“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.”
Now, I’m not a personal trainer, doctor or fat loss expert. But I have ramped up my workouts this year, paid a lot more attention to what I eat and learned more about training and diet from various sources.
And so, over the last few months I have learned that I made some mistakes in the past when I tried to get into better shape. Basic mistakes that I think are pretty common and keep people from reaching better health and the body they’d like.
So I’d like to share those three mistakes today.
1. You don’t monitor what you do.
This is probably the biggest mistake I have made so far.
As I understand it, if you want to lose fat you have to consume less calories that you use. So how do you know what to eat and how much?
You got to monitor it in some way. I use the free and very simple Fitday.com to monitor what I eat during the day. I may eat some raw carrots for instance. Then I just choose that from their lists of food and how many you ate today. The site will calculate how many calories that is and how much of various nutrients I have put into my body. Fitday also tells me roughly how many calories I use with my current lifestyle and the exercise I get.
This is essential stuff. Because the three normal and most of the time actually pretty healthy meals I ate in the past consisted of the same amount of calories I used during the day. So little progress was made.
It’s also important to monitor yourself so you don’t eat too little food either. That isn’t healthy at all.
I find it useful to document my workouts too. I use the Journal software for that. It keeps me in check – I can review how many workouts I have done this month instead of doing some guesswork or deceiving myself – and I can also note how much weight I might be currently lifting in some exercise. Seeing the progress you make over weeks and months can be a good way to add a motivational boost when you need it.
To keep things within effective and healthy limits I think it’s important to monitor what you do. But not to get obsessed about these things though. The main point is to keep an eye on what you are actually doing instead of guesstimating a whole lot.
2. You think the workout is the very most important part.
I used to think that you could eat a lot of stuff but that people worked that stuff off by just doing, for example, more cardio. From what I have learned from knowledgeable guys like Rusty Moore and Mark Sisson that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Your workouts can have a big impact to help you lose fat. But “working it off” isn’t some magic thing that can fix anything or any amount that you eat if you want to lose fat. Here is for example an interesting article and reality check about this mistake that I read a few weeks ago.
Plus, if you don’t consider what and how much you eat and what impact that has you may be discouraged. You may be making progress but then you self-sabotage and keep yourself at the current weight or close to it by eating too many treats or too much in general. I’m sure this is an important factor that keeps people from reaching their goal. It seems like little progress is made and so one becomes discouraged and quits.
3. You are not consistent.
This is connected to mistake # 1 and also many other areas of success in life. People don’t reach their goals in large part because they are not consistent in their actions over a longer time period. You can’t just do stuff just when you feel like it.
Now, I am not saying that you should force yourself to the running track every time. If that is the case, try some new and more fun way of exercising instead.
But I am saying that life and any success you desire isn’t like taken from some Hollywood movie where you just do stuff on some spur of inspiration. Self-discipline isn’t a bad word, this is more like a marathon than a 100 meter sprint and emotions are – as I mentioned a few days ago – very fleeting. You may not feel like working out before you head to the gym. But when you are actually there it often start to feel pretty good. Funny how things work.
So it’s important to monitor what you eat to stay away from giving yourself too many unhealthy treats. Another way to decrease that problem is to replace the unhealthy stuff in your cupboards or fridge right now with healthier stuff. Then when you have a small craving you will reach for what you have at home and have a healthy snack.
So how can you increase your consistency? Besides monitoring yourself and realizing that emotions are fleeting here is something I found very useful. It’s a quote from Sanskrit Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita:
“To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction”
This quote tells me to understand that I cannot control the results of my action. I can’t control how someone reacts to what I say or what I do. And that I should do what I do just because it is something I want to do rather than because of some outcome I’d like. But at the same time I should not let these two ideas lead me to become passive and get stuck in sitting on my hands and not taking action at all.
I for instance use this when I workout. I don’t take responsibility for the results in my mind. I take responsibility for showing up and doing my workout. The results come anyway from that consistent action that is based on a sound plan (in my case, Turbulence Training). And this makes it easier for me to take this action when I know that is all I need to focus on. Instead of using half of the energy and focus I have available on hoping that I “reach my goal real, real soon”.
Focus on the process and you will be a lot more relaxed and prone to continue than if you stare yourself blind on the potential results that never come as quickly as you want to and puts you on an emotional rollercoaster from day to day.