When you want to clean your room do you research the best way to do it?
When you want to wash your car do you google “how to wash my car?”
And when you want to do your laundry do you try to find the best way to do your laundry? Just in case you do 🙂
Of course you don’t, you just do them. You see that there’s a problem such as; your room is dirty, the car is a mess, or your laundry smells and is piling up. Then you take action and get to work.
There’s no real strategy, you’re probably not really motivated to get started, there’s no magical way to do it, and no pill you can take that does the work for you. Yet despite all this you do these things regularly. You create the time, you find the motivation, and you discover ways to just get started.
You Already Know What You Should Be Doing
Fitness can be extremely frustrating because you already know the importance and benefits of exercising and eating more real food everyday.
- Weight loss
- Improved body composition
- Stronger bones
- More lean muscle
- Reduced depressive symptoms
- Reduced risk of heart disease
And that’s just a few of the many benefits. Yet the temptations to be doing other things seems almost overwhelming at times.
After a long day of work or school you’re exhausted and the last thing you want to do is cook or work out. You’re starving on your way back home and stopping off at a fast food place is more convenient and possibly less time-consuming then trying to figure out what to prepare for dinner.
There’s this big gap between what you know you should be doing and what you actually do. You then use an endless supply of excuses to justify the behaviors for doing the things you know you should be doing – thus, making doing them ok.
And with the same breath that you expel these excuses you also tell yourself and others how badly it is that you want to get healthy… BUT…. you just don’t have the time, motivation, or money to do so,
Every excuse you’ve ever made, I’ve ever made, and the world has ever made is rooted in one single thing…FEAR.
The real reason you don’t do the things you already know you should be doing is because you’re afraid.
- Afraid of failure
- Afraid of succeeding and then having to keep it up
- Afraid of going to the gym and possibly embarrassing yourself because you don’t know what to do
- Afraid of being the weird one that orders a water, Salmon, and steamed veggies for dinner when everyone else is drinking beer, eating double bacon cheeseburgers, and ordering onion rings.
- Afraid of having to do the work
- Afraid of having to figure it out
- Afraid of trial and error
- Afraid of being uncomfortable
But there are ways to push past the fear and many of them are not as difficult as you’d think.
To Get Better At The Fitness Game You Have To Be Willing To Fail… But Not Be Ok With It.
If you really want to get healthier, fitter, and gosh darn sexier as bad as you say you do then you’re going to have to come to grips with the possibility of failing on your way to success. This doesn’t mean accepting failure but instead recognizing that it is a possibility.
Failure is failure anyway you look at it. It means you fucked up somewhere, somehow, and in someway. I’m not going to tell you failure is ok – because it’s not. But, it is an opportunity to learn.
The most important things you can do if you do fail is to ask yourself why, and to take responsibility for your behaviors that led to the failure.
- What were the decisions you made that led to you skipping a workout?
- What emotions, thoughts, or feelings did you allow to influence your judgement?
- What did you decide was a bigger priority than prepping meals for tomorrow?
- What decisions can you make next time that will keep you from failure?
Remember, failure is simply failure. It does not define who you are as a person. The ability to recognize patterns of self-defeating thought like, “I have no willpower,” “I’m not good enough,” and “I’m just lazy” will be an important part of H.F.S (health, fitness, and sexy) success.
When you fail how are you talking to yourself?
I Know, I Know, I Know. Oh Do You Now?
Cigarette smokers now that smoking is bad for them but they do it anyway. Drug addicts know that it’s bad for them but they do it anyway. You know that fast food and alcohol are bad for you but you eat and drink them anyway. I know that sleeping 4 hours a night is bad for me but I do it anyway.
What in the world is the matter with us? Why are we doing things we know are bad for us? Because doing the bad stuff is easy to do, feels good, and everyone else seems to be doing it.
Every single day you’re influenced by thousands of different things that will affect your decision-making process.
- Societal influence and pressure like the status quo and keeping up with the Jones’s
- Cultural influence like the foods that are a standard part of your diet
- Environmental influences like the smell of Cinn-A-Bon and the constant bombardment of advertisements
- Individual influences like the habits you’ve already built for yourself
- Social influences from you friends and family (you’re 34 – it’s time to think about getting married) 🙂
All of these things can make doing what you know you need to be doing difficult. So how then can you beat all this influence? By using one word – BECAUSE.
Dr. Ellen Langer, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard published a research study in 1978 that shows just how powerful the word because can be.
Dr. Langer had a few people ask if they could cut to the front of a long line of people waiting to use a copying machine. For this study there were 3 different phrases that these people used to cut to the front of the line.
- Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?
- Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?
- Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?
What Dr. Langer found was that the people who used the word because were far more likely to have their request granted (1).
- 60% compliance: Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine?
- 93% compliance: Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?
- 94% compliance: Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?
What this tells us is that simply providing a reason can influence decision-making, even if the reason doesn’t really make much sense – “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
So how can you use the word because to avoid being influenced? You can ask yourself why you’re making a particular decision and then answer your own question with the word because.
Why am I eating fast foods? Because I’m starving and chose not to prepare a healthier meal ahead of time.
Just be on the lookout for ways that you will try to justify your behaviors or decisions.
Because you’re busy, because you don’t have time, because you’re not motivated are not reasons. Why are you busy? Why do you not have time? Why are you not motivated?
What choices have you made that let to those because statements?
