In the 5th lesson, I talked about negative feedback cycles. If you want to create success through habits, you have to change or modify the bad ones by creating positive feedback cycles. Start a good habit by eating better, training more, doing more activity. It doesn’t matter. Watch the results. The positive results will make you want to keep doing it. Let’s take it a bit further:
For example, if you want to lose fat, you know you’ll have to eat less, move more, start an exercise program, and stay consistent for a certain period of time (more than just a few days). If you’ll start doing just two of the small recommendations I made in the previous lesson, you’d immediately be creating two positive habits that will result in better body composition in the long term. You will progress towards your fat loss goal.
It is all about creating this positive feedback cycle. Look at small incremental improvements for your body over time. Get positive feedback from the changes you are doing, from the good habits you are creating. Keep your motivation high. After just 2-3 weeks of doing these small positive improvements, you will have live results of your work. You will be able to measure the results you obtained from your small twists. If everything goes well, you should see the weight going down.
Is This Important?
As weird as this might sound, you have two brains: An emotional brain and a logical one. Looking at your brain, physically, you have just one but it processes the ideas differently. I won’t go into excessive details on either one of them but keep the discussion to the point.
The Emotional Brain
The emotional brain is first because it has the power to control the logical brain every time you think about something. There’s no way you can shut it down. It is impossible to block it from having access to your state of mind. You can just change the way it influences you when something happens.
Emotions guide us in most areas of our lives. Be it weight loss, muscle gaining or anything else. It doesn’t matter. Just think about it for a moment:
When you see a picture of something scary, how do you feel?
Can you think about it or you first get scared of it?
If someone would want to throw a punch at your face, would you think about it or you would react based on your emotions?
You see, anger, frustration, happiness, depression, mental exhaustion, are all based on your emotional brain. Every time you are in a situation that raises one or more of these feelings, your emotional brain takes over your whole being. You won’t be able to think about what you are doing anymore. That’s why we see people eating based on emotions. It is called emotional eating. As I also stated in my book, I am against rigid diets.
Sadly, the fitness industry is trying to take advantage of these emotions from the very beginning. How come?
If you take a look over the internet, there are countless types of supplements for any kind of problem you might have. Are you searching for a supplement that sheds stubborn body fat?
Of course, there is one. Does it work?
Most likely, NOT. Why do you think obesity still exists? Why do you think so many people can’t lose fat or stubborn body fat, no matter what they do?
It’s not that hard. They want us fat. They want us buying supplements time after time after time. This is what makes the profit. This is what keeps them going on. Do you think that if someone really got a good weight loss supplement on the market, it would be advertised as much as most nonsense supplements you can see nowadays?
Do you really think that the supplement industry wants you lean?
Yeah… I thought that years ago, but I was deeply disappointed. The thing is, these so called gurus, and supplement companies, figured out our deepest insecurities, and turned them against us. They use fancy words to turn our shame against us. They make us feel so bad about our inability to get that six pack look that they twist the knife into our emotions until we can’t take it anymore, and just buy whatever they feed us. And yes, they feed us well. They feed us until our pockets can’t take the expense anymore. And what happens when we are left without the motivation to go ahead?
You give up. You consider yourself a failure. You stop doing anything to reach your dream body. For a while. Until you come back and try to find the next shiny thing. I hope you won’t do that now after we had these lessons. I hope you are conscious of this trap. I am not saying you are in this situation. I was merely trying to make a point.
The point is: If you don’t learn how to manage your emotions, they will control you. And they’ll do a great job in sabotaging any effort towards your dream body.
The Logical Brain
The logical brain is… of course responsible for logical thinking. Where the emotional brain fails, the logical brain takes the lead. Thinking, and responding to any situation until the emotional brain is involved. Or at least until you involve it. The logical brain takes your knowledge and uses it for your benefit. If you understand the basic mechanism of muscle gaining, fat loss, and body composition, this is all that’s necessary for your logical brain to be able to work for you.
You don’t need a master’s degree in exercise science or fat loss. You don’t have to know stuff like protein turnover, what gluconeogenesis is, or what are ketones. Knowing the basics will be more than enough to make your logical brain do its job.
How To Adjust Your Emotional Brain
If you want to move forward, towards your goals, you have to learn how you can silence your inner critic. You now know that we act on emotions. Most of the time, too much. One day we might feel like everything is working good. The diet is in check. Training is going well. The scale is on a steady drop. And one day happens. You wake up with a weird feeling. You take a look into a mirror and you don’t look as good as you were a few days ago.
Emotions start flooding you. You start talking to yourself, thinking if everything’s really the way it is supposed to be. You start the negative self-talk. You begin to question your diet and training.
Now take a closer look at what happens. These negative feelings can surface even if you can see actual progress made until then. When doubt and emotions arise, your emotional brain will take over the logical brain. Now is the moment when you are the most vulnerable.
Now is the moment that can make you feel like you are failing. It can make you skip a meal. It can make you skip a workout. It can make you feel bad for yourself. These are called last-minute emotional changes. In these moments, you can’t really weight all the variables in a logical manner because your emotional brain just took over. This can turn your dream to trash.
