3 Ways to Strengthen Your Mind for Workout Success
3 Ways to Strengthen Your Mind for Workout Success
Written by Sportsfuel, 27 January 2016
If you want to transform your body to be leaner and more muscular successfully, you know that you have to take steps to strengthen it through exercise. You may not realise that to be truly successful, you need to train more than just your body.
Strengthen Your Mind for Workout Success
Often, when people fail to accomplish their fitness goals, it's because they gave up too quickly. Demanding workouts take a toll on more than just your body; they also affect your mind. When things become challenging, it's easy to surrender. You may come up with reasons to stop working out early when you're fatigued, or your mind may allow your body to take shortcuts that make the exercise easier but less effective. After a hard workout, your mind can play tricks on you and leave you coming up with excuses as to why it's okay to skip the gym entirely.
Professional bodybuilders, fitness trainers, and athletes all succeed because they condition their bodies and minds as well. Just like it takes repeated exercise to build a stronger body, work is required to strengthen your mind and put it to work for you before, during and after exercise. That's why you must focus on strengthening your mind as much as your body.
But how do you do it?
Read on to discover three ways that you can begin to build a stronger mind and unlock your mental power to improve the results that you get from your workouts and remain motivated to stay on the path to success.
1. Listen for Your Negative Voice
Everyone has a voice inside of their minds that can work for their good or to their detriment. When that inner voice is positive and motivating, it can help you continue through a workout even when it becomes difficult. Still, when that voice takes on a negative tone, it can greatly undermine your performance. When the voice doesn't stop, its messages can start to feel like truth.
For example, let's say that you're ready to begin lifting a heavier weight. You're naturally a little nervous, and that negative voice tells you, "I can't do that." You try anyway, but it isn't easy. As you lift, the voice continues to repeat, "I can't do this. I can't do this." The disbelief makes the burden even greater, and you give up before completing the set. Then, the voice says, "I knew I couldn't do it." The self-fulfilling prophecy makes you go back to the lighter weight or possibly even give up coming to the gym for a few days.
When you're at the gym, be on alert for that negative voice. Learning to identify it is the first step toward breaking free of its effects. Remember that the voice doesn't speak the truth.
2. Answer Your Negative Voice with Positivity
Once you learn to recognize the negative voice inside you, you can begin to address it. The negative thoughts originate from your subconscious mind, but you have the power of your conscious mind to answer them back.
Practising self-talk can help you begin to quiet negativity and become more positive at the gym. To do it, think about how you'd talk to a friend that you were working out with. If he or she said, "This is going to hurt," you might say, "Yes, but it will make such a difference" or "Yes, it might, but just for a little bit. You can do it."
When you imagine speaking to someone you care about, the words to answer yourself will come naturally. You can make your positive replies to yourself even more effective by adding visualization. For example, if you said, "Yes, but it will make such a difference," you could picture how your arms or legs will look if you develop more muscle in them. If you said, "You can do it," picture yourself dominating the exercise successfully. The visual image is powerful and will help you overcome your negativity.
3. Learn to See Yourself in a New Way
Your perception of yourself is powerful. If you tell yourself that you're fat, weak or incapable, those words become your truth, and you give yourself a free pass to stay the same. After all, if you'll always be fat, why should you keep to a healthy diet? If you're weak, why should you waste time pushing yourself?
We are naturally our own worst critics. While it's fine to assess yourself honestly and spot areas of improvement, it's also important to accept yourself as you are in the moment. If you need to lose weight, be honest about it and tell yourself that you have the power to change.
Tell yourself: "I am dedicated, powerful and in control of my weight. Today, I will work out and eat right. I'll burn calories and lose body fat. Tomorrow, I will weight slightly less than I did today."
When you look in the mirror and see something that you don't like about your body, don't look away until you've found something that you do like. Celebrate the small changes along the way and compliment yourself on the work that you did to get there. Remember that fitness is a journey. You're not going to get there all in one day. By being supportive and nurturing to yourself along the way, you'll stay motivated and be able to succeed finally.
The process of strengthening your mind and making it an asset to you as you progress toward your goals takes a commitment. There will be times when you'll succeed in quieting negativity right away and times when it will be more of a struggle to stay positive. Ultimately though, you can condition your mind if you stay focused on what you're thinking. If it helps, try writing down your inner thoughts, answering yourself on paper, or finding a person you can trust to share your inner thoughts with. Hearing someone else reaffirm your positive messages can be incredibly powerful.
