A lot of people say that the hardest part of a body transformation is getting started. I say the hardest part is continuing the path once you’ve been doing it for a while.
In the past 11 months (wow – it’s been almost a year already??), I have worked with a lot of friends and colleagues who are very strong at the start of their journey. They’re dedicated, diligent and feeling amazing. Then … they start to peter off. I wanted to take some time to talk about why the decline happens, and what you can do to keep yourself on track.
Your Words DO Mean Much
As a communications grad, I am all about the verbage. Words can make a huge difference when you’re making changes in your life. While “actions speak louder” is true, if you do not work on resetting your own vocabulary, you are going to constantly trigger negative emotions as you move through a new challenge. Some examples:
Reset your thinking of the word “Diet”. Diet, by definition, is the list of the foods we eat. It has become synonymous with being “on a diet” ie “starving yourself”. Erase the old definition from your mind and understand that your diet is simply the list of the foods you eat every day.
Add the word ‘yet’ onto sentences that involve struggle. For example, instead of saying, “I can’t do a pull up”, phrase it “I can’t do a pull up YET”. It’s amazing how three letters can add power and confidence to your sentence. Another great word is “will”. Instead of saying “I’d like to be able to do 10 pushups in a row” say, “I will do 10 push-ups in a row.”
Removing negativity and negative self-talk is also CRITICAL to your success. And I don’t just me in regards to your workouts and eating. I mean overall in your life. Think about how often you complain, gossip, criticize or blame others for the negative things in your life. These are toxic habits keep your mind in the mode of failure. Training yourself to not complain or criticize is a mighty prospect, but if you can master your negative emotions, than success in all endeavors is sure to follow. Can you challenge yourself to not complain for an entire week? Not one. If you find yourself about to complain about something, stop. Breathe. Let the complaint go and think about how you can turn the situation to a positive note.
Start with personal development. Books like The Big Leap (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED), The Slight Edge, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, or any recordings by Les Brown, Jim Rohn or Zig Ziegler are great places to start to get your mind set for success.
It’s a Lifestyle, not a Quick Fix
So we’re back to that “crash diet” thing.
No one is ever looking to “drop 10 pounds and then gain it back a few months later”. Having goals that stretch past a month or two away is crucial for long-term changes in health and wellness. It’s not about doing something that works for a few weeks and then saying “Hey I feel great!” and then quitting what you were doing.
There’s a reason you feel great. There’s a reason your knee doesn’t hurt anymore or why your stomach doesn’t hate you in the morning. There is a reason you suddenly dropped five pounds or have the energy to get through your day. If you think to yourself, “I’m cured!” and then go back to old routines … well … everything you worked for will deteriorate.
When you’re looking to change your life, think about if you really want to CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Do you really want to heal quicker? To run longer? To lose that 40 pounds? To sleep better? Do you want to do it for a couple months, or for always? That is the important piece of the puzzle to come to terms with here.
Understand that You Are Human
Even the best of us slip. The difference between those who are successful and those who quit are how we deal with our imperfections.
Ok, so you had a chocolate bar at work because the chocolate craving was too much and you forgot to pack your usual chocolatey protein bar (which keeps the cravings at bay). So now you have a choice. Some people will say: “Screw it. Today is blown. I’m going to the Chinese buffet to sulk. I’ll try again tomorrow.”
The successful people will say: “Oops. Where’s my water?” and we won’t let it affect the rest of our plan. Also, most of us will, a half hour later say “Ugh, my tummy hurts” because we’re not used to putting bad stuff in our bodies anymore. After going low-to-no simple carbs for two weeks, I find that, now, when I eat bread I get extremely tired and feel kind of ucky. The morning after drinking a couple beers? Awful. I don’t have time for that anymore. I like being sharp and energized!
The point is – understand that mistakes happen. Don’t use them as an excuse to blow the rest of your day and don’t scapegoat the continuation of bad habits as mistakes. If you make the ‘mistake’ of picking up fast food every other day after you’ve decided to change your ways – guess what? That’s not a mistake. That is a conscious decision that you need to come to terms with.
