Losing weight or getting bulked up, whatever your goal is to be healthy and live a happy life is simple. It’s just eat a good diet and exercise.
The only thing is, just because it’s simple does NOT mean that it is easy.
IT IS HARD!!!
But let’s break it down into bite sized chunks. As we know all the easy to eat tasty foods are all broken down into very convenient little bite sized chunks.
Most places you look they tell you that it’s 10% exercise and 90% diet.
I personally think that’s wrong.
It’s more of a 10% exercise, 20% diet and 70% mental discipline.
We know that we have to exercise and eat more vegetables but the really hard part of moulding our bodies into the shape we want to be, is how we cope when;
- It’s 6am and your bed is so warm and cozy but the outside world is cold and full of work that needs doing.
- It’s time to get up and go to the gym but you’re sleepy/ sore/ comfortable on the couch.
- Jason dumped a stack of paper work on your desk at the end of the day and ruins your day.
- Sarah makes a comment which triggers and insecurity.
- You worked your butt off and want to veg out with a large pizza and then a pint of ice cream.
- You’re tired and need that energy boost to help finish the shift, so crave a chocolate bar or energy drink.
These and many more are real problems that we face on a daily basis. So how do we stay disciplined in the face of these trials? How do we get out of bed and go to the gym on the days we aren’t motivated? How do we not turn to comfort foods when we have a rough day at work? How do we maintain a steady energy flow throughout the day without relying on energy boosters? And one of the most difficult, how do we eat the chicken broccoli and rice when a pizza and ice cream feast is just so damn good?
It’s about a mental fortitude. Discipline is the fortress of your life. It is thick walls that become thicker and thicker with each and every day that passes so long as you keep building it. It is built through the habits of our life. The way I imagine it is that is as a walled country that contains walled cities. Discipline is the country and the cities are our habits. A country cannot exist without its cities.
Habits are built up very slowly at first because they walls of the city get torn down any day that there is nobody there to build the walls. This also goes to show how hard it is to break a habit. If you have spent years building up the walls of this habit, then it will have grown to become a big part of who you are and will therefore be very difficult to eradicate. This is very evident with smokers who cant seem to quit.
What habits have I used to help me become a more disciplined individual?
The first point I’d like to make is that routine is a tool that I have found best for building the habits. This works by creating one habit and building on it.
Habit 1. This habit is extremely simple but I found it really difficult to establish. It has been a true foundation to my entire day.
Get out of bed at the same time EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!
No matter what. BE CONCISTENT!!! Even if you only have 3 hours sleep. Get out of bed, and make your bed. This has allowed me to properly set my body clock to the point that I now don’t even require an alarm (but still use one). I’m not against naps. I personally don’t nap but I’m not against them.
Don’t look at your phone for at least the first hour of the day. Lets be real here. If you slept in for another hour would you be bothered that you missed that hour of internet goings on? NO. Then why is it so important that you scroll through all the social media networks or emails or messages in the first waking moments of your day.
Habit 2. EAT BREAKFAST!!! How many times were you told as a kid that eating your breakfast is important to growing big and strong? It’s like the number one thing we’re told as kids.
We need to eat something in order for our glucose levels to rise so we can get higher cognitive function. It is basis science and isn’t a difficult task to do. Now I don’t mean sit down and eat a massive full Irish breakfast, or a big stack of pancakes. It can be something as simple as a slice of whole meal bread and cheese/honey or porridge or a croissant. As long as you eat something small to get your metabolism going and your brain thinking.
A way to ensure that you eat a good breakfast is to create the next habit.
Habit 3. Prepare breakfast at night. I’ve always been a person that would skip breakfast. I used to get up last second, or even 10 minutes late and grab a liquid breakfast of a cup pf coffee and out the door. Sometime I didn’t even do that and would just run out and get a cup maybe an hour later. Some days I wouldn’t eat for hours, especially on days off where I’d get a couple of cups of coffee because I was too lazy to make a proper meal until eventually I would have an extreme headache.
Preparing breakfast at night has made me eat a breakfast almost every morning over a year now. Because it’s already prepared I made myself eat it for the first while. I hate wasting food and if I didn’t eat it then it would be thrown out. Now I am properly hungry every morning and look forward to my porridge.
Habit 4. Eat at regular times. This kind of puts the first two habits together. You need to eat but you also need to do things at the same time. Again BE CONSISTENT!!! If you get up and eat at the same time every day your body will begin to know the time and anticipate food which causes a release of enzymes and such to make you hungry. If you eat at different times throughout the day you become hungry at different times and this can lead to impulsive snacking and spikes and drops in energy levels which leads to more energy drinks and poor habits. Eat portions of a similar size all day and eat regularly. If you eat a massive portion as any stage then when the food moves on through your digestive system your stomach takes a while to contract and is left feeling empty and leads to more food cravings.
Habit 5. A very powerful habit that has helped me massively in countless ways is journaling. It’s pretty simple really. Mind dump onto a piece of paper but be precise and thorough.
I journal to slow down my thoughts and articulate them better. I use it as a tool to identify 3 things each day that I am grateful for and 3 things that I am working towards achieving. By doing this in the morning when I wake up and before the rest of the world has infested into my thoughts, I can program what I focus on for the day and remind myself why I am doing the things that I am doing.
Things to avoid.
Its not all about the things that you do. Sometimes its more about what you don’t do. Here are some things that I avoid and have found to be great for helping me achieve my physical goals.
Avoid weighing scales. This is a big one. Weight is a mental nightmare. It is a very bad way to measure your progress. As you exercise and change your diet, your muscles and bones will grow and adapt, this will cause your weight to increase. If you are doing a exercise plan which is more weight oriented and less cardio then you have to build up size in the muscles before you are able to lift the weights where you burn more calories. to build the muscle you also need more high protein foods which make it difficult to be in the calorie deficit you need to be to burn fat. this results in people getting upset and emotional as a very critical point in their weight loss journey as they may not loss weight or they may even gain weight. If you really want you be weight target based then weigh yourself once every three months. create a plan, stick to it, trust the process and stop checking every day to see have you reached your goal yet. You’ll get there when you get there. Try and enjoy it.
Don’t stockpile treats. This is a massive problem. Treats should remain a treat. Something to reward yourself for your sacrifices and hard work. If for you that is a chocolate bar or a bag of crisps then pick up ONE packet at the store and enjoy it. Avoid multi-packs like they are a disease. They are a disease! Its ok to pre-buy treats but keep it to the bare minimum of 1-2 days worth. This will stop you from clearing all of it out in one go or you will have to suffer the consequences of having no treat tomorrow.
Don’t expect to work hard today and wake up a supermodel tomorrow (unless you’re already a model and are just waiting for the super bit). Be patient. Avoid the negative thoughts that are flying through your head. Trust the process you are trying to go through and work at it.
Avoid talking about it. This has been a big problem for me through the years. I talk way too much. But I’ve stopped talking as much and started listening more. At first people started to notice things such as what I was eating. After a while people started to comment that I was getting slim. Because I wasn’t declaring every single day that I’m on this new diet, or I started working out. people eventually noticed something different and gave genuine compliments which helped boost my self-confidence and this boosted my efforts to achieve my goals.
I don’t mean avoid talking about it entirely. have some conversations with friends and family about healthy diet and exercise and listen to tips that work for them and give them tips that work for you but don’t make it a conversation about look at this really hard thing that I’m trying to do. As I said at the very start, IT IS HARD, people know and they will be sincere when they see results, not because you complain about how hard the process is.