12 WAYS TO COMBAT STRESS, SLEEP BETTER & FEEL AMAZING EVERYDAY
Stress affects us all. Some days it's worse than others, and over time, it takes its toll on how we look, feel and perform.
Over 90% of adults say they experience stress or anxiety daily, and 74% say it's so great they feel unable to cope1. Add to this physical stress of training, injury, infection, or environmental toxins. Even certain foods can create stress on our bodily systems.
Some acute stress is helpful. However, chronic stress can be very harmful - even deadly!!
Here are ten things stress can cause and 12 ways to effectively combat stress:
Reduced Thyroid Function
Lowered Sex Drive
Irritability & Loss of Empathy
How do we fix this?
Exercise is more effective in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression than the top 5 antidepressant medications 2.
It might sound counterintuitive, but regular acute physical stress can significantly combat chronic mental stress. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety and depression3.
Exercise releases endorphins and gives you confidence which may help reduce your stress. During or immediately after training, be sure to use essential amino acids like AMINO SWITCH™ to accelerate recovery. AMINO SWITCH™ also contains the adaptogen Schisandra, which has been shown to increase energy and reduce stress.
You've probably heard the term 'LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE. Well, when it comes to stress, that is entirely true.
When you have fun and laugh, it's hard to feel stressed. Laughing has a natural lowering effect on cortisol (stress hormones) and increases serotonin (happy hormone). It also activates the Vagus nerve, which helps transport the serotonin from your gut to your brain.
One study showed laughing could help healing by activating the immune system, which could further reduce the effects of physical and emotional stress4. When we are stressed, it lowers our immunity which can result in increased inflammation and reduced recovery.
Try watching comedies or hanging out with people who make you laugh and enjoy life. Once you start, it can become infectious. 😊
Like laughter, singing also boosts serotonin and activates the Vagus nerve. This has a relaxing effect and has been shown to reduce tension, stress, and anxiety.
In one study, the music you enjoyed, because it brought back happy nostalgic memories, was the most effective at reducing stress markers.
So next time you're in the car on your way to or from work, belt out a tune you love at the top of your voice and watch your stress levels drop.
4) SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS:
People who live the longest, healthiest lives have two things in common: Purpose and community. Supporting friends and hanging out with friends and family can be stress-reducing.
One study showed men and women with the least social connections had the most significant levels of anxiety and depression.
However, pick your friends carefully and hang around people who support your goals and are genuinely fun to be around.
Many natural ingredients can reduce stress. Here is a list of the top 7 and the supplements you can find them in -
· Magnesium – ADRENAL SWITCH™ & ALPHA SWITCH™
This super important mineral is involved in over 600 bodily processes per day. It is critical for energy metabolism, nervous system relaxation, muscle recovery, energy, and so much more.
Nearly 75% of the population is not getting enough magnesium for their daily needs. Simply supplementing with magnesium citrate after exercise or before bed will profoundly benefit your recovery and lower your cortisol (stress).
· Ashwagandha – ADRENAL SWITCH™ & ALPHA SWITCH™
Known as the king of herbs. This Ayurvedic medicinal root has been used for centuries to help combat fatigue, reduce stress, and support energy. It is an adaptogen class of compounds that aid our mind and body adapt to stress.
Ashwagandha contains a natural compound called Withanolides that have been shown to lower cortisol (stress) and support natural hormone balance.
· Schisandra – AMINO SWITCH™ & ESTRO SWITCH™
This traditional Chinese medicinal berry supports qi (energy & life force). It elicits some of its benefits through liver detoxification. It is also an effective adaptogen (like ashwagandha) and improves how your body responds to caffeine by reducing jitters, improving energy levels and preventing an energy crash.
Schisandra needs to provide high levels of Schisandrin A like that found in AMINO SWITCH™ & ESTRO SWITCH™.
· Alpina galanga – COFFEE SWITCH™, THERMAL SWITCH™ & POWER SWITCH™
This unique alpine grown galangal extract has been shown to improve your tolerance to stress. It was voted 2019 innovative ingredient of the year and outperforms caffeine in focus and alertness scores without activating the central nervous system (without producing adrenaline or cortisol).
Alpina galanga will often be found in combination with caffeine or coffee, as it has been shown to amplify your body's response to caffeine by 30 – 50% and make it feel cleaner & longer lasting.
