Good Times, Bad Times

In my years working as a coach (and from experience with my own nutrition and training) I’ve found the two hardest things about changing your physique are:

  1. Getting started with it.
  2. Once you’ve started, finding a “level” at which you can maintain your effort and stick with it long term so it isn’t a short lived change.

Nailed these two things?

Congratulations, you’ve made it.

When life is easy and things are going swimmingly, it’s obviously a piece of cake to do this. However, when stuff ain’t going so well, it’s just easier to revert back to what you did previously, your norm.

Your mind and body do not always embrace change. Let’s say you want to start hitting the gym three times per week, but you can only train before work. The first couple of times are fine, but if it’s pitch black and freezing cold when your alarm goes off at 5:30am for the third time in a week it can be all too easy just to want to go back to sleep rather than hauling yo’ ass down to the gym. That’s the chain broken, making it very difficult to get started again.

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Some of us (like my buddy Chris in the picture) can train in the “comfort” of the afternoon/evening. Others aren’t so lucky and have to train the AM, creating potential barriers for adherence!

Unless you happen to have literally zero things in life to worry about or make you even slightly uncomfortable (which is highly unlikely), the chances are something will ALWAYS come up to give you a barrier to making a change. I believe that the ability to overcome these barriers are what makes the difference between those who seem to effortlessly build muscle and lose fat, versus those who no matter how hard they try always seem to struggle.

So how do those people seem to do it so effortlessly? Firstly, I don’t think it comes effortlessly at all. It just seemingly does because of these ingrained habits:

1. THEY PRIORITISE

Everyone has limited resources to some degree. Money, time and motivation are the three main ones. You need to prioritise the allocation of these resources in order to get what you want. For example:

You say you want to get to the gym regularly but you feel that you don’t have the time, BUT if you’ve watched all six series of Game of Thrones then your priorities are perhaps amiss.

You feel like you have no direction with your training or nutrition so you want to hire a coach to help but you decide you can’t afford it. However, this month you’ve been shopping three times for new gym clothes. Again, it could be that your priorities don’t align with your goals.

2. EVEN IF THEY DON’T PARTICULARLY WANT TO DO IT, THEY DO IT ANYWAY

Making yourself do something regularly leads to consistency. Having the discipline to be consistent just plain works, because consistency trumps pretty much everything.

Even if a plan is far from 100% optimal, executed consistently it’ll likely deliver results.

3. THEY HAVE A FLEXIBLE PLAN

Flexible is defined as

“Able to adapt to different circumstances”

This is EXACTLY how a plan should be.

As I mentioned earlier, sometimes bad stuff happens. Unless we are to completely stop in our tracks, risking sweet FA in terms of progress, we need a way to still execute the plan.

People have this misconception that following a nutrition or training plan is all or nothing. They have to be following things to the absolute letter or else there’s just no point in doing it.

This could not be more wrong.

Once you know that the basics are the things that matter then you can start to adapt to certain situations, worry free. For example:

Calories are king, so if you find out that you’re having an impromptu meal out tonight with your other half at an Italian restaurant, eat slightly less in the first two meals of the day, leaving plenty of calories spare for your evening meal. This way, you’ll come in on target for the most important variable (calories), despite the meal being unplanned.

Going to miss a training session due to a meeting overrunning? Split the session into smaller components then add them by spreading them out over the next 2-3 workouts so you get the same amount of volume in as planned.

I’d argue that very few situations can’t be overcome by a little forward thinking, and keeping things in perspective of what actually matters.

SUMMARY

I’m all for making things as easy as possible, but if something is truly worth having, it does require some effort. Channelling your effort into prioritising what’s important, your discipline and being flexible with your planning will make achieving your goals much more likely.

Don’t get me wrong, I struggle with the above things sometimes too and am far from perfect (perfection doesn’t actually exist anyway). However, whenever I am successful with achieving my own goals and getting results, I certainly display the above habits, as do my clients when they get results of their own.

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