Sometimes knowing what to do is easy.
If you’re trying to lose fat, make most of your meals higher in protein and vegetables.
You should workout 3-5 days per week (the more the better) with a mix of cardio (2-3 days per week) and strength (2-3 days per week).
Make your higher intensity days be 1 to every 2 of your more moderate or “easier” days.
For most people, if you’re working out 5 days per week, 1 to 2 of those days should be hard. You should be doing something that pushes you and challenges you to improve. The other days, you’re doing work you should be doing, but is going to simply help you stay healthy and active, but isn’t going to necessarily move you forward.
If you’re trying to play President, you should condemn Neo-Nazis and the KKK.
Like I said, sometimes knowing what to do is easy.
Putting it into practice can be a different story though.
So today, we’re doing to discuss some strategies that can help you put some of those actions into practice more often.
5 Strategies to Do What “You Know” You Should Be Doing
1 – Embrace the Suck
Want to know those who are successful with making changes and sticking to them and those who aren’t?
Those who make changes and stick to them don’t sugar-coat how easy it will be. In fact, they believe that it will be a struggle for them. It won’t be an easy road. They may slip up. Changing their habits will be hard. They know they won’t lose 20 pounds in the next 20 days.
And you know what? They’re fine with that.
They’ve learned to embrace it and because of that, they stick to the changes longer and when the going gets tough, they’re mentally prepared for it.
Contrast this to someone who thinks the road to betterment will be all sunshine and rainbows. They think they’ll lose weight quickly and they’ll only have to change one habit (for some people, this is absolutely true – you probably aren’t one of those people). When the going gets tough for this person, they stop and they quit.
They tell themselves, “Why am I doing this? This sucks.”
They’re not mentally prepared for the road when they’re up against something they don’t enjoy and they’re not comfortable doing.
“Embrace the Suck” is the notion that the road ahead may not be enjoyable, but it will be worth it.
2 – Make One Better Choice
How Does Change Start? Does it start with grandiose plans and then following those plans with perfect execution? Almost never.
Change starts by making a better choice in the moment.
It could be a choice of not getting a dessert you really want.
It could be going out with friends and only drinking club soda with lime and no alcohol.
It could be ordering that dessert and then only having one bite, because that’s all you really wanted.
It could be ordering salmon with vegetables, instead of a loaded burger with fries.
It could be going to the gym that one time you’re really tired.
It can be any choice that gets you closer to your goals.
But here’s the thing…this choice, should not only be a conscious choice, but also a choice where you don’t feel like you’re “missing out.” Instead it should be a choice that is adding to your life. Which brings me to my next point.
3 – Love Yourself into Change
You can hate yourself into following rules – at least for a bit. But what ends up happening is you end up hating yourself, the rules, and even if you get the results you were looking for, you’re not happy with those either.
Or, you can love yourself into making changes for a better life. With this, you allow yourself to not be perfect, and know that if you slip up, life goes on. Just pick yourself back up and get back on the ball.
Love can be harder for some though because it’s not how we were all taught and disciplined. Beyond that, we fear that if we aren’t “hard on ourselves” for making a mistake, then you’ll be too lax and won’t make the changes necessary. The truth is, those who are less stringent with their rules are at a better position to make changes and keep them more easily.
4 – Know there are cycles to change
I’ve written about this before, but know that changing any habit doesn’t happen at a constant pace – not in the real world, anyway. There are times when you will and should be really pushing yourself to change (like that 1-2 days per week that you’re going harder in the gym).
And just as the micro-cycle of the week has variations of how hard you should be going, so does the larger macro-cycle of change.
There are times of the year that are more conducive to larger changes (after New Years, in the Spring, in September). Other times of the year, you’re making some progress, but you’re not going to be as stringent, (May/June, Oct/Nov) and there are times when you’re barely maintaining (July/August and “the Holidays”). Each has its time and place.
If you’re on a two-week vacation in France. Enjoy it. Let yourself enjoy different foods. If you don’t workout, you won’t fall apart. You’ll be fine. Just pick yourself back up afterwards. Which brings me to my last point.
5 – Don’t Dig a Deeper Ditch
Establishing healthy eating habits is funny to me because it’s the only place that I really see some absolutely ridiculous behavior.
For example, a person eats a doughnut. This was not on their “plan.”
They then justify the next 3 days of eating bad because of said doughnut.
That’s like if you were driving a car and sped up during a yellow light but before you got to the intersection the light turned red. And then for the next 4 hours you just didn’t obey any other traffic laws whatsoever. “Fuck it! I ran a red light, let me ignore everything else!” For the next 4 hours you just stopped obeying stop signs, traffic lights, merging, and started driving on the wrong side of the road.