Alpina may also reduce adenosine in the brain. Therefore, preventing mental fatigue, tiredness and procrastination. It also boosts D2 dopamine receptor sensitivity, which helps combat stress by boosting mood.
The feeling of Alpina and Caffeine together is one of happiness, alertness and profound focus.
· Glycine – ADRENAL SWITCH™ & COLLAGEN SWITCH™
This non-essential amino acid has many benefits, including its tonifying effect on the nervous system. Glycine also helps support connective tissue recovery, immune response, and energy by supporting endogenous (internal) creatine production.
Like GABA, it has a calming effect if used after exercise or before bed. However, Glycine can be consumed before training, where it can help improve energy.
· L-Theanine – ADRENAL SWITCH™
L-Theanine is another non-essential amino acid with the ability to calm your body and brain. L-Theanine is found in green tea and has been shown to take the edge off caffeine (reduce jitters or anxiety) while promoting focus and elevating mood.
· Medicinal Mushrooms – VITALITY SWITCH™ & COFFEE SWITCH™
Medicinal mushrooms have been used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine systems for centuries. They are adaptogens that help support your body's response to stress. They're also great at lowering inflammation which could be causing chronic physical stress. Medicinal mushrooms like Shitake, Maitake, Turkey Tail, King Trumpet and Cordyceps support energy and immunity while fighting pathogens like viruses, bacteria, fungus etc.
6) GET YOUR MACROS & MICROS RIGHT:
Undereating or eating calorie-dense but micronutrient depleted food can profoundly affect your mental health, stress, and body fat levels.
Keep in mind 'FOOD CAN CHANGE YOUR MOOD'. Eating food that spikes and then drops your blood sugar levels can leave you exhausted, tired, grumpy, and hungry.
Being in a chronic calorie deficit can increase cortisol (stress hormone), slow fat loss, increase muscle loss, and increase inflammation and stress. Make your diet cyclical and have higher calorie days mixed in with your calorie deficit. Using KETO SWITCH™ between meals or during fasting on your calorie deficit days can reduce muscle loss, support brain function, and reduce hunger.
7) MEDITATION & MINDFULNESS:
We all know meditation and mindfulness are helpful ways of reducing stress. However, some people have difficulty clearing their minds when attempting meditation. Apps like 'Head Space' and others can teach you or guide you through meditation, which can be life-changing.
Cuddling, hugging, kissing, and sex can relieve stress by promoting the release of oxytocin and serotonin. These practices have been shown to lower blood pressure, heart rate and other emotional and physical symptoms of stress.
Chimpanzees also cuddle friends and family who are stressed, and it has the same hormonal response in our closest primate relatives.
9) YOGA & STRETCHING
Yoga is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that has been shown to lower stress and anxiety for centuries. Studies looking at Yoga's overall effects have shown it to boost mood and lower stress. It may be as effective at treating depression as some medications.
Slowing your breathing helps to activate the parasympathetic (rest, digest, relax & recover) nervous system. It is the opposite of the fight or flight sympathetic nervous system, which is activated by shallow quick breaths.
If you get into anxiety or panic, try 'Box Breathing'.
· Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds.
· Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
· Exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds.
· Hold the exhale for 4 seconds.
· Repeat 4 times.
11) GET A PET:
Pets are like cuddling. They help us release oxytocin and serotonin. However, sometimes pets are even better because they generally provide unconditional love in return, and the relationships are not as complicated as human ones.
Having a pet may also keep you active as you must exercise them daily, which is stress-relieving.
12) GET OUT IN NATURE:
Being in nature, surrounded by trees, mountains, lakes, streams or even on the beach, listening to the crashing waves is therapeutic and stress relieving. Part of the stress-relieving effect is due to our connection to the planet, and part of it is the disconnection from emails, social media and more which can increase stress.
Another part is the sunlight on our skin boosts Vitamin D, endorphins and oxytocin, which have immune-boosting, hormone-regulating and stress relieving benefits. Disconnect at least once a week and exercise in nature (not just in the gym or around the block). Breathe in the fresh air and take in the calming effects being away from the city provides.
There are so many stressors in our lives and multiple ways to help manage or destress. You need to consider what is stressing you the most and make efforts to remove these stressors from your life.
If you practice all the above techniques but continue to expose yourself to a stressful job or relationship, it is like trying to put out a forest fire with a garden hose. It will help but may not prevent all the adverse effects of stress.