Aiding Your Logical Brain
To be true with you, I have no problems losing fat or gaining muscle at the moment. That is why I will tell you a short story on how I came to an epiphany. It is not my original idea. I had an A-HA moment when I talked with my father about one of my relationship with a girl. I’ll spare you the details because I don’t want to bore you with my love life. Summarizing, I broke up with this girl because I just couldn’t trust her anymore. But somewhere deep, I had this question that was haunting me:
This isn’t uncommon. We all had this question at one time. So I asked my father: “Do you have moments when you think about what could have happened if you did something different than what you did in the past?”
He told me: “You don’t have to think like that. If you base your thinking on a what-if equation, you’ll never find an answer. You are mature enough to take a decision and stick to it. Anything you do in your life can be done in at least two ways. You obviously can’t take both of them. Just chose the one that seems good for you”.
I was like: “A-HA”
He was right. And you can apply this to your daily life. Stop thinking about what-if. When it comes to body composition, you can think about what if you try this diet. What if you do this other kind of training. It doesn’t matter. Again, the rule of consistency applies. Try something for a period of time and see how it works. Don’t think about the perfect way. You’ll never be satisfied with the choices you make if you think like that.
Let me tell you a mind trick I always use when it comes to success or failure:
I take success or failure as feedback.
If I failed at losing more weight this week, it’s feedback. If I succeeded in losing more weight, it’s feedback. It might not be the perfect way. I don’t look for perfection anymore. I look for something that works for me. I look for something that works for you.
If I go on a 8 week bulking program, and I expect to gain 8 pounds but I only gain 7 pounds, I don’t see it as a failure. I see it as feedback. Next time, I’ll know I have to eat just a little more than I previously ate. There’s no rush into thinking I failed. I still managed to gain 7 pounds. This is better than what I had when I started.
Every goal you create when it comes to fitness and health, requires effort. There’s no shortcut to awesomeness. Everything takes time and effort. Don’t fear the work. Don’t fear the discomfort. If you don’t feel the pain of going through it, and satisfy your need for achievement, you’ll feel the pain of failure. You’ll feel guilty for not succeeding.
And there’s the other way around. There are people that fear success.
“What if I succeed and I can’t handle it?”
When you succeed at something, there are many consequences. You can find yourself asking at least two questions:
- How do I keep my successful *weight loss or muscle gaining
- Was my goal too small (if it was too simple to reach)
Is Maintenance Hard?
When looking at maintaining weight loss or muscle gaining, many people have problems doing that. Why?
When they reach a level they are satisfied with, they just give up. They don’t set another goal. They are not motivated to progress further anymore. For them, the challenge of attaining something, was completed. There’s nothing more to do. Just to give up. Believe me, I encountered many people in this situation. While I don’t agree with their mindset, it’s their choice.
I remember talking with a fat guy at the gym I went a few years ago. I saw him working out like crazy for around two hours. The guy was working out for around 1 hour and did cardio for another (complex circuits, jumping rope, treadmill). He was a beast. Si I was curious about something. I asked him this:
“Andrei, it motivates me to see you being motivated to reach a better body. What’s motivating you?”
He told me the following:
“Flo, I was fat all my life. I remember when I was a kid at school, everybody was laughing at me because I was fat. I was ashamed of the way I looked. Most kinds at my school avoided me. Also, I was into fights frequently because I was bullied by other kids that were laughing at my situation. Now, after over a year of training, I almost reached my goal. No one laughs at me anymore. No one gets into fights with me. Anyways, I am not training because I want to beat up someone. I am doing this for myself. When I reach six pack abs which are my dream, I’ll stop doing these workouts. Once I attain my goal, there’s nothing more to do because I reached my goal. I won’t care anymore”
See what I’m saying?
This is the perfect example of a person that reaches their goal but after that, they can’t maintain and they just give up. For them, maintaining their performance is hard because they don’t know how to take it easy. I was like him a few years ago. I was training for hours in the gym. I was eating too little. I was seriously scared of the thought of giving up.
What if I gave up for a few weeks because I was tired of the grueling workouts?
As I’ve said in my book, maintaining your strength and muscle adaptations once you reach a goal is way easier compared to the work required to reach that specific goal. Now I am asking you. Why would you give up at maintaining once you reach your goal, if maintenance takes way less work?
Good question… Don’t give up.
Is Your Goal Too Small?
While most people exaggerate with goal setting, there are a lot of people that create puny goals so they can easily meet them. This is not necessarily a bad strategy. So instead of taking 3-4 months to reach a goal, they create a smaller one to reach in just 1 month.
So after they reach their goal, they are back to square one: setting goals, planning, implementing changes, increasing energy towards that specific goal. There’s nothing wrong with that. Exercising this is definitely a good thing. But some people get anxious when they approach the goal. What would they do when they reach their goal? Will they have to keep pushing, change directions, or just back off a little bit?
These questions are similar to the what-if ones. What if you lose 50 pounds? What if nothing works?
The takeaway point?
Starting with small goals is not a bad strategy. But make sure that when you reach those goals, you create more or at least try to maintain your current transformation. Don’t give up.
Become conscious about what motivates you. I want to hear back from you:
What motivates you?