My fall Fat Loss Fast Track groups are coming to a close this week (winter kicks off in early January) and I’ve been reminding my groups of the importance of being a finisher – of learning to finish strong – practicing a strong finish to a program, to a day, to a week, a month or simply a meal. In a world where we feel like we’ve mastered the strong start (at the expense of ever finishing, nevermind being a strong finisher) this practice can be a real game changer.

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My grandpa used to love coming to my basketball games when I was a kid. In addition to shouting at me to rebound and be aggressive, he’d remind me to leave it all on the court. Give it everything you’ve got. Don’t come off the court with any energy left. Leave it all out there.

That has evolved into one of my favorite mantras during a workout – “last set, best set”.

Last set, best set.

It reminds me to bring my very best effort at the end of the workout. Even if I was pacing at the start to feel out the workout, the end isn’t the time to give up or surrender or back off. It’s the time to bring my best and leave it all on the floor. I want to finish with nothing left to give. I use the end of the workout to show myself what I’m really capable of and push beyond my comfort zone.

Every time I do, it builds my confidence. It shows me where maybe I was slowing down or stopping short of my capabilities because of fear or uncertainty or discomfort. Practicing this strong finish makes me better.

Of course it improves my fitness but it dramatically improves my mindset.

I’m sure we’ve all seen runners who put on the brakes as the finish line gets close. Their last few steps are slow, resigned lopes. We’ve also seen runners who turn on the turbo boosters for those last few steps – blasting across the finish line with every ounce of energy they can muster, and then some. They finish with nothing left.

It’s easier for me to apply this inside the gym than outside the gym.

For me, and for many of my clients, outside the gym we’re more likely to finish with resignation & surrender than strength – to finish with the hope for tomorrow instead of pride in today. The perspective of “Oh well, I’ve already blown the day, I might as well eat the rest of the cookies so they aren’t here and I have a fresh start tomorrow” is the absolute antithesis of finishing strong.

We have to use every day as an opportunity to practice.

Did you go out to dinner & indulge in a couple drinks and the warm bread from the bread basket? Finish strong without dessert.

Was your day a hot mess of stress & chaos? Finish strong by slowing down, getting organized and setting yourself up for success tomorrow morning.

Have you been eating everything in sight for the last few hours? Put on the brakes. Have the rest of your day be the rest of your day.

Maybe 2017 hasn’t been the epic year you hoped it would be and you can’t wait for a fresh start in 2018. Sure, new beginnings are great but commit to finish 2017 strong. Impress yourself. Do your best. Make yourself proud.

Practice being a finisher.

Leave it all on the court.