How much control over your fitness and health do you really have?
Seriously, you have to exercise most days of the week, you need to prepare and pack your meals with you to work or school, more workouts means more laundry, more food prep means more dishes, and more exercise means more discomfort and misery. Not only do these things cause discomfort, who has time to fit them into their schedule anyway?
If you agree with those last couple sentences, then you currently have NO control over your fitness success. I would like to change that though.
As I write this article, I'm sitting at the pool at my apartment complex. Summer temperatures have just hit down here in Dallas, Texas and I have recently discovered they offer strong WiFi at the pool as well. So every time I type a couple of sentences, I take a second to look up at the water fountains in and surrounding the pool, and watch the palm branches flowing in the breeze. Its 81 F and I can't find a cloud if I tried.
Needless to say, writing at the pool, knowing there is a strong WiFi signal and power outlets for my computer makes writing a LOT more enjoyable. Not that I don't already enjoy it, but this added source of pleasure suddenly makes writing something I SHOULD do to something I really WANT to do.
Because there is more pleasure associate to it. It is the same activity, only it has a stronger driving force.
Cool Mitch, you're writing at the pool, why are you telling me this?
Here is what I am driving at, and before you begin on your quest for a better physique or a healthier body, this is also what you NEED to know.
You don't have control over the forces that drive your behavior, but you can manipulate them to serve you and your goals. These driving forces are PAIN and PLEASURE. No matter what, if you break your driving forces down to their lowest common denominator you are driven by your desire to experience pleasure, and your desire to avoid pain. And remember, your desire to avoid pain over rules your desire for pleasure every time they meet.
Knowing these two forces are what drives your every behavior, lets look at how it applies to fitness goals again.
I'm going to be honest, getting in great shape is not all that complicated. But it sure can be difficult. The reason being, so many people who ultimately fall short of their goals are trying to override their desire to avoid pain. This may work for a while, but it will NOT work for long.
Right now you're thinking about getting into shape. Either you want abs, big arms, to lose weight, or to feel and move better. These all sound like good things right? Sounds like accomplishing these things would be pleasurable. I know it does. Here's the problem. Meal prep, dishes, grueling workouts, laundry, all the discomfort, and all those hours taken from your social and TV life dedicated to these PAINFUL endeavors. The desire to avoid PAIN is overruling your desire for PLEASURE in the form of these fitness goals.
It's not that you necessarily get a lot of pleasure from a Friends marathon on a Throwback Thursday evening, it's more that by doing this you are avoiding the pain of working out and preparing food for the following days.
If you are going to be successful at achieving your fitness goals, you NEED to change your associations of what causes pain and what causes pleasure. This is where we can manipulate these driving forces to work for you instead of against you.
You are currently something you do not want to be. You may be over weight, unhealthy, sore, cranky, skinny, weak, or tired. Manipulating the forces of pain and pleasure begin with your conscious thoughts. You need to start to associate pain with what you do NOT want to be any more. Instead of associating workouts with pain, associate missing workouts with the pain of being what you do NOT want to be. Same goes for meal prepping. Instead of associating these cooking sessions with all the pain that goes with cooking and packing food then cleaning up, you need to associate NOT preparing meals with the pain of being over weight, weak, tired or whatever it is that you do not want to be anymore.
On the other side of the coin, you have pleasure. You need to associate your workouts with the pleasure of a better and healthier body, strength, focus, clarity, confidence. You need to associate your meal prep with the pleasure of vitality, energy, fuel, health and happiness.
At first reversing your thinking may feel unnatural, but as with anything else, practice will make you better. It really is as simple as changing what you associate with pain and pleasure, because whether we like it or not, those are the only forces that drive us to do anything.
So before you embark on a quest for muscle, a lower body fat percentage, or improved health, make sure you work on your thinking patterns, and have these very powerful forces working WITH you towards your goals, instead of against you.