The biggest takeaway from 2019 was being able to manage my stress. Managing stress can be one of the most difficult things to do for most people. Being an Olympian bodybuilder, I put my mind and body through an incredible amount of stress. I’ve learned that going full throttle every day can hinder your results physically, and can also create bad habits with a negative mindset. A negative mindset will compound on itself like a cancer. Understanding when it’s best to push harder and knowing when it’s better to pull back is one way of managing stress. This applies to the mind and the body. There are many ways to relieve stress—everyone is different. Controlling my mind by becoming self-aware is step one for me.
What is self-awareness and how do I become self-aware? Simply put, self-awareness is being honest with yourself in every aspect of your life. Understanding what’s affecting you and what effect you have on the world around you and how it all ties in together as you live your life is self-awareness. We are all human and we all have decisions to make daily. The goals we have and our peers around us can be the greatest influence on our lives. Knowing who we are today, what we want out of life, and who we want to become as a result of our actions is becoming self-aware. When you can start to define yourself is when you can start taking control of what happens in your life. Reflecting on everything that has happened in my life has led me to who I am today.
I’m not an advocate of anyone making bad decisions, but let’s face it, we have all made decisions of which we are not proud. Some decisions we make have a lasting effect and some decisions we can be thankful didn’t last long. I see opportunity and growth through positives and negatives. We shouldn’t dwell on our past mistakes, rather we should learn from them. I’m thankful for all that has happened in my life. Even the so-called “bad decisions” are all part of learning and living life. Not all bad decisions have to have a major impact. A bad decision could be as simple as choosing the wrong protocol before or after a competition. If you don’t learn from your decisions, then I recommend you start becoming more self-aware.
Why is forgiveness important and who do we forgive? Before we can forgive anyone else, we must be able to forgive ourselves. When we make a decision that we aren’t proud of or has resulted in an outcome we didn’t expect, it can be difficult to forgive ourselves. You are practicing self-awareness when you acknowledge a “bad decision” as a learning experience. As you reflect on your past decisions and refine who you are, then you can grow from your setbacks. Forgiving yourself is important for managing stress. As an Olympian who strives to be the best bodybuilder in the world, I have pressured myself into believing that every day, year-round should be full throttle. Now, I believe there’s a time to back off and be somewhat “normal.” Instead of allowing myself to ease up, I would become frustrated and not back away from the grind. The stress would build up and I would allow it to get to me. You can feel the same way when making a decision that results in an outcome you did not expect. Perfect example—I truly believed I would be holding the title of Mr. Olympia by now. Decisions I’ve made did not result in me earning the title. I can either let stress build on itself or I can learn from what went wrong and become better. Having a champion’s mind, I choose to become better every day, refining not only my physique, but most importantly my mind.