Does the following situation sound familiar?
You want to lose weight. You get on a plan. Day one, you step on the scale. Okay, this is your starting weight. You follow the plan exactly: Egg whites-salad-water-workout.
Day two, you step on the scale. No change. You look in the mirror. Love handles are still there. That’s okay; you only just started.
A week goes by. Egg whites-salad-water-workout every day, but the scale and your love handles haven’t gotten the memo. Every day you inspect your body, looking for change, but progress seems to moving at a snail’s pace.
Another week passes. Arms still jiggly. Belly pooch is still poochy. No new cuts that you can see in the mirror at the gym. The diet is starting to suck. You’ve only lost 2 lbs. Motivation is dwindling. Maybe something is wrong with you.
Week three. Egg whites-salad-water-workout+a few cookies. Maybe a slice of pizza too. Or three. You’ve dutifully weighed yourself every day and watched every curve of your body like a hawk. You wonder when you’re finally going to transform. You step on the scale. Back up a pound. Damn.
Frustrated with your stubborn body, you revert to your old habits.
Sadly, this experience is almost a rite of passage for folks who have tried to change their body. Especially dieters who have been at it for years, before quality fitness information was so accessible.
But the body change process doesn’t have to be as deflating as the one I just described. There is an alternative way to go about things, a way that’s less obsessive and increases your compliance.
And that way is by NOT focusing on your body.
But…how is my body supposed to change if I don’t focus on it?
It sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out.
Monitoring your appearance so closely can contribute to anxiety when you aren’t seeing changes fast enough. And when you’re losing weight or gaining muscle in a healthy manner, the body changes slowly.
So if you’re hung up on the way you look every day, it’s time to get out from underneath the microscope.
Paying such discerning attention to your weight is a form of self-consciousness, isn’t it? It’s like being under a spotlight. You’re acutely aware of your figure and feel insecure about the way it looks. Which is ironic, considering that most people try to change their bodies to feel more confident.
Instead of constantly looking in the mirror and judging, try paying attention to the actions that contribute to your goal.
Hitting the gym X times a week. Drinking water. Eating 80% healthy with 20% for snacks. And especially getting stronger. So while your primary goal may still be to change your body, it becomes a secondary focus.
This is important because body change is the result of certain actions repeated over and over again. It’s a side effect, if you will.
Take cleaning a house for example. The end result is that you want a clean house, but you can’t just snap your fingers and make it so (if only!). You have to do certain things to get to that goal. Clear out clutter. Throw out the trash. Do laundry. Sweep. Mop. Performing those actions is how the house gets cleaned, not staring at the mess and wishing it would go away.
And the same goes for your body. It is your daily habits and actions that deliver the result. You have much more control over those things, so why not focus your attention there instead of what’s in the mirror?
Now I know that making sure you’re getting your veggies and hitting your weekly gym quota isn’t exactly inspiring. And inspiration is important when we’re trying to reach a goal. It’s part of what keeps us going through the rough patches.
If you’re not focusing on your body, how do you get the reward that inspires you to keep grinding?
By focusing on your performance. By trying to get stronger.
Not only is there a correlation between your performance and your aesthetic (given that nutrition is on track), but focusing on getting stronger is much more empowering than obsessing over appearance. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t care about how you look. But you will experience a new type of fulfillment when you accomplish a feat of strength, when you do something you never thought you could do before.
This is what it could look like when you shift your focus to performance:
You check your plan before stepping in the gym. You’re supposed to squat a certain amount of weight for 5 reps.
You’ve never squatted that weight for that many reps before. It sounds heavy, and it’s a little intimidating, but you’re still going to try.
You get under the bar and…
1, 2, 3, 4, 5—oh shit, you did it! Yes!
Maybe you even felt like you could’ve done a little more. Or maybe it was just challenging enough. Either way, you’re damn proud you did it.
Makes you wonder what else you could do.
So what goals could you strive for besides lost inches or pounds?
- Squatting body weight (Or 1.5-2x bodyweight)
- Getting your first push-up
- Running a mile
- Doing a handstand
- Bench pressing a certain amount of weight
The possibilities are endless, and that is the beauty of it. When you focus on habits and performance you are cultivating an attitude of abundance. Your priority becomes what you can DO and the possibilities. It’s a shift that takes you out of the scarcity mindset of not being enough and into the realm of action and power.
With that said…
If you’re tired of being in the yo-yo dieting rut…
If you’re ready to get STRONG and kick some ass…
If you’re ready to level up your fitness…