MAX Blog

The Secret to Success

If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right.
— Henry Ford

We are what we repeatedly do. Our daily routines and everyday habits are products of weeks, months, and years of repetition. It is easy to see how regular activities, whether good, like going to the gym, or bad, like smoking, can become habitual over time. Morning after morning, the alarm goes off and our predictable day begins. Just as our schedules grow to be routine, the same is true for our chances of success, and unfortunately, failure. Our previous experiences can actually determine our future likelihood of experiencing success or not. Crazy, right?! A little science lesson can help us understand this phenomenon.

According to neuroscientist and clinical psychologist, Ian Robertson, animals have a higher probability of winning future aggressive battles after experiencing previous wins. This “winner effect” is the result of an actual change in their biology. Winning releases testosterone and dopamine, and over time, changes the structure and chemical makeup of the brain resulting in an increase of intelligence, confidence, and assertiveness. In contrast, the opposite “loser effect” results in a lower probability of success following previous losses.

While we may not be facing an aggressive opponent or literally fighting for our lives, the winner and loser effects also applies to our tame, everyday challenges. Success, or lack thereof, is seen in the corporate world, in the athletic arena, and in our own homes. Winning biologically changes you and the effect becomes stronger as we continue to succeed. We see it daily as individuals receive promotion after promotion, athletes go on competitive winning streaks, and friends accomplish their New Year’s resolutions with ease.

So, if we only used our gym membership twice last year or we just opened our third rejection letter are we destined to continue to fail? Should we just buy another pack of cigarettes and chow down an entire pizza by ourselves? Why even bother? If we have failed time and time again are we biologically doomed to repeat this losing pattern?

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Not exactly.

Failure may chemically change our brains but we are still in control of our minds. Until we are able to biologically adapt with success, we must learn to psychologically adapt to our failures. Losing is disappointing, emotionally painful, and often leaves us with feelings of shame and dismay. It is no wonder failure can warp our perceptions and sabotage our future chances of success!

Here are just a few ways failure can distort our minds and how we can positively change our mindset:

  • Fear of failure- Even after a single loss, we can be consumed by a fear of failure. This fear can take over our minds and have us succumb us to a point where we avoid any activity that may result in failure. We must recognize our fear is based on our fragile ego and only impedes our chance of success. At one point or another, everyone fails. We must consciously choose to try and try again. As Thomas Edison has been quoted saying, “ I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that did not work.”

  • Warped perception- Our confidence in ourselves and our abilities plummets following failure. Goals seem out of reach, resolutions unattainable, losses inevitable. The truth is, nothing has changed, just our perception. Realize your true potential and never give up.

  • Excuses- Following a defeat, we can be discouraged, humiliated, and searching for any reason to justify our failure. While excuses may temporarily make us feel better, they do not change the outcome and will only inhibit future efforts. Excuses, even reasonable, valid ones, can be destructive and become habitual responses when things do not go our way. Failures are learning experiences. Own up to them, embrace them, study them, and learn from them.

  • Mental game- In my nearly two decades of coaching, I have seen some of the greatest athletes never reach the top of the podium. With all the skills required and talents beyond belief, they choke. With natural abilities most athletes can only dream of possessing, they freeze. For many, the pressures of winning override actual ability and ultimately lead to failure. For this very reason, sport psychologists are in high demand, with elite athletes working on their mental game as much as their physical training. If pressure is ruining your chance of success, give this book or this book a try. Game changers.

  • Self-control- What is the difference between satisfying a craving with a small treat or binge eating the entire fridge? Willpower. Buying another case of beer at the store or just sticking to your grocery list? Going to the gym or staying home? Putting off your term paper or getting it done in a timely matter? Willpower. Willpower. Willpower. The ability to control your actions, impulses, and emotions is a psychological mind-body response to internal conflict. According to Stanford Health Psychologist, Kelly McGonigal, PhD, the need for self-control triggers a set of coordinated changes in your brain and body to resist temptation and self-destructive urges. In addition, it sends extra energy to the prefrontal cortex of the brain which keeps track of your goals, makes wise decisions, and overrides impulses. If you lack self-control, the good news is willpower can be increased and strengthened over time!

  • Self-care- Peak performance in athletes is greatly affected by how well their body is fueled, rested, and trained. Factors such as dehydration, stress, unbalanced nutrition, and/or exhaustion can impair the body and how the brain functions. While we may not all be elite athletes, we all do strive to be the greatest we can be, to perform at our best, to succeed. In life, there are many things out of our control, so it is imperative to take advantage of the things we can control. Proper nutrition supplies our brain with the energy needed to make wise decisions, overcome addictions, accomplish our goals. Being well-rested is also vital for success. Sleep plays a critical role in how we think and learn, and being deprived of a good night’s sleep adversely affects brain and cognitive function. Lastly, daily exercise improves more than just your physical health, but also greatly benefits your mental health. Physical activity increases dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, the same “feel good” chemicals released after success. It also reduces stress, improves mental clarity, decreases worry, and boosts self-esteem. Give your body a fighting chance to succeed. Take care of yourself.

  • Small victories- The cyclical nature of the winner and loser effects may seem disheartening at times, that our future is already predetermined, but we can actually use it to our advantage. Often we fail because our goals are too lofty, making them unattainable and setting us up for defeat. Instead, focus on creating smaller goals and set yourself up to succeed! Losing 50 pounds is easy to write down on a piece of paper, but can actually be quite difficult to accomplish. However, losing 5 pounds, tracking your calories for a week, or making time for the gym this month, are more reasonable goals. Even something as simple as cutting back to one soda a day, instead of three, is admirable and should be celebrated. These little victories may seem insignificant, but with each success, you are changing your mindset and replacing a loser attitude with that of a winner. Take it one day at a time, then one week at a time, then one month. Before you know it, the small victories make way for huge results!

