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How to Develop Your Mental Fitness

Picture this:


You are on vacation for the next couple of days. No distractions, no commitments… and yet, you wake up at 6:00 am for a 5k run. While on vacation.


Crazy, right?


 

You might wonder why anyone would choose to do that during precious leisure time.


Well, there’s a reason…

 


How you do one thing is how you do everything.

 


You can skip a few workouts and nothing will happen. But that's not the point.

This isn't about physical fitness. It's about mental fitness.


If you quit when it's hard, eventually you’ll quit when it's easy.

 

That’s why I work out on vacation. Get out of bed when it's dark outside. Keep the routine even when it is inconvenient.

Because that's how you build resilience (and as a bonus, a six-pack at 42 :-))

 

And resilience makes you unstoppable.


The importance of doing hard things


In his book "The Comfort Crisis", Michael Easter demonstrates how our sheltered, temperature-controlled, overfed, under-challenged life may be contributing to many of our most urgent physical and mental health issues. Dr. Peter Attia shares a similar discovery in his book about longevity, "Outlive."


The conclusion is the same: Being too comfortable is not good for us. We are meant to do hard things. Whether it’s for our physical or mental health, leveraging the power of discomfort can dramatically improve our health and happiness.


If you want to lose weight, you may feel hungry in the process.


If you want to get fit, your muscles will ache or you’ll be out of breath.


If you want to improve your mental health, you’ll need to answer some hard questions and work through painful emotions.




 

When you don’t do hard things you risk staying stagnant, and even worse, losing some of your physical and mental abilities.


And when we think about your career, avoiding things like hard conversations, speaking up, asking for what you need, or going the extra mile will stifle your growth.


If you have no desire to keep growing and increasing your impact and fulfillment, maybe this isn’t a problem for you.


But if you are the kind of person who wants to do and be more… Doing hard things should become a habit.


 


How to do hard things


Both Peter and Michael use Rucking (walking with weights on your back) to challenge themselves. Tim Ferris sleeps on the floor one night every month. Tom Bilyeu does intermittent fasting where he doesn’t eat for 3 days. I wake up at 6 am when it is still dark outside and go for a 5k run. Every week.


The kind of ‘hard’ doesn't matter, as long as it is hard for you.


To be honest, convincing yourself to do hard things it’s not an easy mindset shift to make. Our brains are wired to keep us comfortable where it is safe, they are not wired to push us towards growth.


But hey, that just means it’s a shift worth making, right?

 

Here are two types of reframes I have used throughout the years that have helped me do hard things:



1. "I’m the kind of person who…"


I am the kind of person who works out on vacation now… but it didn’t start that way. No, I was a couch potato for the majority of my 20s. For 3 years I tried to get into shape, but I couldn’t make anything stick. It was too hard.


And then in 3 months I hit my first 5k run.


What changed?


I started telling myself “I’m the kind of person who works out 3 times every week.” I didn’t believe it at the beginning, but over time I had to take action to justify this belief to myself. Not working out caused an identity crisis, so I had to do it to put my brain at ease, even though it was hard.

 


2. "If not now, then when?"


One of the excuses we all use when you want to avoid hard things is “I’ll do it tomorrow”, or next week or when… and the result is always the same. It never happens. We use procrastination to avoid hard things.



Whenever I’m in this situation I ask myself: if not now, then when?


The goal is not to get you to commit to a future date, it’s actually to question your excuse. It’s a reminder that there will never be a good time, so you might as well buckle up and do it. You are antagonizing yourself to prove yourself wrong.


This is how I convinced myself to:


  • Take my first cold plunge

  • Start a business

  • Workout on vacation

But more importantly, this is how you can keep challenging yourself and stretching the limits of what’s possible.


 

Your next steps


Doing hard things requires practice, but it’s a skill you can develop.


You can start with small things like keeping one promise you make to yourself this week or month. And as your discipline grows, you’ll eventually become unstoppable. You’ll do things most people dream of, but never achieve. And that is why it will be worth the effort.


I believe in you and I’m rooting for you.

Maya ❤️


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