Iron Clad Ben wrote:
Hey dude, first off, mads up for giving it a go, hitting the gym hard and watching what you eat. Takes a lot of courage and resolve to make a big change like that.
Ditto! This is big stuff, especially when you're essentially planning on overhauling your entire physical identity since your youth. That's major. Give yourself a break for not doing it right away, most people have to ease into that kind of thing in stages. I know I did. You've already made some big changes even though you may not be able to see them: you've been able to stand back from your situation and make a choice. You've been able to identify what you want and decide what you're willing to do to get there. You've put the time and energy and focus into doing just those things. You've educated yourself as you've gone along. You're smarter now and you have a much better understanding of your body. And, hey, you're a genius for coming here
Something to consider...and this may not apply to you. It applied to me and others I've known. Do you still see yourself as "big and out of shape?" (Choosing Sasquatch for a nom de plume may be a clue.) Mental framing is huge and professional athletes hire trainers just to teach them how to focus. I happen to be one of those trainers, so here's a free lesson.
Wherever you look is where you are going. Sounds simple, right? It is, but it's also freakin' powerful and effective. Pro runners are taught to look at the place they want their foot to go instead of at the obstacle they are trying to run around. Golfers are taught to visualize the perfect swing and the ball sinking cleanly into the hole 200 yards away before they ever step up to a tee. Olympic athletes run through their courses and routines over and over again, training their brains to be ready for the exact motions that will be required of them. Get this: the brain doesn't need you to DO the motion, it can learn expertise just by visualizing something it's done before. How cool is that?
Here's why it works. Whatever you do regularly, mentally or physically, your mind gets ready for by setting up a more and more powerful path of neurons in the brain. Remember the first time you drove a car? How crazy was that
? You had to focus on every damned little thing and you were a nervous wreck, trying to remember everything you had to do while negotiating traffic, signs, road conditions, and keeping a map of where you wanted to go in your mind the whole time. Zoom forward to today. How ridiculously easy it is for you to drive now? Do you think about how far to press the accelerator pedal down or do you just do it? Do you review all the traffic laws in your mind or do you just pull out and merge with traffic? Do you lay out a map and decide how to get home from the supermarket? (None of which may apply in Los Angeles.) I'm betting your vehicle feels like an extension or your own body by now. If they took an MRI of your brain back when you were learning and compared it to one of you now, they'd see all these beefed-up extra pathways in your current motor reflex area, your neocortex where you rationalize and make decisions, even in your amygdala where you process those emergency calls like idiots who slam on the brakes in front of you.
Okay, now switch to your athletic plans to become an intimidating mountain of awesome. You are mastering the skills of learning to drive the Awesome Mobile. It's gonna be a few months of "Can I eat this now?" "Does that twitch mean I need to back off or can I do five more reps?" and "Should I stand up straight and pretend I am a gift to the female race or should I hide in the background for another year until I'm perfect?" Plus, your muscles are laying neuron pathways to pick up that dumbbell just a little more efficiently each time, lift your knee just a little more easily with every lap, move the bar up and down in the ideal press curve. Learning a new sport, especially something as total-body as weight training, is on par with learning a new language in terms of how hard the brain has to work. You're gonna feel like a kindergartener at first, everyone does.
There's no trick to it, really. Just. Keep. Doing. It. Did you take a Master Course in Turn Signals? No, you just learned how to flick that little blinker on over time. Did you attend a Braking for Black Ice Seminar? No, I'm guessing one or two rear end spin-outs and the subsequent stream of profanity and fear was enough to instill that lesson. You weren't born programmed to be a vegan bodybuilder but as a human you ARE set up perfectly to learn anything. Plus, your body really, really wants to feel good. That combo makes a steady progression into athleticism a no-brainer, if you'll excuse the pun.
So, in a nutshell, if you do it long enough, whatever it is, your brain becomes an expert at it and so does your body. It just gets easier. Neurons take a little while to set up pathways, so it doesn't happen overnight. But it does happen, guaranteed. Consider: you've been thinking the same thing about yourself and doing things the same way for a long time. You've become an expert at something you longer want. No problem--just begin training yourself to become something else. You're like Juggernaut in the Marvel comic books: once he gets some momentum going, nothing can stop him. Give yourself a break for everything you did in the past and then just let that go. You didn't fail because you haven't stopped. You are just one more of a thousand athletes who will have a long, exciting story to tell about how you got to the finish line.
It DOES work. This WILL happen. You are freakin' unstoppable.
Holy crap, I'm already impressed.