Coaches’ Lockdown Blog 2.6 – By Eric Loya Wu
“Build. Improve. Achieve.”
Whatever your favourite slogan, changing yourself for the better is a shared goal of training at the gym. You may be aiming to change the way you look – maybe a little leaner or a little more athletic. You may be aiming to change the way you feel, whether to work out the stress of the day or to feel strong and capable. Or perhaps you have a competitive drive, and you train to change the way you perform. Maybe you want it all!
Without doubt, you’ll experience some level of change when you train. It’s impossible not to – your body is built to adapt. You’re constantly adjusting to your environment, and if you throw some high intensity exercise in there, change will happen. But at some point, change will slow or stop. In performance parlance we call this a plateau.A good coach will tell you to spend some time on recovery, change up your exercises, and ensure you’re working at a high enough intensity. These are all valid tactics, but I’m here to suggest another reason why you might not be seeing progress.
The real culprit for your plateau might be a limiting belief, or a limiting self-image, that is preventing you from taking yourself to the next level.
How can it be that your thoughts are halting your progress? You want to change, so what’s the problem? To put it simply, your body won’t change unless it must. It takes a strong enough push, happening often enough, to convince it. For example, when moving from sea level to high-altitude your body will adapt to the reduced oxygen in the air. You needn’t make any decisions nor put in any effort, the consistent influence of the environment gives your body the signal it needs to change.
Training is also a signal that prompts your body to change. But that signal is self-imposed ie. it won’t exist unless you decide to do it. That means the responsibility is on you to maintain the right amount of pressure and to be consistent.
And therein lies the difficulty. If you’re sending mixed messages to your body, change will be slow or non-existent. Moments of inspiration fade quickly – consider a 30 day clean eating challenge that evokes considerable change…only to see everything revert in the following months. Mental fortitude wears away over time; Many may start a squat or running programme but won’t work hard enough or see it all the way through.
Any change you experience will be fleeting until you integrate it as a new way of life, and the way to do that is to change your self-image.Look back at the example of living at high altitude – the environment presents a pressure, and you adapt. The transformation sticks, because the pressure is consistent.
When you change how you see yourself, that’s a change to your internal environment, to your subconscious thinking that accounts for more than 90% of your brain activity. You now see yourself as someone who looks, feels, or performs a certain way. You’ll find yourself taking actions and making decisions that both reflect and fulfil your self-image, forming a positive feedback loop. And now instead of straining to hold yourself in a place you don’t think you belong, you can’t imagine being any other way.
Training at the gym is an affirmation of your ability to transform yourself. The process isn’t always straight-forward, and is often a jumble of peaks, troughs and plateaus. Having a good training plan and coaches are essential to keep you moving toward your new self. But if you find you’ve gotten stuck, perhaps taking a look at the way you see yourself could give you some insight. A genuine shift in your self-image, your perception of your limits and capabilities, might be just what you need to take that next step forward.
Head Coach Eric