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.
If you've been reading this blog for more than a couple weeks, you know the basic, and most impactful ingredients of a good fat loss plan.
But there's one thing no one seems to be talking about.
Jeff turned 29 a few months ago, but he feels like he’s just taking his first real steps into the world.
He spent the last decade of his life drunk and on drugs. He barely remembers any of it. Though, he does remember feeling depressed, angry, and suicidal.
That’s the thing about addiction- it’s not the root of the problem. Sure, it becomes a problem. But it starts out as a solution to something else. Not a great one, but the best many can come up with at the time.
After losing some important people in his life, Jeff reached a point where he had no choice but to pull his shit together.
He quit drugs and alcohol cold-turkey, moved back home, and signed up for AA.
Then he signed up for a gym, which is where he and I met.
We met up at 7:30 each morning, and he struggled under heavy weights for 30 minutes before starting his day.
We also laughed a lot. We talked about life, relationships, who or what God is to us, and even shed a couple tears when necessary.
I watched Jeff transform in that gym.
He walked in a frail, broken kid.
Over the next 6 months, he turned into a strong, and capable man.
He went from staring at the ground to standing tall, with his chest up and shoulders back. He walks into a room with confidence, and immediately makes someone’s day with a huge smile and greeting.
His new body is a reflection of who he is on the inside- lean, strong, and resilient.
And then things started clicking. Job offers started rolling in, and Jeff had his pick. Women started showing interest, and again, he had his pick.
Life started to get better in every imaginable way, and Jeff became a force to be reckoned with.
Today, he has a great job, and is living a fulfilling life. He’s in a great place.
But he’s also on a mission. He has plans to save up his cash and build a business through which he can serve his community.
Jeff’s a new man, and he credits strength training as the foundation for his transformation.
When I was younger, I used to shit on anyone with a nice car.
"Daddy probably bought it." I'd tell myself.
"Why would you waste money on a depreciating asset?"
Who was I kidding?
I WANTED those cars. But I pretended I didn't because I wasn't able to have them. Shitting on them was just a way to protect my young, fragile ego.
Silently, I compared myself to those car owners, and I didn't like how I measured up.