “This isn’t that hard. Get back on the rope.” And so the self-deprecating thoughts continued.
Fast forward a few minutes, I’m just staring at the rope in total self-loathing, analyzing every hair like fiber making up this horrific piece of equipment. I couldn’t get myself to move, let alone climb the rope. I heard my coach cheering for me and I could feel the stares of the other class members on me as I stood completely still. It felt like I could almost hear the thoughts running through their heads saying, “what’s wrong with her?”
Eventually, I mustered up the courage to walk to the bathroom and attempted to collect my thoughts. Yet by that point, the workout was over for me. There was no way I was going to be able to come back from my brain melting in my head. A fellow class member came up to me and asked me if I was alright, I lied and said I was fine. As soon as she left, the tears boiled over.
The point of me telling you this story is because there was absolutely nothing wrong with my body in this situation. I was coming off a rest day, so I wasn’t very fatigued. My nutrition has been going well. Granted, I was stressed, but I’ve been dealing with school stress for months now. The key to success and failure in that moment was my mind.
At the beginning of my session, my strength portion didn’t go according to plan. I gave up mid-set and wasn’t able to complete the assigned reps with the weight that I wanted. So when the EMOM came around, my mind was already made up. I had failed at my strength, so why would I be anymore successful during conditioning.
I was done before the clock had counted down from 10.
The kicker about this situation for me was that I had had hundreds of moments like this throughout my gymnastics careers. I probably could provide you with a perfect description of what my feet look like standing in the corner of a spring floor or on the end of a balance beam, from memory. There were numerous hours spent standing still, statue like, unable to complete my assigned skills. In CrossFit, however, these moments have been few and far between. My mentality has transformed immensely, developing more toughness and grit. Even more so, within the last few weeks since completing the Open, my focus has been almost solely on my mind: how to push harder and faster in every workout, never leaving anything on the floor. I want to practice like I want to compete, so when I walk into a competition, I’ve already trained myself at that level of intensity a million times over.
More than just the failure of not completing the workout, I felt that I had allowed my mind to fail. I couldn’t push myself. I stood like a deer in the head lights staring at a thick piece of braided rope, petrified.
Yet, like all things, the moment came and went. I couldn’t change anything about how I had responded to that workout. What I could control was how I learned and moved forward.
I am especially blessed to be coached by a 5 time Regional athlete, who not only cares about my physical wellness, but my overall being as a person. She texted me later on in the day to check in with me after she had heard about my melt down that morning. She provided me with wise words, as she always does, but this stuck with me the most:
“Appreciate what YOU can do on a daily basis and your head game will get there.”
I was trying to train my mind as if it were a quick fix. A little tweaking of a habit. When in reality, training your mind takes just as long, if not longer, than to train your body. Your mindset consists of daily thought patterns that we assume don’t not even matter. It depends on the choices we make of who and what influences us. I was expecting my mindset to change overnight just because I had read a few inspirational books and watched some YouTube videos of Games athletes. Inspiration is not mindset. Mindset is the result of repetitive choices, just like your physique.
Being grateful in the present is essential in training your mind. If you’re constantly thinking about the future and how far you have to get there, your motivation will plummet. Good luck getting out of that one quickly, been there done that. Just like any other form of growth, changing your mind takes time. Maybe even more so than anything else.
With this in mind, I challenge you to take a hard look at where you currently are and your end goals. What’s stopping you that is within your control?
Most of the time the only thing stopping us from achieving is in between our ears.
But just like any successful habit, it takes time to form. You must nourish and discipline your mind, just as you would any other part of you in order to reap the results of your bounty. Start now and see the result later. The time will pass away anyway.