Find your Catalyst
a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.
a person or thing that precipitates an event.
As some of you may know, I have a background in Chemistry and worked in a lab for a number of years prior to pursuing my true passion and helping open Invictus Boston in 2012. It also may come as no surprise, then, that many of these scientific concepts have carried over into the way I think about fitness, health and wellness. One of these concepts in particular has molded the way I think about the relationship between the mental and physical rigors of training: the catalyst.
So what is a catalyst when it comes to fitness? What are we looking to define? Simply put, a catalyst is something that increases the rate at which something happens; it helps provide momentum where that momentum may be needed. Showing up to the gym on a regular basis is hard. Making good food choices and spending time on mobility work is harder still. Aligning your life with your fitness pursuits so that you can truly stay healthy and fit as you age is hardest of all. This is where a catalyst is critical to long-term success.
To continue explaining things through a scientific lens, Newton’s Laws of Physics describe inertia in detail. In short, an object at rest tends to stay at rest while an object in motion will continue that motion. With fitness, and the lifestyle choices surrounding fitness, inertia is always at play. How challenging is it to get back into the gym when you have been inactive, even for a short period of time? How much better do you feel once you have completed a workout, and how much easier is it to sign up for your next class? We can use this concept to our advantage by defining our catalyst.
Your catalyst should be something that motivates you deeply, and must be something that remains true regardless of outside influences or the opinions of others. It must be something that moves you to be the best version of yourself. Maybe you want to be the best role model possible for your children, and that requires you to maintain your health so that you can always be present in their lives. Maybe you have lost a lot of weight, and looking in the mirror every day reminds you of how far you have come (and equally reminds you of where you never want to fall back to). It must be powerful and, oftentimes, it may be uncomfortable and difficult to define at first.
This concept is often referred to as “finding your ‘why’” in fitness, motivation and life advice circles. Personally, I think the concept goes much deeper than that. I believe our purpose is to be the best version of ourselves; regardless of what motivates us, at our deepest level as human beings we desire to be complete, to meet the ideal image we were created to aspire to. The catalyst is the motivating factor for getting there; it is the discipline to stay the course when motivation fades; it is the gentle nudge from our subconscious to get our ass in gear.
For me, my catalyst is the discomfort. When faced with the fact that my competitive career is nearing the end of its life cycle, I found myself confused. I always thought that when this time came it would be difficult, arduous, depressing. On the contrary, my desire to train and prepare has never been greater. I look forward to, and cherish, the moments I get to spend sweating and suffering alongside my friends and coworkers. I look forward to jumping into classes with our members and struggling alongside them, watching them do things that they may have never envisioned being able to accomplish. In time, I realized, the journey itself is what I love. I love the climb. I love the moments when I could simply choose to stay in bed, take another day off, or skip a workout and make a conscious decision instead to take the path of most resistance. It is this daily dose of discomfort that invigorates me, that brings me closer to my purpose.
We are all motivated by different things. One thing that is universal, however, is that motivation fades over time. Some days you just won’t want to go to the gym, won’t want to spend those 10 minutes stretching, won’t want to eat that chicken and rice for the millionth time. It is in these times that your catalyst will help spur on the wonderful reaction that takes place every time you confront discomfort. This reaction is called growth: these are the times that help you become the ideal person you aspire to be. Whatever drives you in these times of choice, embrace it, define it. Find your catalyst.
Until next time.