Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What does 'it's all mental' mean?

Cumulatively, we’ve trained tens of thousands of people over hundreds of thousands of training hours. We know that;

  • 3% of those we train are looking to take their athletic game to the next level
  • 3% come to rehabilitate injuries
  • 3% come to stay healthy & active through their later years and
  • 91% come to improve their self esteem.

That 91% does not walk in and say ‘I’m coming to improve my self esteem’, they say I’ve heard great things about the program from xx or yy and I’d like that structure / expertise / support & experience to help me get back into shape. Regardless of who we’ve trained or what they’ve been preparing for, inevitably we’ve had to tap into mental strength in order to meet/complete the physical requirement. At some point, each one of our customers has heard us proclaim, ‘it’s all mental’. But what exactly does ‘it’s all mental’ mean and why is it repeatedly referenced?

  1. Physiologically, the answer is easy. The brain sends the signal through the central nervous system to the specific muscle required to complete the movement. From a literal standpoint, ‘it’s all mental’.
  2. Psychosomatically, our predisposition to the perception of failure & the potential of looking bad (read: being vulnerable & hurting our ego), redirects that signal before it gets sent through the nervous system. Instead of going to the muscles , it gets sent to our mouths and comes out in the form of ‘can’t’. Our role is to palpate that signal back to where it needs to get; the muscles. From a semantic standpoint ‘it’s all mental’.   
  3. Psychologically, we would have to peel back the layers and investigate the factors that contributed to us being out of shape in the 1st place if we really wanted to get & stay in shape.
    • "No time". What are you trying to prove? Who are you trying to prove it to? Why do you feel the need to prove it?
    • "Lost my way". What was your way? Why did you lose it? How is exercise / this going to get your way back?
    • "Want to feel good about myself"? What’s contributing to you not feeling good about yourself? How is this going to help you feel better? Why aren’t you feeling good about yourself? 
    • No judgment, just honest questions that need to be asked and answered. From a psychological standpoint ‘it’s all mental’.
As we articulated on a recent facebook posting there are many mental conditions that can affect our physical being. We referenced forms of negativity & distress that can lead to becoming a workoholic, alcoholic, cynic, panic, diabetic, manic, frantic, psychotic & addict. If we think that 1hr of exercise 1-3 times / week is going to help us at the same time as these old / persisting / new forms of distress remain unchecked in our lives... we’re likely to be perpetually disappointed. 

The mind is our most powerful and influential muscle in our body, as such should be treated, conditioned & exercised at the same (or higher) levels than the rest of our body. Yet there’s a stigma associated with admitting and seeking that help. We have no problem investing in accountants, doctors, physiotherapists, personal trainers and the likes for advice, yet are reluctant to invest in counselors and psychologists. Is this just another example of ‘our minds’ getting in the way of our progress?

Physically, you don’t always need to seek a personal trainer as a catalyst to get moving. Mentally, you may not always need to speak to a psychologist to get thinking. However, the reality is without advice from an expert in any field, you risk wasting time doing things a) incorrectly or b) that are counter intuitive to your end goals.

Our advice? Make mental training a part of your physical plan if you truly want to achieve results. It's time we taught ourselves... to think for ourselves. 

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