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Weight Lifting - One Hundred Days - 084


Laura Siegemund is an international tennis professional who I was honoured to shoot when she was on our shores for the ASB Classic tournament last year. She is currently World No. 39.

I was rather poetically hoping that I could record 84Kg against Day 84, but didn't quite make it. Nearly. At my morning weigh in I was 84.5Kg, but as my own rules state I can't report any change under 1Kg, I have to report 85Kg. 4 hours later, after 2 hours of badminton I was 83.5Kg, but I was cheating looking then! Most of this challenge is a mental game. I have to keep focused & not allow myself to cheat or even be distracted by thoughts of how to 'bend the rules'!

Professional sports people, like Laura Siegemund here, have to not only excel in their chosen sport through physical prowess, they also have to conquer the all important mental challenges. Once you have done everything possible to hone your skill, you have to make sure your mind doesn't let you down. I was standing waiting for the kettle to boil today (yes, I lead an active life!) and I suddenly started thinking about what I might be able to eat. I wasn't hungry, it was association & habit. When in the kitchen making a cup of coffee, I habitually used to graze. So I had to force myself to think it through, understand what I was doing & start the process of re-programming my brain to disassociate kettle in kitchen with snacks. Whew! Who thought changing your diet could be so complex! The brain controls absolutely everything, so never ever underestimate the power of thought.

One of Laura's listed interests is psychology & as a professional tennis player, that does not surprise me. The challenge of staying focused, positive & ignoring all distractions is immense & without some training in this area, it is virtually impossible to conquer the world in sport. I can quote a myriad of examples from my own life, although they are not at Laura's level. I made in quite close to the top in junior squash, captaining a county side in England & being on the periphery of the junior international squad, but most of my mental strategies in those days were based on ignorance. Not even thinking about the mountains I was trying to climb helped because I then never worried about failing! A simple strategy but not really possible nowadays with the Internet & full information at our fingertips. I have witnessed world class players crumbling at serving simply because they were over-thinking. We used to call it nerves, but actually it is just a failure to quieten all that noise in your head shouting about how so many things can go wrong.

Stopping yourself eating foods that you have eaten all your life is partly a physical thing; I can close my eyes & almost taste the chocolate & sweet things I used to eat. But it is primarily a mental thing, just as with most addictions, so focusing on ensuring the brain stays on course is the key. Focus, focus, focus…

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