How to Get Mentally Tough

The 3 Questions

It's incredible how something so small can lead to massive, lasting changes. Things as simple as drinking more water each day, or only buying food that will wilt and go bad in a few days are just two examples of how to eat healthier.

Adding a day or two of sprints or even taking a day or two each week to NOT workout are some examples of simple concepts that will make you're training better.

What about your mindset though?

You're mindset is the often overlooked aspect of living a healthier and livelier life. It's not as sexy as saying "do crossfit 12 times per week!" or as controversial as "eating whole eggs will cause your unborn babies to develop AIDs!". But your mindset, the way you perceive things, is the leader or your actions. Wherever your mind goes, your body will follow.

So how do we fix this? Where do we focus our attention to quickly and efficiently change our mindset for the better?

Ask questions.

Just like a toddler who is learning about the world, you should be questioning damn near everything you hear. At the very least you need to be asking the following questions during almost every interaction or after every thought you have.

Says who? What's that? Why?

How long ago was it "common sense" that eggs were bad for you? How long after that did it turn out the it was "just the yolks" that were bad? Now what about red meat...bad or good? It depends on what time period you're thinking about.

Take it back even farther...it's "common sense" that humans physically can not run a mile in under 4 minutes. It's also proven science that if a woman plays sports her uterus will fall out of her body.

What's changed since then? Someone asked the question.

"Steve...you can't run a mile in under 4 minutes! If you get close you'll die!"

"Ladies go bake a pie because if you try to dribble a basketball your precious little uterus will fall out and get blood all over the hardwood floor!"

Both of these are just matters of perception. They were perceived to be facts until someone decided that they had enough and asked the questions. Perceptions screw with people when they willfully ignore the full story or refuse to put the facts together.

Here's an example...a cat. Is it a cute and cuddly pet or is it a cold blooded killer?

Well it depends on your perception of, or how you perceive, the cat. Are you the person who the cat decides to cuddle up next to or are you the mouse who was chased and then killed by the cat?

What about Santa Claus? When you were a kid it made complete sense that a fat man would slide down your chimney (regardless of if you even HAD a chimney or not) and leave you presents. When you get older you get more facts and the way you perceive the idea of this fat man conducting a breaking and entering on every house in the world in a single night seems a tad unrealistic.

Yeah, right here, now it may seem fucking impossible to deadlift 500 pounds. But who says you can't? Why can't you? When you are able to answer these questions and realize that the answer is "because I'm a pussy that's afraid to work" it becomes easier to hit that goal because you want to prove yourself wrong.

Right now it seems that there is no way that you'll ever be able to figure out the right way to eat that will let you stay lean and still have a social life. Again, after you ask yourself why, who says that and why they say that, you'll see that you're well within reach of doing that.

As soon as you realize that you can take control of the food you put in your mouth, your perception changes.

As soon as you realize that you can work towards any goal that you choose and that you're in control of what direction you choose, you will find the journey to fantastically enjoyable and you'll actually see it through.

4 Real Steps to Be More Confident

The most recognized quality of an Alpha Male/Female is confidence. It doesn't matter how awesome you are in every other aspect of life, if you're not confident then you're not Alpha. That's it. Want proof? Go to a dance club and look at every douche in there. Most of the people who you'll see will be supremely confident in themselves, but may not necessarily be an Alpha.

Now, these tips won't make you an Alpha. I can guarantee that just by doing them that you will be feel, and most importantly, be more confident.

Talk Louder

Not screaming, just louder. When you're walking down the street and someone randomly says "hi" how do you respond? With a quick and quite "hey..." that they can barely hear/understand or with a "Hey. How are you?" that could easily be heard and understood a few feet away.

It's the same concept when you're having regular conversation with someone. When you make it so the other person has to lean in, strain to hear you, and ask you to repeat yourself over and over it makes it look like you aren't confident in what you're saying.

When you look like you're not confident in what you're saying, you look less confident overall. When this happens people will automatically discount your opinions.

If you're wrong then so be it. But don't let your opinion get brushed to the side because you're afraid to speak up.

Put Your Shoulder Blades in Your Back Pockets

Time to get physical. Stand up, pinch your shoulder blades together, and then push them down like you're trying to put them in your back pockets.

What just happened?

You're standing up straighter than you usual do and your chest isn't caved in anymore. This is the look of someone who is confident and strong.

Hell...it'll even make you look a few inches taller. Guys, don't lie, you know you're always looking to gain an inch or two.

The best part about this one isn't that you look more confident, but that you actually FEEL more confident. Physical actions can trigger emotional responses just like emotional responses will trigger physical actions.

Go look in a mirror and alternate between smiling and frowning. If you pay attention to your feelings, you can actually feel yourself become a bit happier when you smile and sadder when you frown.

Chin Parallel to the Ground

Why do Soldiers and Marines look supremely confident when they're in their dress uniforms?

Because most people are conditioned to see those uniforms and think "whoa...that dude's bad ass". Wearing a military dress uniform isn't something everyone can do.