You’re Going To Have To Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
Most of us don’t train and eat healthier foods consistently because it can be difficult, and difficulty is often associated with being uncomfortable, and being uncomfortable is something our society doesn’t like very much.
- If you’re hot you can turn on the air conditioning
- If you’re dirty and cold you can take a hot shower
- You probably own a nice comfy bed to sleep in
- Do you walk around in your bare feet or wear shoes?
- Starving? You’re only minutes and a dollar or two from a hot meal
Training consistently hurts sometimes. You’re going to wake up too sore to sit down, it will hurt when you laugh, you’re going to sweat, get dirty, and feel disgusting. You may even throw-up.
Eating healthy food is tough sometimes. You’re going to have to grocery shop, you’re going to have to cook, you’re going to have to try new foods.
Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable takes practice. So why not start practicing?
- 30 days of cold showers?
- Wake up 30 minutes earlier every day?
- 10 minutes of movement every day?
- 30 days of sleeping on the floor instead of your bed?
- No sex, booze, and masturbation this month?
What are some small steps you can take to practice being more comfortable with being uncomfortable? What are some challenges you can accept?
You’re Going To Have To Get Your Gumby On
I’m not talking about the super cool green dude; well actually, I am talking about him. What I mean is you’re going to have to become flexible and to be able to adapt to whatever life throws at you.
There will always be something. Something you can fall back on for why you’re not doing the things you know you should be dong.
- I’m going on a trip next week and I know I’m not going to exercise and eat right when I’m there.
- There’s this wedding coming up so I’ll just start after that.
- There was this birthday that I had to go to – and you know, cake, drinks, and stuff. I had to have some.
- I just got this new job and I’m trying to get settled in so I’ll just start when the timing is better.
- It’s finals weeks… so ya know; finals week.
The best way to adapt to the constant things life will be throwing at you is by becoming intentional.
In a study form the British Journal of Health Psychology researchers measured how often 248 random people, divided into a control group, motivation group, and intention group, would exercise over a 2-week period.
The control group was asked to keep track of how often they worked out over the 2-week span. Before they left they were asked to read a few paragraphs from a random novel.
The motivation group was asked to keep track of how often they worked out over a 2-week span but before they left they were asked to read a handout about the benefits exercise has on reducing heart disease.
The intention group was also asked to keep track of how often they worked out over a 2-week period. This group was also asked to read the handout about the benefits of exercise for reducing heart disease – in addition they were also asked to write the specific days, times, and locations they would be working out the next 2-weeks.
The results of the study showed that 38% of the control group exercised at least once per week, 35% of the motivation group exercised at least once per week, and 91% of the intention group exercised at least once per week.
If you want to do the stuff you know you should be doing it’s time to get intentional. Use this worksheet to get intentional about you training. I recommend doing the same thing for meal prep.
Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome
It’s when you’re jumping fitness programs or diet hopping because they’re the next “big” thing. It’s when you’re in the middle of a workout and see something on the TV related to the game and stop to check it out. It’s you avoid finishing a major work project because the appeal of a new project is too enticing. It’s when you’re in the middle of a conversation and it gets interrupted because you see a squirrel.
You just nodded your head because that’s you isn’t it? Damn you shiny objects!
There’s only one way to defeat them… close your eyes 🙂 – I kid.
In all seriousness there are 3 ways to beat a case of SOS:
1. Realize that the best training program and the best diet is the one that you can do consistently and for the long haul. No “diets,” no 8 minutes ABS, and no pill popping – fat blasting – muscle building supplements or “special berries” that are going to do it for you.
2. Assess what you’re doing so that you’re not guessing if it’s working or not. So your training plan and nutrition approach aren’t working huh? How do you know? Are you weighing yourself, taking girth measurements, using before and after photos, getting body fat tests done quarterly, and are you journaling about the changes to your strength, emotional well-being, and energy levels?
See what I just did there 🙂 That was a test.
Take It From The Military
Navy Seal Stew Smith wrote an awesome article over at Military.com talking about the 5 psychological phases of fitness. I agree with Stew but I have a little LimitlessSPIN on them.
1. The decision to get healthy: Your mojo will be high when you decide to get healthier, fitter, and sexier – right that wave as long as you can but don’t rely on it. Instead, look to intention to keep you going strong, consistent, and persistent.
2. You’re intentional but you just realized this is shit is hard work!: This is when getting comfortable with the uncomfortable becomes important. You’ll need to fall in love with the process, enjoy the sweat, the sore, and the meal prep.
3. Now you love the process but are dealing with the ups and downs, the plateaus, and life: This is when you get your Gumby on. You’ll need to come up with coping strategies to deal with the struggles, you’ll want to keep measuring your progress so you know what’s working, what’s not, and when it’s time to make adjustments.
4. You’re making the adjustments that you need to and confidence is high but….: Shiny object syndrome rears its ugly head. There’s this NEW diet, NEW workout, AH-MAH-ZING supplement you can take to get you shredz! This is when accountability and support can be helpful.
5. You’re now cooking with and fully engulfed in your new, healthy, fit, sexy as all get up life.
What stage of your fitness life are you in? Have you applied any of the strategies or have some of your own that have helped you stay on track? Share in the comments below.
P.S. A big thank you to Stew Smith and our Military for inspiring today’s article.
P.P.S: Are you struggling to find the time for your health and fitness? Check out the Busy Person’s Guide to Health, Fitness, and Looking Better Naked: A simple approach to fat loss for the time deprived.
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