Jonathan Brookes

I have trained on and off since I was 16, my interest and motivation has tended to cycle. It would peak with morning training sessions happening daily often combined with bike rides in the evening and rugby training and matches too and a high level of strength and fitness. Diet would be carefully monitored and everything would be good.
jbrookesThe problem was always the troughs; something would always happen to make me miss a session or get out of the habit of going, maybe a holiday or work trip away or even something as simple as a bad hangover and next thing you know 6 months or longer would have passed and I would not have even looked at my gym shoes, bike or rugby kit. The diet would have gone to pot and with it strength and fitness too.
Each time I hit a trough it lasted longer and became harder to crawl out of. Where previously it would have only taken a couple of sessions to get back to speed it was taking a couple of weeks and then a couple of months, the troughs became deeper and the diet worse and the waist and weight bigger.
In 2003 I weighed 130kg and had to sit down to put my socks on. I was in a big trough. I used my wife’s pregnancy and abstinence from alcohol as an opportunity to change my lifestyle (yet again) by crash dieting and a difficult training regime that included monotonous weights and treadmill workouts I managed to shift 25kg before the birth of my son. I was fit and lean. The problem was this new lifestyle was not sustainable, my waist began to grow as did my weight again.
After a two year trough of very little structured exercise or diet other than ad hoc rugby training and flirting with the gym I had to reassess my life once again I was now 125kg and growing I did not want to reach my earlier all time high. I had to find out why my previous efforts ultimately led to failure and ensure I did not fall into the same traps as before; a decision had to be made on how to move forward for a healthier sustainable lifestyle and body. I was looking everywhere for ideas and motivation and then it occurred to me to look within.
I realised it was not about what I did in the gym or on the bike or on the rugby pitch, it was not about what I ate before or after training it was about me and who I was. It was then that I realised I had a choice, I could choose who I was and how I lived my life; I could to continue to yo yo with my fitness and be like all the normal people; slow, fat and unhealthy or I could choose to be different, better, leaner and stronger. As soon as I realised it was my choice and had nothing to do with anybody and that the decision came from within I knew that I was not going to be that person anymore.
[pullquote align="right"]I subscribed to a different lifestyle, one which is born of a totally different mental attitude and the fitness has followed. [/pullquote]I have taken control of my life. I use my desire from within to help me maintain my overall choice which helps me when making little choices daily about what I eat or drink or how hard I push myself.
I train every morning at six a.m. I eat well, I drink less. Not because I have to but because that is who I have chosen to be. It is not about what I do in the gym, it is not about what I eat but it is about me and the choices I make that come from within. It is about everything I do from the moment I wake to the moment I go to sleep; it is about how I sleep. It is about what is inside me and the desire to be me.
Some people mock me and say “you can’t eat this” or “you can’t eat that” and I tell them I can eat whatever I want to, but I choose not to. Some say “go on, just a little one, one drink wont hurt” and I look at them and feel stronger inside for being able to choose what I want to do and when I want to do it.
I choose not to quit, I choose to work until it hurts so much and then work that bit harder. I choose to keep moving the bar up, to row harder, and to push more. I choose to ignore the pain and the nagging doubts from within, I choose to be mentally strong and that mental strength helps me make my choices that helps be to be mentally strong and so I get stronger.
Now I have peaks and troughs because not every session can be the best session of the week, the difference now is that each trough is much higher than the last and lasts for far less time, it may be only for one set or one day or even one week but each peak that is reached is higher, and each corresponding trough is at a higher level than the one before. The peaks are now timed to coincide with rugby matches or other such events and the troughs are to coincide with holidays etc, clear recovery plans are put in place and committed to before holidays or troughs and because of this each day, each week, each month I am stronger than before.
Once you have control of your internal choices you can choose to be mentally strong, then by definition you are and you will enjoy the life that follows.