I am continuing my series of articles on how to achieve your goal in ways that are beyond sets, and reps, and calories and grams and all the rest.
The real truth is that we are now living beyond the information age. We are in a new strange cultural phase of facts and alternative-facts, disinformation and misinformation. And if you think that only exists in politics, then you are being naïve.
But even after pointing all of this out to you, the truth is still the truth, for people who really and truly want actual answers.
And the real truth here is that when it comes to physique transformation and losing weight, everyone knows the basics of what to eat. And if you have an expert Coach then you also have a great plan that will get you there.
These days the reason so many of you fail isn’t because your plan is bad. It’s because you are too inconsistent in executing it.
This is the real truth.
Ask any sports psychologist and they will tell you that winning and losing – they are both contagious. This usually refers to team sports but it is true of any competitive endeavor. So the real trick in achieving your goal is setting up your world in a way that leads to winning the process, while minimizing the possibilities for failure.
The example I am going to use for this article is not from my bodybuilding years.
I am going to go way back to earning my honors degree at University, which is also the same time I started competing, and winning, in bodybuilding. YEP, I accomplished both at the same time.
And by looking back to these years I can tell you emphatically that to my mind, even to this day, these factors below are ‘key’ and ‘crucial’ mental ‘must haves’ for achieving your physique goals.
Determination extends well beyond a moment of making a motivated decision. Hell, every Dec 31, a gazillion people make a ‘motivated decision’ for the New Year. And we all know how that usually ends up. “Motivation” won’t get you there, ever. Motivation is merely what lights the wick to declaring the initial goal.
It’s determination that keeps that wick burning. Determination is not a one-time thing like motivation is. Determination is an everyday reminder that makes you stay the course.
What you need to embrace and internalize is that YOU have to encourage YOU, all along the way. And you can’t expect that from anyone else. Real determination is always spiced with constant self-encouragement. There is no way around that reality.
To my own example, I couldn’t earn a 4 yrs. degree and then go on to graduate school just by being ‘motivated to go to University’ while still in high school.
The motivation to ‘do it’ and the determination to ‘become it’ were two entirely different things. And I see so many people make this fundamental mistake when it comes to physique goals and weight loss.
I couldn’t have had any idea what University life would be like and how much it would change me until I actually got there and undertook, and accepted its ongoing process.
This is another fundamental mistake people make when they seek physique change. Your ‘motivation to do it’ is but a mere flicker of a starting point. Only real and authentic determination will allow you to stay the course. And that course is never a clear path free of hills and obstacles. To think so, is to turn reality into fantasy.
Self-control must be exercised to make self-control itself stronger, and for it to become a force that works for you, even though you may have to work for it, at first. You have to discipline YOUR MIND and your behavior will follow.
My first year of University, I had to grow up fast, or drop out. And I did indeed witness many fellow students drop out. Most of the time the reason was they just never developed the discipline required to keep up to the workloads. They continued a high-school mindset in a non-high school environment.
And that dog, won’t hunt!
Myself, I developed a key discipline for ‘study habits.’ I started getting up at 5:30 am every morning and made sure I studied or did assignments for at least 2 hours, before I allowed myself to do anything else that fell under the category of “what I want to do.” And then I also assigned myself another ‘optional flex hour’ later in the afternoon or early evening (depending on my class schedule) for another hour of study or assignments.
In other words, if even by accident – I committed to the process of proper preparation for performance. And that doesn’t happen without real and authentic self-control.
When it comes to weight loss and transformation goals, this is another fundamental mistake so many of you make. You put what you want to do, ahead of what you need to do, too many times. And it effectively sabotages your efforts.
Persistence and perseverance
Look, determination and discipline; they kind of roll into an effect of persistence and perseverance. You have to prioritize one course of action, and keep showing up for it no matter what. Again, it’s not about what you feel like or don’t feel like doing.
Here’s a key: When it comes doing what needs to be done consistently to achieve your goal, stop mentally giving yourself ‘choices’ to do other things instead.
As a student, to keep me locked-in to the process, I always thought of my parents and their jobs. They had to slot out time to be at their jobs no matter what, or they wouldn’t get paid. I looked at my study habits the same way by comparison. Anytime a mate suggested to me “just blow it off” I never did. I always thought, “My parents could never blow off showing up for work whenever they felt like it.”
