Team Mind Strong Athlete Focuses on Mindfulness

mentaltraining2This week in the Team Mind Strong Athlete Members area we are focusing on mindfulness as well as anxiety reduction and relaxation. I know I am like a broken record with this thing. But the truth of the matter is once we master mindfulness, we can master any mental skill. If we want to be able to visualize our goals, regulate our emotions, streamline our focus, or let go of what is out of our control, the key step is mindfulness.

Just like when you start your diet, you first get rid of the cookies and junk food. That is the way I see mindfulness, an important foundation to our upcoming mental skills.

I have added a video and audio practice on mindfulness and I also have videos and worksheets. the worksheets will first help you to assess your anxiety level, second, establish your current relaxation resources, and create new ones, and finally to help you focus on what is important, controlling the controllables.

Feel free to email me any or all of your worksheets and I will provide you email feedback. For coaching clients we will discuss in our next coaching call the worksheets and how we will be incorporating those into your mental training program.

And if you are not already a member, what are you waiting for? Team Mind Strong Athlete is the only contest prep team that focus not only on your body but your mind.

Here is what I do specifically, I help figure, bikini and physique athletes who struggle with confidence, body image and distorted thoughts, and instead want to feel empowered, self-assured and mentally strong.

Check out the focus of the week here:
https://mindstrongathlete.com/focus-of-the-week-mindfulness

Progressive Relaxation MP3 Just Added

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Progressive Relaxation MP3 just added to the Team Mind Strong Athlete Resource Center. Get access to all Team Mind Strong Athlete content for only $19.95 a month.

Progressive Relaxation is a fundamental mental skill of most elite athletes. It is through our ability to regulate our arousal level that allows us to thrive under pressure.

The diet and training is challenging enough, couple that with encroaching show date and you potentially have a fire storm of heated emotions running wild. The Progressive Relaxation MP3 will allow you to rest and unwind in the comfort of your favorite resting spot, whether that is your cozy bed or a comfy hammock in your back yard, or your favorite park.

Get your emotions under control, learn the skill of relaxation, before you are in crisis, that way when a stressor happens you are more equipped to deal with the situation.

This relaxation session is a little under 10 minutes. Progressive Relaxation Mental Exercise is great for when you need to relax and unwind. It is perfect, for when you want to get into a great state of mind for your upcoming competition.

http://www.mindstrongathlete.com/team

Figure Visualization Exercise 2.0

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Figure Visualization Exercise 2.0 just added to the Team Mind Strong Athlete Resource Center.

Get access to all Team Mind Strong Athlete content for only $19.95 a month.

If you are familiar with Stage Might- On Stage Visualizations, you will really enjoy this shorter Figure Visualization Exercise. This is visualization is a little over 10 minutes long. Perfect, for when you want to get into a great state of mind for your upcoming competition. This exercise walks you through the process of being on stage, feeling confident, calm and in control.

Not a member yet? Register here:
http://www.mindstrongathlete.com/team

What gives athletes their power?

What gives athletes their power?

Focusing on what is in their control. We can’t control people and environment, we can control our attitude, or effort, or passion, our mindset and our joy for sport. When we do that, we win every time! Trophies are icing on the cake!

Female model with muscular body

It’s a mental game! Play with passion!

How To Win Every Competition

 

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The Mental Game of Winning

Fitness, Figure, Bodybuilding, Bikini Competitors
(applicable to other sports as well)

Every competitor has the goal of winning a competition. The problem is, only one athlete walks away with the overall title. So how do you make sure that every competition you enter, you win? One way to make sure you win is to set up a variety of goals. I like to have the goal of winning, obviously, but I also like to include goals that are within my control.

One of the greatest boosts to self-confidence for sport is feeling like you have control over your process. I like to set goals for my level of conditioning, communication with others during contest prep, mental skill that I want to work on, level of focus in my workouts, feeling joyful about the process, eating my meals on schedule daily, weekly and monthly and more. All of these goals we have control over.

