If you want to change your physique, your attention should be driven towards your diet.
Unfortunately though, being human means we’re all too keen to see changes, but not too enthused about changing in order to get them.
For some people, it takes months and years of repeated and constant (nagging) guidance to help them to understand this.
I’ll get asked about fat burners, asked if we can add in extra cardio, asked if training in a 45 degree room will help, asked if a sauna would help shed extra fat faster, asked if we should be doing circuit training or HIIT to “sweat more” etc.
NONE of these things are going to help you.
You MUST ACCEPT that if you are not progressing the way you expect or want to, it’s because your nutrition is not optimal.
There is no judgement here whatsoever, it took me a long time, too.
It took me a long time because
a) I was using food to provide me with an emotional reward and as a result, binged and purged constantly
b) I was unwilling to accept that my approach wasn’t working for me, and
c) I was too focused upon my appearance and not focused enough on my health.
The fact that I was always dieting, always chasing fat loss and yet also using food as an emotional crutch created a clusterfuck of issues, and then because I wasn’t willing to accept that NOT DIETING would be the best option, I carried on in this manner for far too long.
It wasn’t until I asked myself the question WHY over and over and over, that I began to understand how to change…
WHY was I so focused on getting leaner? Was it actually about how I looked, or did I hold a belief about lean people?
Turns out I believed that unless I was shredded, no one would listen to me. So in essence, my focus to get leaner was driven by insecurity. This helped created the binging cycles and further reinforced my feelings of inadequacy.
WHY did it matter what other people thought of me?
Turns out it really doesn’t. I am educated, experienced and good enough to have gotten hundreds of people incredible results. If I don’t believe in myself, why would anyone else?
WHY did I have such an emotional connection to food?
Turns out it was because I wasn’t fulfilled in other areas of my life. Food was trying to fill a hole that was left by my lack of confidence, and my lack of ability to integrate ways of relaxing, comforting and calming myself that weren’t eating.
Not the best approach for a “healthy lifestyle,” hey?
No wonder I struggled for so long!
Today I couldn’t be any more different.
I no longer;
– Weigh or measure my food
– Weigh or measure myself
– Follow a set diet
– Track calories or macros
– Eat to change how my body looks
– Restrict any food groups whatsoever, or
– Make myself feel “guilty” about spending a Saturday night out and eating / drinking whatever I want.
I’ve been eating intuitively for nearly 2 years now. And over the past 3 months, people I work with, clients and friends I haven’t seen for a few months have asked me if I’ve lost weight.
I am eating more carbohydrates than I ever have and yet I seem to keep leaning out, and I’m not even trying to.
I don’t binge. I don’t purge. I don’t snack between meals. I just eat in proportions that are suitable for me and my training schedule.
Once a week on a Saturday, I cut loose.
Or I don’t.
I might stay at home, order Uber Eats and play Assassins Creed for four hours instead.
Regardless, I just do what I feel.
I do what I feel without guilt or restrictions and it’s WORKING FOR ME BETTER THAN DIETING EVER DID.
But I think it’s fair to say that in order to get to this point, you HAVE TO learn things the hard way.
No matter how much I might say to you that you need to change your approach, without a deep, philosophical understanding of WHY you are doing what you are doing, you’ll continue to do it.
Habits are literally things that we have formed so that we STOP THINKING.
We form habits because over time because we have conditioned ourselves to respond a certain way to a cue, feeling or situation.
It’s a way for our brain to subconsciously process information while our conscious mind acts on autopilot. It makes perfect sense that in order for us to survive, we can’t be deeply contemplating each and every option available to us. We need to have some intrinsic programming running in the background which is thoughtless and takes up little space, if we are to dedicate our limited capacity for deep reasoning and focus to more important things.
A habit is therefore a thoughtless act driven by a cue (friend bringing in some cupcakes to the office), followed by the anticipation of a reward (craving for cupcakes), followed by a behaviour (eating cupcakes) and then a reward (comfort / distraction) etc.
In order to change your habits you must FIRST understand;
– What are your CUES?
Is it because you feel you need a reward at the end of a long day?
Do they occur in specific circumstances and times?
Are they for specific foods? What beliefs do you hold about those foods? ie are they indulgent, “naughty” or “bad?”
How do those foods make you feel after you eat them?
Do you tend to snack throughout the day to distract yourself from things?
– What is your REWARD?
If your reward is distraction, then there are MANY OTHER WAYS to distract yourself that do not involve eating.
– What are your BELIEFS?
(Ie, I am an overeater/ burger lover / chocoholic / carb obsessed therefore I will act the way an overeater / burger lover / chocoholic / carb obsessed person behaves.)
You MUST ask yourself tough questions.
It’s not uncommon for people to realise that their DIET is not really the problem, but their lifestyle.
Many of my clients have come to a realisation that they need a new job, they need to leave a partner or they need to make a HUGE change in order for food to cease to be their crux. I did, too.
I was trying to be someone I wasn’t and my diet was difficult to follow because deep down inside, what I was doing didn’t actually matter to, or resonate with me.
I was literally eating away my anxiety about being a square peg in a round hole.
I celebrate lifting to heavy metal, I celebrate my weekly beer outings, I celebrate asking hard questions and making choices based on my values and not what other people think I should value – and I seek a tribe of people who feel the same.
Changing your habits, whether it be eating habits or any other kind of habit – involves being exposed to the same CUES, but then changing the BEHAVIOUR to get the SAME REWARD.
You may find that you have struggled to change your diet because in order to do so, you’ll have to change an aspect of your entire life.
It’s not easy to address these issues.
It’s not going to take you 12 weeks, you can’t do a “challenge” and find that suddenly you’re cured of your addiction to chocolate.
You can’t do a 6, 12 or whatever week program and have a new body for the rest of your life.
This will take time, it will take patience and you will need to be strong in order to not just survive, but to thrive, find your place in the world and become someone you are proud of.
But that’s what life is, after all.