What?!? That would make no sense. You and I know this and yet when it comes to eating, it’s fair game.
Nowhere else in a person’s life will people do this, but when it comes to eating, people do this all the time.
Here’s a suggestion: Don’t. Do. That.
Go back to making a better choice, right after that slip up.
And if you want to use the, “That’s just the way I am/the way my brain works,” excuse, that’s fine. Just know it’s BS. It’s only that way because you say it is. Remember, all you have to make is one better choice.
1 – Change isn’t necessarily easy…and that’s ok. Embrace that it won’t be easy and when it gets hard, you’ll be in the right mindset for it.
2 – Change starts with making one better choice. Here and now. Now and later. Just one better choice. And then another one later. Just one.
3 – Hating Yourself into changing is possible, but it usually leads to more misery and self-doubt. Instead, love yourself into creating a better life. You’re more apt to forgive yourself, and make choices out of a place of caring instead of feeling “obligated to change.”
4 – Know there are cycles to change. There will be times when you should put more time and effort into changing and times when you should spend more time enjoying other facets of life.
5 – Pick Yourself Back Up Quickly. Almost in no other place in your life, will you completely disregard the well-being of your life after a slip-up, yet when it comes to eating, drinking and working out, one slip-up can turn into a “Fuck it!” moment that lasts until the following Monday (or Tuesday if it was a holiday weekend). Don’t do that.
Instead, contain the “slip-up” to that one moment and pick yourself right back up. You’ll be fine and you’ll be better off for it.
Sometimes on this journey of life we really care about the way we look and feel. Yet, how successful you are at making the changes to the way you look and feel are determined by the mindset you take on. How much responsibility you take and then how easily you can accept yourself with where you’re at, who you are and what’s truly important to you matters immensely.
Responsibility and the ability to accept where you’re at are synergistic aspects that, if you can do both, give you the opportunity to both have a body that looks good and is healthy, while enjoying your journey.?
The rest of this post, is about 3 mindsets I see people take on when it comes to their eating and working out (amongst other aspects of life).
The hope is that in knowing where you’re currently at, you can make the leap to a more beneficial place.
You can read
Level of Acceptance/Responsibility
A – Suffering
A lot of people will start in a place of “suffering.” They have a pain point where they’re not happy with themselves, their life or an aspect of their life. Not everyone necessarily starts in suffering, but for those that do, the difference is whether or not, you choose to stay in it.
I call this phase suffering only when you are abdicating responsibility for parts, or the totality, of your life to other things. This is the person who is in pain, but refuses to do what’s necessary to get out of pain.
This is the person who will blame circumstances, their past, other people, their job, where they live, and nearly any and every other thing they can in order to continue complaining, yet never taking the necessary steps to change the situation at hand.
If you’re in suffering, the most powerful thing you can do is start something that gives you back the power of personal responsibility.
Take action, sure. But own those actions.
Here’s the thing though, you can’t expect to change overnight or for the results you’re looking for to happen overnight. You have to make changes, and keep at it, without a deadline on your results.
If you can do that, then you’re onto the next phase.
B – Power
This phase is characterized by the phrase, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”
If someone starts in suffering (not everyone does), then their next move is to the Power phase. This is where the person will become gung ho about change.
These are the “converts” to a specific methodology. If they didn’t feel great before, but started doing CrossFit and feel good, they typically will only recognize CrossFit as their rightful savior.
I’m not saying anything is wrong about being passionate about something you care for. In fact, you should be. But when you think you’re special because you do something and someone else doesn’t, then it might be an issue. Not everyone has the same priorities as you and that’s ok.
This phase can feel intoxicating and many people tend to stay here because of that intoxicating feeling. If you look on Instagram and Facebook and see a lot of inspirational quotes, you’ll typically see a lot of “Power” quotes and mindsets. This isn’t necessarily wrong, but half the time, they do sound judgmental.
So if you find something that works for you, recognize that you found something that works, for you. If a friend asks you what you did, tell them, but maybe qualify it with, “I know this worked for me. I’m not sure how it will work for you.” Try not to spread the gospel as the only thing that is and will ever work.
Funny how religion and fitness/nutrition, tend to have the same issues here.
The biggest issue with power is that your actions are inextricably linked with your self-worth. So, unless you’re taking specific actions (for example, working out hard or “eating clean” or running, etc), all the time, then you might not be as content with your life as you think you are.