When we feel in control of our process, we get to win every day! The outcome of the competition is almost irrelevant, but I have never had a good journey that did not have a good ending. Creating goals throughout the competition process, whether that be for three months or six months, is a great way to enjoy and win every step of the way. At the end of the day, we are challenging ourselves to become a better version of who we are. That does not get measured for twelve weeks, it only gets measured one time, on one day. Here are some ideas for setting winning goals

Setting Winning Goals

1. Set Outcome Goals: An outcome goal is the result of your efforts. The most popular outcome goal for competitors is to win. I like to make other outcome goals such as surpassing the level of conditioning I was at in previous competitions. Sometimes I like to make outcome goals of meeting a certain amount of competitors at the show that I connect with. Outcome goals are the easiest to set, but keep in mind there are other outcomes to measure besides winning. Shorter range outcome goals include hitting target weight, measurement and body fat markers, being able to do a certain amount of cardio, having a specific amount of strength and endurance for your workout. Most outcome goals can be measured by, you guessed it, the outcome.

2. Set Performance Goals: Much of our performance is in the gym, therefore our pre-performance is very important. Eating our food on schedule, taking our supplements, and drinking the proper amount of water each day are all performance goals so to speak. We have an interesting sport that unlike many others, needs to be thought about throughout the day in order to create success. When we set and meet goals of eating our food on schedule, not skipping meals or snacking, this is the foundation for creating the physique of a champion. We will not get to our outcome if we do not have this setup. I like to make daily and weekly goals for how many workouts I will do, how many cardio sessions, as well as when or if I will have a treat meal. Other performance goals include contest day, how you will do on stage, which can also be broken down into smaller daily and weekly goals.

3. Set Procedural Goals: Procedural goals are perhaps the most overlooked goals. In our sport it is important for our shape to have a certain look to it, for that reason, it is important to create goals within our training that change the process of the workout in order to hit the muscle more effectively. I spend a lot of time with my clients viewing videos of their form, to make sure that not just the exercise is being done, but it is also being done in such a way as to maximize the look of the muscle. This is one example of a procedural goal. There is also a most effective breathing that goes with the workout depending on what you are doing, you can set goals very specific in this way to improve your effectiveness in the gym. It seems micromanaging, but it really is the difference that makes a difference. Everybody works out, but at the end of the day it is how you go about doing it, that matters.

4. Set Short, Medium and Long-Term Goals: When goal setting, many athletes focus simply on the outcome of getting to the stage and winning, but they don’t consider the wins they can be creating every week and every day. Break your goals down into short, medium and long-term goals. For our sport, I find it useful to have daily goals, weekly goals and a long term competition goal. My daily goals will often include for example: 5 minutes of mindfulness, 40 minutes of AM cardio, weight workout, eating my meals on schedule, having a positive attitude, feeling grateful for the process. Those might be my goals for the day. When I nail down the mindfulness for example, I may add the next day 5 minutes of visualization and have different behavioral goals depending on how my day was before that. When I lay my head on my pillow at night and I know I have had a successful day based on my goals; that is a win! I get a trophy. Do that over and over each and every day and I can’t guarantee you will win, but I can guarantee, you will feel like a winner!

5. Visit Your Goals Often and Be Open to Change Them: Having the flexibility to change goals is as important as setting the goal itself. Most often I find we think that something will take less time than it actually does. Be open and flexible to change your show date, increase or decrease performance and process goals and to in general be flexible to re-assess to see if you are still on target for the date you have selected. Many athletes feel like a failure if they change the date of their show. Nonsense! If you need more time, create more time by re-adjusting your goals. There will always be another show, so why not move forward toward your goals with success every step of the way? Win every day!

I am sure you have thought of other goals to include. If you want, create a list of short, medium and long-term outcome, performance and process goals. Then pick the most important one to work on. Once you have mastered that, move on to the next goal, while keeping the previous goal in check. This is a fun way to have a good contest prep, not just for the day of the show, but for the entire journey.

