Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Psychology beats physiology, EVERY time.

 I'm constantly reminded of this quote that I first heard from Alywyn Cosgrove years ago. It holds true with almost everything that I do. This simple statement dictates whether or not you will fail, or succeed.

  Let me give you an example.

 Let's say that you were going for a run. You have been doing a lot of sprinting lately, and you are trying to beat your 400m time. You lace up, grab your stopwatch, and go outside. Starting line. You imagine yourself pushing hard, and as soon as you hit that button on your stopwatch, you take off like a rocket. You pump your arms, drive your legs up and manage to run it in 1:03. Awesome. Your lungs burn and you can feel your heart in your neck.

 Now, let's say you take that same scenario, and set it up as a race. There you are on the starting line, with 7 other sprinters. You can feel that same heart beat in your neck before the race even starts. BOOM! Gun fires, you run. The crowd fuels you, and you push past the other runners to come out on top. You finish in 56 seconds. Awesome! That's far past your personal best. But, what has changed? Your training was the same, but now there was a much larger psychological factor involved.

 Next. You are walking down the street. About 400 meters ahead of you, you see an accident happen (you have amazing eyes, relax) and you hear a woman scream about her child. Dressed in street clothes you sprint as fast as you can to the scene of the accident to see if there is anything that you can do. You get to the scene of the accident in 50 seconds. How? You aren't even wearing your training clothes? Your dress shoes have as much support as a bath mat. How now, can you beat even your race time? Psychology. It was even more of a factor.

 Last one. You are hiking in the woods. It's a gorgeous day. You see a camp set up 400 meters ahead of you. You start to walk briskly towards camp when all of a sudden you hear something behind you. You turn to see a massive grizzly bear about 100 meters away from you, and he looks hungry. You drop your gear, ignore all running form and scream like Chris Tucker all the way to the camp. You barely close the door behind you when you hear the bear growling at your feet. WAY too close. But, you just ran a 400 meter, on rough terrain, in 44 seconds, while flailing your limbs. Was psychology a factor? A bear almost ate you, of course it was.

 The human mind is an incredibly powerful machine, capable of taking you places that you never thought possible. We are the ones holding ourselves back. I see it all of the time, training clients at All Canadian Fitness. I will have someone performing a deadlift (if you don't know what this is, you need to start deadlifting immediately) and I will put a 45 pound plate on each side of the bar, making it weigh 135 pounds. I then set it on the floor at look at them. They look at me, look at the bar, and immediately say, "No, I can't do that, that's too heavy." RIGHT THERE, they have already effectively talked themselves out of succeeding. Sure enough, when the time comes, they walk up to the bar, set up perfectly, attempt the lift, and it doesn't budge. They look at me with disappointment, and the 'I told you so' look. Ok, fine. I take the large plates off of the bar, replace it with a 25 pound plate and two 10's on each side, (which is still the same total weight) and set it on the floor for them. These plates are much smaller and look less intimidating, but mentally, to the client, I just removed 500 pounds from the bar, when in reality it's the same weight. They look at me and say, "That's much better." They walk up to the bar confidently, and though it looked tough, they always pick the bar up. What changed in that situation? The weight? Nope, that was still 135 pounds. It was the state of mind the client was in. Instead of the initial self-defeat when they used the bigger plates, they KNEW that they could pick up the bar when the smaller plates were loaded on. Psychology beat physiology.

 I want everyone to stop talking themselves out of pushing their bodies. Push your limits, and you will notice those limits become non-existent. If you are worried about an activity, or something at work, imagine how you will feel once you complete it, close your eyes and IMAGINE yourself completing it. Chances are, the anticipation of the activity, is much worse than the activity itself. And, if you keep building it up, and building it up, it becomes an impossible monster that you will always talk yourself out of doing.

  Pick one thing this week that is bothering you, close your eyes, and take a few minutes to complete it in your head. Now, make that a reality.

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