Mindsets for Health and Sporting Success

“You cant analyze and do at the same time”

I first heard this one at Movement Camp 2015 in Thailand, where I spent a full week training between 6-9 hours per day under Ido Portal and his team. It resurfaced written on the wall in the Elite Athletes gym in Antwerp, where I recently attended the Fighting Monkey weekend workshop. It strikes a chord with me because trying to analyze and do at the same time is something that I have been guilty off myself in the past, and it is also something that I see on a regular basis as a coach.

As individuals we are indeed unique beings, with our own personalities, preferences, and intricacies, but there is one certainty with all of us when it comes to getting results from training. You will fail if you are constantly analyzing, double guessing, and trying to think of rationales, mechanisms, and the method behind the madness DURING your training. Of course you want to make sure you are doing the right stuff, following the right program, or training enough. The time to do this is before or after your sessions, or even before or after your full training program. The very best way to make sure you are training in the right way to fit your goals and your body, is to work with a top class coach, who will do ‘the heavy lifting’ for you (not literally, but academically!). A good coach will be experienced in the type of training that you need, will have done it before with others, and should put your mind at ease and let you get on with the important task of actually training and following through on the program. At the very least, if you are not working with a coach, and are designing your own training (which is a major pitfall for most of us), then the best advice that I can give you is to put together a simple training program and then go for it. Analyze when you have trained enough to see meaningful results (or not, depending on the success of the program). In today’s ‘get fit fast’ era, our perception of how long it takes to get real, meaningful, and long lasting results is all kinds of messed up. Bin the ‘4 week program’ mentality, and get real. Give yourself 6 months to a year if your goal is in anyway significant.

“Be a do-er not a talker.”

‘Nothing works unless you do’ as Maya Angelou is famous for saying. This mindset is closely related to the first one above, but still worth its own mention. Thinking and/ or talking about something alot has a unique way of allowing us to fool ourselves in relation to our level of committement and ‘follow-through’ when it comes to training. Reading a lot of weight loss articles, watching a lot of soccer, or constantly talking about what you are going to do will NEVER make you signiificantly better at your given sport, or make you reach your goal. Be honest with yourself and makrk down how many hours you actually spend DOING.

You want to lose weight or get lean? How many hours did you spend training last week? How many hours did you spend preparing food? How many hours did you spend actually eating your food?

You want to be a better footballer? How many hours did you spend in the gym? Prcaticing yoru skills?

Mastery requires quality practice in the right quantity. Much like we are mostly deluded in terms of how long it takes to get results when it comes to getting lean, we are also deluded when it comes to how many hours per week we should committ to things that we want to master.

Weight loss requires mastery of your eating and day to day habits, and therefore requires dedicated hours per week practcing this mastery, just the same as anything else that requires mastery. To put this in perspective a pro tennis player might spend 20 hours per week on tennis. A top musician might practice for 6 hours a day. Tiger Woods is on record for spending three hours at the driving range, two and a half hours putting and chipping, followed by 18 holes of golf. Thats what MASTERY takes.

“Consistent follow-through of simple ideas.” 

Einstein: “Things should be kept as simple as possible, but not simpler”. Coming from one of the most intelligent humans that ever lived, you should take this advice and run with it. Keep things simple and do them consistently.

If weight loss is your goal, then eat 4 meals of whole food per day, walk 10,000 steps per day, and train in the gym three times per week. Do this for a year.

If you want to improve your performance in your sport, then practice your sport every day. It doenst have to be high intensity practice all teh time, but pick the areas that you need to work on the most and do them all the time.

This article is by Ainle Ó Cairealláin MSc CSCS.