Succeeding with a strong mind and body.

Most people have the innate ability to be successful. Sometimes it’s luck, but often time it’s how you develop, strengthen and find your mental and physical soul.

By Gregory R. Owens Sr.

This is a follow-up to my first blog ‘getting started with weight and fitness training is easier than you think’. Everyone knows someone who got started, but quit shortly afterwards because they lacked commitment for various reasons. Their next challenge will be to develop the mental discipline and physical strength necessary to become the person they always wanted to be.

I was lucky enough to spend most of my 38 years of military service operating as a Special Forces member along side the finest soldiers in the world. This experience required that I be mentally and physically tough, disciplined and spiritually awakened to endure the daily challenges awaiting me.  Some of my experiences included combat underwater operations in freezing water with limited visibility, conducting a night military freefall oxygen jump from over 13,000 feet, and carrying a 100+ pound rucksack with equipment and weapon for over 8 hours.

It wasn’t long after being a member of this elite group of warriors that I was tested to see if I had what it takes to not only survive, but to thrive in that competitive and dangerous environment. This challenge undoubtedly was the beginnings of my lifestyle change.

I hope that this blog to developing your mind and body will provide you with necessary information to understand how you can go about succeeding in your life when you might be required to dig deep and discover what you are made of as a person and to never give up.

The difference between successful and less successful people is the ability to channelize, prioritize, and focus on what is needed to accomplish your goals. Successful people never stop reinventing themselves, learning, and settling for just average results.

Know that age is simply a number you have to live with, but not the deciding factor on what you can’t get accomplished. As long as you never stop moving, thinking and believing, everything is possible.

Below are 2 focus areas that will allow you to be in control of your life, to be physically and mentally healthy, and strive to always get better.

Mental training and toughness

Do not be afraid to be  scared. A lot of people try to act tough by saying that they aren’t scared of anything. Every parachute jump I made while in the military I was scared, not terrified, but scared. Being scared forced me to be focused on the task at hand, and to respect the entire process. When you bury your fears, you are burying your self-doubt. To be mentally tough, its ok to face your self-doubt.

Visualize yourself successfully completing any task over and over again. By using visualization you are training your mind for what is to come. Whatever goal you’re trying to achieve, visualize yourself persevering, getting over obstacles, shutting out your inner critic, and ignoring the naysayers.

If you “see” yourself overcoming these hurdles beforehand, when you actually come across them in real life your mind won’t have to decide at that moment what to do. It will already know to keep going regardless of circumstances, because that’s what it’s been trained to do.

You are winning in your mind in order to win in the gym, or in the game of life.

Do not settle for doing only the things you are good at or comfortable with doing. Part of developing mental toughness is to succeed at the things which usually makes you uncomfortable. Becoming good at things which sucks strengthens your resolve.  Progression is an important part of training, applying any challenging stimulus to your life will give you a greater ability to handle the many stresses you will have to encounter. In the end all of this teaches problem-solving and critical thinking skills, all of which can help you tough out anything.

Physical strength building

An important facet to beginning strength training is to determine your goals to where you want to be at any given future time.  Athletes and ordinary people of all ages in their journey to self improvement must prioritize character development, injury prevention and performance enhancement while training, under the close guidance of positive role models and competent trainers and coaches.

Physical strength training is a matter of proper function, which I categorize as “function first”.

Functional movement is the foundation of injury prevention and performance.  If you are unable to move properly due to dysfunction or asymmetry, your optimal performance will be lacking and your risk of injury will drastically increase. Understanding functional movement will keep you in the game, satisfied with your progress and out of your doctor’s office. Becoming a student of the art of strength training will greatly assist you as you move forward.

Approach your training as a comprehensive package:  A quality strength and conditioning program is much more than just lifting weights or running. Although functional strength training is a critical component of all successful programs, a comprehensive approach is necessary to achieve maximum results. Mobility, corrective exercise, power/ speed/ agility, energy system specific conditioning, skill development (ability to perform with proper technique), nutrition, adequate sleep and hydration are also key factors. If any of these facets are lacking, you will have a difficult time reaching your full potential.

As noted earlier, it is crucial that a training program be in-line with your individual goals. People often lose sight of why they dedicate so much time and effort to training by focusing far too much on ego driven numbers. Although noticeable gains in the weight room are a welcome result of physical development, the ultimate goals of a program should be to prevent injury, maximize performance and reach your personal goals. Every second of every session should have a specific purpose that is in-line with these objectives!

Place a strong emphasis on proper technique and skill development by implementing scientifically proven training methods and programs.
Place an additional focus on daily demands and your functional needs. Focus on meaningful components of performance connected to individualized goals, including functional strength, power, speed, agility and conditioning.

Incorporate nutrition, hydration and sleep components to expedite your recovery and maximize your performance.

Cross the finish line

“Crossing the starting line may be an act of courage, but crossing the finish line is an act of faith. Faith is what keeps us going when nothing else will. Faith is the emotion that will give you victory over your past, the demons in your soul, and all of those voices that tell you what you can and can’t do and can and can’t be.” John Bingham