Train Your Brain – 7 Strategies for Building Mental Toughness

train.jpgSo yesterdays post covered the Mental Aspect of Prepping for a Fitness Competition so today I wanted to follow up with some strategies for building mental toughness.

“Research tells us that top competitive athletes succeed because of their physical talents and their dedication to training. However, they also succeed because of their dexterity in dealing with the psychological pressures of a sport. In short, mental toughness and resilience are tremendously important for any athlete aiming to be the best in a sport” – Forbes

Mental toughness is about consistency and focus. Mentally tough people have created habits which keep them focused on whats important no matter what situations may arise. Its not about inspiration or motivation, as these feelings come and go, but about commitment and again, consistency!

Building mental toughness is just like building muscle, it takes time to grow and develop. So, just like you create a routine for your body, here is one you can start on to strengthen your mind.

Β 1. Evaluate Your Core Beliefs – we all have core beliefs, and while we may not even realize what they are, they can make a huge impact on our success or failures in life. Our core beliefs are developed over time and are mainly based on past experiences. These beliefs will create our thoughts and actions. If you doubt yourself or think negatively towards your abilities to accomplish certain goals or tasks,Β  you can most likely expect failure.

Taking time to identify what your core beliefs are can help you to evaluate and modify any negative or doubting beliefs. Modifying your core beliefs requires purposeful intention and work, but it can change the entire course of your life.

2. Get Focused – set your goals and stay focused on the long term outcome. Depending on your goals, some may be accomplished within days whereas others can take much longer. Staying focused on the outcome of reaching your goal can help you keep your cool when obstacles pop up. Writing your goals down, telling them to a close friend or family member can also be a great way to hold yourself accountable.

Β 3. Have Some Patience – anything worthwhile takes time and expecting results immediately will only leave you frustrated and potentially giving up on hitting your goals. Life is a constant work in progress so relax, and let things happen as they will. Stay focused!

4. Learn Acceptance – you cannot control every situation which arises but you can change your attitude and reactions to these situations and create a more positive outcome. Accept what you cannot control and don’t waste your energy on complaining or allowing them to get in your way of accomplishment.

5. Practice Gratitude – focus on being grateful for what you have and not on the things others have that you don’t. Be grateful for your accomplishments and the achievements you have made or will make.

6. Put things in Perspective – not all days will be perfect but keeping things in perspective can help keep this bad day from turning into a bad week or month. Mental strength allows you to see the positive and keep on keeping on when it feels as though the world is against you.

7. Stay Positive – staying positive when things get tough, don’t work out as planned or don’t happen as quickly as you like, is crucial. While some life events may seem impossible to turn into a positive experience, over time they can. Patience, perspective and acceptance can help.

 

Mind Matters – The Mental Aspect of Prepping for a Fitness Competition

indexWhile some may argue, mentally preparing for a fitness competition is probably the most important part of prep. Your mindset from the moment you decide to compete will set you up for success or, unfortunately, failure.

Why are you competing?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself and answer, truthfully. Is it because you want to prove to others you can? Your friends are doing it? While these reasons can play a small part for any competitor, if they are your main reason, you’re off to an erring start.

Now, I cannot tell you what your reasons for competing should be, these will be different for everyone but if not for yourself and your (unique) personal reasons, you may want to reconsider or at least give some more thought into why you want to compete.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Preparing for a competition is much more than just planning out your routine, supplements and nutrition plan. Prepping for a show is an all day, every day event that can last anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months +, depending on the competitor. Planning is crucial and includes everything from meal prep to training time to rest days, all on top of your daily regular routine of work, school, kids etc.

Life is full of distractions and stress, expected and unexpected. How do you plan on handling these situations as they pop up? Not having a plan can have a negative effect on your prep as well as leave you feeling overwhelmed and potentially lead to burnout.

Mental Resilience

is defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity”

I’ll be honest in that I went into my first competition thinking I had the mental toughness to see me through my prep at ease. Yeah, I was wrong. While it turns out I did have the mental resilience to see it through, it was only because I refused to give up and took every opportunity as a challenge to learn. Having lived with a mental illness for 15 plus years now (anxiety/panic disorder and depression), I have spent a lot of time learning to master my thoughts and doing so to my benefit, in every aspect of life. I truly believe everyone has the ability to do the same, many just do not know how or think they are already ‘mentally tough’ and until they are in a situation where this toughness is going to be tested, they really have no idea.

The best advice I can give here is if you want to step on that stage with your best package and have a positive experience no matter the outcome, don’t be ignorant to the fact that some days may be really hard. Hell, if they aren’t, you’re not doing it right!

 

Be sure to check out the follow up post Train Your Brain – 7 Strategies for Building Mental Toughness