So when it came to my study habits, I gave myself NO CHOICE for other options during those time slots!
How many of you can say the same when it comes to your persistence and perseverance to sticking to your meal plans, sleep and wake times, workouts, and the rest.
Here’s the thing here folks: The more ‘yeah-but’s’ you use, the more likely you will tend to fail to reach your goal!
You would think that as adults, people would have organization down pat. But you wouldn’t believe how unorganized and disorganized so many people seem to be. And being unorganized or disorganized makes achieving any goal all that much harder to accomplish.
As a student, I remember it vividly, sticking in my head to this day, how struck I was by how unorganized and disorganized so many of my fellow students seemed to be. If they didn’t have classes they would sleep till noon. They would stay out all hours of the night, often spending most of the next day hung over.
They would have to play catch-up constantly and pull ‘all-nighters’ to prepare for exams or to get assignments handed in on time. And I remember observing to myself, all the added stress this seemed to heap on them, merely for being so unorganized and disorganized.
All these years later, I still witness the same fault with so many people who are seeking weight loss and transformation. And yet, they never truly organize their lives around preparing to succeed at this goal.
Being surrounded by clutter and mess doesn’t serve a smooth path to achievement. Clutter and mess create reactive mode. You know this is true.
Organization produces proactive mode so organization almost always includes ‘structure!’
Around the midpoint of my second year at University, I was becoming a master at organization and structure. Everything had a schedule. First, I would look at my class schedules, which would be something I had less control of – and then I would ‘structure’ my days and weeks around that reality.
I structured what day and time I would go to the laundromat and what day and time I would do groceries. I would even structure what I referred to as “me time” for entertainment or whatever. I remember I would look forward to going to the arcade and I allowed myself five dollars to spend, playing games like Donkey Kong and the rest.(Yeah, I’m old, I know)
But the point here is that general organization and structure, leads to specific organization and structure. And when it’s done right, this all makes your life easier. And of course, it makes accomplishing a goal much easier as well. And remember, earning an honor’s degree is a 4 yrs. long goal, not a 12 week goal like some kind of silly transformation challenge.
The point here is that just like workouts should be structured, your day should be structured, your meal times should be structured, your meals themselves should be structured. So you see, structure has both a macro and a micro component and it should be viewed as such, and that each of the macro and micro elements of structure are connected.
And real and authentic ‘structure’ is how you clear the path like a bulldozer in order to achieve your goal.
Repetition (Groundhog Day)
If you study anyone who has achieved a goal and maintained that achievement over time, here is what you do and you do not witness. What you don’t witness is magic secrets and special hacks that got someone there faster. What you don’t witness are ‘sexy’ solutions that no one has ever thought of before.
What you will witness again and again are the non-sexy regimentation elements of repetition.
Most winners of accomplishment will tell you that their day to day life is rather boring and predictable. And they practice repetition and routine not because they have to, but because it is the lifestyle they have created for themselves over time.
Repetition creates habits which become automatic. This is true for either positive or negative results.
Think about this fact which I have written about extensively through the years when I discuss these topics of ‘how to achieve a goal.’ Athletes practice fundamental skills from childhood to the day they retire. Repetition and then routine are part of their excellence. Baseball players for instance will take batting practice for example practically every day of their career, before games and between games. But don’t they already know how to hit a baseball?
In my student life, repetition of my routine, is what allowed me to achieve BOTH a degree in my field while winning scholarships for academic performance – while at the same time, competing and winning in bodybuilding competitions too.
Repetition and routine allow you to accomplish more than one thing at a time; like working at your job while still accomplishing your weight loss and transformation goals.
And yet, to this day I will have people tell me over and over again, that something about their engagement in the process has now just become ‘too boring.’ And you can likely guess where that leads!
And this opinion of the process leads to the very next point as well:
Attitude is everything. I see so many people fail, because they have a faulty attitude. They keep focusing on all the sacrifices they have to make and all the things they are giving up in order to achieve their goal. Some will even opine that it is ‘unfair’ to sacrifice so much to achieve their goals.
Well if it is that unfair then simple don’t do it!
