"Whatever You Look For, You'll Find." #OneThing About Mastering Your Mind

Subtitled: When a large man in a kilt stands in front of you and bends a full size wrench in half with his bare generally listen to what he has to say.

Meet Iron Tamer Dave Whitley, wearer of the kilt, bender of the iron, breaker of chains, lifter of the (maybe/probably Hammer of Thor), and welcome to part 5 of my #OneThing series, in which I reflect on the amazing weekend I spent learning from the best and brightest in San Diego at the Strength Matters Summit. The topic of Dave's conversation? Unleashing Your Superhuman Self...a topic that felt especially near and dear to my heart as I spent a good part of the weekend contemplating how the hell I would pull a 10,000 pound truck the weekend AFTER at California's Strongest Woman. 

The clarity with which we define something determines its usefulness.
— Tony Blauer

When we set out to make a change in our lives, why do we succeed? Why do we fail? What makes us take action in the first place, and what happens in our brains in that perilous first few weeks when we, for whatever reason, stop doing the shiny new thing? 


What is the current situation? Have an honest conversation with yourself (hint: this is where a coach can be REALLY useful in compassionately helping you sort out how to break down your goals in a manageable way, and if you're prone to falling victim to your own bullshit we can gently help you out there as well). If you suspect that your nutrition could use some work, this is a great opportunity to spend a couple of days journaling your hunger and food intake to see what's really happening. Feeling plateaued in your fitness? Assess the past few months. Are you a serial program jumper? If you've stuck religiously to a program, is the best fit for what you're actually trying to accomplish? 

What does success look like? Get detailed and descriptive. How will your success carry over into other areas of your life? Do you see yourself leaner and stronger? Do you see you and your family enjoying homemade pizza night together once a week instead of mindlessly zoning out in front of tv with delivery? Do you see yourself closer to being out of debt because of the money you've saved? Do you see yourself sleeping more soundly and waking up more refreshed?  Write it down. Repeat it when things are going well AND when they aren't. 

Define your WHY. A HUGE gap when it comes to most nutrition and fitness programs. I use the 5 Why's to help my clients really start to attach their goals to their values. It's easy to say "I'm gonna stop eating sugar" or "I'm going to run more," but when you start to dig into the real reasons you're pursuing this new activity it helps with keeping you motivated when things get hard. If we tease out the fact that you're cutting back on pizza BECAUSE you want to lose weight BECAUSE you want to be healthier BECAUSE your father passed away of a heart attack at a young age AND you want to be healthier for your kids, that will feel a lot different than cutting back on a pizza habit BECAUSE you know you spend way too much money on takeout food and BECAUSE you want to get your finances under control. Overall, it becomes a lot easier to "remember the long game," as OPT says, and keep you motivated for the long haul. 

Change your attitude. Dave pointed out that the primary cause for success or failure is our own self-image. When we talk about our future selves using the language we've always used in the past, we set ourselves up for failure. If you embark on a new journey counting the minutes until you get a sugar craving and fail, because that's what you've always done, that's what you'll continue to do. Using that image of success you wrote down earlier, reaffirm that you're ALREADY THAT PERSON using actions rather than outcomes.

Example: "I've always struggled with cravings and have battled my weight for years. I'm doomed to be overweight forever. I may as well just order pizza tonight. I'm so tired." 

Instead, try this: "I'm a person who exercises regularly, and who eats vegetables and protein with each meal. I model healthy behaviors so my kids will develop a good relationship with food as they grow up. I'm mindful of my intake of foods like pizza because  I know they're delicious but don't leave me with a lot of energy to play with my kids." 

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
— Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning


Build in compassion. Most of us have spent our lives idealizing a future in which our perfect self shows up for business, day after day, with nothing ever going wrong. Kids don't get sick, the landlord doesn't suddenly raise the rent, the car doesn't get broken into, you get the big promotion and continue to be Wonder-Person, cooking freshly prepared perfectly balanced meals every day for your eager family. You Have Your Shit Together. And when that inevitably doesn't happen, we throw up our hands, declare that it's too difficult, and promise to start again on Monday (which of course means I will TOTALLY order cheese fries tonight, because hey! #DietStartsMonday!) 

What if your path to achievement included compassion for yourself? 

What if you talked to yourself the way you'd talk to your kid? Or your puppy? Or your friend? 

What if, instead of demanding perfection and failing, you started small and worked on consistency? 

What if you made it easier on yourself rather than harder? 

What would you do if you knew you could not fail; and what could you accomplish if you set yourself up to be successful? 

"Can You Go?" #OneThing About Keeping Your Cool

I don't need to tell you guys how much of a privilege it was to hear renowned Coach Dan John speak at the Strength Matters summit. I even got to actually hang out with the man (like, have a drink, shoot the shit, laugh at Eddie Izzard - he's my people).  I don't know that I'll ever have it in me to earn a DJBB (Dan John Black Belt), but I certainly took away a ton when it came to the practice of assessing and training athletes not only for competition, but for life. 

Dan covered a LOT in his talks and dispersed the kind of wisdom you can only get from someone that's been in the game for a hell of a long time. 

My own upcoming competition (California's Strongest Woman) was on my mind throughout the weekend. I'm pretty open about the fact that I'm less than physically prepared for this one. I feel pretty confident about my ability to put up at score in most of the events, and a few are a complete wildcard. What can I say? For a beer city, it's really hard to find a keg to throw overhead in Seattle.  Honestly, I signed up on a passionate whim and just kind of rolled with it when it came to training. I've had lots on my plate over the past couple of months, coupled with being coach-less and team-less for the first time in my training life. Lesson learned - wandering-nomad style training doesn't suit me, I need a training partner, and I REALLY need to outsource my own programming to someone else. That said, I'm still planning to go in hard, leave it all on the platform, and have a freaking kick-ass time. 

So, how does Dan John's talk relate to my competition? On a practical note, he spoke a lot about maintaining your mental relaxation when you're on the contest floor by controlling your emotional arousal while you're in training. His words: "I always smile when I throw the discus."

My usual M.O of heading into contests for the enjoyment of them means that I'm RARELY in my own head. Sure, I've failed a snatch behind me at a meet because I didn't know where to look, lights in my face and lots of humans staring at me. But I rarely get "too" hyped. In fact, I could argue that I'm a little TOO calm - that I need to learn to dig deep and find that passion inside me that drives me to perform best as well as find that desire to want to do better than the competitor next to me. 

Quiet the mind, sling the stone.

Quiet the mind, sling the stone.

He offered some practical ways to control your tension and relaxation levels both on the practice platform and on the field of play. 

How to Relax? 
Shake it out
Wiggle the jaw
Count your breaths

On the flip side, sometimes you need to get a little fired up:
Isometric holds
Cold water
Have your friend/coach give you some friendly face/butt slaps (not weird)

And I know that this phrase has so many layers of meaning that he wrote a whole book about it, but when I'm sitting in the parking lot at Santa Cruz Strength and my head is spinning with all the ways I could possibly fail my next event, I'll hear Dan's voice in my head asking: 

Can you go?
Save the Xena Warrior Princess aggression for when it counts. 

Save the Xena Warrior Princess aggression for when it counts. 

Psssst. There are more than 65 women competing at California's Strongest Woman this weekend! Each of them embody strength, power and passion for the sport and prove that strongman is indeed for EVERYONE, regardless of size or shape. I'm so proud to be competing next to them. 

Want to watch? The live stream is here.
Want to know exactly what's going on? The rules and events are all detailed here.