Success is largely a result of the work I do in the gym, but I would say all the work I do out of the gym is equally important and at this point in my career (going into my 8th season as a competitive CrossFitter) maybe even more important. I have had to create certain habits that set me up for success.
In order for me to be successful in the gym, I want to keep up with certain habits pretty much everyday. I can get by once or twice with skipping them, but anymore than that and I quickly become a shit show.
On the other hand, when I keep on top of them, make time for focusing on certain practices(even if it means sacrificing gym time), I have the ability and mental fortitude to handle whatever gets thrown my way.
Here are my priorities
- Sleep is number one. My body needs 7 hours a night minimum, but really it prefers 8. For years I got away with 5-6 hours but that doesn’t cut it now. I have an agreement with my coaches that if I get less than 7 hours, I don’t come to the gym to train. This agreement helps me stay accountable and disciplined with my bedtime routine. No social media at least 30 min before sleeping and in bed at least 45 min before the time I want to fall asleep. Also, I try very hard to cut out caffeine after 12pm. This helps me to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep the entire night through.
- Nutrition and Hydration are next. I have to be intentional about eating and drinking enough b/c it is so easy to lose track during the day. I work with a nutrition coach who helps me stay accountable and I plan out my meals around my training on Sundays. I like to write everything out so I can see what my day looks like and this helps me plan accordingly to make sure I get all my macros.
- Journaling/Devotional Time/Meditation– Sometimes it’s a little bit of all three of these, sometimes it’s just one of these. Being still first thing in the morning, praying and staying in a place of gratitude for a period of time strengthens my head, my heart and my spirit. Writing my thoughts, my worries, my concerns, whatever is on my heart…takes weight off my shoulders. This practice lightens my load and helps me handle the adversity my day brings me.
- Mental Prep/Breathing Exercises– Prior to beginning a training session, I sit off by myself and focus on my breathing and what I want to accomplish in that training session. Sometimes I will visualize, but not always. I then go through a progression of stretches that help prepare me for my warm-up and my training session.
- Positive Self-Talk and Outer Talk– Being aware of my self-talk as well as how I talk to others is very important for me. Little negative comments or thoughts build up over time. By focusing on the positive, with myself and with others, I tend to stay more positive and encouraged when I am going through a tough training session or am on the struggle bus in a wod. Keeping my “positive” tank full will always pay off and help get me through tough times.
- Mobility– I came into the sport with mobility issues and it has long been a limiting factor for me. Getting older does not make this area better. So I have started devoting time nearly everyday to improving my mobility. It helps me move better, move faster, and it keeps me from getting injured.
These habits and practices take time out of my day, they require effort and discipline. But in the long run, they save me time, they make training more enjoyable and they increase my chances for success.
What do you do to set yourself up for success?
April Lowe is a competitive CrossFit Athlete (Master’s 40-44) who’s been pushing her limits in the sport for the past 8 years. She’s been to the CrossFit Games 1 time on a team, and 2 times as an individual. April loves sharing her life experiences and passion for fitness by blogging.
You can connect with her @cfaklowe on instagram and firstname.lastname@example.org!