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Feb 9, 2012

On Staying Positive

One night during a weekday workout, I found myself pitted through a series of challenging bleacher exercises...

The dread started with quad punishing bunny hops to the top of the bleachers and down. Next, I was met with a harsh set of 20 Mason twists at the base of the first set of stairs. Follow with an all-out sprint up the next set of steps and down, 20 dips on the stadium seats waited for me to do with yet another backbreaking bleacher sprint. What followed? Only 20 grueling elevated push-ups to start the last excruciating sprint. 20 plyo jumps later, I was slated to rinse and repeat for another 7 times!

I try my damndest to move through the flow of exercises without stopping or cheating on the sets, yet the acid in my legs sends thoughts to my brain with flashbacks of Rocky training for Apollo Creed. "You're a BUM," I think to myself. Muscles spaaazz and quiiiiiver. Breathing turns into gasps and grunts as I hurl obscenities into the bleachers. "Why am I doing this to myself?" I question my motivation to finish out the set and whether or not I really know my limits. Why did I choose these exercises to do right now when I could be eating, sleeping, or otherwise getting comfortable on my couch. I begin to wonder if I really have time to do these workouts at all. My lungs are on fire, legs like Jello, and the breath in my mouth is visible frothy foam. For a few moments I even hate training. But then I realize something....I'm only just resisting.

In realizing the resistance, I get it--and I finally let go, smiling into the pain. I know exactly who's doing this to me. It's because:
  1. I'm in the class.
  2. I know I'm capable of strength.
  3. I can stop anytime I choose--on my own volition.
In reality, I'm doing a set of exercises that I've done over and over already--I know I can do it better. I continue on to let it all go as I allowed the pain to become my teacher.

This was a huge lesson for me. There have been times when I let negativity cloud my judgment because I'm feeling either tired, unmotivated, or otherwise sapped for morale; times especially in the early weekend mornings when I think to myself, "GUH, I didn't get enough sleep. I've got other things to do. They'll hardly miss me. I'm too tired. I partied too much last night. I won't make my goal anyways. Its cold out. (Insert excuse here).

I've been crazy to think, "Why am I doing this to myself? Why do I have so much to do? Why should I keep trying? Shouldn't people know that I have a life too?"

Now I get it. The truth is I do this to myself because:
  1. I'm in the class.
  2. I know I'm capable of strength.
  3. I can stop anytime I choose--on my own volition.
I do it to myself. Developing a positive attitude is only one piece of what it takes to be a champion competitor. Along with skill, talent, drive/mental toughness, discipline, patience and a myriad of other things--positivity is one of those pieces that is worth the effort.

Here are some things you can focus on to remain positive throughout this season:
  • Focus less on the external factors (placements, beating this team or that, etc.)--instead focus on what you can control; you control your attendance, your workouts (and the quality thereof), the  company you keep, and how you view yourself in it all. Your thoughts, speech, beliefs, actions, and attitudes create the picture part of your life. Draw it well.
  • Attitude with gratitude--Even when life is miserable, small, good things happen--sometimes only fleetingly--that not only make life livable, but meaningful. Being receptive of the small, medium, or large moments of pleasure reminds us to be grateful and leads to familiar "things could be worse" reminders. Show gratitude to yourself for having perfect timing on that last set, finally getting down the feathered recovery, being able to do 10 consecutive push-ups--however small or large, be grateful for those growing moments.
  • Take it personal to be the 0.1 second difference in a race. Nuff said there.
  • Be here now--mulling over mistakes, misfortunes, or missteps in the past prevent a person from truly living in the present and can hinder the growth of a positive attitude. Worrying about the future in how you'll do and the good or bad events yet to come wastes valuable "now" time. That's why the turtle master from Kung Fu Panda (Master Oogway) was so wise when he quoted saying "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present."
  • Make your positivity infectious! People who have positive, happy attitudes seem to exude positivity from their pores. A person with a positive attitude can help lift and impact others in need. Pay it forward Space!
"A man is but the product of his thoughts.
What he thinks-he becomes" -Gandhi