Mastering Your Mental Game

The other day a client commented on how much weight I’ve lost over the last 4 months. She wanted to know how I did it.
The short response was, “I did it by following every piece of advice that I give you guys.”
Over the last four months, there have been no quick fixes, gimmicks, drugs, ‘detox’ diets, special smoothies, body wraps, or magic pills. I’m not following Paleo or any other fad diet, and I’m not doing anything unique with my exercise routine.
I wish I had a magic wand to wave over my clients to get them the best results in the least amount of time.
But I don’t. It doesn’t exist. The magic wand is WORK. 
So, what have I been doing to achieve a 30 LB loss since April?
The following are a list of special sauce secrets. There is certainly more where this came from, but I figured I would offer up the tip of the iceberg. Enjoy! 
I have not had a sip of alcohol since April. I am not opposed to drinking booze, but I wanted to enter into this focused phase of my life completely sober and without a crutch to numb me when shit got tough.
I wanted to be completely present. My biggest issue with alcohol is that I consistently make poor food choices when I drink. I didn’t need to create temptations for myself, so I chose to abstain. 
I journal every day. I have a morning journal where I ramble off nonsense to clear my head. I talk about my workouts and nutrition and I figure out where I need to go by writing out everything and reflecting.
I have a separate workout journal where I record every exercise, set, and rep that I do. I also record my training runs, including distance, and duration. Writing creates clarity and allows you to reflect. Don’t trust your memory, write shit down. It will help you improve week after week. 
When I began this process, I decided to kick out some gadgets from my life. I no longer run or workout with a heart rate monitor, and I don’t take body fat measurements of any kind. These things don’t matter to me.
Instead, I focus on how I feel, how I perform, and how I look. Then I adjust accordingly. I ran for years with a HR monitor and it was helpful when I was a beginner. I’ve been running long enough to know where my heart rate is, but I honestly don’t care. Maybe in the future I’ll go back to using it, but this process has been a lot less stressful without it. 
I weigh myself on the scale every morning. The number that pops up provides objective feedback. It helps me understand my current level of hydration, and provides enough information to help me adjust my nutrition.
The scale keeps me accountable. 
When we’re able to face reality, we leave no room for excuses. If I don’t know my weight, it messes up my plan and I delude myself for days. Progress stalls, and I only have myself to blame. 
I assess my progress visually in the mirror several times a day. This requires getting almost naked, finding a big mirror in a room with good lighting and posing like a fucking weirdo (if my wife didn’t know I was insane before, she knows now).
Posing was an important part of my bodybuilding competition prep back in the day, and it helped me learn poise and presentation onstage. I taught myself how to pose and flex each muscle by reading countless bodybuilding books in High School. There’s more to this than just vanity. You learn basic anatomy, and muscle control. You also improve your mobility, and posture. 
Visually assessing the way your body looks in the mirror is one of the best feedback tools you can use. 
I sit with discomfort in a non-reactive way. I’ve been hungry, tired, and low on energy many times these past few months. This has forced me to slow down, and simplify my life. 
The knee jerk reaction when we feel hungry or tired is to immediately find something to eat to take the pain away so we can change our mental state, and “feel good.” We’re always trying to escape the moment, have you noticed that? 
When you’re cutting body fat on limited calories, you don’t always get to run and eat something. Rarely do you feel satiated. This has forced me to be more present, and in the moment.
I can’t run to food to soothe my pain.
This delaying of instant gratification has allowed me to deeply ponder my relationship with food. Do I really need to eat when I’m stressed or tired? No. I probably need to get up and move my body, drink more water, and take care of some business I’ve been putting off.  
Eating food alters our mental state and when we’re constantly medicating ourselves with food because we’re tired, bored, sad, happy, and stressed we become trapped in a cycle of dependence. 
We’re constantly eating to escape feeling something. I haven’t been able to escape in four months. And guess what? The best part of feeling and pondering is that I’ve worked through some heavy mental shit that had been camped out in my head for months. 
I meditate for 20 minutes in the morning. I do a simple mindfulness meditation where I gently focus on clearing my mind to become more connected to my breath. That’s it. I say gently because I don’t judge myself or violently force thoughts from creeping into my mind. I don’t get pissed off if thoughts invade my head while I’m sitting, that’s what happens when you have a brain. Don’t judge it. 
I’m not sure why the fuck the western world is so afraid of meditation. It’s an opportunity to slow down, breathe, and lower cortisol.
Wonder why you’re always tired, sick, and unsettled? Because you can’t slow your crazy brain down. Get a grip on that thing before it destroys you. Yes, destructive thought patterns like anger, anxiety, and guilt along with chronic stress can speed up the aging process and erode your quality of life.
I get inspiration from other successful people. I don’t allow envy or jealousy to cloud my mind. I compare myself to where I was last year, last month, and last week. Am I better? If not, I make a conscious choice to immediately improve something. 
People become lost and confused when they put their focus exclusively on other people and obsess over everything they’re doing. Constantly comparing themselves and getting upset that they aren’t in the same place.
Success doesn’t happen by accident. You don’t get to magically have everything you want in life for no reason at all and get mad when other people have it because they’ve worked their asses off for it. This goes for success in all of its forms. 
There have been many days where I didn’t feel like working out. I didn’t feel like following my diet. The problem with “feelings” is that they’re little liars that threaten to delude and derail you from becoming successful.
Every time you give in to a destructive emotion or feeling, you reinforce it. If I’m always conveniently having an emotional breakdown before every workout, that workout will never get done. I go in to most workouts without overanalyzing anything and dwelling on the fact that I don’t really want to be there. I’m like a robot with a plan. I walk in and execute the plan, then I walk out. 
If I gave in every time I felt depressed, sad, angry, or stressed out over the last four months, I wouldn’t have made any progress. Don’t believe every thought you think. 
You’ve probably noticed by now that I haven’t discussed the specifics of my workouts. There are a million diets and workout programs you can find in magazines and online that can help you get in shape. That’s the easy stuff. 
The hardest part about transforming your body is mastering your mental game.

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