Whatever it Takes

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.

Be a badass like these badasses

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.

Showing up

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.

Mantra

The Nutrition Stone

I’ve talked about motivation and starting mental health up to this point but now we are gonna switch gears and get to some hardcore mechanics. You may be asking: Naveen, what the f**k did you do to go from 260lbs to 185lbs? Well buckle up cause here we go.

NOTE: Please remember I am in no way a licensed expert in ANY health related field – or really any field for that matter. Everything I’m sharing comes from personal experience.

“There’s a little pee coming out of me right now”

There are three Infinity Stones to the health universe: Nutrition, Exercise, and Mental. Each of these contains powerful energy that when forged into a proper gauntlet will enable the user to snap themselves into the shape they want to be.

Well okay you can’t actually snap but you still wield some pretty f**king awesome power.

For this post we are going to focus on the Nutrition Stone. It is the most important and powerful of the three. I will drop some mentions in here about the Mental Stone but will explore it more later. Mental is really the support stone that keeps the other two from burning out too quickly. It is allows the gauntlet to stay active forever so therefore it is the trickiest to understand and use.

The Nutrition Stone

There is an expression in the fitness world that “abs are made in the kitchen” and this is 100% true in every way. Your shape is defined by the food you eat. Exercise can help but the truth is that you can’t out run what you eat. What I want to get across is that nutrition is the most important thing you can adjust in your life. If you are going to do ANYTHING please make it nutrition. Screw the rest!

The bedrock to nutrition and weight loss is the idea of “calories in / calories out” The idea is very simple: your body needs x amount of calories to keep you alive everyday and do basic function. The more active of a lifestyle you live, the more calories you need. Whenever you exceed this amount of calories, your body will store it off as fat. When you consume less calories then your body needs, it will start to burn other stores of energy to keep you running – this will end up being fat! So using less calories is generally called a ‘caloric deficit’ and is what you need to create to lose weight. The nice thing about a caloric deficit is that it does not need to be dramatic – the amount you remove can be tuned to how fast you want to lose weight. A smaller reduction is easier to maintain and less mentally taxing (MENTAL STONE!) but cause slower weight loss (this is NOT a bad thing since it will be more sustainable).

To get started I recommend you first start tracking calories for at least one day. The goal here is to try and get as close of an approximation as you can for what you do in an average day. DO NOT apply metagame thinking and try to eat really clean and be on your best behavior (I SEE YOU D&DERS!). Just be yourself and be honest. Remember that we are not looking for those spikes or abnormal days – the regular day is what we are going to combat.

Now that you have a good idea of what you consume in a day you will need to know what numbers you want to aim for instead. There is an insane amount of info out there for caloric deficits and I recommend you go look at as much as you can but I found Jordan Syatt’s video a very good jumping off point.

Hope you like Harry Potter cause he is gonna talk about Harry Potter

Now you got your numbers to work with. Lower what you are eating every day to be at the number he suggests (or lower if you are bold).

Oh boo they have a fixed menu

While that was more or less calorie intake 101, I want to provide some info on what worked for me. I found that finding fixed meals/snacks and repeating them all the time allowed me to maintain a caloric deficit without having to track calories. I STILL RECOMMEND you track early but if you create these fixed foods you don’t need to worry about it as much. For me I found a breakfast that worked and I make it every day. I meal prep lunches for the week and then keep dinner open to be flexible with my wife but we still figured out go to carry out or at home meals that fit in the calorie amount. For snacks I started doing apples and nuts. Now i’m a simple(ish) guy and I like doing the same thing cause it becomes very dependable. If you don’t like this idea think of more foods and calculate out the calories. Know how to make them fast and keep yourself stocked so you are not caught unaware.

On that last point I want to stress that with food you want to move from a ‘shooting from the hip’ mentality to a ‘tactician’ one. This of course is the Mental Stone at work again. If you are going out and it is not a special day or meal, look ahead at the menu. Yes that takes the fun out of it but the Nutrition Stone does not bend to those with weak will.

There are options like intermittent fasting that I’ve seen many friends have great success and work better with their lifestyles. Do what works for you but whatever you do – stick to it. This is about what you do on the regular day – which means basically everyday. Consistency is insanely vital to unlocking the power of the stone.

Bang for your Buck

The last tip I’ll leave you with about food is that the further you go with being in a caloric deficit the more you are going to want to reach for foods that help you last longer without eating your caloric budget. For example fruits are going to become a huge friend. They are usually low calorie for the volume which means they can help fill you up or at least trick your brain into thinking it. I call this “bang for your buck” – look for foods that can satisfy multiple nutritional needs while keeping the calories low. Those 100 calorie bag cheezeits? GET THE F**K OUT OF HERE. Sure they taste great and give you that salty satisfaction but they will leave you with nothing else. You could do some nuts for 100 calories and while not as awesome to eat they will potentially stay with you longer and give you some extra minerals while you are at it. Stuff like brown rice instead of white rice. Sure white rice is tasty as all hell but it has been stripped of the extra goodness that brown rice still has – fiber and some other minerals. As you advance in using the Nutrition Stone, you will want to start optimizing your food more.

I want to point out that for me I generally started picking foods that were higher in protein and fiber and lower in overall carbs and fat. I understand that fiber is part of carbs but I try to stick to foods that contain that kind of carbs. Fiber was one of the things I made a massive increase in since generally most of us are eating way too little of it. Fiber helps get shit out of your body and can also help keep you satiated longer. I mean it is more complicated then that but just think of it as helping keep your body clean.

Snaps require sacrifice

None of this is easy. It requires changing your whole lifestyle – especially if you were like me and food was the center of your day. Oddly enough food will STILL be the center of your day but now it is about controlling it and telling it “no, you move”

Create the deficit. Plan your food. Do not shoot from the hip. Wield the power of the Nutrition Stone and snap the fat that stands in your way.

It will cost you, but that is the price of being a hero

See you next time as we discuss the Exercise Stone. You won’t like it either.