The Art of Flipping the Switch

By Alli McKee

A Goal: as specific to you as your DNA and one of the most powerful, driving forces behind our actions.

“First I take the time out, then I put the time in.” -Fabolous

What’s your current ambition? Come on, male or female, any age, any nationality, any interest and any ability level, this is applicable to you. I would imagine waking up every morning without a goal could be very lackluster. And, don’t play down the importance of your goal, what you desire and/or whether or not you can achieve it - if it’s something that you want, it’s IMPORTANT, so go get it. Before you take the playing field however, or even begin the prep, you must first transition your mind for your game face.

Focus. Prepare. Repeat. Perform.

There is a primal transition that takes place in all athletes and competitors as they embark on a season of goals, performance and competition.  This transition is a mindset that commands a laser focus and a no-nonsense approach in your attitude, preparation and execution. In other words, the only thing existing between you and the best version of you is yourself and the time it takes to get there. In order to close the gap, you must become a predator, but first, you must flip the switch.

Nature versus Nurture

Is it a genetic lottery or a trained skill? While some of us are born with insane genetics and raw talent, is the mental wiring of a relentless work ethic born or built? In my experience, the art of flipping the switch may be instinctual for some, but can certainly be trained and cultivated by experience, confidence and an ability to resist or mitigate physical discomfort.

Regardless, progress does not come easy - not for the newbie, nor the elite. As a rookie in the game of self-progression, signs of improvement may come "easier" considering moderate levels of change will likely produce results. The implemented changes however can feel foreign, daunting, and uncomfortable. This requires quite a learning curve. Newbies are surely in for a physical adjustment and likely some mental negotiation at times to sustain and carry out the goal.

The veteran has a different road ahead, yet despite his or her experience, not exactly easier. He or she, who has journeyed these steps before and is perhaps familiar with the expectations of the experience, often has a smaller margin for improvement.  Therefore they must dial in progressions that require the utmost sacrifice and effort. No one ever said work was easy and at all starting lines, you’re in for a challenge.

Many Performers, One Switch.

A bodybuilder, a figure competitor, an NFL player, an Olympic athlete, a power lifter, a mixed martial artist, a triathlete... All different sports, different displays of talent and competition, different preparation variables, but one common denominator – They must all dial in their mind.

The preparation for a season, performance or body composition can be quite isolating. While some may have the camaraderie of a team, others are flying solo. In addition to the demands you’re about to put on your body, one must also be prepared for the lonely and tedious work that comes along with prioritizing your schedule, optimizing your energy and enduring the social sacrifices.  This is part of the expectation that you must set as you psych up to flip the switch.

It Takes a Village

As you begin to dial in, you must also establish your support systems - coaches, medical experts, friends, family, etc. The responsibility of greatness is on you and you certainly possess the tools within yourself to succeed, however, set up your support system and you better position yourself to prevail.

Like drawing people in, you must also let people go. When preparing to hone in your focus, you’ll want to eliminate any negativity – be your own gatekeeper and let go of anyone or anything that may interfere with your psych, concentration and confidence. Get rid of those who doubt you or drain you. The journey will have plenty of challenging moments; you don’t need the addition of lurking energy vampires.

Ready, Set, Go

You may be reading this and already discounting yourself because I speak of professional athletes and competitors. What if you’re a “regular Jane or Joe” and you’re looking to self improve? Same theories apply. In fact, you’re a competitor all right. Regardless of your goal(s) – health, fitness, body composition, performance, gold medal driven, Super Bowl driven, or paycheck driven - you’re ultimately competing with yourself to improve and through the best journey possible.

At the end of the day, no matter who you are and what your goal - there is something that you want. Perhaps even something that you need. Both of these are motivated by a sense of accomplishment and a desire to feel good.

I’m not a professional athlete, but I have been an athlete all my life. Flipping the Switch became tangible for me in my own journey of Figure Competitions, which culminated on the Arnold Stage in March 2011. It was during that last prep that I fine-tuned my process of “Flipping the Switch”. I now know how to do it and that I am capable to flip the switch any time I want. Most relevant, I now use this skill and cumulative experience when preparing for photo shoots or to shed light and support for others.

Focus. Prepare. Repeat. Perform.

In order to bridge the gap, you must cultivate your ability to flip the switch. Commit to yourself. If you’re aspiring to be healthier, leaner, stronger, faster, more muscular, more powerful, more agile, or all things combined - close your eyes, quiet your mind and focus on the course. Prepare that it’s going to take a solid combination of nutrition, sweat, hustle, recovery, positive thinking, pain mitigation, support and heart.

Your mind is the ignition; your heart is the engine. If spending just 15 minutes a day to begin the mental transition, commit to five minutes in the morning, afternoon and evening to visualize your efforts and remind yourself WHY this is important to you and HOW you’re going to do it. Go ahead, flip the switch, become a predator, attain the best version of you. 

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Alli McKee is a strength and conditioning coach, fitness model and blogger based out of Baltimore, MD. She walks the walk of an athlete and is a former Figure Competitor. Alli is the founder of the newly launched, All I M Fitness, a message that inspires you to give all that you are to your health, fitness and performance. McKee is also a co-founder of Girls Gone Strong, the Women’s Fitness Authority.

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