Demoralizing or motivating? That’s up to you!
Tough love. No excuses. Realistic goals. Sacrifice. Game plan. These are a few of the major topics I try to tackle in my monthly blogs. Getting people to change their way of thinking, set realistic goals and be satisfied with “slow and steady” progress are the building blocks of any successful health and fitness regimen. But talk is cheap. Sometimes I stomp out every excuse that comes my way only to realize I’ve been creating excuses of my own.
I schedule my own body fat measurements monthly (completed by the one and only Mike Stack). Let me tell you, NOTHING makes Mike happier than to see me get a little bit weaker and a little bit chubbier. This month I knew I hadn’t been doing well. My workouts were “just ok” (at best) and my diet had struggled. Failure to plan ahead, limited calories during the day, binging on too many calories at night, and poor choices at the grocery store all took their toll. It became a perfect storm, which resulted in my worst assessment ever!
Here are the numbers. In 28 days I managed to:
• GAIN 4.9lbs of fat mass
• LOSE 5.2lbs of lean mass
Yes, you read correctly, only 28 days! This was not a 28-day span of holidays, vacation or travel. These were simply “normal” weeks for me. Mike’s eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas (not to mention he had just completed his best assessment in quite some time). “HAHA, What happened?!” he asked.
I started running through all of the excuses in my head. They included: “You give me too much work, I don’t have time to eat all day.” “There’s no time to shop and cook all of the food I need. I’m forced to eat on the fly.” “I don’t have time to work out like I should. There’s not enough time in the day.”
The list grew and grew in my head, but then it hit me. It had nothing to do with workload, time, workouts, etc. It had everything to do with my unwillingness to sacrifice the necessary time to do things right.
Instead of giving Mike the excuse he was looking for (just so he could say, “Excuses are the bricks that built the house called failure.” –one of his favorite sayings), I simply said, “I have no excuse. My workouts have been terrible and I’ve been eating like crap.” He laughed and I walked out of his office determined to get back on track.
Don’t Fall into a Trap!
How you deal with an assessment like this dictates whether you succeed or fail in the weeks to come. In my experience as a Fitness Practitioner, there are three common ways you can sabotage yourself after an assessment like this:
1.) You give up.
You don’t like the truth; you don’t want to deal with the truth. So, you just ignore it. Change isn’t easy and you’re not ready for the sacrifice. Your vision of “success” is so unrealistic you get overwhelmed and give up before you even start.
2.) You make excuses.
You blame everyone and everything but yourself. Friends, family, work, weekends — they all get in your way. Since they aren’t going anywhere, why even try? They’re just going to sabotage you before your next assessment anyway, right?
3.) You flip the switch to an EXTREME.
To make up for the bad assessment, you commit yourself to two hours of exercise every day. You start food logging with a calorie goal of 1200/day and do your best to stay under 1000 calories when you can. Your mindset is, “I will NEVER miss a workout again!!” You make a vow, and this time is different! But here’s the truth. This time isn’t different. It’s not healthy, maintainable, realistic or fun. Trying to overcompensate by over-exercising and under-eating inevitably will cause an injury (at some point), potentially damage your metabolism and body composition, or a combination of all three. Simply put, you will burn out. You will be so tired, sore, hungry and miserable that, no matter how many times you tell yourself “I’m making this change for good,” it’s just not going to happen. IF you manage to make it to your next assessment (without an injury), you MIGHT see some positive changes from a body composition standpoint, BUT… I can almost guarantee you will be left thinking, “That wasn’t worth it.” Not to mention, the likelihood of you maintaining that progress for years to come is slim to none.
As I walked back to my office, I knew I had to implement a change. I already had started stomping out my excuses, and “flipping the switch to extreme” which isn’t an option (been there, done that!). I started thinking about small changes I can make during my day that can add up to BIG changes by the month’s end.
I sat down at my computer and began scheduling. First, I scheduled my workouts (just like I would any other appointment). I eliminated any chance for an excuse to miss them. More importantly, I scheduled 15-minute blocks of time during the day to eat snacks and also set aside chunks of time to do some cooking at home. I was going to make sure I didn’t go home hungry, which had caused me to overeat in the evenings (resulting in my caloric surplus). I only need a few minutes here and there to eat during the day. The time isn’t hard to find, but it’s easily overlooked if you don’t have it scheduled.
Grocery List and Meal Plan:
Next, I pulled up an Excel spreadsheet and started a grocery list. No more shopping “on the fly.” Too many times I would make poor choices simply because something “looked good.” If it’s not on the list, it’s not coming home with me. Finally, I pulled up a second spreadsheet and made myself a simple meal plan template. I didn’t fill in all of the foods, I just gave myself some basic guidelines as to which times during the day I needed to eat AND what those meals needed to consist of based on my calorie and macronutrient goals.
This whole process took me about 30 minutes to complete. In the time it takes to watch one television program, I had a realistic game plan that covered my entire month. But notice, this plan DID NOT drastically alter my current routine. I gave myself a set of rules and guidelines, scheduled anything that was getting overlooked, set a few reminders on my phone and prepared a new workout. I was ready to go!
This 30-minute “goal-setting session” made me realize that procrastination is the mortar that binds those “bricks of excuses that built the house called failure.” We all know what needs to be done in order to reach our goals, we just have no game plan in place. Just imagine if a college or professional sports team went into every game with no plan. Of course they WANT to win, but they must be prepared for that battle. Most teams cannot just “go with the flow” and be successful. Your fitness is no different. You start with a game plan. If you get to halftime and realize it’s not working, you make adjustments and continue the game….you don’t just give up!
If you are unsure about your game plan, ask your practitioner for guidance. We’re here for a reason! Take the time to look at where you might be failing. I assure you there are small steps that can be taken to minimize, and hopefully (over time), eliminate those problems. Don’t over complicate these steps, there’s absolutely no need to! My next assessment is 5/13/14. Stay tuned!