I was embarrassed. My eating habits were.. unpredictable at best. I wasn’t moving towards the physique I wanted, I hated how I looked. Worst of all, I didn’t want to socialise or see friends because I thought they wouldn’t want to hang out or be seen with someone like me. I needed to find the reset button.
I was fit but I didn’t look it. I was constantly doubting myself and feeding negative thoughts into my mind. Though I was lifting heavy and doing plenty of cardio, I wasn’t making progress. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get my eating under control. I knew exactly what to do, I had every reason to do it, but I just wasn’t.
In hindsight it seems fear of failure and resistance to change played a part.
I remember when I first contacted Gregory O’Gallagher. I was ready to give up.
“When was the last time you just ate at maintenance and weren’t trying to restrict?” Greg’s question really sunk deep and resonated with me. I had been burning the candles at both ends for so long. Piling up the stress of excessive exercise, a restrictive diet approach that wasn’t so flexible, feeling guilty when I made any small slip up, and punishing myself mentally for not being where I wanted to be already. It was this question that made me put the breaks on, realising that, sometimes, two steps back is the best way forward.
If it weren’t for Christopher Walker & Gregory O’gallagher and their Road to Ripped Podcast – I would still be putting life on hold to put more hours in the gym or diet harder – being so focused on fat loss and future goals that the present moment is out of focus, so much so that you miss it completely.
If you’ve listened to the Podcast, you’ve probably heard Eckhart Tolle’s name pops up. Part of my program was to listen to his audio book “Practicing the Power of Now”. This pulled me back into reality. Listening to this each day made all the difference. I could go on, but just get the book and thank me later.
On top of this, my calories/macros were brought up to predicted maintenance and my training volume significantly decreased (giving me more time for life). Counterintuitive? Yes. What happened? I was less stressed, happier, more confident, my measurements decreased, I was lighter, had more energy, everything felt ok. And I realised “ok” is better than perfect. I had a new appreciation for finding a neutral gear rather than being thrown around by a constant roller coaster of highs and lows. Not a fun roller coaster, a questionable rickety old jerky one that might go off the rails at any minute.
I had failed to consider the human element in my programming. Sometimes mentally we need a break. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to not be perfect. Anxiety will rule your life if you let it. Don’t wait for a meltdown to force you back into reality. Full steam ahead is not a mandatory gear on the road to success. I guarantee the long road will eventually get you there faster. A slow and steady approach will also safeguard your brain against spontaneously combustion.
Switching gears to neutral doesn’t mean you aren’t working towards your goals. It simply frees you from the trap of an all or nothing mindset. Allowing you to focus on what you want your life to look like, not just your body.
You can have the BEST approach to nutrition and training. You can have a killer customised plan with every detail mapped out. But if your head is in the wrong place and your heart isn’t in it – its just not that valuable.
Road to ripped isn’t just a fitness podcast. It taught me that people will like you based on authenticity, kindness & compassion – not whether you have abs or not. Don’t spend all your days in gym thinking “I’ll be happy when I reach x% bodyfat”. Tying your happiness and self worth to a future goal is the best way to be miserable. Instead work on your social skills, build great relationships, explore the world, go on more adventures, try new things. Don’t let your self wind up as the lonely fella who is only good at lifting heavy things and instagramming their food prep.
Whether you’re a coach or a trainee, don’t disregard the human element. Sometimes people like to drink, eat out, socialise, party, have a break from routine. And that’s ok. Fuck ups and failures happen. It doesn’t make you less of a person if you have a bad day/week/month. Stop being so freakin hard on yourself, there ARE worse things in life than eating a burger and sitting on the couch all day to bulk watch the new entourage season. Realise that failure is not permanent, it’s never too late to start again.
Knowing that you hold the ability to shape your future body/mind/life should be empowering and inspiring. If it is a stressful, torturous hell – maybe it’s time you jumped ship and instead choose the slower more enjoyable path. Forgive yourself, count your small daily wins (focus on the good and it will multiply). Focus on today and learn to be thankful for where you are.
Taking small, seemingly insignificant steps, beats going 100 miles an hour in the wrong direction. Sometimes 2 steps back is the best way forward.
People won’t hate you if you aren’t some version of perfect. If you died tomorrow, would you regret not going to gym that extra day? Not eating enough broccoli? Or not spending more time with your friends and family? Your goals will always be there, ready to be chased. But people won’t stick around when you keep ditching them to train and avoiding dinner invites because you’re on a diet. Are the friends you lose and the moments you miss worth looking shredded? I hope you will stop being so hard on yourself so you can stop and smell the roses.
And on christmas day enjoy some pudding FFS.