Mental Challenges

Today I’m mentally in a place I’ve never expected to be, but it has given me the opportunity to grow and evolve as a leader, a coach, a mentor, and as a father.  I set high expectations for myself by setting goals that I believe are a stretch but still manageable.

This time was no different than any other time.  I’ve planned, consulted, and worked with an expert to take my goal of gaining muscle, improving my strength, all while trying to maximize my fitness potential.  Ultimately, my internal drive was to gain muscle, and I’ve really struggled with this portion of my fitness journey.

Since April of this year, I’ve been working with a nutrition coach to hit my goals.  We have had a plan, adjusted as necessary, worked around the busy life of a business owner, a new second child father, and a semi-workaholic all with the goal of increasing my fitness for the open.

This started with a maintenance phase in my nutrition to see how much food I could be eating without seeing much physiological change while training remained the same. I also used this time to enjoy training again and recover from the month of the open workouts and recovering from the lack of newborn sleep. This took about 2-3 months of weighing and tracking. The second stage was a surplus stage, we added about 10% to my maintenance numbers with the intent for growth and a better chance of increase my strength and power.  

I reached the end of that cycle about two to three weeks ago where I started to balance out again.  This has all been planned with the intent of moving into a controlled long term deficit phase where my goal will be to maintain my new strength and power while attempting to lose some excess body fat, meaning by the time the open comes around this year I’ll be stronger and more fit for the tests ahead.  

Since I wanted to have a more clear idea as to where my body was in the process, I decided to test myself.  I got on the InBody excited to see how much muscle I’ve gained. As the results finalized and I started looking at the numbers sadness overcame me, some glints of anger, disappointment is where I settled because the machine just told me I didn’t gain a single pound of muscle and all the weight I added was either water weight or body fat. This wasn’t the change I had planned on seeing, and it put me in a terrible mindset. Doubt set in.  

I had spent a lot time, energy, resources, and money all to be in the same place as I had started.  In this instance I could have chosen many different paths for my mindset. A fixed mindset: if I’m going to put in all of this effort and not see the change I envisioned maybe I should just stop, cut my losses. A growth mindset: how can I learn from this experience, I’m going to be better, what were the positive outcomes I can perceive?  

I could have easily decided to be done, no longer pursue my long term goal of increasing my performance in testing my fitness because I missed what I expected to define my success of seeing a muscle gain. I had been so excited, half expecting certain results and it took a couple days of internal reflection to realize that I was still on my way.

My opportunity to learn and identify my growth came in checking other factors of my journey.  My strength had increased, my deadlift, back squat, press and many other weightlifting movements had gone up over the past 6 months.  My conditioning and performance during short and longer workouts maintained the quality I expected of myself. Finally, I saw a picture of my family 3 years prior with me weighting about the same I do today but showing a clear distinction in the tone and balance of my body.  I’m still disappointed in the scale reading, but I took the time to grow and see that I’m moving towards my goals even if part of the measurement process didn’t match up with expectations.

After you get disappointing news or results or you’re not quite heading in the direction you thought you were, do you fall into the trap of a fixed mindset, or do you take some time to see how you can grow?


Coach Carl

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