The term “mind-body” seems to have become synonymous with yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, etc. However, this isn’t a term exclusive to those modalities. There is a reason the whole “mind-body” term exists: the mind and the body are intricately related and work together.
That also means they can work against each other if you let them. The modalities mentioned above do an amazing job at educating about the connectivity of the mind and body, but these same principles can be applied to sports, fitness, and just life in general. In sports, if a player’s mind isn’t in the game, their body will struggle to be in it and vice versa. Bring the mind and body together, though and it’s like magic.
Same thing for fitness: if you aren’t in the right mindset for any given workout, your body will likely take heed. And if your body isn’t in it for whatever reason, your mind probably won’t be either. Since the two are so related, it sounds like we should train them together, no?
I mentioned in my previous post about “playing the role.” I think this is the first and foremost way to get your mind in line with what you’re asking it to do physically, but there are some other ways you can enhance mind fitness as well.
I love to learn. And learn some more. I am undoubtedly and unabashedly a nerd.
If I realize I don’t know something, I can’t just let it be; I need to go and look it up. This thirst for knowledge has led to me to multiple academic degrees, but it has also instilled a discipline of exploration, questioning and a desire to figure out what I don’t know. Thankfully, this is a never-ending quest. The Socrates quote is true:
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
The same goes for physical intelligence. The more I learn about my body, how it works and what it is capable of, the more I realize, I know nothing. The body is an intricate machine and there is an infinite amount of research and experimentation to be done.
For me, this is on both a personal and professional level. Just when I think I’ve figured something out in my own body, I try to explain or teach someone else (or multiple someone’s) the same thing and realize, nope, Shauna, you still know nothing.
Despite having the same basic internal structures, every single body is different and you can always learn more about yours. Teachers, trainers, and instructors, you can always learn more about your clients’ bodies and needs. Do some physical research. Test things out. Learn. Think. And keep thinking too so that your mind is engaged in what you are doing, how your body responds, and how it changes from day-to-day.
I love to fail. Sounds funny coming from the nerdy, Type A overachiever who hates getting B’s in anything (including the Southwest Airlines boarding group game), but it’s true. Sure, I love to succeed, who doesn’t? Success is great for self-esteem and for the ego. But, failure can be a springboard to even sweeter success.
Finding things that I’m not good at or that don’t come naturally and taking them on as a challenge is even more rewarding than being good at something right off the bat.
There is mental and physical growth in failure. I used to not be able to run a mile. I couldn’t do a pull-up. Or a headstand. Or a handstand. Or jump rope very well (or for very long). And now I can do all of those things frequently. Talk about self-esteem building! Sure it can be frustrating along the way. It takes an incredible amount of mental toughness to be able to fall (literally) and get up to fall again.
This is where celebrating those small victories (an extra second before you fall?) becomes clutch.
Take the failures and put them in your back pocket so that you can remember them with every minute ounce of victory!
Get In the Game
I love to get mentally hyped. Get your head in the game; get ready for whatever challenge is in front of you, however big or small. For me, this is generally executed with blaring hip hop. I’m a hip hop head and that is what has always worked for me.
I actually have a playlist on my iPod called “Get it.” Songs rotate in and out of this playlist, but its sole purpose is to pump me up for whatever I’m about to do.
A super hard training day, a big event I’m about to teach, a really important meeting, my dissertation defense. The latter, no joke, is where that playlist was born. Ten minutes before I needed to be in the room to give my dissertation talk, I went downstairs, turned on my Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rick Ross and Federation and got hyped. I walked into that room with “Everyday I’m hustling’” stuck in my head. PhD like a boss! It worked and it continues to work.
Maybe music doesn’t do that for you, but whatever it is that makes you get your head in the game, use it. Every damn day. No matter how big or small the event.
How amazing would that be if we were consistently engaged, present and ready to rock whatever comes our way? Dope.
Ready, Set, Pause
I love to pause. Despite my “go hard” mentality most of the time, I also firmly believe in just stopping, pausing and enjoying. I borrowed this “Ready, Set, Pause” idea from my friend Amy Jo Martin and the Digitial Royalty.
Giving your mind and body time to reflect is so important, even if it is just 8 minutes a day (or whatever you can spare). You have to take care of you and a pause can be good reboot to your physical and mental space and get you prepared to face your next challenge, task, or workout of the day.
I’ve even done mini Ready, Set Pauses in the middle of a hard training workout. Pause for 30 seconds to get my head out of the “this is hard, I’m struggling” space and into the “you got this” space instead. Yoga, meditation, sitting in stillness, unplugging, going in “do not disturb” mode, being in nature, whatever works for you to disengage, do it. Let stress, fear, doubt, worry, pain and any other negative feelings or emotions take a backseat. Be you with you. Tell me that doesn’t sound awesome?
There are enough things and people working against us on a daily basis, you don’t need to let your own mind be one of them. You are your own ally, so treat yourself that way. “Harder, better, faster, stronger” takes work; and it’s not just physical work.
The mental work is just as important and just as challenging.
Sustainable change and improvement require integrated mental and physical fitness; so train that way. Make your body think and your brain sweat so that you’re even stronger when you do the reverse.
A 30-day Eating Guide to Your Best Body Ever!
Discover the best-kept secret in the food marketing industry and uncover the strategies that will effortlessly shed pounds off your body. The Body Fuel System comes with a 30-day customized weekly eating plan, a weekly shopping guide, a weekly food-prep guide, healthy fitness recipes, Betty Rocker’s top 5 ab-shredding moves, additional tips & tricks to keep you lean and much more. Click HERE for more details.