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The transition between a lifestyle crammed with unhealthy habits, regular visits to the pub and munching on processed crap to a new structure of life which contrasts what was normality in nearly every way can be a tough journey. For many, this transition period is generally where they trip over the first of many hurdles – if they managed to get past the first one, which is to start!! Often, I will be questioned on the ‘’health’’ benefits of changing your lifestyle and in some cases asked whether it is even healthy to eat regularly, fats, and use supplements. Whilst the initial logic of the question baffles me I quickly remember that when you live in a society which quite frankly feeds its residents complete BS why should they know any better?
It is quite ironic that people wouldn’t think twice about having a ‘’quiet’’ 6 pints at their local (over 2,000 calories of poison, that is another story though) yet taking in extra omega 3s and eating foods rich in fat concerns them. How have we reached a situation where this is normality? Most won’t want to know, they are too busy living it up which is great – but if a lifestyle like the one described is conformed to on a regular basis, year on year I fear that an overwhelming majority of this crowd will suffer with an array of health issues, potentially life threatening in some cases. Before we even get into reasons why, almost like ‘’guns at dawn’’ I want to make one very simple point.
You have to make a decision of you are happy with your health, lifestyle, physique and go from there. If the answer is ‘’yes’’ then I congratulate you, but for those of you who are secretly thinking ‘’no’’ even if that isn’t the impression you give in front of your peers – keep reading.
Seeing others who are quite frankly too lazy, too short sited and ignorant to the fact that a lifestyle fuelled by booze is never going to end well infuriates me. I couldn’t care for those who have such an attitude; it is their choice, their body and their problem once it catches up with them. What I do care about is their friends who want to make a change yet face a constant downward pressure to conform with this somewhat tedious existence. There are countless people who want to make that change (even if they won’t make it public knowledge) who don’t purely because there are others in their social network who pull them back. These people will claim to be happy and possibly feel their actions represent that of a ‘’tough’’ guy – I personally believe their insecure and lazy, afraid of change and the easiest way to ensure change doesn’t happen to them is to hold back others around them.
What can you do about it?
If you’re the person trying to make a clean break or perhaps you have a friend or family member in a similar situation here is my advice. The ideal step would be to cut these people off, but that is not realistic, nor necessary. All of my clients who have achieved head turning transformations have all had something in common. The ability to commit to their goal and to do this they ensured there was somebody who could influence them in a positive manner to do so. Beyond that, they learnt to say ‘’no’’ to people who encouraged them to go back to their old routes. Simple right? Yes, it really is however in reality it is a tough task. So are you committed enough to make changes which will ultimately reward you with better self-confidence, better chances of long term health and a better looking physique?
The choice is yours, but as yourself this – where do you see others ending up, who currently follow that same routine, work, pub, sleep, work in 10 years’ time?
It has been said before and it will be said again, at FitMag we are big believers in motivation – motivation and the correct mind-set precedes nutrition, training or supplementation because without it the latter will become redundant and meaningless. Rather than speak directly to the customer, today we wanted to get into the minds of all the personal trainers who read FitMag! There is no doubting, to get the BEST results from your clients you absolutely have to get under their skin and learn about every nook and cranny, what makes them tick?
In the gym some people love to be screamed at, they love the hardcore approach because it gets their blood boiling and their mind on fire – it makes them want to train! Others will find it excruciatingly painful and off putting, detracting from their experience with you in the gym. This is something you need to establish quickly, this will determine how far you are able to push a client within the relatively short space of time you have with them.
When a client fall’s off track, maybe they are unable to resist temptation who is to blame, you or them? There is a shared responsibility here – yes, the client should have more will power than this BUT the argument could be made that you as their trainer have failed to get into their head enough! All the top trainers who get results from their clients have this unique ability to get right into the middle of the mix and gain control of their client’s actions – it is hard to put a finger on it but the best way to describe it would be this. The trainer gets the client to really think about what they want and what it will take and constantly engrains that mental attitude within them!
Whilst on the topic of keeping your clients firmly on track, there has to be an element of accountability. This relates, wonderfully with the point above. There has to be a system where you keep the client within the realms of your rules and to do this you have to stay on top of them. The easiest tip we could give is to request their weight every single morning! Of course, this won’t mean much (necessarily) but you will certainly pick up on any binges and letting your client KNOW this is the case works wonders.
