The first post I ever published on any ZaroSports site was called “It’s All About the Story.”
My point—and one of the enduring goals of ZaroSports Strength Training—was that OUR gym will give you a life worth living; that we want our members to go and DO stuff with their fitness. We love having you do 5ks and marathons; Spartans and Strongman; the “bucket list” stuff, like skydiving and Gran Fondos. We can get you ready for any of it. That doesn’t mean those things won’t be scary. If you’re doing the NYC Marathon this weekend, the nerves will probably start kicking in right about…..wait……waaaaaaiiiittttt….now.
Here’s how I’ve learned to lean into the scary stuff, embrace stress and live a better life:
First, understand that your body doesn’t know the difference between fear and excitement. They feel the same. When you start getting anxious before an event, ask yourself: “Am I actually scared, or am I just excited?”
As adults, we’re not excited often. Our body’s default response to increased blood pressure, elevated heart rate and surging adrenalin is fear. Then we fall into a downward spiral and get scared when we should really be excited. I should know it happens to me a lot and I’m constantly aware of it.
If you’re an athlete you know how those last few moments or seconds feel in a close game, we feel nervous and excited but fear feels just the same so we have to channel that energy and let the ice water run through our veins. We must go into attack mode and be willing to take over those moments.
I know that anticipation is worse than the event.
Our fear of what might happen is always way out of scope from what actually happens. Our lizard brain takes over and our minds go to the worst-case scenario, and we run at max heart rate for three days before the event. When the event actually starts, we’re exhausted from replaying the possibilities over and over! We’ve already done the whole event—with every catastrophe included!—78 times!
Waiting, deliberating, anticipating—they’re always worse than doing. If you can choose when to start The Hard Thing, choose to start it right now. Skip the hard part.
Put the event in perspective: Will you actually remember this in a year?
If not, it’s not worth stressing about.
If you WILL remember the event a year from now, it’s REALLY worth doing.
Life is a series of moments. I often joke that “anxiety is my cardio.” These standout moments—not the daily rhythm of eating breakfast and shaving—become your story. Any story without these moments is boring. Take it from someone who tells stories for a living: Every time you go through a painful break-up, every time you grind your gears to dust on a steep climb, every time you stay up all night in fear—they’ll all make a great story that will help someone else. In the end, these are the things that matter most. Lean into them.
Inspiration provided by Chris Cooper at Catalystgym.com.