Switch Nutrition aim to help people live healthier, more active lifestyles providing your body with all it needs to get the most out of each day with their wide range of products. Check out their range of products here.
One of the most apparent symptoms of stress is a lack of energy or enthusiasm. Getting a good night's sleep by having ADRENAL SWITCH™ before bed will be the number one place to start.
And when you wake up, try replacing your daily brew with COFFEE SWITCH™ for longer-lasting healthier energy!!
Disclaimer: The above article is merely a guide and is in no way a recommendation or a treatment protocol for any health conditions or diseases. You should always consult with a qualified healthcare provider before changing your supplement, training, or nutritional strategy. Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods must not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone consuming prescription medication or children under the age of 15 unless advised by a qualified healthcare provider.
Magnesium deficiency (or hypomagnesemia) is a common, yet often overlooked health issue. And if left unchecked it can lead to serious health problems.
While there aren't sufficient statistics here in New Zealand, in the United States around 2% of the population are magnesium deficient, while other studies suggest 75% are not meeting their recommended daily magnesium intake.
Magnesium deficiency can also be hard to detect, as the obvious signs typically don’t appear until your levels are unhealthily low. Serious health problems that can develop as a result of low magnesium include: diabetes, celiac disease, hungry bone syndrome and more.
To help you avoid running into these health problems in future, here are 10 signs you might need a magnesium pick me up this winter:
1. You Experience Muscle Twitching And Cramping
Do you experience constant twitches, tremors, or muscle cramps? According to scientists, these symptoms are caused by an increased flow of calcium into your nerve cells. This causes your muscle nerves to become over-stimulated. Supplementing with magnesium is a great way to help calm your over-excited nerves and relieve twitching or cramping.
2. Mental Health Issues
Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety can also be enhanced by a magnesium deficiency. Recent studies found that low magnesium levels came with an increased risk of depression. Scientists have also theorised that low magnesium may promote anxiety - although more research is required on the subject.
3. You Constantly Feel Fatigued Or Weak
Feeling fatigued or tired is another common symptom of magnesium deficiency. Fatigue can be defined as experiencing physical or mental exhaustion. We all feel fatigued from time to time, so you’re likely to have to experience additional symptoms before being diagnosed with a magnesium deficiency.
4. You Have High Blood Pressure
A variety of observational studies have shown that low magnesium levels along with a poor diet, can lead to a rise in blood pressure. Other reviews also found that magnesium supplements had positive effects in lowering blood pressure, which also reduces the risk of heart disease.
5. You’re Asthmatic
Interestingly enough, magnesium deficiency is often found in those with severe asthma. This is due to the fact that a lack of magnesium can lead to a buildup of calcium in the lungs - which constricts your airways and makes breathing more difficult. In some cases asthmatics are given an inhaler with magnesium sulfate to help relax and expand the airways.
6. You Have An Irregular Heartbeat
One of the more serious symptoms of magnesium deficiency is an irregular heartbeat (or heart arrhythmia). Patients who suffered from heart failure were shown to have lower levels of magnesium compared to healthy people. Treating heart patients with magnesium is also proven to help improve the health and function of the heart.
7. You Suffer From Migraines Or Migraine-Like Headaches
Multiple studies have shown that low magnesium levels in the brain can be related to migraines. This is because magnesium is needed for optimal nerve function in the brain. Taking magnesium supplements helps improve your nerve function and can lessen the likelihood of migraine attacks. Just remember to speak to your doctor if your migraines / headaches still continue.
8. You’re Having Trouble Sleeping
Magnesium can help relax the body and the mind, which helps you get a better sleep. It also helps the “GABA” receptors in the brain function properly. GABA is the neurotransmitter which allows the brain to reach a restful state.
9. You Have Weak Bones (Or Osteoporosis)
Osteoporosis is a disorder where your bones become weaker and are more likely to damage or fracture. Factors such as old age and lack of vitamin D and K are commonly associated with this disorder, however magnesium deficiency can also increase the risk of osteoporosis. As well as weakening bones, low magnesium levels can reduce the blood levels of calcium, which is also crucial for bone health.
10. You’re Pregnant
Often the higher the estrogen or progesterone levels in a woman’s body, the lower the magnesium levels. This commonly occurs during pregnancy. This is part of the reason why pregnant women experience more cramps and other muscular problems in the second half of their cycles - as during this time their magnesium levels usually drop.
How Much Magnesium Should You Be Taking?
According to the National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements, adult men should consume between 400g and 420mg of magnesium per day.
