Today I needed a challenge like a formula one car needs a race track. Since we are going through some challenging times, it is imperative to keep mentally and physically fit. Challenging times require difficult decisions. And we all know that good decisions come from feeling good about ourselves. However, feeling good about ourselves doesn’t come easy. It involves time, effort and commitment to our self-improvement journey. After two decades in the fitness industry, I found that exercising is an effective way to mentally and physically challenge myself.
This morning I chose a full-body exercise specially designed to strengthen the body and sharpen the mind. I call it “heavy bag, walk-out push-ups.” It’s an exercise where I start on an elevated platform. I squat down and place my hands on the bag that’s lying perpendicular to the platform. Then I hand-walk on that wabbling heavy-bag to a push-up position, do the push-up, and walk my way up to the stand-up position. It is an exercise that can be performed for an extended period if you have the proper fitness level and the right mindset. You’ll need strength, flexibility, endurance, and most importantly, mental toughness, especially after a certain number of reps. I didn’t know precisely how many heavy-bag push-ups I was going to do. That was a decision I was going make later into my exercise routine. I just wanted to get started and see where the exercise and my mind takes me. I planned to do push-ups roughly for an hour, or a couple of hundred repetitions. Whatever came first. Since I believe that mental toughness is something we all need to have, I want to share what I was trying to achieve with this routine.
This exercise has three major obstacles:
1) BOREDOM is the first challenge. The redundancy and monotony of the exercise will play a real trick on you. You’ll find a million reasons why you should stop and do something else, the same way you’ll find a million reasons why you should eat that notorious “cookie.” Most people will start finding something wrong with the exercise and stop after ten, twenty reps, or shortly after that not because they can’t physically do it, but rather because the task becomes boring. At this point, you’ll need to push through it mentally. To overcome this obstacle, you’ll need to relax and have patience with your goal and yourself. In the same way, you’ll need to have patience with your self-improvement journey. There’s a lot more you can accomplish, and go a lot farther if you are patient and flexible. You need to allow yourself to feel strong, confident, and good enough.
2) FATIGUE will follow midway through this exercise. Muscles are starting to shake, and your mind starts telling you self-defeating stories. The push-ups are slowly getting harder, and the bag wet and slippery with my sweat. Thoughts of stopping this exercise earlier are sneaking into my mind. That is a sign that you are where you want to be. The actual training is about to start. Now is when my decisions can make this an excellent drill for mind and body, or turn it into an average workout. As things got harder, I needed to breathe, stay focused on the pace, keep moving forward, and not dwell too much on how I felt. It is the same when we make tough decisions during our self-improvement journey. These decisions will either keep us on track with our goals or cause us to fail. If we focus more on how we feel, and less on what we want to accomplish, or the task at hand, we are risking to lose all our progress and get back to where we started it.
3) BREAKTHROUGH is the last challenge and the hardest part of this exercise. I was about forty-five minutes in and two hundred reps when I said to myself, “this is enough. I can stop now.” For most people, two hundred push-ups is an accomplishment. However, it wasn’t for me. Not because I wanted more reps, or because I wanted to go the distance. I added fifty more push-ups simply just because I wanted to stop. And that is what made this a great mind and body exercise. I needed to be aware of what my brain is telling me versus what my body needs or can do. Acknowledging how I felt at that moment and the real reason for wanting to stop was the first part. Being able to change that decision into something that helped me accomplish more was the second, and best part. I wasn’t physically exhausted and unable to keep going. Ending the exercise for reasons other than reaching my highest potential was just a thought and a story I told myself. It was the same story and lies we continuously tell ourselves daily right before making a poor decision. Here are some examples of the most common lies we tell ourselves: “I don’t have time,” or “I can’t afford it,” or “I don’t have what it takes,” and the most popular one, “I can’t.”
Moments like this are consistently present in our lives and controls us from our subconscious. It is not that we cannot accomplish our goals. We just need to become aware of these moments and make the correct decisions if we want to go further and reach our highest potential. We have what it takes. It is within ourselves. We need practice and training to perfect our skills and strengthen our minds.
I strongly encourage you to pick an exercise and practice these three skills. Things will get boring during your journey. You will get mentally and physically fatigued. However, be patient with yourself and focus more on your goals and less on how you feel as things get harder during your self-improvement journey. Your big breakthrough is around the corner.
Just keep going.
You are almost there.
You can do it.
Here are 3 training routines I personally designed to strengthen your body and sharpen your mind. I hope you enjoy them.
Leo Frincu is a world wrestling champion, author, speaker and performance coach for business leaders and athletes worldwide. To learn more about his training philosophy, check out his latest book, “WELCOME HOME, 3 Simple Steps On How To Reach Your Highest Potential,” available on Amazon and iBooks.