If you’re in the power phase and you like your life, stay there. It’s fun and intoxicating. Enjoy it.
If you’re here though and have a gnawing sense that there is more out there while recognizing that you don’t have to be perfect, all the time, then you might be ready for the final phase.
C – Partnership/Acceptance
This last phase is a bit tricky to define, but basically, this phase is characterized by those who have moved past the suffering phase, know that they have the power to change circumstances, but also know that they are not going to be perfect. And here’s the thing. They don’t need to be perfect in order to be happy.
They can eat delicious food, not beat themselves up for it, and still workout like they would have done normally.
They can go out to eat with friends, have a drink and order something healthy and not feel weird about it.
In other words, this is the phase where someone is healthy, they have a body they’re content with, work for a better body, but not out of a place of suffering or fear, but out of a place of acceptance. They believe they can do better and since they can, they will. Not because they need to in order to feel better about themselves, but because, you know, “It’s cool.”
This place is radically different than when someone changes because they are suffering (Suffering) or they work harder because they feel like less of a person if they don’t (Power). This is where someone is healthy and wants to do and be better – but if they don’t, it doesn’t affect their self-worth. They are already whole and whatever they choose, is to enhance their life, not make their life.
Where are You Starting From?
So the question is, where are you starting from?
Are you in “Suffering” when it comes to eating, but “Power” when it comes to working out? Or vice versa?
Are you one of the enlightened bunch where you can accept yourself and others?
What do you want from your life, in terms of health and fitness? Do you want the best body, EVER???
Are you seeking self-worth from your workout pursuits?
And more importantly, why?
There is no right or wrong answer, but knowing where you’re at and what is motivating you to change can be highly empowering.
Once you have your starting point, the question becomes, what do you want to do next?
I know I lack discipline…Do You?
Here are two quick examples:
1 – “Oh, it’s late. I shouldn’t go out, because I have to be up early tomorrow. Ok – I’ll be down in 5 minutes!” – Literal, story of my life.
2 – “Oh, I’m already a little full. I just ate. What, you want to get burgers? Ok – I’ll get a double bacon cheese burger!” – Literal, story of my life, part II.
What is this discipline you speak of?
As you can see, I’m not very good at saying no to things I like.
All I’ve done over the years is learn how to incorporate the best bad decisions into my life and into NOT listening to the “weakest part of me, at my weakest time.”
Beyond that, I suck at discipline.
To me, you can get away by not being as disciplined, as you think you need to be, if you set yourself up for success a majority of the time.
To do that, all you need to own are small moments of weakness. You own those 3-5 small moments per day, set up systems to support you otherwise, and you can make drastically good changes to your life.
For example, if you want to workout more, here’s an idea. This is seriously, super simple.
Go to the gym…
You don’t have to work out every day, but you have to show up. Go there and change.
If you’re tired and feel like crap. Go to the gym and change into gym clothes. If you still don’t feel like it. Leave.
Next day, you’re still tired. Go to the gym and change into gym clothes. If you feel like doing 5 minutes. Do 5 minutes and leave.
Next day, you have a ton of energy, it’s nice out and you want to grab a drink with friends. Go to the gym and change into gym clothes. Do 10 minutes and then go meet with friends.
Next day, you only have 10 minutes, but want to work out. Go to the gym and change. Do 5 minutes.
This isn’t discipline so much as setting yourself up for success.
And I bet, if you did that for 60 days, you would work out a ton more.
Simply show up!
As often as possible, show up.
Most success and what people confuse with discipline is simply showing up and being prepared. With that said, here are my 5 top strategies for “Faking Discipline.”
5 Ways to Increase “Fake Discipline”
1 – Learn to Have Fun
Hate working out? Then find workouts you enjoy and show up.
Go with friends. Use it as a time to yourself.
Just find a way to make it more enjoyable.
If it’s more enjoyable, you don’t need “discipline” for it.
Hate eating healthy? Find meals you can enjoy that are still congruent with your goals. Again, if you like a food, then it doesn’t require “discipline” to eat it.
2 – Find a Deeper Reason
Hate all types of working out? Then find ways that working out enhances your life.
Do you have more energy and feel better afterwards? Do you feel like a super-hero afterwards?
Use those reasons and show up.
The problem is most people rely on motivation, which feels good and people think they need motivation to make a change. You don’t.
If you did, most of you wouldn’t have shown up to work today. I doubt most of you were like, “YES! I’m going to work today…I’m so motivated.”
And sure, getting paid is nice, but that’s not motivation. That’s a reason.
