The Surprising Way To Build Mental Toughness

Want to build more grit and overcome the hardest challenges in life? Research suggests you'll want to focus on self-compassion.

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Today’s Health Upgrade

  • The “Finish Strong” Challenge

  • The surprising way to build mental toughness

  • Why you can’t stop snacking

Arnold’s Podcast

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From Arnold: The Finish Strong Challenge (Win $1,000)

I watch people spend 11 months trying to be healthier every year, only to let things completely fall apart in December. I want you to enjoy your holiday parties, favorite foods, and connect with your friends. But, as I said last week, it’s more important to build momentum than worry about motivation.

I want you to build momentum to start 2024. That’s why we’re doing the “Finish Strong Challenge.” Instead of waiting for New Year’s resolutions, we’re giving away cash to help you stick to your routine to end the end.

To join, it’s simple:

Step 1: Join the Pump Club email list. You’re already here so that part is done.

Step 2: Post at least one workout per week from the program, tag me (@schwarzenegger), and use the hashtag #arnoldschallenge. Tell your friends and family and inspire them to build momentum for the new year.

And that’s it! The challenge officially starts next Monday, December 11th and ends on December 31st. We’ll share three workouts each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Three people who enter and post will be randomly selected to win $1,000.

What can you do today?

Every week, we talk about having the strength to lift up the world. True strength isn’t how much weight you can squat or bench press. It’s the ability to encourage others and give them the support they need to become better.

Invite your friends to join. If they are not already a part of the village, they can sign up here.

Together, let’s finish strong and lift up the world!

The Foundation of Mental Toughness

What does it mean to be strong? If you believe best-selling author and researcher Brene Brown, “The core of mental toughness is actually self-compassion. People who are mentally tough stay mentally tough because they don’t slip easily into shame or self-criticism or self-loathing.” 

Self-compassion is treating oneself with kindness, understanding, and acceptance during struggle, failure, or perceived inadequacy. It involves acknowledging our imperfections and responding with empathy rather than self-criticism.

When it comes to personal growth and achieving success, self-compassion is a powerful tool that can empower you, strengthen your resilience, and help you overcome failures. Studies suggest that individuals who cultivate self-compassion experience higher levels of empowerment, grit, and resilience. Self-compassionate people are more likely to set and pursue challenging goals, persevere in the face of obstacles, and view setbacks as opportunities for growth.

By adopting a supportive and understanding mindset towards ourselves, research suggests we become better equipped to face life's difficulties and bounce back from setbacks.

While Arnold is known for his vision, his ability to turn it into reality was rooted in self-compassion. He didn’t let his failures define him; instead, they created the foundation for self-improvement. To become more successful, lean into self-compassion, learn from your failures, and use them as stepping stones towards something better. 

If you want to start building more self-compassion, start with any of the following four habits:

Self-talk: Replace self-critical thoughts with kind and understanding inner dialogue. Treat yourself as you would a close friend.

Mindfulness: Practice being present and non-judgmental towards your experiences, allowing yourself to feel emotions without judgment.

Self-care: Prioritize activities that promote self-care, such as engaging in hobbies, getting adequate rest, and maintaining healthy boundaries.

Support-seeking: Reach out to trusted friends, family, or professionals for support and discussion during challenging times.

Why You Can’t Stop Snacking

It’s difficult to explain just how important sleep is. It’s not just about having an easier time getting up in the morning. Sleep affects everything from muscle growth and cardiovascular health to cognitive function and hormones. Now, a new study suggests sleep is also a key factor in controlling your appetite.

According to researchers, restricting sleep to 5 hours per night increases hunger, cravings, and the number of calories you crush from snacks. This probably comes as no surprise to anyone who has stayed up too late and gone out for breakfast the next morning, but the scientists observed that sleep-deprived participants eat more at an eat-whatever-you-want breakfast than well-rested participants.

Prior studies have found that a lack of sleep causes changes to your hormones that can make you hungrier and increase your desire for more sugary foods. It’s possible that your brain, when suffering the effects of sleep deprivation, also seeks stress relief through other pleasure-seeking sensations, like eating snack foods.

Given all of this, it’s not surprising that programs designed to improve people’s sleep help with weight loss.

Getting more sleep can be a multi-step process. There are two things to remember when improving your sleep: sleep latency (how long it takes you to fall asleep) and sleep maintenance (how well you stay asleep).

To improve sleep latency, avoid blue light and screens for at least 30 minutes before bed and ideally for up to 2 hours before bed. Stick to a consistent bedtime routine, cut off food about two to three hours before you sleep, avoid caffeine at least 10 to 12 hours before you sleep, and limit alcohol intake.

To improve sleep maintenance, make sure you’re sleeping in a well-ventilated, comfortable temperature room. Limit noise and light, which could mean using earplugs and an eye mask.

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell