My trainer says this to me every time I'm within three-to-five reps of completing a set. And I'm exhausted. Last Saturday, I completed the "Filthy 25" (a modified cross-fit workout). I slashed three minutes off my best time. The butterfly crunches were easier. The hanging knee pulls were a breeze. I had done nothing special to prepare my body for the workout. I was just doing my homework.
So, where did those three minutes come from?
Why could I do it in 14.5 minutes last weekend, and 17.5 minutes the week prior? I've been thinking about it all weekend. I reached a conclusion: I don't think those last three pushups or handful of burpees are hard because your body can't do it.
It's because you tell yourself you can't. You tell yourself I'm going to give up at 12 reps because three more would be insane - and there's no one here to hold me accountable. That's crazy talk.
It's all in your mind - not your triceps.
Two weeks ago, I had never done the "Filthy 25". It was intimidating. I felt like I was going to throw up. I was surprised I did it in 17 minutes. But the important thing is that I did it. With one "Filthy 25" under my belt, I set out to do it again on Saturday - and faster.
I arrived at the gym at 7:10am. My triceps had been sore since Wednesday. I wrote my start time down and got to work. And I hit the wall: 25 jump pull-ups. What was I doing? I can't do that many pull-ups when my triceps are this sore? Maybe I should do the Filthy 20 because that would be easier.
And then it hit me.
It's not even about my body. My body has been conditioned to do this workout for months. I had to tell myself I could do it. My mind wasn't in the game.
I pushed through the remainder of the workout (the burpees still got me, but not as bad as last time). I was drenched in sweat. For celebration, I did 100 single jumps. Yes, I added to my workout because I shaved three minutes off. I wasn't finished. I could do more.
Why was this second time so successful?
I shaved three minutes off my time because of two things:
1. I put my mind (and body) up to the task
2. I'd already done it once, so I can do it again
What does this mean for you?
Once you put your mind to something you've already done before, things become easier. Tough conversations with family and friends, once unattainable goals, and other hurdles are able to be taken head-on. Don't dodge these events because you don't think you can do it.
Sometimes your brain is a lousy coach. Fight that urge. Don't eat that piece of chocolate cake - eat kale. Don't avoid telling your significant other how you feel - let it out. And finally, don't let your mind stand in the way of progress. Command your brain to do it.
Have you ever had to push your mind through a tough task? I'd love to hear about it. Leave a note in the comments below.