Recently, I had a member of the gym come to me for advice about his fat loss progress….or lack thereof. By his account, he was working out regularly, pushing himself in the gym, and eating reasonably well. Since I see him working hard in the gym all the time, I inquired about an average day of eating. His diet generally consisted of a protein smoothie with a couple of cups of berries or other fruit for breakfast, maybe a salad or sandwich for lunch, and mostly protein and veggies with the occasional starch for dinner.
“But after dinner is when I always have a hard time. Sometimes I have ice cream, but most nights I just eat pistachios. They’re healthy right? I love them, but I buy them in bulk, sit on my couch with the bag, and eat them while I watch TV at night. I probably eat at least 2 or 3 cups a night, and that’s probably too many, right?”
Right indeed, my friend! From an outsider’s perspective, it seems pretty apparent that 2 or 3 cups daily of a calorically dense food like pistachios could offset the rest of his good eating and exercise habits. The gentleman was even able to identify that this was probably the reason behind his stalled results.
I recommended that he should try to address the pistachio issue by sticking to a single serving (only a handful!) after dinner, and seeing if that improved his results. I could immediately tell by his reaction that this wasn’t what he wanted to hear, though deep down he knew that I was probably right.
Just a few days later, we crossed paths again and I asked how things were going. He danced around my questions about his progress in limiting his pistachio intake, but instead offered his new “solution.”
“Hey, what do you think is the best type of fruit for my shake in the morning? I think I’m going to try strawberries instead….I heard that bananas aren’t good for you.”
Oh boy. I’ve seen this scenario play out so many times and with so many people. It comes down to the fact that this person from the gym didn’t want to make the changes necessary to see results. He wanted to make only the changes that were EASY, the ones that didn’t require any sacrifice or effort, and have that be enough. He felt it was easier to swap fruits in his smoothie than to try to change his nighttime habits (even though his pistachio routine was costing him 690 calories PER CUP).
I’m sorry, but just because it’s what you WANT to do to achieve fat loss, doesn’t mean it’s going to cut it. Sometimes you need to accept that the changes you have to make for the results you want to see will be HARD.
We just hate to be uncomfortable, don’t we? We look for the easiest, quickest, most thoughtless diet we can find to try to do the work of fat loss and body transformation FOR us.
“I love to have a few glasses of wine every night to unwind…but I really need to lose at least 40 lbs!”
“Show me the one ab exercise that is FINALLY going to turn my mushy belly into washboard abs, once and for all!”
“If I don’t eat any carbs all day long, I can offset the damage from my nightly bingefest from after dinner until bedtime, right?”
We will do everything in our power try to avoid the real issues, our real emotional hang-ups and behaviors that prevent us from seeing lasting change….even when we know exactly what those issues are!
But in the long term, you can’t cheat your way through it. You can’t half ass it. You have to make a change and be uncomfortable in your new habits for a bit. Like every other new skill or practice, it WILL get easier over time. You can’t expect that this process will be effortless! It should kind of suck to make these changes. EMBRACE THE SUCK! Stay focused on your goals, that far off destination of where your changes will ultimately take you, and start slogging through, one day at a time. Eventually, the process will become automatic (i.e., a habit!) and just something that you do. Ta da! You’ve successfully overcome the suck and achieved real and lasting change!
Take a real, honest look at what may be holding you back from your goals right now. If you really don’t know what it is, get a coach. Otherwise, it’s time to dig in and get to work.
For example, if you struggle with overeating, especially at night after dinner, YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT A WAY TO NOT OVEREAT AT NIGHT. Look at the rest of your day and make sure you’re eating enough of the right foods (especially protein), and work to establish new nighttime routines.
Mindless snacking all day long? Keep a journal, and be accountable to yourself or to a coach.
Social drinking taking over your life? Learn to say no, drink club soda, and start working to change the focus of your social engagements away from alcohol.
That’s it. Identify the behavior that is holding you back from you goals, and CHANGE IT.
I know, I know; I’m a huge party pooper.
But guess what? If the changes you’re trying to make feel hard and yucky and uncomfortable at first….they’re working. People don’t change by performing the same behaviors over and over again.
If you want to look, feel and perform drastically differently from where you are today, you ultimately will have to make drastically different choices on a regular basis.
Big changes come from making big changes. (Not that you have to make ALL the changes ALL at once, of course…)
Do NOT fear tackling a change because it will be hard. The “hard” is what makes the journey to success so rewarding.
I hope you guys get the tough love here. Yes, I want you to make small manageable changes that will STICK over time, because if your behavioral changes don’t stick then you’ll loop right back to where you started.
Many of you know exactly what your biggest struggle is with food…I get your emails! So let me know, in the comments or on Facebook, what is ONE way you can start to tackle those struggles head on?
Always here to help,