The Performance Mindset

The performance mindset that many of us use to prepare and perform for very specific events in our lives, like interviews, negotiations, and on the work tasks can also be used for our exercise.

Let’s face it, most people don’t like exercise. For those people the only way to get it to be less onerous, is to set up a routine / habit until it becomes as easy as brushing your teeth. This can take anywhere from about 3-8 weeks (depending on the study) and then you do it automatically. So you don’t have to focus on forever, focus first on just the next 3 weeks and it becomes much more doable as unbelievable as it sounds.

Even more important to get through this beginning time is the performance mindset. Set an aim and do what you can to enhance your performance. In the past I was impressed by the RESULTS of some studies on fasted workouts (not eating before a morning workout) and so never really thought implementing the concept of a pre-workout meal even though the bodybuilding community has used it for years.

Yet, when I tried and continued with a small carbohydrate meal of 15g of carbohydrates in the form of steel cut oats before my workout, with a small amount of caffeine from my morning green tea, my workouts have become much more enjoyable and I am lifting more and getting much better results because I am able to perform better, with a better state of mind, feeling stronger and doing more.

The point I am trying to make is not that you need a pre-workout meal like me but to focus on what will make your performance at the gym better by assessing your mental state (maybe something motivational on your phone), hunger / lack of fuel, and even clothes (don’t underestimate the role of a “uniform” and what it does to your mindset). You have to take an inventory of all of this. The bodybuilding community has always had this performance mindset in the gym, watch the classic documentary Pumping Iron with Arnold Schwarzenegger to see the mindset they had in the gym. When I lived in Santa Monica, I worked out at the World Famous Venice Golds Gym for about 6 months until the gym in my building re-opened. I was always amazed at the singular focus of the people there. There is a lot to be learned from the bodybuilding community.

So, the main point here is you might need a small pre-workout shake or small piece of fruit or oatmeal, you might need music or motivation, you might find special workout clothes to help, you might need a little caffeine, do what you can to make that time in the gym focused and with a high performance so that when you walk out you feel like you can give yourself a high five.

As always, it is about incremental improvement, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel like it some days, even the great Jack Lalanne, used to say it is not easy, “To leave a hot bed, to leave a hot woman and go into a cold gym.” But to give of your gifts in this world, your physical state is important, so take small incremental steps and focus on your performance and mindset and leave the results to themselves.

Published by

Jonathan Carp, MD

Dermatologist, health food entrepreneur, beach addict, and health teacher.