Motivations are fickle and based on how you feel, whereas reasons are more stable and logical.
So find a reason to workout and show up. Again, you don’t think about going to work, because you have a reason to. Use that same logic with working out.
3 – Try a different strategy
I used to want to write more, but if I try to write at home, I would sleep or watch TV or read a book, or cook and then sleep. In other words, I did everything but write at home.
Guess what? I stopped trying to write at home.
I didn’t beat myself up for being lazy or not writing. I just changed the strategy and problem solved.
Yet, I see clients doing this all the time.
They hate chicken and broccoli and yet they try and eat chicken and broccoli every day.
Then they wonder why they want sweets and consciously decide to eat all these other foods that don’t help with their goals.
Want to know the solution? Stop eating chicken and broccoli.
Try nearly any other protein and vegetable combination (even starchy vegetables). You can have turkey, beef, salmon, tilapia, pork, eggs, protein powder, tuna, bison, mixed with any other vegetable including sweet potatoes. It’s ok, you’ll live and still see results.
??Sometimes, all you need is to stop doing something you hate and replace it with something you can tolerate.
4 – Don’t listen to your weakest self
When’s the weakest point in the day for you?
In the last example, I said, I used to want to write more, but couldn’t at home. So I switched it up.
My next issue I had was working 14+ hour days when I wasn’t going to be home. This meant lugging a laptop for 14+ hours, where I was only going to use it for less than an hour.
Knowing this was a mental struggle, especially in the morning, when I could find any excuse to not carry my laptop with me.
What did I do?
I always had my laptop packed in my bookbag and there was only one rule in the morning: I had to take my bookbag. I couldn’t listen to that weakest self say, “You’re running late and the bookbag will slow you down. Leave it (in a sinister voice).”
Those few times I did leave the bookbag, I always regretted it. Every time.
What about you?
What’s your weakest self, when it comes to eating healthy?
Is it late at night when your weakest self comes out?
If so, find a different strategy. At night, instead of going for more sweets, eat a large, healthy dinner with a lot of protein, veggies and some carbs. Get rid of the physiological urge to eat and then aim to go to bed earlier. Urges magically disappear when you’re sleeping.
Or does your weakest self come out when you’re out with friends on the weekends?
If this is the case, make whatever you eat worth it.
Want that piece of cake? Make sure it’s delicious enough to justify eating. Want all that alcohol? Eat healthy the rest of the week. Make sure you ate beforehand and don’t eat a lot of bad foods after you drink – I know, much easier said than done.
And if you do, simply pick yourself back up and eat healthy afterwards. Don’t let it become a cycle.
What about when it comes to working out?
When do you skip planned workouts?
Is it when you’re busy at work? Is it when you’ve gotten bad sleep? Is it because you’re tired overall, or tired in that moment? Is there something you can do to change it and simply show up?
Remember, the key is to NOT listen to that weakest self. It’s a liar and a seductress. You don’t need that person in your life. So don’t listen to it.
Remember, show up and change. That’s all.
5 – Know your triggers
What are your triggers?
Are their certain foods, you have no self-control around? If so, don’t put yourself in situations where you need to exert lots of discipline. Here are my two biggest triggers.
Trigger # 1 – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
I can’t stop eating Reese’s chocolate peanut butter cups – it’s an obsession and full on binging whenever they’re around. When they’ve been given to me as gifts, I’ve either ate them all or ended up throwing them out, because I know I can’t stop. CAN’T…..
So I throw them out.
Trigger #2 – Being Exhausted
If I’m exhausted, I have no desire to go to the gym.
No matter, when I’m there, trying to move heavy ass weight.
You know what I do though?
And this may come as a surprise for you…but I show up.
And then do something that’s mentally, much easier. I foam roll and do something I enjoy. If I don’t gain any energy, I leave. Most of the time, by that point, I feel a bit better and do other things that I enjoy doing that day.
Aka, I learn to have fun on the days I feel miserable.
Showing up will always be more effective than lying to yourself and saying you’ll start tomorrow.
Changing strategies to either find deeper reasons for something that adds to your life or just stop doing things you don’t like, makes it look like you have a lot of discipline, when all you have are good strategies.
Therefore, if you do show up, do something you enjoy, so that you have a reason to show up the next day. Don’t do something you hate on a day when you’re already winning by showing up.
The 5 strategies above will make it look like you have more discipline than you actually do.
Steal them and use them to do the same…and learn to have more fun with it.
Because seriously, what’s the point if you’re not going to have fun with it?