The Unstoppable Joy of Beast Mode
Beast mode (n): A superhuman state of being, in which animal instinct takes over the body.
-Urban Dictionary’s closest definition
Beast mode (n): A feeling of indomitable will, accompanied by a narrowed focus, heightened senses, palpable endorphin rush, and super strength. The feeling that you are unstoppable.
-The definition I sourced from my own understanding and those of several twitter-friends.
I am in full-fledged Beast Mode, and it feels GREAT.
If you’ve never heard the term Beast Mode before, please refer to the above definitions. While I’m specifically talking about beast mode in terms of training and physical activity, honestly I think the term can probably apply anywhere. It’s a whirlwind of confidence and adrenaline-soaked energy that makes you try and succeed at whatever it is in front of you. For me lately, it’s been my workouts. But it could just as easily be a domination of the board room, or video games, or solving Sudoku puzzles.
I’ve been a Beast for the last few months. A little backstory here: two years ago I became badly injured. I had herniated discs in my neck, and it came with near-constant shooting pain down my spine, numbness in my fingers, and an inability to move my head certain directions. It sucked. I went through rehab (which I hated every stupid moment of) and I completely stopped working out for several months. It was torture, but the pain decreased.
Then I spent the rest of the year trying to re-build some strength and mobility, doing a constant trial-and-error program of “If I do this… am I in pain later?” I found things that worked, and I quit the things that didn’t. My confidence in my body was frighteningly low. It felt like my whole body had turned against me, and ANYTHING I did might set it off again.
A year ago today I was still in chronic pain, but I was slowly regaining my confidence in my ability to move and be normal. I started lifting actual weights again, slowly and carefully. I read a book called Healing Back Pain, and realized that it was going to be extremely important that I start TRUSTING my body again, so that was what I set out about doing. Over the last year, the pain got less intense and less frequent, and I started getting stronger in earnest.
Recently my boyfriend and I broke up.
In response to the emotional stress of the pre-breakup-process however, I started attacking my workouts this fall. I had just begun a new program where I was lifting 4 days/week, and I loved it. I felt like I was finally trusting my body again, and started to push it’s strength limits. My emotional stress got poured into those lifting days, and I worked my ass off.
Here’s where a funny thing started to happen. In response to my intensely challenging workouts, I started taking better care of myself. I started eating more, and paying more attention to simple things like getting my protein shake after every workout. I also started sleeping better, and prioritizing proper recovery. What had started in anxiety and angst was now starting to just feel… really good!
At some point in the process, I started noticing that while emotionally I was still a mess, physically I’d never felt better.
Then came Christmas. I went home to spend time with my family, and I had another breakthrough. My older brother is also a personal trainer, and he’s recently turned his basement into a home gym. Both my brothers rock climb, and so half of his basement is covered in these amazing rock-climbing walls.
Pretty much every day for the week I was home, us 3 siblings would get together to work out and/or rock climb. It was an amazing week. I felt so close to my brothers, thanks to the fact that we could now all share our physical passions. I felt strong as hell on the rock walls, and it got me really excited to get even stronger and better. (Note: I have every intention of climbing more this year. The feeling of defeating gravity is addictive.)
Oddly enough, I was eating constantly while I was home, and I kept joking that the reason I was so strong was because of my mom’s Christmas cookies. There was at least one day in which I ate (and this is NOT an exaggeration) 30 of my favorite homemade cookies. For the record, they are really, truly, the best cookie on earth. But then I would go and set post-rehab PR’s every day, and I felt like I was starting to look kinda jacked! I was full of pride and enthusiasm and excitement, I was well-fueled (uuhhh, understatement?), and I was dying to push it further.
Somewhere in there, I got re-introduced to acroyoga. This was something I had been interested in but gave up 2 years ago because of my neck injury. During my first session, we nailed some seriously tricky moves, and it felt easy, and wonderful. I was re-hooked.