Raising your chin and keeping it parallel to the ground is something that you CAN do though. This goes hand in hand with the point before this, and creates a physical presence that says "I'm confident, I know it, I got this."

Or for some it screams "I'm sexy and I know it." Really it all just depends on your style...

Move and Talk Slower

Moving and talking slower are things that are so simple and unassuming that most don't even think that they would help them out.

When you get into a conversation and start rattling off sentence after sentence at a pace so fast that people have to work to listen to you. Add in that most people are lazy and they won't do the work to listen to you babble.

Speaking slower projects a calm confidence that people will cause people to somewhat enjoy listening to you. Just think of Morgan Freeman narrating anything...

Moving slower has the same effect. Unless you're playing a sport, moving fast gives the impression that you're either a) in a rush to get somewhere or b) that you're nervous.

Both of these will essentially tell whoever you're talking to that you'd rather be someplace else. No bueno...

Man in Suit

Lamest Workout Ever

This workout is NOT sexy... This workout is NOT new... This workout is NOT fun... This workout would make a horrible YouTube video... If you're intrigued, click-through to find out more about one the most effective builders of strength, stamina, and character.

Congratulations... you're not one of those people who is doing a certain exercise because it looks cool or sexy. That, or you see the errors in your thinking and are looking to turn the corner.

You spend a good amount of your time working on your strength and building your speed. If you're on the right track already, you're doing all of this with movements that work the entire body at the same time.

Nobody cares if you can leg press 1000 lbs. That's about as impressive as riding a tricycle.

Are you ready for this secret workout that is the lamest you'll ever come across? Good...here it is.

Ruck March

Or backpacking. Or hiking. Or loaded carries. Whatever you want to call it.

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Here is the gist of it...

Step 1) Find something, or somethings, heavy

Step 2) Put heavy things in a bag

Step 3) Put bag filled with heavy things on your back and then walk.

"But if it's that simple it can't be effective!"

Bullshit. Go walk a mile with 20 pounds in your pack. Too easy? Bump the weight up to 30 pounds. Still too easy? Make it for 5 miles.

Just from that simple walk you'll get stronger traps from taking the brunt of the load on your shoulders. You'll strengthen your abs and lower back as you sway with each step, and stabilize yourself so you don't tip over. You're upper and middle back will strengthen as you flex and adjust to keep the pack balanced and centered.

Just from picking up the pack to shoulder it you'll see more strength in your legs, shoulders, abs, traps, and back.

Now walk. Feel your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes getting stronger as they carry your body plus the extra weight. You don't even need to run. Walking at a pace where you can talk will be difficult in no time.

Start low and light. Like I said, 20 pounds is more than enough for your first ruck. If you're completely out of shape I'd even say go lower. Each week you'll make improvements, so don't feel like you need to go ruck across town and back with 50 pounds of gear.

Make it your Saturday ritual. Grab some coffee, put the leash on Fido, head out the door and just walk. Hell, make it a couples thing if your girlfriend is into this sort of thing.

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All of those douchebags who say that they are training like a Navy SEAL or a Green Beret, aren't. Grab a heavy pack, go for a walk, build your body. But more importantly build your character, become the most mentally tough version of yourself that you can be.

Don't quit, keep moving.

Ice Baths: Shrinkage is Only a Temporary Side Affect

Jumping into an ice bath is never the first thing on anyones mind. After a hard workout, nothing feels better than just laying there and doing nothing. But, sometimes it's not really the best thing to do. At some point you will feel the need or want to take a bit more of a proactive approach to recovery. Some of you might choose massage, some a hot tub and others still a sauna. These are all great methods. If you don't have the money to drop on occasional massages and/or your gym doesn't have a hot tub or sauna you're kinda screwed.

For the intrepid folks the other option...as I'm sure you've been able to guess by now... is ice baths. Check out a "quick" sneak peek of report I put together on ice baths and how you can use ice baths to help you in a variety of areas.

Ice Baths...A Quick History Lesson

If you take a second and think about it, hot showers are a recent comfort of our society. Just like agriculture, air conditioning, automobiles and all the other every day comforts we take for granted. If you're a paleo, or paleo-ish, diet follower, this approach is familiar to you. You don't eat grains because, for the most part, our early ancestors did not eat grains either. At least not in the mass amounts that some people think you need to. You also, more than likely, fast every now and again because it's an easy form of calorie restriction and because our early ancestors didn't have the opportunity to eat at whim.

The water heater wasn't even invented until the late 1800s (1870 according to a quick google search). So what did everyone do before then?

They manned (and womanned) the fuck up and cleaned themselves in lukewarm or cold water. The only lucky ones who were able to take the lukewarm to warm baths were near the tropics. All of us other unlucky bastards farther north and south had to deal with chilly to down right freezing water most of the year.

