I plagiarized the title of this post from the book written by Ali Vincent of season 5 of The Biggest Loser who won the show after going from 234 lbs to 122 lbs over a six month period. What her story and her book taps into is an important principle of sport psychology – success starts in your mind.
Your thoughts and beliefs about who you are and what you can accomplish will either serve to propel you toward success or doom you to failure. For the longest time, my thoughts and beliefs about myself were, “I could never compete in figure. I don’t have the discipline to do it. I’ve failed so many times when I’ve tried to take my fitness to the next level, I just can’t do it.” That was what my inner voice said. On a subconscious level, I’ve also realized that the disbelief in my ability to accomplish that goal went even deeper. I believed that even if I followed a competition diet 100% percent and trained hard every day, I would still never look like a figure competitor. I just felt it wasn’t possible for me to be that person; not because I didn’t want to be, but because I didn’t have any faith or confidence in myself. It seemed too great a goal, an impossible dream that I was never meant to achieve.
The first step of any transformation is to start with your mind. The physical changes follow as a result of the mental changes you make. Set a goal and don’t play it safe. If you want to be the IFBB Bikini Olympia champion, then make that your goal. Post it somewhere you can see it, like your bathroom wall: “I AM THE IFBB BIKINI OLYMPIA CHAMPION.” Yes, it will seem ridiculous at first, and you probably won’t believe it, but every day, read it and say it to yourself. When you are lying in your bed at night before you go to sleep, spend a few minutes with your eyes closed visualizing yourself as who you want to be – see yourself on stage holding the trophy. Every night during competition prep, I would picture myself on stage – visualize how I walked, how I posed, how I looked, and how I felt. You can also use visualization and imagery to practice good habits. See yourself saying “no thanks” to booze at happy hour and eating the chicken and asparagus you brought to work while everyone else chows down on pizza. See yourself waking up at 5 AM and having a great workout. Research shows that mental rehearsal can be just as effective as physical rehearsal. If you’ve already mentally practiced making good decisions in difficult circumstances, when you are finally confronted with that circumstance in real life, it will be much easier to make the best decision.
There’s a quote I keep posted in my cubicle at work that says: “Successful teams do ordinary things with extraordinary consistency, commitment, and focus.” The same is true for individual success. Nicole Wilkins didn’t become the two time IFBB Figure Olympia Champion by magic and wishing. She became a champion because she does ordinary things (eating clean, training hard, drinking lots of water, getting plenty of rest) consistently over time because she committed to her goal and remained focused on it until she achieved it. People become extraordinary by doing the ordinary. You are no different. It will take time, probably much more time than you want it to, but if you don’t give up, you will get there. It all starts with believing that it’s possible and you have what it takes. If you don’t believe it now, then start brainwashing yourself. Read and say your affirmation/goal to yourself every day and visualize it in your mind every day – eventually, it will become your reality.
Chael Sonnen (#2 Middleweight MMA fighter in the world) talks about this in the short video below. I loved it, so I wanted to share:
I read another quote recently that really hit home for me too – “Hell would be meeting the man or woman you could have been.” Don’t settle. Spend some time thinking about and visualizing who you would be if you were the best possible version of you. Then persuade yourself that it is possible to become that person and create a plan to get yourself there.