Dieting is never easy.
Sure, we get gung-ho and want to change our lives by making better nutritional choices, exercise habits, and being better in social events. We want to eat everything and still be lean.
Basically…we want it all.
We then try to do it all and in the process, we lose out “motivation”. What do we do?
Unfortunately, dieting and training, with the goal of general health, weight loss, and fat loss, is full of sacrifice..at least to some degree. The more specific the goal, the more specific the approach. You can’t shoot a cannon out of a canoe and expect to hit your target.
That said, if your goal is simply to be less sedentary, that’s a general goal thus you can do relatively anything in general to improve. This could mean walking more, taking a class, doing bodyweight exercises at home, riding a bike, etc. That’s really going to be an improvement because you’re going from ‘0’ to ‘something’?
What happens when the goal is more specific like fat loss/weight loss?
This is when it gets tricky. This means unlearning bad habits and choices, learning new habits and making better choices, and that’s not even the most important aspect. Mindset…commitment…these are even more imperative. If your mindset isn’t ready and you cannot commit, then the likelihood of success is marginal to none. That’s a whole blog post in and of itself but I digress.
What I’m going to do in this post is tell you EXACTLY what my clients responses were to this question in our coaching group:
“Team Question (everyone please input) –
What is, no matter how long you have been with me, your biggest struggle? Let’s not leave it surface level.
WHY do you struggle?
What are you going to do different?”
…and then under each response is my response not only to them but to all of you who may feel or have done what any of my clients are experiencing.
Hopefully this encourages you to start on the right path to the changes you want to make.
This will be a 3-part series since there are long, in-depth response and it would be easier for you to read in chunks.
Without further ado, here are the first 5 of 15 responses from clients (no names provided for confidentiality) and my responses.
#1: “My struggle was tracking food and not going bizerk when traveling. This past weekend was my first step in getting that under control. I previously treated food as a reward. Now I see it as a way to fuel my body, which needs to be done properly. It’s all mindset. There’s a time to “enjoy the moment” and not track so strictly, but it can’t be every week/weekend/etc. Your actions must align with your intentions and goals. I can’t tell you how many times my in laws commented on my dedication this past weekend. I was visiting for 48 hours and went to the gym twice and was always tracking food (when I could).”
Seeing food as a reward is something many people struggle with. It’s been put in to our heads that “if I’m good, I can have this…” There is no moral attachment to food so you eating something because you had a killer workout or went (insert time) without a certain food isn’t grounds to “reward” yourself with it. It certainly is mindset. This is meant to be a life-long change. Sure, you won’t track every day and every night for life but having control over your food vs. food having control over you is going to be the healthiest way to not only diet and train but mentally and emotionally be when it comes to food. “Your actions must align with your intentions and goals” is spot on.
#2: “My biggest contradiction is I’m SO on par with hitting macros and workouts; it makes for a struggle between enjoying myself living life and my fitness goals. You and I both know that I’m doing way better than I thought I could, and how far I have come in the last 12 years never mind the last year since competing, but it’s always in the back of my head. It’s hard embracing “life” sometimes, but I’m starting to realize more and more when I look back on my life what is truly going to stand out to me is the moments and memories I made versus if I was lean in that picture. The way I tackle it is through learning experiences, like last weekend at my bachelorette, where I enjoyed myself, watched my body come out of it, and now at a lower weight this week. It’s all trial and error and the more I let it happen the more I learn about myself.
