Common mistakes when trying to change your body (part 1)
There is a lot of information out there telling you what are the best foods to eat and workouts to do. The problem with this information is a lot of it contradicts one another and it doesn’t work long term.
You can find any workout, meal plan or health challenge in Google (it’s okay - we’ve all done it). But 6 weeks in, we’re finding ourselves back in old eating patterns. Or we stopped working out because our 30-Day Challenge has ended or we stopped making working out a priority. ended
What I have here is Part One, of a two part article of the common mistakes made when trying to change your body.
1. You adopt an extremist, “all or nothing” mindset.
I see this often – Day one of a new program and you decide to cut all sugars, processed foods and other junk. You decide to workout 5, no 6 days a week. Heck, what’s one more day? Let’s hit the gym 7 days a week! What happens?
Life happens. You get stuck at work, catch a cold or go out for dinner with loved ones. You indulge and miss workouts. You feel like you have failed and lost motivation to continue.
Anyone would feel like a failure. But the result isn’t surprising. You went from 0 – 10 in a day. So what’s the solution?
Start small. Make one change. Just one. Continue to practice this change everyday. Until this habit seems effortless. Once this seems effortless, you can move onto the next habit.
New habits take practice. How do you get great at hockey, painting, singing or biking? You practice. Everyday. Making lifestyle changes are no different.
2. You don’t take progress pictures.
I was never a huge proponent of picture taking. I always monitored change by how my clothes fit or what the scale and tape measure read. All these methods are great measures of progress.
However, nothing is more motivating than seeing how far your body has changed.
I can recall the first time I took a “before” photo back in October 2013. I came across this photo almost a year later, then decided to take another photo for comparison.
I was shocked. I knew I had gained some muscle because of the tape measure readings. But I had no idea how much change my body experienced in one year.
Since then, I recommended clients take their own photos. Keep them for their own records, to draw comparison down the line.
Numbers are great, but visuals have real impact.
3. You rely only on willpower.
Adam Bornstein, “Don’t rely on willpower… you have much less control over your behavior than you’d want to believe. That’s because stress and anxiety—emotions that are inevitable—can wreck havoc on even the strongest intent, and make it difficult for you stay focused and push yourself to stay consistent with new behaviors.”
As strong willed and determined as we think we are we, we only have so much willpower available to us. Think of willpower as money. Within a given day or week you have only so much money to spend. Every time you spend, you give up some of your available money.
Now, on a day to day basis, every time you overcome a craving or “test” your willpower, you’ll lose a little bit of it. This is why after a long, stressful day at work your willpower is often at it’s lowest. We have been testing our willpower and come to the end of the day we’re spent.
This is when we make most of our poor nutrition choices and rebel against what the current diet is telling us to do.
4. You focus only on the scale.
The number on the scale is an easy and popular method to track progress. Yet, it is a one sided story and a shortsighted process.
The body is a complicated machine. The scale is a simple measurement. There are many determining factors affect the number on the scale including, hydration levels or the amount of current food in the body.
There was an insistence where I had a client working with a dietician. The dietician changed the client’s diet plan and had them come in the next week for a weigh in. They were 3 pounds heavier. In one week! The client felt defeated. What was the problem?
The dietician realized the previous measurement was done at 8am (fasting weight) and the next measurement was done at 4:30pm (fed weight). They re-tested at 8am. The results came back with them LOSING 1 pound, NOT gaining 3. A huge difference, all affected by the time of day.
That number on the scale is such a short sighted goal. There is more to you than the number. There is more to your life than that dang number. Don't sell yourself short.
Along with the scale, I recommend using girth measurements, how your clothes fit, your energy levels and a body fat analysis (DEXA Scan) to mark your progress.
5. You justify your bad habits too much.
“It’s been a crazy couple weeks.” “Family is coming down.” “It’s just one workout missed.” “Well, it was the holidays!”
I am all about giving yourself a break. Life happens and sometimes you cannot meet all the goals you have set out for yourself.
But, what happens when you become comfortable justifying why you DIDN’T do something? When you use family, holidays or work as a crutch for not eating great foods or not doing your workouts? Your goals aren't met.
Life happens. Times of chaos will strike and you wont be able to meet your goals. Just do not make a habit of justifying your bad habits.