My iPhone clock glared at me in the dark:
I grabbed my neck, grimacing in pain.
I almost burst in tears. I got a sore throat the morning of the first day of my competition. I felt like skunk pee.
My first time at the big girl lifting party!?
I had tucked myself in bed around 10 PM ready for a long, long glorious night of rest and this is what I got?
I dialed back the tears. I refused to accept defeat and morphed into attack mode.
I’m freaking out but I’m going to the competition. I WANT TO.
I tried to coo myself to sleep with little success.
When I wasn’t sleeping, I started scheming how I was going to kick ass. I figured out what was in my arsenal:
A strong mind, passion, power naps, countless cough drops, ibuprofen, holistic recipes (which resulted in a supportive friend picking up apple cider vinegar and making a garlic-honey drink when we returned to the hotel).
I would try anything.
My ultimate outcome of the weekend was to improve as an athlete, and continue to set an example of willpower. Feeling a little shitty would be a detour.
Let me say something before I continue: Don’t try pushing yourself too hard when you are not in any shape to do so!
My point is, we all have days where we want to cop out because we got stuck in traffic, your partner snored loudly during the night or you got a little boo-boo.
My daily mental drive carried over to a big event, and it helped me deliver a performance I can be proud about.
One of my clients, Cheryl, posed the perfect example last month: She got a promotion on top of a crazy season at work. She was working through weekends to meet deadlines. She cancelled a few sessions, but she showed up to most, even when the going was rough.
I watched her give herself pep talks as she foam rolled before the workouts.
At one point I wondered if I should be cheering her on more than usual, but I didn’t because this is how you get mentally strong.
The best battle strategy of all is internalized. In you.
What I did during competition weekend works for about just any day when you want to stay under the covers or feel like nothing is working in your favor.
Here’s what you can do to make sure you’re proud of your day:
1. Smile the Shit out of Today
Can’t. Get. Enough. Of. This. My friend Darrick said this to me. I want it on a shirt now.
He’s right. Smiling has a massive impact. For one, it rewires your brain to think less negatively.
A few athletes also praised me over the weekend and it didn’t register with me right away. Why? I didn’t place that high. But I remembered this: Rankings or awards are not the only thing that makes an athlete amazing. It’s attitude, willpower, grit and passion. This is the sexy way to gauge your success.
Marinate on this: There was a famous Crossfit queen who made an appearance during the competition to “hang out” with the athletes. I didn’t quite pick up any welcoming vibes and while the looked so majestic and gritty doing complicated lifts, she was caught up in taking pictures of herself with her photographer. Hmm?
Meanwhile there was Lucy, the Alpha winner/my new fitness crush/the only one brave enough to do a legit side shave. It wasn’t her first ride at the rodeo but she had one of the warmest presences and it was a joy to witness her winning performance.
Smile the shit out of your day and people will be your ally.
2. Control your perception
The Stoics back in the day were right about one thing:
Your perception on the event forms consequences. You assign feelings, judgements and stubborn opinions. You know when things feel like they aren’t working in your favor? That’s your perception working against you. It sucks but we need to work being objective.
Was I in less optimal athletic mode? Yeah, a little. Was I frustrated? YAAS. But doomed? No, not if I decided I wasn’t fragile.
3. Hide It, If You Need To
There were couple of occasions where I took a walk, alone, to digest what was happening. Competing is still new to me, and my competitive nature causes me to hard on myself, but I’m able to bounce back quickly when I grasp control of perception….and remember it’s still fun!
I got to learn muscle-ups and double-unders (jump rope) in a week. Sure, it wasn’t enough time to put me ahead, but going back to the ultimate goal: I did finish the weekend as an improved athlete and proved little drive and positive attitude can do wonders. .
4. Beastmaking Principle #6: Practice Visualization
Visualization is like a multi-sensory rehearsal in your head before or during a performance. You pull in every sense you have when you imagine an event. Every time I closed my eyes, during my power naps or at bed time, I visualized how I would perform the movements and I felt no pain in my throat or body. The second day of the competition went much better – I even won one heat!
I practice almost daily, even when I’m not nervous or feeling sluggish. I do it for my workouts, first dates or work meetings. The practice makes me feel secure with who I am and what I deliver day after day.
Your mind is easily the first thing to give out before your body does. Train it so it doesn’t quit on you.
5. Step Away from the “Comfort” Food
This is more of the concrete stuff. Nourish your body. Comfort food is deceiving.
Get your sleep, work in the power naps, drink green or peppermint tea, H2O, slurp kombucha (I was looking for it at the MN airport and by the hotel, and the Walgreens guy didn’t even know what it was. #spoiledcitygirl), devour colorful vegetables and protein.
Beastmaking principle #14: Grab the donuts when you’re done outdoing yourself. Life’s sweeter that way.
Now shove aside whatever odds you think are working against you. Decide what you’re going to accomplish today.
And don’t forget to smile the shit out of your day.