Nancy
http://www.nancygeorges.com

References:

Hanton, S., Mellalieu, S., & Williams, J. (2013). Understanding and managing stress in sport. In   J.M. Williams & V. Krane (Eds.), Applied sport psychology: Personal growth to peak performance (p. 207-234). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Pope-Rhodius, A. (2016, October 25). Lecture. JFKU

Robinson, S. (2016, October 25). Lecture. JFKU

 

 

The Mental Game of Dieting for Competition

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Transforming Hunger
The Mental Game of Dieting for Competition  

What I am about to talk about is a very controversial subject. I want to approach this subject with extreme care. I am going to talk about hunger, and how to accept it as part of the dieting process. I am sure you can already see why this is controversial, since hunger is our body telling us that we need food and it is mandatory for our survival.

So, I will issue a warning, that is, I am assuming that your diet is enough food to sustain you but you are still hungry. If you are having problems with memory, concentration and focus, extreme headaches, and lack of motivation, or if your diet is under 1200 calories, then the probability that you are not eating enough is higher. Each person will be on a case by case basis but, I want you to be responsible enough to gauge whether or not you need to change you plan of action (i.e.: the diet) or change the way you are thinking about it. If you feel you are eating enough calories and you trust your support team, then please read on. If you are having any concerns then please consider a second opinion to your procedure.

The subject of hunger came up because of several athletes that have mentioned to me they are struggling with hunger. In addition, I was having a conversation with my sport psychologist recently about the sport and we were talking about hunger, and he was asking what I do when I get hungry. And I said, well you are going to be hungry, there is no way around that. He seemed pretty surprised by that. I just accept hunger as part of the process. I told him that I reframe hunger into my hunger for how I want to look. And the better you look, the easier it is to live with the hunger. He really did seem shocked. He said, so hunger is inevitable? I said, of course, it is a diet. I said most people (non-competitors) eat at the smallest discomfort, they don’t even wait to be hungry. So the reality is, most people never feel real hunger. This got me thinking and wondering if people really think that they are going to diet and not feel hungry, seriously? We are reducing our calories, so of course there will be hunger. Which got me to wondering what other misnomers are out there about dieting and the competition journey. I always claim for things to be easy and I stand by that. However, I do feel hunger. It is the way I perceive it that is what makes the process easy for me. Here are some other common threads that we have as competitors. Now, this is not a license to complain, rather an awareness to reframe and use some mental techniques to help make the journey you are on easy and fun.

Normalizing the Dieting Journey

1. You will feel hungry. I think that we all are in agreement that we will feel hungry. However, stating it as such that everyone feels it, really puts it into perspective. There is nothing wrong with your hunger signals, they are real and we all feel them. We are used to grazing. So, when we set up a plan to eat every three hours and not snack in between, it is difficult. The sooner you make peace with hunger, the sooner you get shredded.

2. You will sometimes have lower energy. This also surprises some people. I am going to be upfront, we all feel this too. Some of us hide it better than others, some of us drink more coffee than others, but we all go through periods during dieting where we feel tired and we don’t want to go to the gym, or fold our clothes or wash our hair. Seriously, sometimes washing my hair during contest prep is just a hassle. Now you know, we are all feeling it, even if we don’t say so.

3. You will sometimes get irritated about things that normally don’t bother you. When I am dieting and I hear someone complain about something that seems trivial to me I am thinking… seriously? Do you realize that I did an hour of cardio, spend an hour packing my food, and had a weight workout before you even woke up this morning? I like to pretend that I am stoned. (not that I have ever been stoned) but if I had been, I would want to feel stoned when someone was saying something annoying so it would just roll off my back like no big deal. Realize we are a little hypersensitive and give others the benefit of the doubt that their behavior would probably not be that annoying if we had just ate an entire pizza.

4. Some people will comment on how you look in a negative way. This is probably the hardest one to deal with, feeling fantastic about how you look and then someone saying, you look tired, are you OK? Or you look sick, you really should eat. Or, are you still doing that diet thing? People don’t get it. I stopped trying to force them to get it. I don’t let it bother me.

