If you have ever done a class with me, there is a common theme in my motivational chat.
"When your mind tells you NO...Say YES!" you will hear me cry!
"The only person in this room you need to impress is yourself!"
"You are so much stronger than your mind lets you believe."
I could go on and on, or you could come and do one of my sessions and you'll see what I mean.
Ultimately, I believe wholeheartedly that the human body is able to do so much more than the human mind will often lead it to believe. I believe that it isn't physical capacity which gets humans through incredible physical feats but its mental capacity, and obviously a level of physical preparedness.
I was asked after a session last week, "How do you stop yourself from giving up during a session?" and my immediate answer was "You just keep going." but after some thought, I know it is more than that. A few days after this question, during a particularly tough drill on a spin bike where I had to maintain speed for a ludicrous amount of time, right at the end of a 90 minute training session I had to face this exact question. My legs were gone, my chest was burning and I couldn't get air into my chest fast enough but I kept going. Everything in me was saying "NO STOP! PLEASE!" but I kept going regardless. At the end, I was this *holds fingers 3mm apart* from hyperventilation and I held back the tears so hard. This is not the first time I have felt this and it won't be the last. Often cool downs have had me in tears on the floor. I don't know what I have in me that stops me from quitting but I think it might be as simple as this; KNOWLEDGE OF SELF.
I know, that in positions of great stress on the body, it is the brains job to tell you, in no uncertain terms that you need to quit. When your heart is pounding, or your body is under great strain, your brain believes you are dying. Self-preservation calls for extreme messages to get you to quit that shit before you keel over and end up six feet under. I also know, the brain is a fucking drama queen, and needs to kindly take a fucking seat. I know that, if it was life or death and I had to ride how I rode last week, or I had to lift 120kg off a person, that I could do it. No doubt. Fact is, during training, we simulate these conditions to prepare us, but there is never that life or death will so we often operate at about 60-70%, kidding ourselves that its 100%. Knowing this puts me in a position of power, because I know that no matter how hard my brain tries to tell me I am not fit/ strong/ powerful enough, I know that's bullshit. I know I can do it, if I really try and if I ignore those messages. I know that if it really was going to kill me, my body would shut me down in an instant. The brain is a marvellous thing, despite its tricks.
I'm nothing special. I get the same self doubt as you do, but as long as I remember the above, I will for the most part always keep pushing. That doesn't mean I won't pause and take a moment. That doesn't mean I won't have a word with myself. If you watch me when I train, you will often see me talking to myself, geeing myself up...also shouting "MOTHERFUCKER" is my go to when things get really bad. So sue me.
During my classes I will often say this:
"There will be a time soon, if it hasn't happened already, when your mind starts telling you no, that you're not strong enough, not fit enough, not good enough. FUCK THAT. You can and you will get through this. When that little voice says "NO!", I'm going to need you to say "YES!", say yes with your mind, with your mouth but most importantly with your body! SAY YES!"
I'm not saying this for effect. While I may have repeated this a number of times in class, it came from a pure and honest place. I didn't curate it or find it online; its something that fell out of my mouth one night when I was watching someone's "NO" take over their body and make them quit.
It's funny because while this is written about fitness this is very much my attitude to daily life. I push forward, I believe my limitations are made up by my brains insecurities and I aim big in everything I do.
I hope this help!
If you have other methods to tackling self doubt on the gym floor, tell me about them below!
- Melissa x