How It Started ...
As I stated in my last article, I had slowly gained body fat and knew it was happening all along the way. The problem was that I kept making excuses and mentally talking myself out of making a change. The single most important step I made in losing so much fat was the psychological decision to face reality, dump my denial, and get active!
We all know how difficult it is to convince ourselves to do something that we know will not be easy and will not be quick. It is difficult. The day you can make the decision to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals and stay committed to them is really the day you have won your first major battle.
Once I made the commitment to lose body fat, I researched goal-setting techniques. I have heard of people doing this before, but never understood why it would be worth spending the time and energy. After all, wouldn't the time be better spent reading a diet book or healthy cookbook? The answer was a definitive "no." I decided that if I was going to do things differently this time, I was going to really do it right.
I started by making long term goals. From there, I could break those down further into short-term goals. I started with goals for one year and broke those down into goals for six months, three months, and daily goals. I found it was also psychologically essential to write out my goals in the present tense, indicating that the goal has already been accomplished.
An example of one of my goals for a years time would be, "I feel and look great now that I am 18% body fat!" An example of a daily goal is, "I'm so glad that I ate 5 clean meals today!"
Now, you may be wondering what I did with these goals once I wrote them down. I wrote each goal on an index card and carried them around with me. I looked at them every chance I could get. I even found a neat software package called "Goal Genie" in which I programmed my goals into it and every 10 minutes a different goal would flash onto my computer screen for a brief moment. Whether you realize it or not, your brain is programmed by all these messages you receive.
Just think about how easy it is to believe the negative things people say about you and the negative things that you tell yourself. I needed to "reprogram" my brain into believing that I could and would accomplish these goals. I aimed big and met or exceeded every one of my goals to date!
I want to reiterate the importance I found in having both long-term and daily goals. It is obvious why you would want to clarify your long-term goals. However, it is the daily goals that kept me on track one day at a time. After all, we can only deal with one day at a time anyway. Achieving daily goals will bring you in line with your long-term goals, progressing more and more toward them every day. It is also motivating to remind yourself that you have met those daily goals!
Do Your Homework
Bodybuilding.com is a great resource for articles and advice on diet and nutrition! My favorite source of excellent nutrition information came from the two books written by Will Brink (a Bodybuilding.com writer). I highly recommend both books!
They were incredibly useful for me and will continue to be in my resource library. The first book is Diet Supplements Revealed. This book was my first line of defense in eating correctly to lose body fat.
Once the fat was out of the picture, I turned to Muscle Building Nutrition to build quality muscle while keeping body fat to a minimum.
You cannot fail if you follow the information in Will's books. Please refer to Will's books for the details and to use his wonderful calculators for your body. In simple terms, I made a commitment to eat clean and switch to 5 smaller meals per day. Skipping a meal became cheating. My favorite foods are oats, fish and vegetables with flax oil and a gallon of water.
By the end of the first month I had seen dramatic results! Comfortably fitting in my clothes was no longer an issue and my body fat had decreased significantly. My energy level greatly increased and I felt like a different person. I was hooked!
The above section, Do Your Homework, is from my first article.
What If You Mess Up A Goal?
So what happened if I messed up on a daily goal? What if I ate the wrong food or got sick and missed my gym appointment? Did I give up or beat myself up? Absolutely not. The next day I had a chance to meet my goals all over again. It is just one day at a time.
Just as we should only care about one days worth of troubles at a time, I found that I was much more successful trying to be fit and healthy one day at a time. For most of us it is just too overwhelming to always think six months or a year ahead. you do not know how your life might be changed tomorrow, so just keep it one day at a time.
At The Gym vs. At Home
Now here is another point that I feel is absolutely huge! I had to train myself to stay away from and ignore toxic people. What do I mean by toxic? As in all areas of our lives, there are people who, whether well-meaning or ill-meaning will say or do things that will hinder us and bring us down psychologically.
The source can even be by people very close to us; our parents, coworkers, and friends. I could not allow myself to be reprogrammed or negatively influenced by people who did not understand my goals. Keep in mind this included most people that surrounded me. Most people could not understand why I would not "just eat a salad" when they do not realize that most restaurant salads are loaded with fatty dressings and toppings.
I was spending so much energy trying to get my brain to think positively, I could not afford to have it counteracted by people who did not understand what I was doing. The people around me were not concerned about being fit or getting healthy, with the exception of my immediate family and friends at the gym.
Another thing to keep in mind is that after all this time I have spent losing fat, I truly believe eating right and exercising is very convicting to people around you. As soon as healthy eating comes up in a conversation, most people get just as uncomfortable, if not more so, than when the topic of religion is mentioned.
People around me know they should have a healthier lifestyle but are not psychologically in a place to do anything about it. Therefore, seeing me eat right and exercise makes other people around me uncomfortable. I would never push my habits on other people or even discuss them, but people are observant and get uneasy all on their own. Just be aware of this phenomenon and do not let this sway your goals or determination!
To recap, I dumped my denial and faced reality. I made a commitment to a positive change. I wrote short and long term goals of what I wanted to achieve. I took one day at a time. I avoided toxic people and clung to those who had similar goals. I pushed ahead, did not give up when I missed a goal, and in the long run I exceeded every goal I wrote for myself.
In Part 2, I will further elaborate on the change in my relationship with food and eating.
Now go out there and make the decision to be your very best starting today!