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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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Last Updated on August 13, 2020

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

2. What is the purpose of meditation?

The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

Less Physical, More Psychological

Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

The First Benefit of Meditation

The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

  1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
  2. Relaxation of the body

Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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This benefit takes you to the second one.

The Second Benefit of Meditation

While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

  1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
  2. Observance
  3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
  4. Patience

Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

1. Energy

Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

2. Observance

The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

3. Peacefulness

Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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4. Patience

The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

  • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
  • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
  • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
  • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
  • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
  • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

Final Thoughts

Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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