By Naomi Rabon, NW Fitness Team Trainer
If you’ve ever been to a horse race or watched one on TV, you’ve seen the blinders horses wear to keep their eyes focused straight ahead of them. This is to prevent them from getting distracted by other horses, the crowd or anything else that might take their eyes and their mind off their one main objective in front of them: to get to that finish line as fast as they can and ideally have their hooves be the first ones to cross it.
This practice of zeroing the horses in on their only objective is common in the horse racing world. It is simple, effective and gets the job done. But what about when we put our own metaphorical blinders on – our mental, emotional and physical blinders – while trying to reach our fitness goals? Does it have the same effect? It absolutely could, yes! And with great results when your only objective is to reach that one goal.
Stay on target. Stay focused. Don’t stray off course. Do what you need to do every day to get to where you want to be. Eat, sleep and breath your goals. We hear these words often, putting these practices on a pedestal as something to strive for, and they are great reminders to us about doing what it takes to reach our goals. For many people it is easy to find ourselves way off track from where we want to be.
But what about those who go overboard in the other direction? Those who get so focused on their goal that they get completely submerged in the pursuit and lose sight of just about everything else in their life.
I’ve been there before several times in my life and it is a strange place. It feels really good in some ways, but it is almost an addiction-type of euphoria. You submerge yourself so much in this one pursuit that you can’t think of anything else. I think for some people at a really high level of athleticism, you almost have to have this mentality. Your whole being and daily existence is all about this one goal. It’s like a switch you can flip, and once you turn it on, it’s on 100% with racehorse blinder-like focus.
The times in my life when I went after something laser focused, nose to the grindstone, guns a-blazing, blocking out all other noise, chatter, input, ideas, suggestions, opinions, basically anything else but what was in my own head and heart, was either before Gryphon was born or before he was 4-years-old. I remember what it felt like to go ALL IN with something (figure competitions, lofty racing goals, career paths, etc.) and it is definitely euphoric! I gave myself permission to think of nothing else and pursue nothing else but that one thing.
And guess what? I achieved my goal, and even beyond, every single time I had this mind-set. But it came at quite a price each time. Each time I did this, while I achieved that goal I almost feel like I lost a piece of myself in the process. I don’t remember what was going on in the world around me during these pursuits. It’s a fog. I missed out on a lot, but that’s the price I was willing to pay to pursue my goals without questioning if I was going to achieve them or not. There was no question: I was doing it, period. It is, in a sense, beyond confidence.
I understand everyone may have a different definition of going all in but this is what going “all in” means to me, and. It means you put EVERYTHING you have into pursuing and achieving that one thing, no matter the cost.
This is a very admirable trait on one hand, but on the other hand, I think there can be some dangers or things to be aware of and cautious about when completely submerging yourself in your goals.
1. Losing Sight Of Other Priorities Deciding to live, eat, sleep and breath your goals can mean that you push all other priorities aside. When something is a priority, that means that is what you hold at the top of your list above all else. If you have multiple things that are important to you, that is different than something being your number one priority. If you do have other important responsibilities, be careful to not lose sight of other things in your life that are also dear to you in the process of pursuing your goals.
2. Losing Sight Of Yourself I’ve worked with a number of extremely driven and committed people who have delved so deep into their goal that they were willing to compromise their own morals, values, ethics and beliefs at the cost of achieving a goal. If achieving your goal means you make decisions that compromise who you are, then maybe you need to reassess those goals. You can achieve healthy goals without compromising who you are and what you believe in.
3. Sacrificing Too Much A goal should be set in an effort to make you a better version of yourself, right? But if you realize that your pursuit of a goal, or even pursuing it to a certain degree (there are varying degrees of fitness goals, from incorporating 1-2 workouts per week to competing in bodybuilding at the pro level) is causing you to sacrifice too much – for example, your job is suffering, relationships are faltering or being put on the back-burner, you’re putting your finances in jeopardy, or even pursuing a goal at the cost of your happiness and joy – then maybe you need to reassess the intensity of your goal.
4. Feeding Addiction Are you pursuing a goal to feed an addictive personality? I have been guilty of this at times, and I have gotten carried away with dieting, obsessive exercising and feeling like it’s never enough. In my early to mid-twenties I felt as if I were addicted to exercising and rarely took rest days. While being addicted to exercise is a “healthier outlet” than being addicted to substances or gambling or other addictions, it still feeds an addiction all the same and doesn’t address whatever root issue is going on. It’s what I call a “socially acceptable addiction.”
5. Distraction And/Or Coping Mechanism This is definitely something I have and probably still use exercise for at times, and is even more common when “in the zone” or completely submerged in pursuing a goal. While I do feel that exercise can be a very healthy outlet for stress and a good “coping mechanism” for tension-release and other emotions, it is good to be aware of your own reason for exercising, especially if there are underlying issues you aren’t addressing. Using exercise as a distraction from dealing with emotions or uncomfortable situations isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing (it can be great fuel for intense workouts) but when your workout is over, you still haven’t addressed those emotions or that uncomfortable situation. So, while working out is a great outlet, keep in mind that it isn’t a solution to your problems.
PERIPHERAL VISION CHECK
Having the tunnel vision of a racehorse with blinders on can get you to your goal, absolutely. Tunnel vision will get you locked on target and zeroed in on your goal without being distracted by what’s going on around you. But you may miss out on some very important things in life by staying focused only on what’s in front of you. To have balance in your life, you need to be able to pursue your goals, maintain who you are as a person, and keep all of your other responsibilities in check. So make sure your peripheral vision – or the vision that happens outside the point of fixation – is also in check.
ABOUT NAOMI RABON
One of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.