Masters Motivation: Mind over Matter
For masters athletes, motivation dwells in the mind.
The mind has to be strong, and that comes primarily from having a strong sense of motivation.
Motivation comes from desiring a specific outcome or future state, and feeling convinced that we have the absolute power to affect that outcome. This is precisely why so many people love health and fitness, because the individual is in total control and there’s very little other people can do to screw it up for you. We can’t say that about too many things in life, it makes our fitness goals a great outlet for feeling and being in control of at least one important life dimension. Here’s another important thought…
It’s 99% Mental
What are we really? Yes, a blobby mix of chemicals, organs, tissues, and bones. But the entirety of our perception exists in only one location – in the brain.
What are discomforts?
What is fatigue?
What is pain?
They’re perceptions, that’s all. They’re biologically induced signals going to our brain that our brain turns into a sensation. So what is that? A screaming locomotive? A supersonic jet? An earthquake? A giant Tsunami? What exactly is the essence of our consciousness?
Think of opening and closing your eyes. With our eyes open we see and perceive everything around us. Now close your eyes, what do you perceive? Nothing. But has everything really gone away? No, only our perception has changed. We have this same ability to deal with pain and discomfort!
We have to think of discomfort as only a state of mind, a set of electronic impulses that we can deal with as we wish, to chose to not let it dictate to us.
We can use our minds as powerful tools to drive towards our goals, to block discomfort and to instead focus on goal accomplishment, like lifting heavier weights longer when our muscles say stop, or sticking to our diets when tempted to over eat or to eat the wrong foods. We must control our minds, our minds mus tn’t control us.
Goals and the Mentality of Motivation
As we’ve discussed, motivation comes primarily from a) believing the importance of our goals, and b) believing that our efforts and our actions can result in accomplishing the goal. So first of all, what does your goal mean to you? It better mean a lot, otherwise you won’t have the burning desire to stick to it. If you’ve never been a goal setter or aren’t sure, your goal should meet the SMART criteria as follows:
Your goal must be –
Specific (losing specific weight amounts, reducing body fat to a specific level, etc.)
Measurable (use pounds, body fat, smaller clothes size, increase in weight lifted, etc.)
Actionable (identify how you’ll do it, i.e. go to the gym, hire a trainer, etc.)
Realistic (you’re not going to try out for the NFL after the age of 50!)
Time defined (identify realistically how long it will take for your actions to achieve the specific goal measurement you’ve set out for yourself)
Discouraged by a goal that seems to big?
Then cut it down into small bites, and only focus on the very first bite.
Fitness goals (or any goal for that matter) are no different, they must be broken down into smaller components that we can cross off as done and celebrate our success, then turn our sites to the next goal.
Dealing with the (Inevitable) Mental Valleys.
First, it’s important to acknowledge and to just accept that emotional letdowns will occur, to be mentally prepared for them, and to not freak out when they happen. It’s natural, it’s fine, and it’ll pass. But unfortunately this where many people get tripped up and lose it. Discouragement and disillusionment sets in, maybe they fall of the wagon for a few days by missing workouts or cheating on their diets.
Like an old cowboy, when you get knocked out of the saddle you’ve got to just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and climb right back on.
In other words, valley’s, discouragement, and slip ups are fine, they’re only bumps in the road and to be expected, just get back on the program as soon as you can. Continue the journey and stay the course.
Working Through Fatigue and Injury
If you’re over 50 and either have never worked out or haven’t worked out in a long time, your body will take a while to get back into shape, and although it should be fun and rewarding, it also may take several months to get your body operating at its higher capability. Especially early in the process you’ll be more susceptible to fatigue and even to minor injuries.
Workout fatigue happens and is nothing to worry about, in fact the best way to overcome fatigue is to go workout! Look for ways to make it fun.
Injuries, however, are another story. The best way to deal with injuries is to not get them.
Avoid injuries in two ways: a) always use proper form, and b) progress slowly.
To adopt proper form, no better way than to work with a qualified personal trainer, they’ll show you the right mechanics which are probably a bit more technical than you may realize.
But above all else, don’t let these things slow you down by becoming mental barriers to your masters fitness success, love your goals, commit to them mentally and enact them physically. And always use the power of your mind to overcome the limitations of your body.