Excerpted from Chapter 6 of "Pretty Intense: The 90-Day Mind, Body and Food Plan That Will Absolutely Change Your Life" by Danica Patrick and Stephen Perrine.
Intensity is a principle that has guided and informed me throughout every aspect of my life. Living a Pretty Intense life means living to the fullest, body and mind, every single day. I try to do everything with intensity -- meaning without distraction, without self-focused doubt or fear, without the need to seek approval from others. The first part of this book was designed to help you capture that mindset, to bring your dreams and aspirations into focus and help you carve a path toward realizing them. Bring that intensity to your career, your relationships, your hobbies, your entire life. The perspectives and tools you discovered in the first few chapters will help you become stronger above your shoulders.
Having a clear set of goals for your life is the first step toward improving your physical fitness. If you don't feel like your life is on the right path, it's going to be hard to dedicate yourself to a workout program and stick to it; when you doubt yourself, you doubt your decisions and your choices. No wonder it becomes easy to question whether you need to go to the gym today, or to cheat when the workout starts to get tough.
So building mental and emotional intensity and intention is the first step. That is why you did so many exercises to test your hopes, dreams, and mental and emotional dedication. This chapter is about bringing that intense mindset into your workouts -- to start building strength and endurance below the shoulders, too.
These are the tricks I use to push through tough workouts and keep myself motivated to hit the gym each day.
It's Hard to Work Your Ass Off, But It Works Your Ass Off
Have you ever gone to the gym and seen people marching along on a treadmill or stair climber while watching the TV? Or sitting on a bench doing wrist curls while chatting up a cute member of the opposite sex? Maybe that person was you.
That's a fine way to burn an hour or so, but it's not going to burn very much fat. It's not going to make you stronger, sculpt your body into the shape you want it, or build overall health and endurance. It's not a workout. Exercising with distractions is not exercising with intensity, and it's unlikely you'll see the results you truly seek. Workouts are work. Otherwise, they'd be called chill-outs. That's what I do when I walk the dogs. And the success of a workout can't be measured by how long it took you or how much sweat you pumped out. It's measured by real progress -- how much longer you can sustain your effort, how much more you can lift, how much faster you can go and by how much of the time you spend outside your comfort zone.
Get Comfortable with Discomfort
The bottom line is this: If you want to get in shape you are going to have to push past your comfort zone, all the time. Yes, you will still burn calories doing something that doesn't make you feel like you want to lie down on the floor at the end of a workout (which I do about half the time, by the way), but you won't achieve what you really want. I am guessing what you really want is a lean, strong, and well-performing machine.
Your mind is a very powerful thing, and it's going to be your biggest weapon in your quest to look and feel amazing. The key is to convince yourself you can handle it (because, yes, you can!). The more confident you are stepping outside your comfort zone, the more comfortable you'll be with discomfort. Here are some common ways your mind will try to go rogue on you, and how to bring it back into line so you can keep heading toward what you want.
THE PAIN: Feeling as if you just don't want to exercise today.
PUSH PAST IT: Remind yourself about the last successful workout you had. Remember how strong and in command you felt afterward. Drive toward capturing that feeling again.
MANTRA: I will thank myself when I'm done.
THE PAIN: Feeling frustrated or exhausted, like you want to quit in the middle.
PUSH PAST IT: Remind yourself why you're working this hard: Go back to the goals and dreams you filled out on pages 65 and 85.
MANTRA: If I want something I've never had, I am going to have to do something I've never done.
THE PAIN: Feeling like you're pushing yourself too far -- you're too uncomfortable.
PUSH PAST IT: Emotionally detach. Most exercise pain is mental, not physical, so try to absorb the pain as nothing more than information -- because that's exactly what it is. It's information telling you you're moving toward your goal.
MANTRA: What doesn't kill me makes me stronger.
"Pretty Intense" releases on Tuesday.