Training is not just hard physically, it’s hard mentally. We all know that training our bodies is the right thing to do, it’s sticking to it long term or getting inspired enough to even start in the first place that’s the tricky bit.
Our bodies often trick us and tell us “It’s okay” to skip this one session, or cut that other session short, or over-indulge in something for three days in a row coz “We’re going to make it up” (which we never do). It’s a mental trap few escape.
Now, there are a dozen biological reasons why the body we need to live in plays this cruel trick on us and they all make sense from a Paleo Man point of view. In that environment, a hunter-gatherer’s existence revolved around his ability to take “time off” and let the pressure for a successful hunt, ease off. Seeing how time-off could only come during good times, when food was plentiful and there were no enemies to fend off it made sense for the body to hold this dialogue with the mind, giving permission to slack off.
We don’t need to hunt for our food anymore and there are no enemy tribes gunning for our territory and resources. So the incessant talk that it’s “okay” to ease off that the body has with our minds is a remnant of a world that no longer exists, which is why it works against us.
There is a solution to this predicament of course. The best way to deal with the caveman tendencies trapped inside our modern bodies is to inject a little superhero logic in there: We admire Batman because he does what no one else can: having no superpowers he picks himself up, dons his bat costume and gets out there, night after night, keeping the streets of Gotham safe. To do that he trains like no man has before. For him training is survival.
We love the Arrow because he fashions himself into a crime-fighting machine, using his body as a weapon. He is high on our esteem horizon not because he can shoot with a bow (which is pretty cool) but because, when faced with impossible odds, when he clearly cannot win, he simply picks himself up and fights on. He keeps on going regardless because, he does not want to quit.
These are all voices that can silence the body’s whisper that says “take it easy.” They are personas we can slip into that transform our purpose and change our minds. No one, doing a Batman Workout would dream of saying to himself “I am going to go easy today.” No Arrow workout has a “I am just cruising” mentality to it.
A little role-play when we exercise provides a different context for our minds to govern our bodies and that actually makes a whole lot of difference. So next time you think about exercise don’t think about what’s “good for you” physically, or how you need to shed a little weight or tone up a little muscle. These things will happen, sure, but they are byproducts. Think instead that today you’re Batman or Oliver Queen. That your city and people depend on you. That the odds you will face are impossible. That you must somehow persevere.
You will find the body’s insidious whispers in your mind, silenced. Your workout more intense than ever before. Your focus and performance, reaching new levels. You will also never have trouble training hard ever again.