The heart is the strongest muscle Know your why and take your mindset from great to unstoppable

Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr

Book - 2024

For the author, physical fitness is only a small part of overall strength. More important is building mental toughness. In this book, she shows how she reached elite levels by focusing on her "why." By always having a clear picture of her purpose she can push through the toughest challenges. She also reveals the secrets, struggles, and successes that have made her a killer competitor. She hopes to show you how to build your own unstoppable mindset.

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Self-help publications
New York : Rodale [2024]
Main Author
Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr (author)
First edition
Physical Description
xiv, 237 pages ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 235-237).
  • A Note from the Author
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Keep the Heart Beating
  • Finding Your Why and Keeping the Momentum
  • Chapter 2. Good, Old-fashioned Hard Yakka
  • Success Rewards Hard Work and Those Who Dare
  • Chapter 3. Feed the Good Wolf
  • Embrace Failure and Turn Fear into Fuel
  • Chapter 4. Unstoppable Mindset
  • Think Like a Champion
  • Chapter 5. You Are Your Weakest Link
  • Build a Great Team Who Are All in It Together
  • Chapter 6. Perfection Is Unattainable
  • Stop Comparing Yourself to Others and Embrace Your Differences
  • Chapter 7. Don't Call It a Comeback
  • Overcoming Setbacks and Getting Back Out There
  • Chapter 8. Complacency Is a Killer
  • Learn to Love the Pain and Never Be Satisfied
  • Chapter 9. Sharpen the Sword
  • No Thinking, Especially No Negative Thinking
  • Chapter 10. Give It a Rest
  • Recovery Is Key for the Body and the Mind
  • Afterword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Athletic Timeline
  • Notes

Chapter 1 Keep the Heart Beating Finding Your Why and Keeping the Momentum I grew up on a sugarcane farm near Dunethin Rock, which sits along the Maroochy River on the Sunshine Coast about 60 miles north of Brisbane, Australia. While my home was just a few miles outside of town, it might as well have been a thousand miles away. To get to school, I'd often canoe or boat off the beautiful lush riverbank in front of our property to a neighboring farm, where I could then catch the school bus. After school, the undeveloped bush that was my backyard would be my playground, where I'd ride my motorbike, play ball with my dogs, and swim in the rolling, saltwater river. From a young age, my parents encouraged me to expend that energy in many different avenues, from taking up music--I went from playing piano to the guitar to the drums--to all kinds of sports. At one point, I played a different sport every afternoon after school, but I took to running the most. It was the training runs that made me understand how important it was to have a strong foundation and work hard for something. I loved the simplicity of being so incredibly physical without any prop or equipment. It felt so freeing to just take off on my own. I also liked the individualism of it: that you are responsible for your success alone (even though it was as much a team effort with my mum and dad helping me along the way). "I really want to see how far I can go with my running," I blurted out to my parents one night at the dinner table. I was about 11 at the time. "I want to represent Queensland (our state) at Nationals." "Okay, Tia, we're going to have to work hard and you're the one who's going to have to get up early in the morning, and you're going to have to do training sessions in the afternoon . . ." my dad said. My mum added, "And when your friends ask you to go over for sleepovers, you're going to have to say no, because you're going to have to train on the weekends . . ." "Yup, got it!" I answered enthusiastically and looked back at them with steel-eyed determination. From that day on, I had support from my parents--never too much, never too little--which gave me an amazing space in which to develop and grow. I woke up at 5 a.m. to hit the pool every single morning (my dad was big on cross-training) and trained when I got home from school. Every. Single. Day. I am sure a lot of people thought, Whoa, why are her parents grinding her when she's so young? But it was all me. I was the one getting my dad up and bugging him that we had to go. Don't get me wrong, there were definitely mornings where I would whine groggily at my dad, "Just a few more minutes of sleep . . ." "Well, if you want to make it to Nationals, this is what it takes, Tia." I knew he was right. I had my first major cross-country competition at age 11, and I was so incredibly nervous. At that age, it seemed that the other runners had so much more experience than me and here I was just making my debut. But I placed third on that first meet, and I asked my dad incredulously, "Dad, I think I could actually win at this stuff!" My motivation went into overdrive after placing third, as I continued competing. My dad was my first coach. He had been an athlete himself--he had competed regionally in swimming and football (soccer to you Americans)--so he knew how to pump me up before a meet. He would shout encouragement from the sidelines, such as, "Come on, Tia. Show me how big your heart is!" My mum was always there, too, standing next to him, cheering me on. This helped me get to the finish line, proud and clean, knowing that I had given it my absolute all. From an early age, I knew my heart was the strongest muscle; I knew that my success relied not just on physical ability and grit, but passion. Passion is what keeps me going--I didn't need any fancy facility or the best running shoes to give me power. That was already deep down inside me. And, back then, as today, I wear my heart on my sleeve. When I cross the finish line, I instinctively let out an emotional roar and raise my fists in the air, letting it all out. All this passion and drive always, always, always goes back to the "why." Know Your Why Everyone needs a why in his or her life--a mission statement, a purpose, a deep motivation that fuels you. The why feeds into everything you do. Ask yourself: Why do you want to run a marathon, play soccer, or, like me, win CrossFit Games over and over again? Is it to be at the top of your game in your profession? Is it to be the best person you can be? Is it to leave a legacy for your kids? Or is it to achieve financial security? Once you understand what your why is, then everything falls into place. In fact, absolutely every other key concept in this book is secondary and won't work unless you understand this. Shane--as my husband and coach you'll be reading a lot about him in these pages!--likes to visualize two concentric circles: The inner circle is your why and everything that is outside the circle represents all decisions based on that why. For instance, will going out for drinks on the weekend get me closer to my goal of making the CrossFit Games? Probably not. Or if I go for a swim with my friends on the weekend, will that get me in fighting form? Well, it is better than going out drinking, but it's still probably not the best use of my time. I am sure there are a lot of places in your life where you could cut out the fat once you pose the why question. When it comes to those hard obstacles and facing adversity on a daily basis, your commitment to your why will always determine your actions; it will determine whether or not you're going to take the easy or the hard option. When I first started in earnest with CrossFit, Shane and I had been together for a number of years and had been having conversations on when we were going to start our family. We both felt very strongly about wanting kids one day. So my why was this: I want to be a parent who has stories to tell her kids, stories that show if they want to go out and achieve something, they can do anything they put their mind to. I wanted to create my own story first, one that could, in turn, provide hope and inspiration for my future family, so that they could grow up and absolutely crush whatever it is that they wanted to accomplish, whether it was in sports, arts, business, or marine biology. Why am I telling you all this? To show that while everyone can have motivation, finding your why is much more important for long-lasting results. Everyone can have motivation for five minutes, but that can run low pretty quickly. Motivation is temporary. But knowing your why will give you momentum, which is much more long-lasting. Shane defines momentum as a series of habits that help you build consistency in your training. I think that people are always just looking for the quick gratification and hoping motivation gets them across that line. It may give you enough zing to make a 30-second workout reel on Instagram, but it's not going to get you up at 5 a.m. to run in the rain for hours. And this is where it's important to understand the difference between motivation and momentum. Motivation is the desire to achieve a goal or a result; you need momentum to keep motivation up. Think of motivation as that boost to get you on the bike and start peddling, but it is your momentum that keeps you peddling. Motivation gets you going, but momentum is what you keeps you going. Excerpted from The Heart Is the Strongest Muscle: Know Your Why and Take Your Mindset from Great to Unstoppable by Tia Toomey All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.