The only thing standing between you and the results your desire, is you!
With the exception of a medical condition there really is no excuse these days when it comes to achieving our fat loss, strength, muscle gain or endurance goals, or any other goal for that matter.
All the science, research, knowledge, how-to’s, training plans, diets etc can be found with the click of a single button or with some choice words in Google.
It’s all there for us!
Okay so maybe there’s too much information out there, it can be super confusing at times. One person says this, another says that, who do you believe?
But we know deep down that actually it doesn't have to be that complicated. We use this information overload as an excuse to make ourselves feel better about deviating from the plan.
We all know full well that if we were to cut out processed/ junk food, eat more quality whole foods and moved more, for long enough, we’d see positive results... So why don’t we?
For some of course there are underlying emotional or health issues relating to the over consumption of food but for others there won’t necessarily be an identifiable issue to pin the blame on. You might spend an awful lot of time searching for the answer as to why you cannot commit yourself, only to draw a blank. This could potentially be the most frustrating situation to be in.
This is the category that I personally fall into. I’m one of those people who can’t stop at one biscuit, or just a slice of cake... I’ll scoff the whole lot!
This is known as the “what the hell” effect...
“What the hell, I’ve had one, I’ve ruined my progress, might as well eat the whole lot!”
The question I continually ask myself is why, why do I feel the need to consume the foods that I know I shouldn’t. Even while I’m doing it I’m thinking about how bad it is.
Hopefully I did a good enough job of answering that question in last week’s article.
In case you didn’t get a chance to read it click HERE.
This week I want to share some ideas and tactics that have helped me no end in the fight against those demons. Hopefully you’ll find something in here that helps you too.
If you read my article last week you’ll have read all about my ‘inner chimp’, you probably thought “this guy’s a loon!” maybe, but hold on a second, there’s something to be said for some of the things suggested in the book I referenced on how to take back control of your mind.
In his book (Mind Management- the Chimp Paradox) Dr Peters uses the metaphor of a chimp to describe how our instincts can control us and often take over. With us (Humans) being something like 98.9% genetically identical to the chimp, this is quite apt. You see, chimps act purely on instinct, they rely on their instincts to survive. They eat to survive, fight to survive, procreate to ensure the survival of the species, they seek approval from their peers and they relish being part of a troop. These instincts are still very much alive in our genetic makeup today, they can be our best friend or our sworn enemy, they could save our lives or they could get us killed.
These instincts can be present at varying levels; some people suffer from a bad temper, flying off the handle at the drop of a hat, while others find it hard to stay faithful to their partners. I personally believe my instinct to consume must be maxed out!
So how do we control those urges then? What’s the big secret?
It’s nothing radical I’m afraid, so prepare yourselves for an anti-climax, however one of the techniques Dr Peters suggests is called exercising your chimp, sounds ridiculous but it’s worked for me and it just might work for you!
This involves vocalising your thoughts, grievances and dilemmas out load, even if that’s just with yourself.
Let me give you an example: I've just hit my chest really hard with some high volume bench pressing, my goal is to grow more muscle therefore I need calories and I need carbohydrates and protein. Part of me (my chimp) wants to drive to Subway on the way home and grab a foot long meatball Sub for my post workout meal. The other part of me knows full well that a better option would be something like chicken breast, lots of green vegetables and a nutrient dense source of starchy carbohydrate like sweet potato. Problem is my chimp can be quite persuasive, he loves those meatballs and he wants them now!
I know that the bread will make me feel bloated, the sugar in the sauces will leave me feeling tired and lethargic and the meatballs probably don’t come from the best possible source. This should be enough to sway me but it’s not. This is no different to the pictures of diseased lungs and hearts on the back of cigarette packets; they don’t work because we already know smoking is bad for us but again, it’s not enough to sway us.
What do I do?
I have the conversation with myself out load, I vocalise my initial wants and desires verses my actual long-term needs and goals. In this instance it goes something like this...
“I want a meatball Sub, they taste amazing but I’m trying to grow muscle NOT fat. The healthy option will take me another step towards my goal and the meatball Sub will not.”
Don’t ask me how or why but vocalising that inner dialog in this way actually works for me.
This is a real example except that I was actually having the conversation with a mate of mine on the phone. He jokingly championed the Subway option, but just by having the conversation I had reaffirmed my goals and then there was no swaying me. He hung up on me not surprisingly, I’d probably do the same if he rang me to have a boring conversation about whether he should have a meatball Sub or not, but sod it, I chose the right option and that’s what friends are for, right?
STOP CONGRATULATING YOURSELF!
A couple of weeks ago I posted a link on the AF Facebook page to an interview with a man named Tony ‘the fridge’ Phoenix-Morrison. If you didn’t see that interview, read the rest of this article and then go watch the video HERE.
Tony the fridge, as he’s known, has done some truly remarkable things and imparts some seriously powerful wisdom during the interview. He talks about some of the techniques he uses during his feats to stay focused on his goal and achieve what most would consider impossible. These feats, by the way, include running the length of the UK, one marathon at a time over forty days, you think that’s impressive? He did the whole thing with a 42kg fridge strapped to his back, hence the name.
Even more remarkable is his unrelenting resolve, his intense focus and personal sacrifice to raise money for cancer- his next move is to run across the US with his beloved fridge.
So what’s all this got to do with controlling our urges to cheat on our nutrition and dive head first into the cookie jar?
Whether you’re goal is to run across the USA with a fridge on your back or simply to avoid eating shit food for the day, staying focused and avoiding the temptation to quit is paramount.
During the interview Tony talks about shutting up the voices in his head; blocking them out so that he can focus purely on putting one foot in front of the other just one more time. He talks of two voices, one negative and one positive and how the positive voice can be even more destructive than the negative. You see, we’re very good at congratulating ourselves and rewarding ourselves for our hard work, in this instance the reward for Tony would be to stop for the day, to put his feet up because he’s done so well so far. He can’t let that happen and neither can we mere mortals.
“I’ve had a great week, I’ve trained hard and eaten well so I can have eight beers and a 14” pizza this weekend, both nights!”
It certainly does to me! I’ve fallen into this trap too many times but it’s a false economy. All that hard work goes out the window the second we let that ‘positive’ voice into our heads.
It’s easy to ignore the negative voice, all he or she has is “this hurts” or “I don’t like this” but we’re good at suffering, at playing the martyr. The positive voice on the other hand has some dirty tricks up its’ sleeve, it has bargaining power that can seem impossible to argue with.
Here’s what to do...
The next time you look to reward yourself, or you find yourself thinking “I’ve done really well today, I’ll have a treat”, stop and think for a minute, focus on your dream results, how you want to feel, look or perform six weeks from now. Visualise that image and fixate on it until it is crystal clear in your mind. That’s the truly positive voice, the one you should listen to, not the impostor, the wolf in sheep’s clothing tempting you will faux-positive thoughts.
So those are some ideas that help me when it comes to adhering to my master plan and achieving my goals. I quit smoking, cold turkey (Not boasting, just saying!) seven years ago, every time temptation crept in I vocalised it, rationalised it then moved on, I never had one since!
Doing the same with nutrition is decidedly more difficult because the negatives are less apparent, less in the now but the premise is the same.
Next time you want to cheat on your nutrition, skip a workout or take a step in the opposite direction to where you want to end up, have a word with yourself or bore a friend half to death and then tell those voices in your head to shut the *&^% UP!