Mind Over Matter

The past week has been one of reflection for me. As I embark on a new career as a fitness instructor and personal trainer, I can’t help but to express my total elation and adoration for the sheer effort and determination my group of ladies have shown in their journey to fitness and good health. Although I have been an athlete for many years and endured countless training camps, a rigorous and exhausting athletic programme and countless sports injuries, I get a sense of satisfaction when I know I can help others achieve their fitness goals. Just reaching that very small milestone in your fitness journey, is enough incentive to keep pushing your body to its limits.

‘Mind Over Matter’, the ability to keep going even when you’re tired. To overcome any physical problems through mental strength. Yes! easier said than done right? Maybe, but we are much more capable of pushing harder even when we think the tank is empty. Mike Ramirez, a CrossFit trainer once wrote, “If you want to relate to fitness in a healthy and authentic way, then you need to connect to it mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well,”.

About four years ago, after having my daughter, I started my athletics training again. After having what I can only describe as the most traumatic pregnancy, I thought it would be almost impossible to regain the strength and fitness I had gained prior. There were times within the first 3 months when I couldn’t even jog continuously for 2 minutes without feeling like I would pass out. I wanted to ‘pack it in’. That was until one day, I was doing my hill sprints and after about 8 x 200m runs up the hill, my legs started to feel like jelly, I was completely out of breath and on the verge of quitting. That was until I spotted a young girl, about 7 years old, watching me on the other side of the road. As I came nearer to her, she started cheering me on, shouting, go! go! go! with a big well done! as I reached the top. That propelled me to go even faster, and suddenly I had a new found burst of energy. Your brain can convince you that you have reached your physical limits, when you really haven’t.

Some of the most fascinating studies on the link between the mind and physical exertion have shown that simply swishing a sugary drink in your mouth and then spitting it out without swallowing can boost athletic performance by 2% (again, despite the small number, this represents a significant boost). Your body uses glucose for fuel during exercise, but the swish-n-spit effect occurs even when the muscles still have plenty of glucose left to burn. Even though you haven’t invested any glucose, sensing sugar in the mouth, is enough to trick the mind that you are capable of another round of effort.

So, the next time you feel like giving up, like that 10th push up is far from possible to achieve, just remember the 9 you have done, how your fitness journey began, and how close you are from achieving your goal.

Physically, mentally, emotionally…when you feel like you can’t go on, don’t believe the lie, dig deep; you’re stronger than you think.

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