Professional IFBB bodybuilder, Ben Pakulski, said, “Set the goal to build muscle, not for the muscle but for what it will make of you to achieve it.” I heard this on a recent episode of The Renegade Radio Podcast and it’s so damn true. Building a body that you’re proud of and that you like to look at naked is no easy task. If it was we’d all be walking around looking like Greek gods and Instagram models.
The bottom line is this:
- There are days when you will not be “feeling it”
- The weights will feel extra heavy
- 30 minutes of cardio feels like 30 hours
- You forget your headphones or gym socks
- Your life just gets in the way
Do Not Take No For an Answer
The days that you go to the gym and do the work anyway are about way more than your physical strength and just going to the gym. They are about you, your mental strength, and your ability not to take “no” for an answer.
That same fortitude that it took to go to the gym anyway can be applied to your life, your nutrition, your career, and your daily responsibilities. Whatever it is that you don’t feel like doing but you know you will feel better after doing it even if “the motivation” isn’t there, do it anyway—go to the gym, order a side of veggies instead of fries, only hit snooze 4 times (not 5), and do 10 minutes of meditation in the morning with that extra time, take that cold shower, stay a little late at work, go to IKEA with your girlfriend, play that 135th game of rock-paper-scissors with your kids.
Recently this was cold showers for me and I decided to up the ante. I committed to two minutes of cold showers every morning. #fml
Mind you, my morning shower is around 5-5:30 am, so it’s cold as hell in the house, too. #FML
That was three weeks ago and I’m up to three minutes every morning. Here’s a great piece on the benefits of cold showers from Art of Manliness.
I’ll give you three guesses where the mental strength to do this came from, but you’re only going to need one.
Your Life Will Get Better
Quite honestly, part of this whole equation is that when you’re crushing your workouts at the gym the whole of the rest of your life gets better because you want it to get better. The gym has a pretty safe and controlled environment to test your limits. If you want to eat better and do the little things, like take cold showers, to better yourself, it’s an extension of the momentum you have created in the gym. It has a ripple effect that permeates the rest of your life.
So let’s say you are feeling it and all these things are easy and enjoyable—there are still lessons for you here. First, if it’s the case that you are rocking a solid and consistent routine, go you! You went through the “embrace the suck” phase and you’ve reached the point where what used to suck has become a part of your daily life that you can’t, or simply don’t want to, live without.
Second, when you are in this space, referred to by some as the flow zone, you can pretty much do whatever you want in the gym. The weights seem light, the music is awesome, you forgot your earbuds, so fucking what! You’re going to rock this workout no matter what. You hit PRs on all your big lifts every time you do them.
The Gym/Life Translation
Hit the brakes, it’s life-lesson time. You’re about to squat a weight that you ALWAYS thought was unattainable, you load the bar up, get under it, and squat that sucker for 3 reps with ease.
Wait for it … gym –> life translation. That weight on the bar means you can do whatever the hell you put your mind and effort towards. So take on that extra project at work, turn that shower knob to arctic, stop hitting snooze 5 times, and meditate, journal, or do 10 minutes of yoga in the morning.
If you can squat that “unattainable” weight you can also do the “unthinkable” in your daily life. Being jacked and looking better naked is freaking awesome. But what’s more awesome? Having the knowledge that you can cowboy-up in any situation that life throws your way. Not only are you physically a beast but you’re mentally Herculean, too. This is all thanks to lifting a few extra pounds.