Some people, bless their hearts, adapted and WELCOMED this experience. Most notably the Scandinavians who practiced "avantouinti"…ice hole swimming. Most will probably look at this behavior as absolutely 100% bat sh*t crazy, but look at the observed benefits:

  • Improves cold resistance
  • Reduces aches and pains
  • Relieves stress
  • Creates alertness and focus
  • Relaxing/helps you sleep better
  • Assists in fat loss

How many of these things are you trying to accomplish? Most of these things, if not all of them, are goals that everyone who is trying to better themselves through fitness and/or nutrition is trying to accomplish. So let's take a deeper look into each of these benefits…

Ice Baths Improves Cold Resistance

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This one is obvious, but don't discount it just yet.

Becoming more resistant to cold is accomplished through a process called "hormesis." Mostly this phrase is used to describe the body’s ability to create a resistance against a certain toxin by being repeatedly exposed to low doses of the toxin (similar to a vaccination). By exposing your body to low doses of certain stresses you build up a tolerance, or a resistance, to those stresses. Strength training, endurance training, speed training, calorie restriction, stretching…all of these are forms and approaches to hormesis.

True, you may not have to worry about enduring the cold for too long, but do you strength train because you might have to build a log cabin for your only shelter someday? Do you fast because you have to ration your food to make sure you survive for as long as possible?

No. You don’t. You do these things to prepare yourself for life and to be the one in control. If you haven’t dealt with self-imposed stress, how do you expect to deal with it when you have no control over what is causing the stress?

Being able to withstand the cold is easily one of the most accurate indicators of mental toughness. If you can willingly subject yourself to a cold shower or an ice bath when you know that a hot, steamy shower is only a few seconds away, then you have an amount of mental toughness that most people will never experience.

For athletes who play outdoors this mental toughness is mandatory to be successful. Ever see the Packers play at home on a playoff run? Don't tell me these guys aren't mentally tough and focused on their goal.

For the everyday person this amount of mental toughness may not be necessary, but do you really think it would hurt to have it? Mental toughness is a precursor to success in every aspect.

Ice Baths Reduces Aches and Pains

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Any athlete knows the importance of reducing the aches and pains of daily grueling practices. If you can't recover from the practice on Monday you're more likely to perform well below your abilities on Tuesday and very possibly could be sitting on the bench by Wednesday.

Nobody wants that. That's why ice baths are common among all professional sports, 99% of college sports and a decent amount of elite level high school sports.

The reason behind the pain is simple: excess pressure. After an intense training session or practice you feel pain and discomfort because of micro trauma in the muscles you used throughout your training session. This micro trauma has to be healed, so your body reacts just like it would if you broke your arm or hit your head…it increases blood flow and the presence of fluid around the injury. The increase in blood flow is to help flush any waste products and to introduce nutrients and other elements to promote healing. The swelling is meant to immobilize the injury to prevent further injuries to occur. This extra fluid is what causes stiffness and soreness in your muscles.

Since micro trauma isn't nearly as serious as a broken femur, most people are able to train through the discomfort. The stiffness caused by the extra fluid means they are not able to train at or near 100% but are still able to get by.

When using an ice bath for recovery you mitigate this extra fluid from being present in the muscle and ease the amount of stiffness and soreness felt after an intense workout. The cold water causes the blood vessels in the submerged body part (usually the entire lower body) to constrict and limit the amount of blood flow able to get to the body part. This keeps the extra fluid out and immediately eases the pain felt from the micro trauma in the muscles.

After you get out of the ice bath and your body begins to warm back up the blood vessels will dilate and go back to their normal size. This change from constricted to dilated will cause more blood to rush through the vessels. This new “flush” of fresh blood will transport any nutrients, minerals and building blocks to the damaged tissue so it can begin repairing itself, and at the same time, more efficiently transports any waste away from the muscle to be taken care of by the body.

This is just like putting an ice pack on a sore muscle to ease the pain. Except now you're able to cover a larger surface area and keep the temperature consistent. When you use an ice pack it is generally accepted that you shouldn't leave it on for more than 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes is over and you remove the ice pack the temperature of the muscle will almost instantaneously begin to rise.

This is because ice packs only effectively treat surface level pain. Only the blood directly next to the surface of the skin, in the capillaries, will cool down significantly. Think back to biology 101, how big are the capillaries compared to veins and arteries? In case you don't remember or don't feel like looking it up, they are incredibly small. The amount of blood you can cool using an ice pack is miniscule. Just like in the ice bath, when your body is exposed to cold, it automatically constricts the blood vessels where the cold is being applied. This reduces the amount of blood that is actually able to be cooled by the ice pack even more and essentially makes it only useful to treat shallow pain.

Now think about sitting submerged in cold water up to your hips, or even just your knees. This covers much, much more surface area than any ice pack ever could. More surface area means more blood being cooled as it passes through the capillaries and more cooled blood passing through your sore muscles means better recovery and less pain.

Now what?

Is your interest piqued? Let's hope so. Head over here to sign up and get "Iced Out!", a 27 page report on more than you'd ever think there was to know about using ice baths and cold water therapy to your benefit.

Who knew ice baths could be so fun????!!