An Australian athlete and ‘master trainer’ has revealed why packing a ‘mental’ gym bag before each workout has helped train her brain, achieve her goals and reach peak physical health.
Jenna Louise, from Canberra, ACT, said this little-known and underestimated concept involves the process of training your brain to have an ‘unstoppable mindset’ through body language, facial expressions and ‘energy’.
‘It takes work to get your brain to a point where it’s willing to push longer and harder than it ever has before, so you need to remember that all you need is already within you,’ Jenna told FEMAIL.
‘A mental gym bag is at the ready for you to tap into in an instant. This is a bag that always has your back, not just through your sixth set of squats, but through the trials and tribulations of life.’
An Australian athlete and ‘master trainer’ has revealed why packing a ‘mental’ gym bag before each workout has helped achieve her goals and reach peak physical health
Make the decision to commit to yourself and your workouts
Jenna said prior to packing a mental gym bag, you must first make the decision to push yourself harder and continue to do so during each workout.
While it’s common to skip a workout to avoid physical and psychological pain, Jenna said this ‘discomfort’ leads to growth in the long term.
She said by calling the shots and deciding to work on yourself is an opportunity to build resilience, determination and character at both the gym and during everyday life.
Jenna said prior to packing a mental gym bag, you must first make the decision to push yourself harder and continue to do so during each workout
Work on ‘powerful’ thoughts
By ‘packing’ powerful thoughts into your mental gym bag and learning to control your inner voice will help reframe what pain actually is, Jenna says.
‘You are the only one in control of your thoughts – know this and remind yourself every day,’ she said.
‘The thoughts I feed my mind [include] overcoming destructive inner dialogue and telling myself how much I love this, how amazing I am at it and how much I’ll grow and progress by doing it.’
Before every session Jenna aims to put herself into the ‘growth zone’ by going through these thoughts.
‘This helps to reframe what pain actually is at different levels and intensity to alter my reaction to it,’ she said.
By pushing through the short-term pain during a workout will lead to long-term growth.
By ‘packing’ powerful thoughts int your mental gym bag and learning to control your inner voice will help reframe what pain actually is and lead to further growth
JENNA’S QUICK AT HOME WORKOUT
- Butterfly Glute Bridge x 20 reps
- Reverse Lunges x 10 reps each side
- Plank Commandos x 8 reps each side
- Frog Squats x 10 reps
- Burpees x 10 reps
Option 1: 2-3 Rounds | 60 seconds rest in-between each round
Option 2: 4 Rounds | 60 seconds rest in-between each round
Option 3: 5 rounds | 60 seconds rest in-between each round
Use ‘positive’ body language
‘Positive body language can have a profound effect on your performance and your overall outcome. Your body language impacts how competitors see you and how you see yourself which effects how you perform,’ Jenna said.
Jenna said positive forms at the gym include keeping your head and chest held high, moving with purpose and resting with your hands on your knees between exercises.
‘I have a high pain threshold and showing signs of weakness is something that I generally don’t do because I respect discipline and value being hard, regimented and keeping myself accountable,’ she said
‘I like to carry myself with strength, determination and confidence as this fuels my performance and pulls me through any gruelling session.’
Jenna said positive body language at the gym can include keeping your head and chest held high and moving with purpose, or resting on your knees between exercises
‘I like to carry myself with strength, determination and confidence as this fuels my performance and pulls me through any gruelling session,’ she said
Take note of facial expressions
Similarly to body language, putting a big smile on your face for a short period of time will elevate your mood and reduce stress.
‘The smile doesn’t have to be based on real emotion either – faking it works! The more you do this the easier it is to train the brain to be aware of your state of mind so you can quickly make that positive switch,’ Jenna said.
‘You’ll be surprised the effect it will have on your performance and the flow on affect it will have on the rest of your day.’
JENNA’S ‘DAY ON A PLATE’
Jenna said she fasts for up to 16 hours every day and all of my meals fit within an eight hour non-fasting window
* Meal 1: Breaking my fast normally happens for me post training, between 10:30AM and noon. My fast breaker is often oats, yogurt and protein with honey and banana
* Meal 2: This meal is generally more of a snack and fairly light depending on how I feel – usually tuna and almonds
* Meal 3: Probably my heaviest meal to fuel my recovery, it’s generally higher fats lower carb such as salmon and salad
* Late night snack: ATP Science NOWAY Hot Chocolate which is a blend of magnesium, collagen and of course a touch of Belgian Chocolate
‘It’s important to refine your diet based on what works for you and your fitness goals, as fasting doesn’t suit everyone,’ she said.
Jenna recommends leaning on external support through positive reinforcement to project energy outwards
Project positive energy
‘Energy’ is perhaps one of the most important components to pack into a mental gym bag, and to maintain it Jenna recommends leaning on external support through positive reinforcement and verbal support.
‘When I encourage someone else it fuels my drive to go harder, faster, longer and not give up,’ she said.
‘Rather than turning inwards when experiencing discomfort, I always choose to project it outwards by tricking the brain to perform at its highest level.’
An easy way to do this is by exercising with a friend or personal trainer.
Other ways to help stimulate mental energy include visualising your goal, playing music and planning a workout.
While it’s important to not be too hard on yourself, Jenna said you need to have discipline to know the fine line between avoiding working out because you’re ‘not feeling it’ or taking a rest day because your body will benefit from it.