Without wanting to sound too much like a quote from The Matrix, but what if I told you that being in shape was a skill?
Now what if I told you being in shape was like riding a bike? Most of us have been on and off diets, more off than on, and often blamed a lack of willpower when we have fallen off plan. But is it willpower?
Let’s take it back a little and try to put it into context. Put your hand up if the first time you got on a bike, you could ride it. I’m guessing that you didn’t put your hand up, right?
Okay so put your hand up if for any of the multiple times that you fell off your bike, you blamed it on a lack of willpower to stay on the bike?
Of course you didn’t, that would be ridiculous. You wouldn’t blame it on a lack of willpower, it would be a lack of skill level, surely?
If you ‘fall off’ your diet, don’t look at willpower, look at the reasons you fell in the first place, look at what triggered you to fall.
It could be something as simple as having no food prepped so you grabbed something, or you were having a stressful day so you had wine/chocolate/pizza.
Find the trigger and try to prevent it from happening again, make sure you have food prepped to prevent cravings, ask yourself if having wine, chocolate or pizza is going to reverse a stressful day? Chances are no, and then you will feel worse for messing up your nutrition too.
If you do make a mistake and end up having chips for lunch then do not do the old ‘well I have ruined today so I may as well go crazy and have an ice cream pizza!’ you can have a day with one mistake in it or 5, which is going to be more harmful to your goals?
Now many people will blame bad genetics for a lack of progress or being weak willed, but the fact is, with enough practice, everyone can learn to ride a bike!
Now there will be the genetically blessed ones who win the Tour De France or compete in the Olympics but at some level everyone can improve through practice!
So what do I mean by practicing to get in better shape?
Be prepared – Plan and cook meals in advance, doing a Sunday ‘cookarama’ to set you up for the rest of the week gets easier the more you do it.
Analyze your habits – As mentioned if you find yourself reaching for the cookie jar every time you have a bad day at work then this is a trigger to a bad habit. Also, the reverse is true. Do you self sabotage by rewarding yourself with ‘bad’ foods if you have eaten well all week? Rewarding yourself with exactly the thing you are trying to avoid makes about as much sense as an alcoholic having a shot of whisky to celebrate not drinking!
Don’t quit – There are going to be times when you fall off the wagon, be that for a meal, a day or a week but you must get back on it. Remember why you started, we recommend you write a statement when you start, what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it, how you will feel when you do and what it will mean to you. You can read this when motivation and willpower is low!
Practice – Take what works and change what doesn’t, it’s all about what works for you. I like to train on a morning whereas you may prefer the evening. I like to cook my food on a Sunday but you may want to do each day as it comes. It is whatever works for you but the more often you do these things, the more they become a habit and the better you get at doing them.
Place barriers – Something we talk quite a lot at Sustain is the pleasure and pain of things, you want some cake so you eat it and it brings short term pleasure as you eat it, that quickly changes to long term pain as you have deviated from your diet and are still not in the shape you wanted OR you want the cake but you don’t eat it, you have the short term pain of not eating the cake but the long term pleasure of taking positive steps towards the body you want.
Try to stop and think on all these decisions and think which is this going to be long term or short term pain or pleasure and weigh up if it is worth eating/drinking or not going to the gym.
So there you have it, some to tips to help you succeed.
& Joe Robinson
For a free nutrition review head to www.sustainnutrition.co.uk