The challenge of working with another person is uniquely satisfying, and it forces me to really pay attention to what is happening in each moment. Plus, if we’re being honest… it looks SO impressive. And I love that.
So I’m already high on strength and enthusiasm when I get the chance to go Montana for a weekend of snowboarding with my best friend and second family. I hadn’t snowboarded since last year, and after one shaky day, I basically felt like I could CONQUER THE WORLD. My adrenaline and testosterone were through the roof. I felt like I could tackle anything, my body was completely responsive, and I felt so strong and good.
My energy was boundless, my body temperature spiked for the whole weekend, my mood was one of pure ecstasy, and I felt EFFING INVINCIBLE. (Beast Mode.) I turned 27, which for me was a big moment full of magic and my soul being cracked wide open, and I returned to NYC with more excitement to work and move than I have ever had.
I decided to make 10 pull-ups my goal, and that I would accomplish this goal by the end of March. I did a test run at the end of January, to see how many I could do to start with. I got 9 and a half. Beast Mode.
Click here to see me doing those pull-ups! 😉
I decided to see how hard one-armed handstands would be. I got them on both sides on my first try. Beast Mode.
Now the thing is, I’m not telling you all of this to brag. (I mean, that’s what my Instagram account is for, right??) I’m telling you this to help you understand how I arrived at Beast Mode, and how it’s affecting me. I’m energized as hell, I tackle new physical challenges constantly, and I feel unstoppable during my workouts. Most importantly, I’m taking amazing care of myself, listening to my body’s needs, and if I decide to try something I’m willing give it my all, because over the last few months I have built an incredible confidence in my body’s abilities.
It is this confidence that lets Beast Mode flow freely.
Now, I am 100% sure that Beast Mode will eventually wane. I have not missed a workout in 4 months, but eventually I will. I haven’t been sick, or injured, but at some point in my life again those things will probably happen. It is PRECISELY because I know that Beast Mode is a temporary state-of-being, that I am riding it with all this love and joy and excitement and gratitude.
I’ve built in all my de-load weeks (where you scale back intensity for one week, so you’re stronger the next) with joy, rather than dragging my feet through them like I usually do. It feels like a gift to myself, because it will keep me safe in the long run so that I may continue on like this for as long as possible.
Eventually I might look back on this period in my life and say “oh man, I was so motivated back then.” But motivated isn’t quite the right word. I’m ON. I’m alive. I move every day because I cannot wait to move. I lift hard and heavy, I dance everywhere, and I play acroyoga with my friends. I give thanks for my body every night, I treat it well with food and sleep, and it does what I ask it to do in return. We are aligned right now, my body and I, but it certainly wasn’t easy getting here.
*A quick note on the aesthetic benefits of Beast Mode: I am enjoying them. I’m leaner than I ever have been, and people notice. Some days I think I look super jacked and other days just fit as hell. I appreciate every minute of it, but I understand that it is also temporary.
I love my body when it’s a little softer and more feminine, and I love it right now. What I love most is how I feel, not how I look. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel total like a total sexy bad-ass when I see a bit of a 6-pack first thing in the morning. 😉
I wish I could include a “How To” section here for you, but sadly I can’t.
How To Arrive at Beast Mode is going to be different for everyone.
And there is certainly an etherial element of magic or luck to it, as though some days the stars just align properly for you to Beast out.
All I can say is, if you’ve ever had a Beast Mode workout… the one where your form is instinctual, your weights feel easy, you’re completely focused and leave feeling like superhero… then you know it’s possible. It took me months of consistent, challenging work to arrive at a place where I could trust my body to support me in anything. But I believe anyone CAN arrive to that place. It may take you longer or shorter than it took me. But trust me… Beast Mode is worth chasing.
I’m passionate about helping women learn to love their bodies no matter what they look like. If you’re new here, I want to offer you a gift to get you started– a *free* copy of my new ebook!
Body Image Alchemy: Why You’re Still Failing to Love Yourself, and 6 Ways to Level Up.
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