Note: This is not a post about the specifics of how I lost weight. In my opinion, the specifics are much less important than the principles below that lead me to the specifics.
Recently I’ve been going out of town a lot and it’s thrown my workout schedule and eating habits into a bit of a nose dive. I’ve put on a few of the pounds I worked so long and hard to lose the last few years. And I am very tempted to beat myself up over it. The old me would have an internal dialogue that went something like this:
“What the hell, dude? We worked so hard and you’re just gonna throw it all away? Come on. You suck. blah blah blah…”
And not only did I allow myself to talk to myself like this, but I thought it was the right thing to do. Well, I’m happy to report that I no longer think this way.
Now I look in the mirror and say, “Isn’t it amazing that when I let myself go for a few weeks that I still weigh more than twenty pounds less than I did when I moved to California? Congrats, dude. You at your worst still looks pretty great.”
Now, don’t get me wrong I don’t look ‘pretty great’ compared to movie stars or comic book characters (or even other guys who are in shape). But I look better than I used to. And furthermore I like the way I look.
So, how did I get to this point? I learned some lessons over the past few years that helped me out a lot. And I hope that they can help people who have similar situations. Keep in mind, this isn’t just about your body. These are universal principles that apply to how you treat yourself in regards to any goal you have.
- Comparing myself to comic book characters and movie stars is silly.
- Beating myself up never helped anything and always hurt
- I get to decide what thoughts I believe and what thoughts I dismiss
- Even when you slide backwards in your journey, you’re still on the journey. Just move forward.
I’ll break those down a bit further:
1. Comparing myself to comic book characters and movie stars is silly.
It’s totally okay to have a goal. And if you’re goal is to be Mr. Olympia or Ms. Universe, go for it. That’s not unrealistic or a ‘pipe dream.’ It’s a goal. Figure out the steps to accomplish it and go for it. However, it’s a bad idea to not put in the work or make a plan to accomplish a goal and then compare yourself to people who did. Arnold Schwarzenegger worked incredibly hard to become Mr. Olympia. So, it’s wholly unfair for me to want to look anything like him without first committing to working out six days a week for multiple hours a day.
Basically, the choice is to either do the work to try to get what you want or realize that since you’re not doing the work you don’t really want it. No judgment. Either is fine. But that’s your choice. For the longest time I made up option 3 – don’t do the work and then beat yourself up for not being something different. Now, I choose not to make Mr. Olympia my goal. Instead, I juts want to look fit. And I’m doing a decent job.
2. Beating myself up never helped anything and always hurt
When the dog pees in the house you put its nose in the pee to punish it, right? That’s the best choice, right? Well, I’m not an expert on dogs, but I can say that if you try that (which sounds pretty mean) and it doesn’t work after trying for a while then maybe it isn’t helping.
Sounds like a simple lesson, but it took me 33 years to learn it. When I don’t live up to my own expectations I now encourage myself rather than scold myself (ie. put my nose in metaphorical urine). And in the year and a half I’ve been doing that, I have accomplished a lot more than I had in the previous five years combined. So, I’m no longer beating myself up. And it’s working. Try positivity instead of negativity. Might really help.
3. I get to decide what thoughts I believe and what thoughts I dismiss
Thoughts are like leaves blowing in the wind. You don’t know exactly where they came from, but it’s completely up to you if you’re going to hold onto one. You’re allowed to let the negative thoughts blow right past you. Furthermore you’re allowed to manifest your own positive thoughts.
Just start thinking about how great you are. If that doesn’t come naturally, then force yourself to say out loud nice things about yourself. Eventually, it will help change the thoughts that come into your head. You may never get rid of bad thoughts, but if you have a lot of good thoughts coming at you too, you’ll more easily let the bad ones blow right by you.
4. Even when you slide backwards in your journey, you’re still on the journey. Just move forward.
Although my goal is no longer Mr. Olympia I still haven’t met my specific fitness goal yet. But that’s okay. It’s a marathon not a sprint. I no longer let a few backwards moves bother me. I look at the journey as a whole. Since I got serious and started doing this, I overall have gone demonstrably in the right direction. Sure, I’d rather not lose any momentum, but it happens. It’s no big deal. I’m just gonna get back on the horse when I can. I’m strong enough to do that. I know that now. You need to know that about yourself.
So, whenever you slide backwards on your goal, that’s when you need even more positivity. Shower yourself with good thoughts and know that you didn’t wreck anything. You just continued on a journey that’s overall going successfully.
I hope these help. Took me a long time to learn them, but they’re super helpful now. Now, when I look in the mirror I am proud of myself and thankful for everything. Any thoughts of disgust or disappointment are gone.