As a final note, introducing new goals generally in the short term are an ideal way to keep the client motivated. Sure, we all have our end goals but when they seem so far away it can sometimes be too distant to relate to them. Breaking it down can be a great way to keep things firmly on track.
Trainers, get your clients in line.
The bulk of content you read which aims to sell the idea of the gym, healthier eating habits and even entices you to indulge in a spot of ‘’pill popping’’ (supplements, no funny business here) will go about it the same way. Of course the pathways they focus on are the health benefits combined with the herculean looks which await you after just a handful of month’s effort, the same old benefits any action star wannabe values in a nutshell. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, in fact the benefits they talk about are credible, desirable as well as achievable. On the other side of the coin there are whole host of pluses which come almost as a direct result of practising the said habits above which improve other areas of your life.
As if I wasn’t intent enough on flogging the idea of making the lifestyle switch allow me to outline 4 areas of your life which I feel from experience will become enhanced.
Being A Better Professional
Slightly dull for many of you I am sure; especially if your career is something you love as much as a neighbour with the habits of a DI on heat. Having said that improving energy levels on a day to day basis is something almost all of us would want right? It just so happens that improved cognitive function will make you more productive in the work place. For those who are obsessed with success and all about working long hours then the benefit is there for you as well. Not only will improved energy levels aid your quest to whatever your goal might be, the structure of such a lifestyle will keep you firmly on track – allow me to elaborate. When you have a diet in place it creates a schedule of its own. Once you commit to it and become submerged your entire life will take more structure. Improved structure leads to more productivity, simples.
Self-Confidence – Feeling A Million Dollars
The latter part of that sub-heading is cheesy for sure, yet it carries true meaning. Once you have earned the body of your dreams (well, at least a good proportion – you won’t ever achieve IT because we are humans) you will genuinely feel like a new person. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one for fluffy BS but there difference in your self-confidence in correlation to the physical condition you’re in is terrific. Once you experience this feeling you won’t want to return to your former self, be warned – the quest to physical perfection becomes infectious and it will consume you! In a roundabout way this is the desired effect because once you are hooked there is no going back, the transition from part-time gym Queen to fully fledged fitness freak is complete.
Approximately 3 seconds after logging in on my social media accounts will reveal that the network of people I choose to associate with has changed a lot, on the whole. Some of my best friends (many are from my school days, and always will be) are people I have met via leading this lifestyle and I don’t know a more positive demographic which exists. Don’t think that these dudes are people I only bother with when I need a training partner, no. These people have become cemented in almost every aspect of my life and as a direct result more doors have opened and more positivity has entered my life – again this sounds ‘’weak’’ but I speak as I find.
Without sounding as though I am suggesting you become a preacher of protein and iron you will notice the people around you alter their ways, ONCE they see your new lifestyle is beginning to pay dividends. If you’re like me you might initially be thinking ‘’what is in it for me?’’ Knowing that your loved ones are leading a healthier lifestyle is a great thing. At first glance this might sound a little, well soft, camp whatever else you want to label it as. It is only when you absorb that thought for a few minutes that it becomes meaningful. With so many health issues in our society (and it is on a MASS scale now) you should welcome the idea that your actions will lead to others around you making more informed decision in relation to their health. It was just the other day I was reading a study (from the NHS) which off the top of my head stated 20% of the UK population are obese! That is just a statistic, beyond that I would wager a bet that somewhere close to half our population are pre-diabetic. Points like that will confirm that your efforts to first of all improve your health, and then others around you are worth it!
Without sounding like an over eager sales man about to close a sales pitch, I will leave you with this as food for thought. Changing your eating habits, training with proper application (which both happen to be down to debate admittedly, but let’s keep it generic for now) is going to –
Improve body composition
Improve general health
Improve life structure/professional career
Improve health and wellbeing of loved ones (of whom are ready to entertain such a change)
Great social network
What is there not like, is the question which is on my mind!
After noticing some major transformations in my attitude and knowledge surrounding the gym, from when I first set out to where I am now it’s amazing to see how much I have changed my workouts, diets, and almost everything. However, before looking into what I have changed, I thought it would be interesting to see how the gym has changed me.
The most obvious change is the physical aspect; being only 5ft5, I have always had a small stature – one of the reasons I started going to the gym. When I first started training, my bodyweight was around 55kg and since then I have increased to about 65kg, with body fat around 10%, after cutting. Physically, the gym has changed me for the better, helping me to achieve the goals I set out to get, but aside from the physical changes, I have noticed more aspects of my life being influenced by the gym, for the better!
