“The foolishness of people who are surprised by anything that happens.” – Marcus Aurelius
Not every training session has to be amazing and worthy of a Facebook update. You don’t always need to invade the gym like it’s the Normandy and the weights are the enemy. Not every meal needs to be uploaded to Instagram with self-congratulatory comments: “Look at this marvellous piece of soul food I’ve just created! #gainzoverbrainz”. Sometimes, yes, but not all the time.
Results happen because, day after day, you show up and do what you were meant to do that day. Most training sessions are average, some are plain awful, and a few are phenomenal, worthy of a self-high-five and a moonwalk to the beat of Billie Jean.
You’ll be successful in reaching your fitness goals if you continue to show up even after life kicks you in the face and the walls are crumbling. If you can go through your training on those days or at least show up to do the bare minimum, you are well on your way to getting where you want to be. That being said, there are moments in life when training has to take the backseat as you are needed somewhere else. And by the way, “moments” doesn’t mean your work.
Similarly, with cooking, you are winning if you have the routines in place to prepare your meals during the busy times at work and in life—either by cooking beforehand or stocking up on nutritious foods that are easy to prepare. Because, I can tell you that those stressful times are way more common than the moments when you feel like saying, “I will take on the world one stalk of broccoli and a dumbbell at a time”. When you’ve built up to a strong routine, it takes a lot to rattle it. And when you value your health and wellbeing, you understand that it all starts in the kitchen, even during busy times. You will be sharper, more productive and present when you eat well.
Healthy eating and training shouldn’t be an on/off switch, but rather a dial that you tune depending on what is happening in your life at a given time. Once you turn it off for a while, you have to master all the strength to start over again. You have to build all those habits again from scratch. You will make things unnecessarily hard for yourself.
When you start something new, such as a new program or you join a gym or decide that this time you will lose ten kilograms, it will be exciting in the beginning. Nothing can stop you! The mistake that most of us make is that we think it will last forever. In reality, it will last about six weeks, if you’re lucky. That’s when things get hard. You get a lifestyle change hangover, even when you start slow. It will happen.
So be ready for it. Know that this amazing feeling won’t last. If you can keep pushing after two months, you’ll be much better off than most people—who won’t touch a kettlebell or a frying pan until next year. Only to repeat the cycle.
Acknowledge that training and new habits will make you feel uncomfortable. Learn why discomfort will happen (it will happen), and know that it is normal. Knowing that will reduce your stress, anxiety and fear. And when you expect discomfort, it will affect you less. It won’t hit you like a ten-ton hammer every single time. You will be prepared for it.
I’ve been in a rut with my guitar practice over the past month. I knew it was coming, though. I had been on fire and looking forward to each time I could play. I was thinking about it every waking moment. But for the past month, it hasn’t been so. I haven’t felt like it, and it’s only rarely that I’ve looked forward to playing. But I still pick up the guitar four days a week as I did before and do the bare minimum. Instead of playing for an hour each time, I might play for 15 minutes.
But the important lesson in my guitar example is that I still show up. I pick up the guitar and keep up with the habit, doing as much as I feel like. And so it will be until the spirit of the guitar gods moves me again and I find the inspiration to practice more. I’ve been through this cycle with the guitar in the past as well as in training, so I know that eventually I’ll get obsessed with it again. Until then, I just keep showing up to keep the habit alive. I avoid the “off” switch.
By keeping the routine alive with your healthy cooking, eating and training during the shit times, you keep a small fire burning until you are ready to pour on the gasoline again. It’s easier to get things blazing from a small fire than it is to start a new one.
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