5. You may feel lonely or isolated. This is probably the most difficult. We so want people to understand and appreciate what we do. As it gets closer, we do limit our social activities, but that does not mean we need to be or feel isolated. We usually connect through food, but we don’t have to. Find other ways to connect with people. It is challenging but it can be done. Make peace with many people not getting what you are doing, this will also be very beneficial in helping make the process easy.

6. You will wonder if this is worth it, or if you should quit. This may not come into play until a few weeks out. But, most athletes at some point in the contest prep will have an emotional meltdown (or two) wondering if it is all worth it. I remember one time having a meltdown and crying over nothing as I recall it. I was sincerely and honestly upset. I finished my rant to my boyfriend, then lifted up my shirt and said, and look at my abs, my abs are shredded! And I continued to cry. No joke. Doesn’t happen daily but it happens. Make sure you have a strong support team that will be there for you when you need it.

I hope you found this list helpful, there are of course many many other things I could have selected, but in the 20 years that I have been competing and coaching, those are the ones that stand out to me most. My thought process around all of these subjects is to find ways to make them a normal part of your process. Not everyone is going to understand what we do, personally I don’t care. I want what I want for me, not for anyone else anyway. So if I don’t get the approval, I don’t try to force it down people’s throat like a religion, but if they want to ask me questions about what I am doing, then I will share, and of course I hope they join in on the healthy eating bandwagon, because that is one less stressor in my life, however, I don’t need other’s approval in order to move forward to achieve my goals. I move from the passion of my heart, that is my guiding force. I hope that it is yours also. At the end of the day, very few will really get what we are doing, and that is OK. That is what the fitness community is for.

Mental Game Tools: Hunger Resources
Hypnosis Download: Appetite Control
Visualization Exercise: Nutrition Compliance
Nutrition and Life Balance: Inner Athlete Coaching

Mental Exercise for Creating Your Future

There is always a point at the start of dream creation where we say to ourselves: “No way can I do this, this goal is too big.” But we want it nonetheless. Eventually we start to believe the “lies” we tell ourselves that we can do it, and even further on down the road, we begin to make our dreams a reality.
Your future self, is looking at you right now. It knows you don’t believe in you. But your future self, knows you WILL accomplish your goal. Have faith in your future self, and do the work to move you in the direction of your goal. Do what it takes, belief will come later. Don’t wait to believe, take action and grow into the belief.
I created a mental skills visualization to help you step into your future before it arrives. Check out the link.
Don’t wait to believe. Take action and grow into the belief.
I hope you have enjoyed this exercise. Please feel free to email me topics that you would like covered for future articles. I love to hear from you your ideas and suggestions.

Self-Improvement Starts in Our Minds

When striving to reach our goals we often have an all or nothing mentality. If yesterday was not perfect, we can tend to perseverate on that imperfection, forgetting that today is a new day to make improvements.

Improvement is not usually all or nothing, rather small baby steps that move us little by little in the direction of our goals. What one thing can you change about today, that will move you in the direction of your goals? Little by little, make a change.

Do I Deserve It?

Do I deserve it? Often we say we want something, then we pull back. We flinch away from it. There is this dance we do, of thinking we deserve it, then don’t deserve it. We are not really sure. Ambivalence, then causes it to take longer because we are half in, and half out, instead of all in. When we are half in, then we say, see, I knew it wasn’t coming. But, when we are all in, the arrival of our vision, our dream, our desire, becomes irrelevant. We have so much fun opening up to it, that as we move towards it, if feels like it has already arrived.

What can you do today, to release incongruency? How can you allow in what you tell yourself you want? How can you open up to it fully and allow it to come to you?

You deserve everything you desire. You are meant to make what is in your heart a reality. When it feels big, get support, but don’t flinch away from it. It is yours, receive the dream, then do the work to make it happen.

The Power of Cooperation

Even as we compete, we long for connection. We want to win and at the same time, we want someone to share that with. An athlete in flow really wants to be at their best, and for their competitor to be at their best, and to dance with each other in a healthy expression of the power of the human heart. We put obstacles in our own way, for the purpose of overcoming them. But when we overcome them, what we really want, is someone sitting on the sidelines saying, “Good job” Never underestimate the power of human connection. Without each other there would be no competition.