No doubt you have heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’, and in the performance world what you put in your mouth and ultimately your body really makes a difference to how well you perform. Knowing your macro and micro needs is important to optimum health and performance success. However, what we feed our mind is equally as important in terms of performance. What you put into your head is just as vital to a successful performance, in any field. So how do you monitor your mental macro and micro needs? How do you ensure that your ‘brain food’ is providing you with all of your mental nutritional needs?
A few years back when I filled out my amateur sponsored athlete profile sheet I was asked to provide a motivational quote. The very nature of who I am dictates that I have a bucket load of quotes in my head about various things like motivation (yes, I’m that annoying), and the quote that I used was by Bruce Lee,
‘Strength does not come from physical capacity it comes from an indomitable will’.
I’m sure you’ve heard of it.
Yeah I know, a Taekwon-Do practitioner choosing a Bruce Lee quote is pretty cliched but he’s not just a martial arts legend, he’s a beacon of light for people in general, and his philosophy towards motivation here is mental focus, which is the point.
Indomitable will. The unshakeable mental fortitude that you cannot be defeated or subdued. An egoless thought that you can win. You have to win in your own mind before you win in the ring.
You can train as much and as well as you want, eat healthy pure foods and still be vulnerable to a loss based purely on your mental attitude. Attitude is key. Remember the saying ‘whether you think you can or think you can’t you are right’? It’s that. And more. Just as you don’t suddenly wake up one day fat or fit, you don’t just suddenly wake up one morning and go from a state of mental negativity to one of positivity, you have to work at it. You have to munch on mental mangoes, not French fries (no offence to French fries, I love the French, Paris is my favourite major city in the world, Bonjour Paris, Je t’aime).
The things you consume every single day make big differences to your performance. Negativity perpetuates negativity and the same goes for positivity. A bad kick does not mean you are a bad Taekwon-Do practitioner. A loss doesn’t make you a bad athlete. Unless you constantly say that it does.
Arthur Ashe, legendary American Tennis player of old said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” In the Army, where you need incredible mental strength, they follow the 5Ps of “Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” and we’ve all heard, ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’.
Physical and mental preparation is key to success.
So let’s prepare our mind:
- Mix with the right people – you are who you hang with, don’t hang with naysayers and negative people because it will rub off;
- Use motivational quotes and signs – pin them around your bathroom, bedroom and have them constantly on your phone;
- Meditate – things like sleep, rest, yoga, hitting the beach, baths and shower, spending time with nature or your cat/ dog, that’s all meditation;
- Physical – Keep up-to-date with your training program, exercise releases endorphins making you feel good and who doesn’t love to feel good;
- Food – eat well, it makes you look good and feel sexy, SEXY!
- Visualisation – go step by step through a successful version of your event, from hours and minutes before it to the medal presentation;
- Gratitude – Being thankful keeps you in a perpetual state of positivity, everyday write down 5 or more things you are stoked about;
- Get it out – purge yourself of negative thoughts, write ’em down, get ’em out, rip ’em up, process the poor thinking right out of your mind;
- Positive Affirmations – write things down, type them up, use the 3 Ps – put it in the Positive, Personal, Present tense.
- Listen to Motivational CDs – Invest in Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, Stephen Covey, Norman Vincent Peale – WOW;
When I was working towards the world championships in 2012, I changed every single password I had (and there were a lot) to “Champion2012” to keep reminding myself of my potential (I told you I was annoying – and don’t think about hacking me, they have long since changed). I also regularly wrote down “I am a Taekwon-Do world champion”, on paper, in my phone, in my head, everywhere – but that’s not all I did – I also worked really hard on my physical self and my Taekwon-Do too, and clearly it all paid off.
What you eat and what you think will largely determine your success or failure, so get the right physical and mental macros and micros. Give yourself the greatest chance to succeed by consuming the good stuff, because you are what you think.