Losing fat and getting ripped was one of the hardest thing I did in my life, I can still recall the pain of doing the stubborn fat loss protocol outside on 45 degrees Celsius the sun burning the skull, heart wants to come out and slap my face. I will never forget that summer, despite the conditions I’ve successfully managed to brainwash myself to nuke all the negative self-talk telling me that I should give up and that it’s just not worth it. The closer you are to your goal the harder the brain works to come up with the most clever excuses and rationalizations to prevent you from taking action.
Second hardest thing I had to do was maintain that state while traveling and partying. This was probably even harder than getting ripped in the first place because it’s a lot easier to rationalize why you can get away with eating bad food and doing half-ass workouts. Took me a long time to figure out what was exactly going on in my head and how to battle these kind of thoughts.
Why Your Brain Doesn’t Want You To Be Lean
Fact is that your brain doesn’t give a f*** about your abs or your how low is your body fat percentage, it just wants to survive and reproduce. It’s almost as if we were hardwired by nature to give in to temptation, and the marketers aren’t exactly ashamed to exploit this. All those fast food ads you see are custom made to skip the prefrontal cortex to get your lizard brain to take over and so we start making irrational decisions based on how we feel right now instead of aligning our action toward future goals.
The lizard brain could care less about your hopes and dreams, it wants things now. It gets activated when you’re exposed to instant gratification such as 6 minute ab programs, “instant” old forgotten fat loss trick, the one true secret to muscle building revealed, 5 steps to eliminating all belly fat in just 3 weeks and similar messages we are exposed to daily. One of my favorites quotes on this topic comes from Seth Godin and it says:
“The lizard brain is hungry, scared, angry, and horny. The lizard brain only wants to eat and be safe. The lizard brain will fight (to the death) if it has to, but would rather run away.” – Seth Godin
Of course we do need to realize that without the lizard brain it wouldn’t be possible to survive this long. This part of the brain is responsible for getting us all the way from hiding in caves to what we are today. The tricky part is that our brains are still wired as if we’re fighting for survival every day and in today’s world at least for the reader of this article it’s likely not true. So knowing this how exactly do we overcome the insatiable desire for instant gratification?
Inner Game of Fat Loss – How to Escape the Instant Gratification Trap
“The ability to discipline yourself to delay gratification in the short term in order to enjoy greater rewards in the long term, is the indispensable prerequisite for success.” – Brian Tracy
Giving in to every bit of bad temptation is the fastest way to achieving nothing. Despite hiring very expensive trainers most people will fail their diet just because they cannot control themselves enough to eat the set number of calories and to exercise 3 times per week. Most of them have all the information they would ever need but implementing this into the lifestyle is where the problems start. To be able to execute such plans we need to employ something called delayed gratification, this is a very hard but rewarding habit to build up. It’s one of the keys of success in all areas of life not just weight loss and fitness.
For me personally my weight loss journey taught me delayed gratification and strengthened my willpower muscle which later translated to all areas of life. The final result is a good story how a guy from a small Bosnian village who grew up during the war managed to transforms his entire health and business life, eventually starting an online business and went on to travel the world in the most exotic places. All of this was a result of building up the habit of delayed gratification and here are 3 things I believe helped me the most.
Step 1 – Set Crystal Clear Future Goals! (This one is crucial)
You need to know exactly what you want, your goal has to be specific enough so you can clearly see it in your imagination. Most people fail to set such goals, at the time of making a decision against instant gratification if the goal in your mind is vague it will not be strong enough to resist the natural instinct of going with the flow.
Think about where you see yourself in the next 5 years and then brake it down step by step, ask yourself:
- What is the Fitness and Health goal I want to achieve someday?
- Based on my someday goal what is the one thing I can do to achieve that goal in 5 years?
- Based on the 5 year goal what is the one thing I can do this year to move me closer to that goal?
- Based on my yearly goal what is the one thing I can do this month to help achieve that goal?
- Based one my monthly goal what can I do this week to help me achieve my goal for this month?
- Based on my weekly goal what can I do today to help me achieve my goal for this week?
- Based on my daily goal what can I do right now to achieve it?
Once you run your goal through this process it will become very clear what you have to do, and this is the first step toward achieving success!
Step 2 – Reminding Yourself of the Long Term At The Right Time
At the exact moment you are tempted by instant gratification being it eating a pizza or not going to the gym that day remind yourself that this goes against your long term goals. Visualize the goals again and it will instantly break the spell by activating your prefrontal cortex. The good thing about this the more you do it the stronger your willpower gets and the easier it gets to resist such temptations in the future.
Step 3 – Why You Should ALWAYS Track Your Progress
Tracking progress is the best way to stay accountable, during my cutting diet I’ve stepped on a weight scale every morning after waking up and wrote down the number in my phone using an app called Evernote. Besides that I would use a body fat caliper and measure myself every Sunday night. I can not stress enough how this helped me to stay on the right track. I had a goal of reaching 6% body fat and I could clearly see week by week that I’m coming closer and closer to that goal. It was so motivating that I wouldn’t even consider cheating on my diet at that point because I didn’t wanna destroy my progress.
Step 4 – Setup a Reward System That Works
There’s many ways you can reward yourself but the tricky part is WHEN to reward yourself. The best system that worked for me was to attach the reward to how well I executed the process that week not how good the results were. What I mean by that: I wouldn’t reward myself depending on how much weight I lost, I would reward myself if I did everything I had planned to do that week to move me closer to my goal (exercised 5 days, no cheat meals, wrote every day my progress).
This type of goal is called a Process Oriented Goal, it’s completely detached to the results which means that it’s all in your control. Results during fat loss is not something we can control, we can do the best we can but it might not always yield the desired outcome, this is why I’ve found it better to be focused on the process and how well I executed everything so I would always have a reason to reward myself.
The reward was every week I had a choice of 1 cheat meal, I could eat whatever I want. This would usually be pancakes with Nutella or a huge pizza. I would do the cheat meal on Sunday afternoon and then utilize that extra boost of confidence, energy and motivation on Monday by going to the gym.
My advice is always link your goals to the process not the outcome, every body is unique and result can fluctuate especially when it comes to fat loss which is not linear so if you set it to an outcome it might discourage you to continue.
In this article I’ve tried to give you some tips on how to battle the voice telling you that you can’t achieve something, I hope the content above will help you achieve your goals. Losing fat is not an easy thing and if you’re on that journey right now I wish you the best luck and the best results!
PS. After talking to a lot of readers I’ve decided to start offering an Online consulting service. If you are interested in working directly with me in a 1 on 1 session over Skype, check out https://shockingfit.com/coaching and setup a call with me. I will make it my mission to help you reach your goals.
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