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Adjusting Training and Eating Habits for Lifelong Success

Adjusting Training and Eating Habits for Lifelong Success

Adjusting Training and Eating Habits for Lifelong Success

Not every life situation is ideally suited for an all-out attack on your health and fitness goals. There are times when improving your training and eating habits have to take a back seat. Then, there are times when you can focus almost exclusively on training, habit changes and generally winning with health goals. Adjusting habits to whatever else is happening is an important skill to have. Here’s how to do it all

1. Know When To Pull Back

These are the times when you’re already chasing your tail, trying to catch life’s curveballs as they hit your way. The times when you have a tight deadline at work that takes 28 hours of your time each day or when you are required to travel. Times when you have to care for someone close to you. Or on an upside, the holiday times. Switching your training or diet to a higher gear during these times just doesn’t work, you’ve maxed out on the available gears.

What should you do with your training during pull-back times?

Do the minimum to maintain what you’ve got so far. If you are used to training 5 hours a week, take it back to 2-3 or even less. You might even be better off planning your training so that during pull-back times, you are recovering and taking time off, your body needs it every now and then. Stay active in other ways.

Have a plan in place to set aside a few minutes each day for meditation or another form of stress release.

What shouldn’t you do with your training during pull-back times?

Don’t stress if you can’t keep up with your normal training schedule. Don’t tackle the new(est) Hollywood Belly Fat Blaster or Gunz of a Ghetto He-Man – training plans.

What should you do with your diet and habits during pull-back times?

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Have pre-cooked meals that can be heated with no effort. If your pull-back situation has taken you by surprise, you need to keep your cooking simple, efficient and nutritious. But tasty too. Keep recipes that are fast and that can be cooked without sparing a thought whether you should cook them. It might come in handy during these times. Cook big batches or find restaurants or delivery services that can cater to your diet needs.

Make it as simple as possible to maintain the habits you’ve worked on developing so far. As always, if you have the option to do so, planning trumps everything else.

What shouldn’t you do with diet and habits during pull-back times?

Too many people resort to fast food and microwave dinners during these hectic periods. It’s unfortunate since you may already be stressed or tired, and might be pushing your mental and physical limits. Piling poor diet choices on top of it all will make you feel lethargic, and you won’t be at your best when others might need your superhuman skills.

Don’t worry about winning any Michelin stars with your cooking. Or mastering advanced vegetable chopping skills. “Good enough” will suffice.

Don’t add new habits unless you are 100% confident you can stick to them.

2. Know When To Aim For Reasonable Progress

This is where we find ourselves most of the time. You might be busy, but nicely balancing family, work, training, and habits. You work normal hours on most days, and there’s room for regular training in your schedule. Things are not chaotic or out of control.

What should you do with training during reasonable progress?

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It’s good to alternate between easy and moderate, Occasionally when the stars align, test your limits. Stay at a reasonable level most of the time. Meaning, you show up, get your training done and move on. Don’t bang the dumbbells together trying to ignite the fire or get into a fistfight because someone else is using the bench press. Try to progress during these times by doing a little bit better, each session.

Have flexibility built into your training, that you can use to adjust to a situation that might arise at work, or at home. Some weeks you might be motivated to train more and during the others you might train less. It’s all good, as long as it all balances out over a longer period. Think life-long cumulative of training as a marathon and not a sprint.

What shouldn’t you do with training during reasonable progress?

Don’t be a hero and try to tackle epic and complicated training plans that are going to get thrown out the window as soon as something unexpected happens. Don’t sign up for a “6 weeks to a 10-pack” boot camp.

Also, you don’t have to feel as if you’ve been run over by a freight train after each session.

What should you with diet and habits during reasonable progress?

Add and track new habits one at a time until they become part of your routine. Keep working on the habits that you have tackled in the past and figure out ways to make them better suited for you. Find your “sweet spots”. Plan ahead so that you know how to react when an unusual or stressful situation comes around.

What shouldn’t you do with diet and habits during reasonable progress?

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Don’t take on habits, unless you are at least 80-90% confident that you can succeed with them.

3. Know When To Go All-In

These are the times when work is easy or non-existent. You have a private chef (or a very supportive wife) cooking all your meals and helping you with every request you might have. You have a nanny with a British accent who looks after the kids while you overhead press in the penthouse. You might even own a pool and a dolphin. Or you might be an 18-year-old living in your parents’ basement. Mum’s your chef and Dad is your spotter. You have no money issues, work troubles or dependents to look after. What you do have is all the time in the world.

What should you do with training during these times?

Always wanted to try the hardest of all training plans? Want to tackle the insane 6 month-long plan that ‘The Rock’ is on? Spend an extra hour at the gym each day just to work on your triceps? Go for it; this is your chance!

What shouldn’t you do with training during these times?

Don’t try to break the world record for squatting on a stability ball, because, well, it’s just dumb! And dangerous! Otherwise, do whatever you want. Because there isn’t any reason not to. Nothing is going to slow you down. But just don’t get injured.

What should you with diet and habits during these times?

Go on the strictest eating plan and calculate and weigh every single calorie and macronutrient. Let your life revolve around eating, and skip every possible social gathering in order to become the version of yourself that you want to be. I mean, for you, success should be measured in weights lifted and protein consumed.

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What shouldn’t you do with diet and habits during these times?

Don’t search for the secret supplement to increase your arm size. Don’t eat magic mushrooms or go on a juice cleanse to lose weight. Also, don’t do steroids.

By now, you might have realized that for most of us #3s, it is as rare as coming across a double-headed donkey. It is unlikely that you will be so fortunate. And you most likely wouldn’t be reading this blog. Then again, maybe you are a bored 16-year old billionaire living in your parents’ basement with your dolphin, who just enjoys my down-to-earth approach to fitness.

The times that are ideal for combining a tough training plan with a strict diet might come along once every few years, at best. Yet, this is what most people do when they start a journey toward their fitness goals. They sign up for mad challenges or follow a training and diet plan they found online. Those plans that are designed for a person who has the luxury to train for a living. Or the plans are clearly made for those who have some form of “chemical adjustments” flowing through their veins. And that is why most people who start also fail.

You are going to have more success by adhering to a reasonable and well-balanced approach that adjusts to your life as it happens. Sometimes you do more and sometimes you do less. Occasionally, you just work on staying where you are without worrying about progress. I mean, I love training more than most people, but it’s not my whole life. It’s just a part of it.

Reasonable progress doesn’t sound sexy or sell a lot of books, or even make great TV programs, but it does work if you have the patience for it.

What’s the best part? If you do it right, it will stick.

Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@jessebowser via unsplash.com

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How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

His motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • He riles up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

Becoming the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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