Conquering the Beast Within

Welcome to 2013! It’s a New Year and, in celebration, you are embarking on a new fitness goal. Congratulations!


Like many of us, I’m sure your motivation is sky-high. Your belief and commitment to the goal are unbreakable. Your positive mindset is solid and you feel alive, energized and motivated to take on the challenge. Nothing is going to stand in your way.

That is, until the initial excitement wears off and the reality of the grind starts to set in. We all know that feeling. Our inspiration tends to dwindle after a few weeks and it usually happens when life’s demands begin to rent space in our head. Slowly, that little demon that lives inside our mind begins to emerge and it tries desperately to take us off course. It says (sometimes yells) things like, “You’re too busy to commit to this!.” “Stop now or this soreness will be permanent!” “Stay in bed!” or, my favourite: “You’re tired. Save it for tomorrow!” It throws out every excuse in the book and, at the end of the day, we can’t blame it. That dialogue exists to keep us safe and comfortable.


But how do we break beyond the barrier, mute the voice and keep striving powerfully toward our goals? Here are some tips on how to conquer the Beast within:

1 A Plan: Create a detailed plan months in advance, write it down and post it where you’ll see it multiple times a day (fridge, daytimer, by the coffee maker, etc.) It’s one thing to have the goal, but it’s an entirely different thing to have a road map for how to get there. The more specific you can be (distances, times, exercises, reps, weight, etc.), the better. A plan helps you cut out the “I don’t know what to do today” chatter. Your task is right there in front of you. You don’t have to think about what you feel like doing; you just have to buckle down and follow the instructions in front of you.

2 Accountability: Create massive amounts of accountability. The Beast hates accountability because it is weak against the power of letting others down. The easiest person to let down is yourself, so have a team beside you to keep you going. Schedule workouts/classes/runs with a friend, group or trainer. Make sure it’s not easy to wiggle your way out of it.

3 Get up and GO: Stop thinking about doing it and just do it. The longer you sit around and wait for the motivation light bulb to turn on, the longer it takes. Starting is often the trickiest part and you can go around in circles trying to avoid it, but once you get going, the thought of skipping out will be a distant memory. You’ll be so happy and proud that you didn’t give in.

4 Let the bad days go: Don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day/miss a workout. Guilt never got anyone anywhere fast — although it would sure like you to believe it could. The Beast loves to take advantage of your vulnerable days and pounce on your fragile state. It fuels off those negative thoughts and gets more and more powerful. Reflect on what led to you giving in, ensure you have a plan to combat it next time around and regroup for a better day tomorrow. All of us have two beings that live inside, the Beast and the Superhero, and the one that survives is the one you fuel.

5 Say YES! wisely: You’ve only got so much capacity. Don’t fall into the, “I can do everything all at once” trap. It simply doesn’t work. The most successful people and athletes are the ones who have FOCUS: Follow One Commitment Until Successful. You’ll have to say no to some things, but in doing so, you’ll be saying yes to others.

6 Reward Yourself: Create a reward system. Like a well-behaved dog, we sometimes need a little treat to keep us in line. What is something you want, but normally pass up? Pick something that feels like a special reward (a healthy and delicious one, of course!) and dangle it in front as incentive on those hard days.

7 Toolkit: Invest in tools to help measure your progress. GPS watches, electronic running chips, measuring tapes, before and after pictures . . . you name it. Anything you can do to help create a measuring stick in your quest, do it. If you can start seeing your progress and results, you’ll gain momentum and feel a renewed sense of motivation.

8 The Why: Connect with the why. What resonates with you about the goal? Why is it important to you to accomplish this? What becomes available to you when you do accomplish it? Neglecting to connect with the why is the most common mistake in goal-setting. The Beast loves to feed off this lack of purpose, so we need to combat it with a resonating reason.

9 Enjoy the process: Cliché, but true. Find joy in the face of suffering. Look for the lessons that are revealed along the way, connect them to your life and apply them to the next day’s adventure. As any great athlete will tell you, although completing the goal gives you satisfaction and confidence, it’s surviving and thriving through the process of getting there that gives you character.
Armed with these tools, your visits from the Beast will be few and far between. Say Hi when it shows up, but make sure the door hits it in the rear when you boot it out.

Kyle Shewfelt is an Olympic Gold medallist and motivational speaker who’s obsessed with potential and constantly comes face to face with the Beast. He ran his first marathon in 2012.