Part of long term success with a body transformation is the ability to reconstruct our internalized sense memories. Many of us get good feelings when we eat a cheesesteak or we curl up on the couch. These feelings are not wrong or bad, but they do set us up to sabotage our healthy habits.
It takes a long time, but committing yourself to changing your concept of comfort foods and stress relief will help your long term body transformation efforts. When you’re sad or feeling low energy, instead of turning to usual ‘comfort’ foods (which are high fat, high simple carbs) make the effort to do something a little bit better for yourself. My new comfort food is thai and Japanese food (as little rice or noodles as possible). When I’m at home, sautéed broccoli or a salad with shrimp and avocado do the trick.
It is not easy to re-train your brain. By repeating the habits again and again, eventually your body will stop craving McDonald’s at the first sign of grey skies, and crave your healthy alternatives instead.
As far as stress relief is concerned, often we crumble under the pressure of it. Even those of us who play a sport like roller derby, football or hockey, will find that we have bad days. Days where we just want to stay under the pillows, and our sports activities cannot relieve the pressure.
This is the time that you get up and move. Do something different. Walk. Run. Climb. Conquer something new. I became a runner because I needed to conquer my mind. I needed to stop being afraid, I needed to stop quitting when life got hard and I needed to prove that I could overcome depression.
So I did something I had told myself for years that I wouldn’t do: I ran. I swallowed my pride and I did something I didn’t want to do. I mastered my mind and I learned more about myself in the process than I ever would have from sitting in my chair watching re-runs of Project Runway.
Find a Buddy Who is Also Making Changes
Accountability partners are awesome. Whether it is for a business, exercising or talking about the things that went good or bad in your day, a good buddy is a great weapon for success. You can keep journals and food logs and keep up with one another. If they haven’t written in 2 weeks – get them rolling again! By keeping them accountable, you’re also reminding yourself that YOU should be doing the same things.
This being said, sometimes your partner will fall off. They will not make the mental commitment that you will. It’s ok to find a new partner and let them know that you’re there to support them when they’re ready. You can also find online communities of people working to change and support each other.
My own community is at Team HarderBetterFasterStronger on Facebook. We’re all remote, so we can’t meet up at the gym, but we post what our struggles are, what we’re eating and how we’re doing. We cheer for accomplishments and support each other in our hardships.
Maybe This is About More than Just Body Transformation
I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist. That being said, I have noticed something with humans. I’m not concerned that you DID eat the whole pizza, I’m concerned as to WHY you decided to eat the whole pizza, despite goals and commitments and health and all the things we’ve talked about.
Sometimes, the deep-seeded issues need to be addressed and you are not able to handle it on your own. That is ok. Do not be afraid to look inside yourself at the darkness to understand why you are self-sabotaging. Fear will do terrible things to us: it will make us doubt our capacity for change, it will cause us to crave foods we don’t want to eat, it will keep us on the couch when we should be out in the world working.
If you need to seek professional assistance to work through self-doubt, depression, addiction or anything else – it is alright. Do it. You will be able to accomplish anything if you can conquer your mind and your past.
All of these suggestions are long-term commitments to changing your mindset and approach to body transformation. Notice how there is not a single nutrition or workout based tip? This is a mental game; a commitment and recommitment game. Healing and shifting internalized thoughts will create a new radiance on the outside.
Think of a tree and the fruit it bears. If the roots are not solid, if the tree cannot get the food and water it needs – the fruit it bears will not be full and abundant. You cannot give the tree food and water for one day and expect the tree to bloom well. It is a constant process, and never ending. Feed your roots now and always, so that everything else may blossom beautifully and deliciously.
And trust me, there is no better feeling than looking in the mirror and seeing the results of consistency and commitment.
Need some nutrition help or want to start your own journey? Drop me a message at KGreyActiveNutrition@gmail.com