Women on the other hand should be consuming between 310mg and 320mg daily. It’s also recommended that pregnant women consume a higher dose than those who are not pregnant (as touched on above).
Need high-quality Magnesium?
Check out Sportfuel’s range of magnesium supplements today.
What does it take to achieve one's fitness goals? Of course, it takes the right fitness regimen and the correct blend of nutrients to support muscle growth and keep the metabolism functioning optimally. But is that really all?
Of course not! If all that was needed was a workout plan and the right diet, everyone would be walking around looking fit and trim, but that's simply not how it is. There is a third component to success at the gym - personal motivation.
What separates a person who is successful at the gym from someone who is not, usually comes down to motivation. If you want to see results, you have to be motivated to fight for them. That doesn't just mean being motivated to go to the gym and to follow your diet. It also means working out as hard as possible, not just phoning it in or dialling back when it gets difficult.
Unfortunately, our brains often become fatigued long before our bodies. Motivation is almost always responsible when we fail to follow through with our fitness goals. The good news is that there are ways to stay motivated and on track.
Here are five secrets shared by highly successful fitness enthusiasts that anyone can use to get on the path to workout success:
Set Realistic, Tangible Goals.
The best way to stay motivated is to constantly be working toward something tangible. Just saying, "I want to get stronger" isn't a clear enough picture of what you want to achieve for you to be able to celebrate success and stay driven along the way.
Instead, set a long-term goal for yourself and then break it into smaller goals. For example, instead of just "get stronger," you can say "I want to ultimately be able to bench press 315 pounds." Then, you can set a short term goal like, "I want to be able to bench press 280 pounds within the next 6 weeks." Once you reach that goal, you'll feel a sense of accomplishment. Then, you're ready to set a new one and keep progressing forward.
If you're completely new to exercise, consult a trainer for assistance with goal setting to ensure that you're placing realistic expectations on yourself.
Revisit Your Goals Regularly
Make time at least once per week to think about how you're progressing to your goals. In the above example, if you're 2 weeks in and haven't been able to increase the amount of your bench presses at all, you may need to reevaluate what you're doing. Do you need to work out more? Change your diet? What can you do to put yourself on the path for success? Also spend time thinking about why you want to accomplish your goal. What will improve when you're able to lift more or when you lose weight? How will it change your life? Staying focused on the benefits of achieving will help keep you engaged and motivated.
Recognize When It's Time for a Change
If you're revisiting your goals regularly, you'll be able to see when you've reached a point where you're just not progressing, or where you're struggling to stay motivated. In those situations, take the time to carefully evaluate what's wrong. Are you forcing yourself to do workouts that you're always going to hate or are you continuing to go to a gym where you don't feel welcome and relaxed? When the problem is what you're doing or where you're doing it, don't be afraid to change things up. Find a new gym. Experiment with a new workout. Discover what works for you. You'll be better motivated when you're working out in a way that you enjoy in a place that you look forward to going to.
Look at the Big Picture
Let's face it - it can be hard to do things for ourselves. It's much easier to fall into the trap of thinking that you could be doing more work at the office or getting more done around the house and start seeing time at the gym as "wasted." Don't fall into that mental trap, though! Reset your perspective by focusing on the big picture and how working out has a positive impact on your life. For example, regular exercise can improve your mental focus, so you're able to work harder and be more creative when you're at the office. It can also give you more energy so that you're better able to go home and cross the items off of your to-do list productively. When you focus on the overall benefits of exercise, you'll find that your level of motivation soars.
Take Full Ownership
This is the hardest and most important one! If you want to be motivated to achieve your workout goals, you have to understand that ultimately it's up to you whether or not you succeed.
When you're fatigued, bored or stressed, your mind will begin to play games with you. You'll tell yourself a million excuses for why you can or should skip a workout or why it's okay if you don't finish your full workout. These excuses will often place blame elsewhere. Your boss stressed you out, so you deserve a break. With all those activities your kids have, you're just too tired to go to the gym. Be ready for these tricks that your mind plays--and put a stop to them fast.
Don't shift the blame for skipping your workout on anything or anyone else. You're the one who decides what you do or don't do on any given day.
That's not meant to make you feel guilty; it's meant to empower you. Whether or not you succeed is entirely in your hands. You just have to put your mind to it and follow through.
Now that you know the secrets to stay motivated for success, you're ready to get on the path to accomplishing your fitness goals.