One of the influences the gym has had on my lifestyle has been diet, an influence to which I am particularly grateful. Being a student, I succumbed to eating junk food and drinking three or four times a week, which had a severe impact on my training. It was then that I decided I had to pick a lifestyle of either carrying on eating junk food or drinking regularly, or really dedicate myself to my training, and thankfully I chose the training. Entering my last year of university, I take particular care in what I am eating, especially with regard to fruit and vegetables (I now eat more fruit in one day than I would in a semester as a fresher!). Cutting out alcohol almost completely has probably been the hardest lifestyle change, but one that has lead me to feel the healthiest I have done in a long time – again a change that I owe to the gym.
Away from dietary and physical changes, as a person, I believe I have learnt a lot of confidence and discipline from training, particularly when it comes to sticking to diet and workouts, and avoiding just ‘throwing in the towel’ and giving up whenever there are temptations or when it gets tough – something which I can apply to other aspects of my life. This determination benefits from seeing noticeable improvements in training, and enables me to apply an attitude of ‘hard-work comes before success’ to, for example, my university work.
The changes the gym has given to my lifestyle have led to comments such as ‘obsessed’, and it is here where one of my favourite motivational quotes, “obsessed is what the lazy call the dedicated” seems appropriate. Anyone who is willing to show dedication to help achieve their goals will reap the extra benefits that come with hard-work; whether trying to lose weight, or bulk up in size, it is not only those goals you will achieve, but a lifestyle that I have found to be vastly improved.
It is one thing deciding that you want to change the way you eat and make healthier choices; however it can be quite another trying to explain this to your loved ones and the people who surround you on a daily basis. One of the best moves you can make to ensure you stay on track is to get as many of those around you on side, here’s how you do it!
Everybody will always ask ‘’why’’ your choosing to stop drinking on the weekend after work, eating from the vending machines in the office or eating ‘’weird’’ food at lunch. The worst thing you can do is ignore it because most people don’t have the ability to take what becomes a surge in questions, doubt and in some cases negativity. Instead, taking 5 minutes to explain to somebody what you are doing, why you are doing it and why it will help you is the best answer. Straight away you will be able to notice the people who really do support you, and the ones who do not.
Planning ahead helps people accept your new way of living. If for example there is an event around the corner which could potentially sabotage your progress planning ahead means that not only will you stay on track, but the people in your company won’t mind. For example, if you are going out for a meal a polite reminder that you can only eat certain foods shouldn’t cause any issues, saying at the table you won’t eat the food everyone else is may put their backs up a bit!
Encourage the closest people to you to join you on your journey! This is a very simple way to avoid hurdles arising where your new lifestyle is causing issues for you and your social group. If you all have the same rules to live by in regards to the way you eat and exercise it becomes very easy, all of a sudden.
Often you will notice a small percentage of people who you work with or see on a daily basis are not willing to accept the way you eat. This means on this occasion you need to limit your contact with these people. It isn’t so much of an issue for you, it is more of a problem when they try and influence others around you with their negativity. There you have a few simple pointers in dealing with the people who you share most of your time with, socially and professionally.
Trevor Macca, an avid believer in health and fitness is constantly on the lookout for the next snippet of information to guide our FitMag readers – here is yet another golden nugget on mindset!
We have all probably been there…at the end of the long run or the last rep of the hard squat session. Do you wonder why some professional sportsmen seem to be working forever while the rest of us reach our limits so soon? Obviously conditioning and genetics play a huge part, but how much of it is psychological?
An interesting study by stone et al examined the effects of deception (a misleading falsehood) on exercise performance.
Nine cyclists underwent 4 rounds of cycling. 1st was a familiarisation run, 2nd – for baseline performance measurement while in the 3rd and 4th rounds the cyclists were shown avatars which they were told represented their baseline performance. The avatar in the 3rd trial was the correct one while the 4th was actually set at higher power output than the baseline one, acting as a deception. – Results?
The cyclists gave their best and fastest performance in the 4th round with deception. It suggests that there is some kind of metabolic reserve which is assessed via deception/mind manipulation. Quite interesting, isn’t it?
