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You know what I really hate?
You know why?
Because it implies a limited span of time.
“I’m going on a diet,” is what people say when they want to get in shape for their summer swimsuit. It implies a “do this, then be done” with is mindset. The problem is, this inherently sets people up for failure.
The Problem with an “End Point”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with setting goal points! If you’re looking to lose weight, it is incredibly helpful to have a body fat percentage, or certain weight point that you’re aiming for. However, the problem is coupling that goal with the idea of being “done.”
I’m sure you’ve seen the statistical failure rate of weight loss, and it’s something a lot of health and fitness professionals gloss over. The fact is, people who lose weight have a tendency to lose it only temporarily. If you’ve struggled with weight loss, or you know someone who has, I’m sure you’ve seen it first hand. Most of us probably know someone who’s lost weight, only to gradually gain it all back again over time.
A lot of people then tend to attribute this to “genetics” or some other factor outside of their control, which I completely understand. It can be incredibly frustrating to struggle with weight loss, feel like you’ve accomplished your goal, and then slide back to where you were. It can leave you upset, unhappy, and feeling discouraged.
The fact is, however, it comes down to mindset.
This Is Your Main Quest
Treating weight loss as a side quest is treating it like a “task” that you need to accomplish, and then forget about. The idea of “going on a diet” reinforces this. Sometimes people will acknowledge this, and give lip service to it being a “lifestyle shift” rather than just a diet, but it’s more than just saying it. Too many people, through no fault of their own, go into the idea of living a healthier life before they are actually mentally prepared for it.
Here’s the deal, in plain and simple terms: If you want to lose weight, and keep it off, you need to make a basic, fundamental shift in who you are as a person, and how you interact with food. I can give you all the dietary advice, calorie calculators, and recipes in the world, but until you accept the fact that you will never again go back to your same way of eating and living, then you will never see the success you want.
I’m not saying this because I want to make things daunting, or scary. In fact, I really really really want to see you become the healthiest version of yourself! However…
Entering into any kind of lifestyle shift, without understanding the full ramifications
of it, can be the unhealthiest thing for you.
Every day, we travel though the “main quest” of our lives. True, we have lots of side quests going on here and there, but your “main quest” is the overall heading you have for your life. Your plan for how you’re developing as a person, and the things you want to do with your time here in this planet. Getting in shape and staying in shape need to become a permanent part of that plan.
You need to fold it into who you are as a human being. No matter what kind of change you’re trying to make in your life (this goes for gaining muscle, staying more active, and other positive changes as well,) you need to enter into it with the mindset of, “I am now the person who does this. I used to be the person that did that, but now I am the person that does this.”
Junk is not a reward. Quality is not a punishment.
Finally, you need to disassociate the idea of junk food being a reward (I did so well today, I earned a candy bar!) You also need to break with the idea of quality food being a punishment.
Food is fuel, people. Candy bars and salads are both fuel for your body, just different kinds of it, and in different amounts! Candy bars are surprisingly large amounts of fuel, at a relatively low quality. Salads are much higher quality fuel, but usually less of it. But guess what? If you hate salads, you’re probably not going to succeed in your long-term lifestyle shifts.
This is where the final piece comes in. You need to reshape yourself into a person who is aware of what kind of fuel they’re putting into their body, and like to reward themselves with the best fuel possible.
Guess what? I really am almost never in the mood for a salad. I barely ever eat them! Vegetables aren’t even close to my favorite food group! I love cheese! However, by being aware of the quantity of food I eat, and paying attention to the quality of fuel I’m putting into myself, I can still accomplish all of my body re-composition goals.
Don’t think of junk food as a reward, or healthy food as a punishment. Realize that all food is fuel, and the most important thing is to find quality fuel that you like, and be aware of how much fuel you actually need.
“I had an awesome workout today. I’m going to have home-grilled skirt steak, roast potatoes with shredded cheese, and some grilled peppers!” There’s a positive reward in all ways. It tastes good, it’s awesome for your body, and with the right portion sizes, you can still stick to your new idea of who you are.
Master the Mindset
Don’t rush. You have a long life to live, entering into any kind of shift in your lifestyle before you’re ready can just set you up for failure. Remember, this needs to be part of your main quest line, the development of yourself as a human being. Don’t take it lightly! You deserve the best, your body deserves the best, and making flippant decisions isn’t going to help anyone. Enter into things with the idea of, “This is going to be a main focus of my life, for the rest of my life,” and until you’re ready to make that kind of commitment, don’t hurt yourself with half-assed, guilt ridden attempts.
On Thursday, we’re going to go further into this concept with the five stages of personal change. For now, just realize that getting in shape, losing weight, whatever you want to call it, should be a major, positive, life affirming commitment.
You deserve more than just a side quest.
“The Best” Dan Wallace