Anyone can get a winning body, but do you have a winning mind
Anyone can get a winning body, but do YOU have a winning MIND?
By Alissa Carpio
A lot of times when we think about the winning mindset, we think of willpower, determination, fortitude, and effort. While these are all essential components to being a successful athlete, they can be a slippery slope in our quest for success. Ambitious types that we are, it’s easy to go all the way with our extreme mindset and push the envelope to be better, faster. But if we do too much, our bodies burn out, our minds burn out, we lack self-care and we are left more and more drained. Not to mention, our progress often slows as a result of this.
Steps for building the Winning Mindset
The winning mindset first begins with cultivating self-awareness and mindfulness. It’s so easy to get completely wrapped up in contest prep to where it entails all of your thought processes all day long. While it’s good to be prepared and focused during a training session or when scheduling your workouts, meal prep and meal times, it can be detrimental to be so singularly focused at the expense of all else.
The way I balance this is fairly simple. By practicing guided-mediations and mindfulness activities, such as yoga and deep breathing, I learn to live more in the moment and be focused on whatever activity I am presently engaged in. So when I walk in to train, my mind is completely all about my training. Upon completion, I’m on to the next thought and task, which could be grocery shopping, writing a blog, or picking up my son from school to take him to therapy. Mindfulness in the moment is essential; time spent thinking and worrying about things you’re not engaged in is detrimental.
As an individual, show yourself enough compassion and love to recognize when you are feeling a certain way and to be easy on yourself. It’s OK to be hormonal, emotional, tired, stressed, etc. The earlier you can recognize it, the sooner you can say to yourself, “OK, I see that I am feeling/thinking this… and that’s OK.” Simply accept where you’re at.
If the condition persists, it may be a sign that you are pushing yourself for too much. This is where self-care needs to come in. First, try balancing out your extreme lifestyle with some down time and some soothing activities. Epsom salt baths can help promote recovery from training as well as help you feel relaxed. If you’re working with a coach, talk to her about how you’re feeling and maybe some adjustments can be made to your meals or your cardio protocol. Instead of pushing for that extra 10 minutes of cardio, stop after a good, intense shorter session.
The more you participate in the process of competition prep, the more you’ll learn your body, what it responds best to, and how to make small changes that will offer self-care without derailing your progress. In fact, many times they speed your progress along! I’m sure some of you have experienced that if you cut out food and increase cardio, you can’t seem to drop weight. But if you take a rest day and eat a nice meal of steak and sweet potatoes, you may weigh in lighter the next morning! Just remember, one meal or one workout session doesn’t make all of your progress instantly; neither does one missed session nor one extra meal hinder your progress instantly. Learn to self-care without responding to emotions/feelings or urges of hunger. There is a difference.
Remember that having the opportunity to compete is a gift and a blessing! Wake with an attitude of gratitude that first, you have an amazing opportunity to do this thing and second, you chose it, and third, you are mentally and physically capable of doing it! Slow down, enjoy the process of self-discovery and know that the physical changes you see are all a reflection of the real transformation that is taking place inside. And that experience and that growth will be with you forever.
Alissa Carpio is the reigning 2017 NPC National Fitness Champion, new IFBB Pro, 14 year NPC veteran competitor and NPC Judge.