It happens to the best of us.
After a long streak of great training and nutrition, we blow it. Or, as we say up in Canada, we shit the bed.
It may go on for days. Weeks even.
Bad food, way too many calories, and little to no training. And then it hits us like a ton of bricks...
...what the fuck am I doing?
You feel like shit. And it sucks.
But despite the awful feeling in your gut, this isn't such a bad thing. Check this out...
"Rest days are the hardest days."
This is something one of my 1-1 Coaching clients said to me a few weeks ago.
This is a guy who's coming out of a tough stage in his life. He's struggled with addiction and he lacks belief in himself, which he found has been holding him back.
Part of his plan to pull a 180 and live a focused, productive life with confidence that rivals Conor McGregor is to start by getting his body right. A quality strength training and nutrition plan to get his body in shape, put himself on an upward trajectory, and create a foundation to build from.
And he's doing a brilliant job of it. His transformation has been incredible already, and it's still very much in progress.
Check him out. This is after just 6 weeks of murdering it in the gym.
If you've been here a while, you know what the key drivers of fitness success are. These are the ones we most often talk about:
- a quality strength training plan, built around a few key principles.
- a good nutrition plan that accounts for both food quality and food quantity.
- things like sleep, stress management, and basic recovery between training sessions.
But the three things we're talking about today fly under most people's radar. But despite that, they can be the difference between OK results, and great ones.
So, with that, let's dive in.
What a time to be alive.
Technology has turned my futuristic childhood fantasies into ho-hum iOS updates.
Our cars have a better entertainment system than most homes did 20 years ago.
In the west, we have a level of comfort beyond anything mankind has ever seen.
And the abundance! Oh man, the abundance is....abundant.
But with all of this has come a new level of anxiety.
We no longer spend each day fighting for mere survival. We now have the time and space to ask, "What is my purpose? Is my work meaningful?"
We no longer try keep up with the Jones's across the street. We 're now tasked with the impossible mission of keeping up with the Jones's on Facebook and Instagram. And they come fully equipped with filters, editing apps, and the ability to curate what appears to be the perfect life.
Of course, this leads to a wagon full of heavy emotions for us to contend with. Anxiety, depression, pressure, worry, fear, etc.
But you know what's worse than all of those things?
How we feel about them.
When we notice we don't feel happy, we think there's something wrong. Why am I not happy? Aren't I supposed to be?
When we feel anxiety, we stress out because we don't think we should be feeling that way.
It's not enough to deal with the pressures of life and the variety of emotions that come with it. We also deal with the fear that there's something wrong with us, and we need to be fixed.
And that's the worst part.
My family just left after a week-long visit from Canada. We spent the week eating, laughing, sight-seeing, eating, and eating.
But my sister keeps a strict diet. Much stricter than me, if I'm honest. She feels better when she sticks to her plan, so she sticks to it, no matter what.
While we destroyed enchiladas, pizza, BBQ, and ice cream, she stuck with her lean meats, veggies, and seafood.
Is she tempted? Of course. Cravings? Dealing with some light peer pressure? Absolutely.
But she soldiers on, keeping her goals in mind.
And you know how she does it? She has a super power:
She doesn't worry about the fact that she's tempted. She doesn't feel like she needs to 'solve' her cravings.
She feels the craving, and instead of wondering, "How do I get rid of this?" Or, "How do I prevent myself from experiencing this in the future?" She just sees it for what it is, then makes a decision about what to eat.
Of course, there ARE strategies you can use to minimize cravings. And you SHOULD use them.
For example, high protein and high fiber foods to keep you full, packing as many veggies into your gut as you can, and sugarless sodas when you crave something sweet. These strategies will go a long way to keep cravings at bay.
But they won't eliminate them all together.
Sometimes, you're going to crave huge amounts of food that doesn't jive with your goals. If you're going to win at this fitness thing, this needs to become an accepted fact.
And just like the worst part about feeling 'unhappy' is thinking there must be something wrong with you....
...cravings are no different.
When you experience cravings and ask, "How do I fix this/ Never feel this again?" you're assuming there's something wrong that needs to be fixed.
This only adds to the struggle, in the form of over-thinking, and trying to solve a problem that won't ever be completely solved.
Aside from eating whole foods, plenty of protein, and doing our best to avoid ravenous hunger, there isn't much we can do about the occasional food craving.
So, instead of trying to solve food cravings all together, take a cooler, more aloof approach.
When you experience a craving, notice it without judgement. Then decide what you're going to do about it with a calm, cool, rational mind.
Will you succeed every time? Hell no. This falls firmly under the 'easier said than done' umbrella. But this is why we practice. And practice is how we get better.
And the better you get, the leaner and more muscular you get as a result.
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I feel right at home here in Fort Worth, Texas.
Despite the stark differences in culture, it reminds me of my home town. A small, Canadian Army base in Northern-ish Ontario.
Army convoys on the highway, soldiers in uniform, and military aircraft flying overhead are things I grew up with. Of course, the trucks and tanks are a little older up in Canada. And instead of F-15's, we have helicopters.
But unbeknownst to me, Canada isn't exactly known for it's military.
This becomes evident every time I tell someone I grew up on an army base, and they reply with,
"Canada has an army?"
Yes, Canada has an army. There may not be a lot of funding, and the equipment is old, in some cases ancient.
But we do have an army, and it's filled with great soldiers.
In fact, I had the incredible opportunity to start my career at the military gym in my home town.
The weight room was unlike anything I've seen. And I'm not referring to the equipment. I mean the people.