Have a winning mindset and turn your failures into success! Change your mind. Change your destiny. Change your life.

If you are in need of a little extra push to jumpstart your fitness goals, look no further! This workout is a go-to for all my athletes. Intense, full body, and under 30 minutes!

You GET what you GIVE!

Looking for a good speed rope? Try this one here. It is lightweight, adjustable, and perfect for those double unders!

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The BEST Way to Change Your Life

You had better live your best and act your best and think your best today; for today is the sure preparation for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows that follow.
— Harriet Martineau

From the moment we awaken, we are faced with the choice of how to go about our day. Do we hit the snooze button, or do we get in our morning workout? How about breakfast- nutritious or convenient? Do we brush our teeth for the recommended two minutes (and don't forget to floss), or do we skimp on our dental routine? During our morning commute, are we "10 and 2" or distracted drivers? That only covers the early morning. How are we at work- do we give our all no matter the task? During training, do we use perfect form, push a little extra on our workouts, and work well with our teammates? How are we as a friend? A son? A mother? Do we give our BEST in absolutely EVERYTHING that we do?

I will admit that many times throughout the day, I do not. 

Sure, we all tend to place our priorities with the things we value the most. If you are up for a job promotion, you will arrive early, give 110%, and work late, as you strive for the new position. For those with fitness goals- whether it be to lose weight or win the upcoming championship- you are pushing yourselves to the limit and refusing to quit no matter how tough. I applaud this determination, perseverance, and commitment, for you know that how you perform today will ultimately effect your tomorrow. Now, the real challenge is to apply this same persistence to be the best in everything that you do! 

Nearly all that is done (or not done) today will determine our tomorrows. Forget to floss? I see a dental visit in your future. Been too busy to call a friend? You may have one less shoulder to cry on when you need it the most. Daily vending machine visits? Don't say I didn't warn you...

How tasking it all seems to give your best in everything? But, how rewarding it will be when tomorrow comes.

Strength training is essential for ALL health and fitness goals. Beyond building essential lean muscle, using weights increases bone density, prevents disease, improves blood pressure, reduces chronic pain, prevents injury, increases balance,  aids in childbearing, improves mental health, and leads to better life quality! Grab a pair of dumbbells and give this workout a try!

"Pumped Up"

  • 3 x 10 Front Squats with Pumps
  • 3 x 10 Lunges with Pumps (each side)
  • 3 x 10 Side Lunges with Pumps (each side)
  • 3 x "Failure" Sumo Squats with Pumps

View video for full workout breakdown and exercise demonstrations.

A Dream Come True

If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.
— J.M. Power

We all have dreams. We dream of the future, of achieving great things, of a world filled with peace, of hope, of love. While some dreams may be more lofty than others, each one is unique and special to us. Unfortunately, sometimes our dreams are just that...dreams.

Just closing our eyes and thinking of better days will not bring us the success we desire. Trust me, I have tried. We must open our eyes and turn our dreams into reality. Stop waiting for things to be perfect, or the timing to be right, or the finances to be there. Stop wishing for things to be easier. Stop hoping someone will do it for you. Stop dreaming and start doing! It is our responsibility to make our dreams come true! 

I am a perpetual dreamer. I am constantly thinking of the future- one year from now, 5 year plans,  where do I want to be in ten years? I am a goal-SETTER. Sadly, I am not always a goal-GETTER. Dreaming is the easy part, it is the next steps that tend to get in our way.

Together, let us make our dreams come true. Wake up, work hard, never give up, dog it day in and day out until our goals become reality. If we can dream it, we can be it. If we can think it, we can do it. I believe in us. Do you?

If your dreams involve fitness- losing weight, having a gold medal performance, completing a 5K, making the Varsity team, etc.- we have a week of workouts for you! Grab your running shoes and get ready to make your dreams come true!


Let Your Light Shine

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
— Marianne Williamson

In the spirit of Christmas, for the well-being of yourself and of others, may your light shine. Do not dim your light in the fear of failure, do not blow it out when obstacles stand in your way. Instead, let your potential beam for the world to see and your success illuminate around you. You are created with a purpose, a talent, a gift. Let your light shine.  

To quickly build endurance, add this burnout to the end of your workout! Follow along with MAX Trainer, Rebecca.

"2 Minute Burnout"

Beginners- complete 1 round

Advanced- complete 3 rounds

Want to Get Ahead? Stop Looking Back.

Tomorrow, I leave with one of my athletes to the biggest tournament of her sport career. She has trained so hard, maintaining complete focus even through the holidays. Yet, something seems wrong. My normally strong, confident, determined athlete, now appears defeated. I ask what is on her mind, and her following words broke my heart, "I am so tired of coming up short. I just want to win." How crushing it was to see someone I love, who pours her heart and soul into every bit of her training, be burdened by previous shortcomings.

Sometimes, no matter how much effort we put forth into the future, we are unable to shake the past. We are plagued with uncertainty, afraid of repeating failures. Maybe it was a past romance that ended in heart break, a series of diets that all lead to the same disappointing result, rejection letters, getting cut from the team, or falling short of the podium. Unfortunately, this little doubt that creeps in can be detrimental to our success. We must let it go. All that matters is now. This is your year! 

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Why this year? Why will it be different this time?

This time you are going to fight for what you want, you are going to keep your eyes fixed on the prize that awaits, and most of all, you are never going to look back!  Who cares if you failed before? Your past does not define you, it shaped you. You are strengthened by your adversities, your losses, and your defeats. In this strength, you will find your courage. Your new ending begins now and nothing is going to stand in your way!