There are far too many diet martyrs out there. And being a diet martyr is simply a bad attitude and it usually leads to resentment of the very process that delivers you the achievement you seek.
The most successful people are authentic stakeholders in their achievements. They don’t think in terms of sacrifices. They think in terms of the investment.
In my later years as a University student, I had mastered all of the above and my attitude changed dramatically. I was no longer setting an agenda to “earn a degree.” At that point my attitude was to achieve straight “A’s” which I did. But it was even deeper than that. It wasn’t so much that I wanted straight A’s, as I wanted to learn more and more.
I never looked at study habits as sacrificing anything that I didn’t want to sacrifice in the first place. And at that point, achieving my degree was now a foregone conclusion. It was no longer a goal.
And this allowed me to pursue my bodybuilding goals with equal investment and sincerity.
And I never looked at either pursuing my degree or competing in bodybuilding as anything other than an investment I was making in myself. Neither one were ever a “poor me sacrifice.”
Acceptance (Change on Changes Terms)
If you really want to achieve sustainable weight loss and physique transformation then you have to accept that change takes place on change’s terms, not your, and not the fantasy you create in your mind about how it’s going to be, or how easy it is going to be.
I often compare this to a couple expecting their first child. They create all these scenarios of how it is going to be, and when the baby will sleep and nap and feed, and all the rest. And then once the baby comes, they laugh at how many of their preconceived notions went right out the window and they realized that the baby runs the agenda for the most part.
It was the same with me pursuing my degree. While in high school and living at home of course I had all kinds of ideas of how university life was going to be and how it was going to be living alone.
And the ‘best-case scenario’ picture we tend to paint for ourselves often becomes our worst obstacle. ‘Well, this isn’t how I thought it was going to be.’ And then people follow that sentiment with disappointment, which leads to disillusionment and then eventually quitting entirely.
CHANGE IS HARD, even when we accept it is going to be hard.
But to resist that reality and expect change to be like sliding into a warm bath – that is pure fantasy.
Therefore, part of the overall mindset of ‘acceptance’ includes sub-categories of flexibility and adaptability as well.
Without practicing these two skills within the overall mindset of ‘acceptance’ you will likely fail. I say that bluntly, because it needs to be said bluntly.
As I just alluded to above there is a stark difference between focusing on a reality based process vs focusing on fantasy based desired outcomes. Wanting to lose 50 lbs has very little bearing on actually doing it. YOU MUST embrace the process required.
My early University years, I didn’t even realize I was doing that, but that is what not only got me through it, but allowed me to excel in it.
In first year University, I recall being intimidated as hell. My smarts that allowed me to sail through high school simply didn’t matter much. The reading workloads seemed insane to me at that time. The high stakes of tests and essays and exams being worth such a high amount of a final grade – these were all new to me. And I had to ‘adapt or fail.’
But 4th year, I developed my own system. Study habits were personalized. Days were structured. Discipline was practiced. There was no intimidation factor at all. And by then, there was no question in my mind I was going to excel.
I ended up teaching classes both as a T.A. and because I was asked by a professor to teach his class. I won academic scholarships. I completed my thesis before Christmas break, which was something unheard of at the time. And all during this ‘adaptability to change’ I competed in, and won bodybuilding competitions as well.
But don’t get me wrong here. I had none of this figured out in advance. I learned what it was going to take, as it all unfolded in front of me.
I stumbled on this achievement formula and I got lucky.
It’s only in retrospect that I can outline for you the factors between how I was able to achieve my degree and excel at it – and offer these relevant factors to you from that experience – commonalities, that I witness time and again in clients who succeed at weight loss and transformation vs. clients who do not.
Motivation to get a degree was a small “m” motivation for me. It was merely an immature convenient idea when it first fomented.
But eventually, big “D” Determination got me through those first obstacles that seemed to loom so large. Having a process and continually investing in it kept me there. Accepting the terms of change, allowed me to expand beyond earning the 4 yrs. degree and go to grad school.
And then, I applied and I used these same mental ‘must have’s’ to also compete in, win, and excel in bodybuilding at the same time.
So the only conclusion YOU should draw from this is that when you get your mind right, your achievement is inevitable!
And these are your mental ‘must have’s’ for achieving your physique goals in 2021.
Some of you will get it
Some of you will not