Losing Motivation with Mental Toughness (Part 1)

motivationI used to train this one athlete who made fantastic gains with me. He gained about 8 pounds of pure muscle on his thin frame, but also made strong progress with is mental toughness as well. This client suffered from self-confidence issues, especially with his life goals and pursing chicks. However, his newly founded muscles and stronger mind give him the encouragement to live a better life.

He even got “lucky” a few times under my tutelage.

This athlete is a neighbor of mine so our training was very convenient. When he got a new job during the graveyard shift, we stopped working out together even though he lived within walking distances of me. Nevertheless, we stayed in contact and texted each other often.

A couple of months ago, I got a rare phone called from him telling me he needed to train again because he was losing his motivation and some of his muscle tone. This fellow was a hard worker and was always welling to try new things. A dream client if you asked me so I was looking forward to working out with him again.

However, on the day where we were supposed to meet, he didn’t show up. This was not like him at all. In the past, he was extremely punctual and reliable. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt even for his no-show. Later, he told me he overslept and apologized for his lack of action. I forgave him and we made plans to meet the next weekend.

Before our workout, he called me and canceled because he had the flu. I was disappointed again, but I didn’t want to catch his sickness so we decided to train another day. However, after he canceled I saw him playing soccer across from the track that I was sprinting at. He was moving well and didn’t look sick to me.

Now I was pissed. I assumed he lied to me and made up the “sick” excuse to get out of training. A couple of days later when I confronted him, he apologized again and assured me he wouldn’t flake out again.

So a few days later, we trained together. However, I could tell he wasn’t the same as how he was before when we trained together. His intensity and desire was missing. I asked him if wanted to try something challenging, but he said no.

In fact, I would say he pretty much went through the motions during the whole WOD. As his coach, I don’t fault him for his lack of effort. It is my responsibility to help him find his mojo and motivate him to train harder.

However, I didn’t have that chance to work with him as he kept on making excuse after excuse in canceling our training sessions. I found this whole situation very unsettling to me because pushing people’s buttons is my strength. I’ve known this fellow for over a year now and I know I can get him going again, if I had the chance.

Normally, I would hound him down till I had a chance to inspire him and help him get his strong drive. I don’t quit on myself and don’t give up on my friends and clients too, but for this incident, I decided to back off and give him his space.

Maybe he had some personal issues going on and wasn’t ready to deal with them or was rebelling against my authority. What ever his reasons, I let him be. I still have a lot of faith in him and his abilities and when he is ready, I know we will train together again.

But, like all the obstacles in my life, I had to find the hidden message and what the mental toughens Gods wanted me to learn from the experience. What I got out of the experience is how one can lose their desire and motivation really quick. When this happens, one doesn’t embrace challenges, but runs from them.

I know of this disease. I had it for more of my life and it nearly ruined me.

I saw his lack of effort as a fortuitous sign for me. A mesage that I can’t take my achievements for granted. In an instant, I could lose my drive like how my client did.

So in order to prevent this mental decay, I upped the ante this week for all my WODS. And so should you too. In my last couple of workouts, I reminded myself over and over about this client and how I would never be like him. By doing so, I really pushed it. In fact, in those moments that I felt myself slacking off or toning it down, the imagine of this client had me hauling ass again.

I hate to see this client in such a negative matter, but one of the major skills of being mentally tough is have the ability to find something positive out a bad misfortune. His lack of motivation became a scary waring to me. Instead of being disappointed at him for suddently becoming a excuse-maker or upset at him for flaking out of me, I searched for the lesson that I could benefit from. If this process sounds a little selfish and self-centered, it is not. Finding valuable meaning out of any unwanted situation is a vital skill to improving your perseverance ability. The better you can interpret “a loss” as “a win,” the more likely you will obtain an optimistic view point the next time things get shitty on you. This is not an easy skill to develop, but with practice, you can always spin any circumstance to your advantage.

So the main lesson I got from this experience is we are all vulnerable to losing what we gain with our mental toughness growth and body composition. It just takes one bad break-up, getting a pink slip or bad marker in your blood test to throw us all off. To guard against any slip-ups, we must continue to fight and never let up.

There are no guarantees in life and especially when your mental toughness growth. To reassure you maintain your gains, you must never be satisfied or complacent. You must set higher and new goals and have the damn perseverance to see them through.

(To be continued)

Today’s WOD

5 sets

Turkish get-ups with a dumbbell – 5 reps each side

One minute jump roping

I love Turkish get-ups for mental toughness training and over all physical conditioning. Turkish get-ups are a full-body movement and works just about every muscle in your body.  Here’s a great tutorial on how to do them – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNVi6H3OUVs

This is another excellent WOD where you can practice your positive self-talking skills. Trust me, your whole body will be screaming at you at some point to quit. Doing a shit-load of get ups, is very draining on the body and mind. It won’t take very long during the workout when you will be attacked with a barrage of negativity.

I have a simple trick to help you deal with the upcoming threat of quitting. Instead of trying to censor the negative dialogue, use it to you advantage. Remember the adage of of one  who is mentally tough – they have the uncanny ability to change any negative situation to a positive one. In today’s WOD, you will have a chance to put this viable skill into practice.

So today, embrace and welcome the negative thoughts as you will change the overall meaning of them. What you will do the negative statements, is that you will add a positive or encouraging statement at the end of them. . For example, if you say to yourself – “This WOD is too hard”, combine it with another sentence with and make it into a new positive thought like “This WOD is too hard, but I’m more than half way done with it.” Another example of changing negative thought into a positive one is – “This WOD is too hard, but I am getting mentally stronger because I haven’t quit.” By twisting the negative meaning of the statement into an upbeat tone, this positive self-talk technique is very persuasive when you think you’ve had enough and close to quitting. It just takes practice and you will have a lot of time to practice this positive self-talk skill in this mental toughness program.

When you progress with your mental toughness development, you’ll be so strong with your convictions against quitting, you’ll be near unbreakable.

Now go suffer.

Scaled down version of this WOD:

1. Do 1/2 Turkish get-ups instead. Here’s a good link to show you how to do them – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvcS5lrW8x8

2. Omit the jump roping or jump rope for 30 seconds

3. Don’t use any weights for the Turkish get-ups