I recently had a friend reach out and ask me a question I get a lot.
“Do you still get those days when you just don’t wanna do the workout or cook the meals? What gets you through that?”
There is one core rule to creating a healthy lifestyle and that is consistency. One day of healthy eating and one hour at the gym are meaningless unless you continue to come back and do those all the time. So it is obvious that the greatest enemy is anything that will work to make you inconsistent. The problem my friend asked me is one that will eventually come up. How do you really just keep going? I mean you are tired. You worked hard. You’ve got a lot of stressful crap going on. Can’t you just skip this crap for one day? two? a week? a month?
I hate to say it but there is really not a straight forward answer I can give you to this problem. What I can do is take you through the mental training I underwent to eventually conquer this.
One day at a time
When I first got started my older brother gave me this great advice: just take it one day at a time. Just make it through this day eating in the calorie limit. Just make this one day where you don’t eat that slice of pizza. Just get through this one hour of exercise. Do not think about the fact you have to do this tomorrow or that this is your whole week, etc. When you find yourself wandering into those thoughts just focus on clearing your mind and just finishing this one day. Do not let yourself evaluate the big picture.
I know that is all way easier said then done but it is crucial you practice this daily. You will see mental gains slowly accumulate where each day becomes easier, each workout becomes common, and when you pass from a day to a week to a month to months, you will have the biggest mental guns you can imagine…bro.
This is the Way
There are going to be times where you will need to give yourself a pep talk. Where you will need get yourself to remember why you need to get off the couch. Now you could sit and go over a deep, detailed account of why this is important but I found it more helpful to try and summarize that into a simple expression – a mantra if you will.
When I got started I was very focused on improving my life for my future family. I started saying “Fight for the Future.” When they brought those cakes in for birthdays at work or pizza for late night work sessions and I found myself reaching for it – I would close my eyes and just repeat to myself “Fight for the Future.” I know it can be cheesy but that one line had so much weight to it. The nerd part of me connected with the movie like expression. As time went on I found new mantras to keep it fresh but keep me focused. The one that I found so much success with came with the release of the teaser for Avengers: Endgame – “Whatever it takes.” I said that to myself a lot to keep me turning down those treats and adding 1 more minute to my run.
I’ve pitched ones at friends getting started. My new favorite is “This is the Way” from the Mandalorian. In the show it represents and unbending practice of their code. When you have to turn down the fries and are hit with that gut punching sadness of not getting to taste that delicious basket of fried carbs just tell yourself “This is the Way” and remember the code you adhere to that is bigger then you.
Find the right mantra for you. Think of any movies, music, tv, or literature that mean something to you. You don’t need to keep it to pop culture either – go to history, to famous figures, or religious texts. Find something that will remind you of the spirit you need to keep fighting. Make it the tagline to the movie about your life – about the fight you are going through.
Consistency is the real way you are going to win here. If the deficit in your diet is causing massive problems and is damn near unbearable then adjust the numbers to make it more reasonable. If the exercises you’ve been recommended are not working for you but another less effective method is then stick with that! Even though your progress will slow you are more likely to keep doing it and that is what matters the most in the end. You have to keep showing up!
Think about this as volume of practice. To get good at something you have to keep trying at it. You will stumble in this but the more you are willing to climb back up and give it one more day, the closer you are going to be to changing yourself forever.