Two friends of mine were talking recently about their health. One of them commented to the other that they try all sorts of things that they think should work but they “just can’t seem to lose any weight.”
The other joked in response “Maybe we should follow Jason around all day and see what he does and do the same.”
When you see someone who has made progress with their health and body, and you want the same, don’t make the mistake of thinking that what they do will work for you.
There are three reasons for that:
#1: What they do is customized to their preferences and how their body responds which is unique to them alone.
#2: Their current habits are not necessarily the same as when they started. They went through multiple cycles of what I call the 3 E’s (educate, experiment, evolve) to achieve the lifestyle they have today.
#3: You wouldn’t be able to handle it anyways (right now). Building on #2 it takes time, discipline, and consistent execution to make changes to your body. Your body needs to build up the proper conditioning and tolerance to live a more “advanced” lifestyle of a healthy and fit person in a sustainable fashion.
You can’t just bust out a bestselling novel after learning the alphabet. Nor can you do so after reading someone else’s book.
So, why would you think you can just copy someone else’s lifestyle and get the same results as them?
Someone asked me about some of the foods I eat regularly and when I mentioned baby carrots they then asked: “But don’t carrots have a lot of sugar?”
Compared to some other vegetables like cucumbers then yes, carrots do contain more sugar (i.e. carbs).
That mindset is like missing the forest for the trees.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the whole macro-tracking approach with the thought of minimizing sugar or carbs.
But if the result is missing out on some great vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other benefits of eating whole, unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables then something is missing for sure.
It’s Saturday, the perfect day to get stuff done.
The to-do list that’s been building up all week can finally get worked on today.
Review yours before the day really gets started and look to see what’s on their specifically for you.
Not the things like getting groceries, picking up the dry cleaning, or mowing the lawn. That’s the stuff around you.
I’m talking about a few minutes of meditation or drinking three liters of water.
Instead of adding it to the to-do list, just work on it now.
Then do it again tomorrow.
By this time next week, you will have a new healthy habit.
When something bad happens, we often look for the cause.
If you’re not in great shape, dealing with health issues, or not living the lifestyle you feel you should be, it’s easy to start blaming other people, circumstances, jobs, even the fact that you have a family to care for.
You may even blame yourself.
And you wouldn’t be wrong to do so.
Who else is actually responsible for your life?
Instead, you can look for someone to thank.
Look for the person who finally made things better for you.
The person who took charge and made a plan, executed on it, and made great things happen.
Again, there is only one person responsible for all of that.
Who’s it going to be?
The cheat meal.
Depending on your perspective and discipline (or lack thereof) the “cheat meal” can be either your best friend or your arch-nemesis.
The first thing you need to do is stop using the word “cheat” when describing a meal where you overeat or choose foods that are not part of your normal nutrition plan (note I didn’t use the word diet, as that’s another dirty word for another day).
Cheating is a bad thing. Why would you associate that with an action you willingly take?
It also sets a bad tone for your followup behavior.
After a cheat meal you may feel the need to swing wildly the other way and overly restrict your eating, which can lead to you unknowingly depriving your body of key nutrients.
Or, you may adopt the mindset of “I already cheated once this week so I probably ruined any progress I made so far. Might as well keep it up since this week is wasted and I will try to do better next week.”
Just two examples of the many ways the “cheat meal” can make things worse.
In a given week you are probably going to eat at least 15-20 meals. Probably more if you include snacks.
If one of them is overindulgent, it’s really not going to cause much damage.
But that’s only true if you actually know what you are doing for the rest of the meals that week.
And it’s still only true if you are getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, staying active and getting stronger, and your body’s hormones are in check.
Take a step back and review those last two sentences.
Do you have all of that handled properly?
If not, your cheat meal really doesn’t matter.
It’s just one bad habit in a string of other ones.
There’s a recent episode of The Model Health Show podcast that’s all about improving your strength and performance (which I highly recommend).
I heard this amazing nugget on it:
“Part of knowing who you are is knowing who you are not.”
You may see how others get results from their approach to personal health or learning about popular new trends, and feeling that it won’t work for you.
And then you may get down on yourself for not being able to do something that works for others.
The reality is that level of awareness is just as important because you at least acknowledge that you understand who you aren’t.
Which then leads to you taking action based on who you are.
The key is that “taking action” bit.
Just sitting there saying “That’s not for me.” is not good enough, because it’s incomplete.
You need to define what is for you and then prove it.
I recently heard someone talking about personal development and entrepreneurship. At one point they discussed how nothing will be given to you.
If you want to make that next step in your career, land a customer, or just improve as a person you need to go out and get it.
Just like how all creatures need to hunt for their food.
It’s how the animal kingdom has evolved.
It’s also not an option for them - if they don’t hunt, then they starve.
If you want to make a major change to your health and your lifestyle you’re going to have to hunt for it.
Nobody is going to just bring you that new lifestyle - you need to go get it.
You don’t have to hunt alone though.
And you can find someone to teach you.
We all know Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare.
The slow and steady tortoise ends up winning the race because the overly confident hare decides to take a nap halfway through after it gets a big lead.
This same morale can be applied to anyone who wants to make major changes to their health, like losing a lot of weight or trying to get really strong really fast.
But with a twist.
What most people do is become the hare, but instead of napping they go too hard.
They decide to all of a sudden spend an absurd amount of time in the gym, and their bodies are not used to that sort of thing.
Nor does their busy lifestyle support such a thing long term.
Or they go way too hard with their workouts and get injured, which means they can no longer workout for a period of time, and then never get back on track.
When it comes to their nutrition, they make massive changes like severely restricting calories, which causes the body to overreact with unbearable feelings of hunger cravings.
They decide to cut out entire food groups, or even particular macronutrients as a whole (namely fats or carbohydrates).
Again, they get too aggressive too quickly, and it’s not sustainable.
It’s also not necessary.
They never finish the race at all, never mind being the first loser (i.e. 2nd place).
You have the rest of your life to work on this, and your body actually prefers the slow and steady approach.
Go out there and win already.
Every day when you wake up in the morning you get a chance to make something.
Let’s keep things simple - you only have two options:
You can make excuses.
Or, you can make it happen.
What’s it going to be today?
“It’s just calories in vs. calories out!”
That’s what you will often come across for losing body fat.
At the highest level, it is that simple. That calorie math is basically just an algebra equation.
Your body is not that simple though.
When you break that equation down further, each side of it (calories in & calories out) turns out to be more like advanced calculus.
The fundamentals of how the body functions apply to everyone, however, there are plenty of attributes and preferences that make each of us unique.
You’re going to have to figure out that advanced math out for yourself.
It’s hard, and often doesn’t make sense. Kind of like calculus class.
But you needed to get through it anyway to graduate.
So, do it again.
This time your life does actually depend on it.