This too is something I see happening with other people who diet and train. You are TOO perfect. So on one hand is the person who just doesn’t get it quick enough then gets discouraged and wants to quit (or does) and then you have the person who does everything perfect but loses touch of reality in regards to anything outside of dieting and training. Life solely becomes all about that and that’s not healthy either. [Fortunately for you (the person who wrote this), I have seen how far you’ve come and the amount of changes you made from a mental and emotional standpoint is like 180 from where we started]. Life is not about how lean you can get. Sure, you want to fit certain clothing or want to look great naked or “appeal” to your spouse/partner, but unless you are competing (which is a veerryyy small population of people and even then it is incredibly short-lived), getting lean will take a longer than you think. The point is to play the long ball; not the short game. Now perfection in terms of dieting and training can be rooted in more negative thinking more so than positive not only about food and training in general but your own body. Feeling the need to be perfect makes your social life incredibly crappy. It makes others around you feel bad. It can ruin relationships. This, again, is because of unrealistic expectations from yourself and those around you as well as poor body image. When you start learning that one day of not-so-great eating or even one week when you’re otherwise relatively on point and not overeating isn’t going to be the end of the world, you can learn to take it easy on yourself. You can be your worst critic or best supporter. One of those will pay more positive influence in your life.
#3: “I would usually say food but this time around is motivation. I can’t explain why. This is a new road for me (I’m typically very goal oriented). Waiting for the spark I know and love to be recreated.”
I get it 100%. Motivation is something most people feel they need to get. This is apparent when people are constantly following “fitspos” and comparing their current body to other people and where they “want” to be. I remember reading this a long time ago but someone once said, “people don’t actually know what they really want…they just know they don’t like where they’re at and they want to get as far away from it as possible.” I suppose there is some truth to that. People want to be in a better position than they once were. Then they start thinking about times past and what “great shape” they were “once in”. The reminisce about their college and high school days and feel they can get back to that so they use it as “motivation”. While motivation is great, it’s simply a feeling. The way you are happy or sad or angry, the same is said about motivated. What you really need is commitment. You can be motivated and act on something just as easily as you can be unmotivated and quit something. Now commitment is different. When you commit to something, regardless of your feelings, you do it. So bring that motivation each day. Make a playlist. Write down what you are grateful for. Set small, tangible goals (ie: I WILL increase my chest press by 5lbs this week). Challenge yourself. Motivate yourself because in the end, no one can do it for you.
#4: “I have the motivation and the knowledge. I struggle with having time to plan. With 4 kids, 2 jobs and maintaining a household and marriage it’s beyond hard. I always make time for training because that’s the only thing I do entirely for me. I have been struggling with meal prep lately…”
A beautiful (yet unexpected segway) from the previous posts. You have the motivation and the knowledge. What you’re lacking is “time”. Time is our most precious currency and commodity. Once it’s gone…it’s gone. We have so many varying schedules that adapting to it and planning effectively is crucial to success. This is when people tend to overthink and do more than necessary or the complete opposite end and they get so overwhelmed, they quit. We don’t want to make the process harder than need be. This may mean having to cut your training back a bit and use some of that training time for prep time. Perhaps if you’re like me, you can eat the same things virtually daily and just use differing spices/sauces. I totally get it. You have a life and your life shouldn’t be thrown off track simply to train and eat. Doing these things should make your life better, not worse.
#5: “For me it’s things I have no control over. Feb I was sick with that respiratory crap which slowed my workouts way down. Then I hurt my shoulder in March…which brought my upper body workouts to a stop. The closing of the business I worked for in April brought overtime I wasn’t expecting and then our move. When everything is flowing….I’m good. When it gets backed up….it’s more of a challenge. However, that is life and I’m better than I was when I started so I’m good with it. I would like to be further along, but at least I didn’t quit. “
Not much to respond here which is good. Why? Because this person is incredibly self-aware. They’ve recognized and responded accordingly when life was in different areas. One of the best things you can do is be self-aware. Knowing who you are and the situations in your life will help you navigate this road so you can do things right. I know there are tons of cliche phrases about challenges and not quitting and yadda yadda but the truth is…this person could’ve quit…you could’ve quit…but you didn’t. It’s because of that, you will be much better than you could ever imagine.
Part 2 will deal with a few other responses..and there may be a part 3.
The point of this post was to show you what some of my clients at this moment are facing. I wanted the open forum to see that there are many other people out there like you and guess what? We all struggle. This is also the beauty in doing it together and helping each other be better.