The tone of the majority of messages I will receive suggest ‘’drastic’’ or ‘’rapid’’ results are what is on everyone’s mind. If you could bottle up these two ‘’power phrases’’ as a commodity and label it they would sell for a fortune – everything these days has to happen now, if people don’t see results today they won’t be interested tomorrow.
At least that is the impression many create, yet all the people who carry show stopping physiques generally have a very different mind-set.
Beyond the ‘’dreamers’’ mind-set which is fuelled by nonsense headlines on glossy magazines promising a herculean physique in 21 days and the likes of, what goes into the physiques you see is blood, sweat, tears and consistency over a long period of time!
If you are willing to do the same and give up on faddy promises which promise to deliver today, instead of tomorrow then you will get real results. Below are the fundamental pillars of building the physique of your dreams.
How badly do you want it? How far are you willing to go? Everyone has their limit in every walk of life – some want wealth but don’t want to go out of their comfort zone to attain it just like everyone wants to look like a fitness model but they don’t want to live like one.
Be honest, as you sit and read this how desperate are you to go through the real process to achieve your goal? Most won’t have the mind-set to go ALL the way, that is a very tough journey but it is one which is open to you freely – you just have to be willing. Are you?
Some people will have you believe they are ready to diet harder than 10 Mr Olympia athletes combined for the next 5 years only to find next week they have lost that drive. Emotions are very powerful and it is quite common for individuals to allow them to control their behaviour.
Whilst we all have ‘’good’’ and ‘’bad’’ days you have to ensure you do not allow emotions to control your behaviour, negatively. When you are feeling like it, stick to it – when you are not, take a moment to acknowledge today isn’t your day but you must continue. Many will cope with a ‘’bad’’ day by eating junk, if you are serious about getting across that bridge to the other side and achieving this physique you cannot!
Control your emotions or they will control you.
This point summarises and encapsulates what it takes to design the mind-set which will allow you to achieve your physical goals. Above all else you must remain focussed on the task at hand and more importantly your goal. If you lose sight of your goal by allowing your focus to lapse then cheating follows soon after. After all, why stick to the plan when you don’t have complete focus on this goal you are shooting for?
Get designing that mind-set of yours, this will pave the path for your physical development to follow.
At 16 years old, I started the gym for one main reason; to improve my strength. I was always one of the smallest and weakest lads in my year group; even the year below me could probably out bench me or exert more power into a rep than me. I wanted to be at least on par with the other lads in my year. I was tired of being the one who got picked last in rugby because of my narrow shoulders and little arms. I was always of lean and had a footballer’s build, so when it came to upper body strength, I had none.
I took to joining my first gym and started reading Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness magazines to try gain some understanding. My confidence was low and my technique was poor; and so I watched the seemingly hulk-like men and made myself some sort of routine.
February 2011, I weighed in at 5 foot 9 and was a mere 9 stone 6 with only 6.6% body fat. I could barely lift the 12kg dumbbell to my bench without breaking a sweat. It took me a lot of courage to go the gym, knowing I was the weakest and smallest there. I was conscious that I was just a little kid lifting feather weights whilst, either side of me, men with arms the same size as my thighs bench pressing 3 times my body weight. I started lose interest because my gains were next to none, due to an inconsistent training programme and no idea about diet.
18 months down the line, after plucking up enough courage to lift the weights of the rack, now at 18, I weigh 11 stone 6, a body fat percentage of 8.75 and a muscle percentage of 84%! I am well on my way to achieving the goals I set out to achieve upon joining the gym. For example, gains of around 8 inches around my chest, 5 inches around my arms and several other significant strength gains; including being able to forget my embarrassing 12kg dumbbell struggle to now pressing 28kg.
Knowing how hard I have worked to get to where I am now around a hectic college schedule and a part time job, it would be silly to undo it all now. If you are in the same boat as I was 2 years ago here is my advice – just do it!
Although many will relate to my work as a transformation over a course of a given time I like to emphasise the importance of a complete lifestyle switch. To make a successful switch getting into the shape of your life is only part of the battle, the second part is ENJOYING what you are doing so that you can maintain it – indefinitely. Below are 3 steps I would recommend anyone to take if you are going to make this a total lifestyle switch and you are NOT a professional athlete or bodybuilder.
OK that title may be a little over zealous for some but the point is this, if you have eaten for 12 weeks a diet you have grown to hate what do you think you are going to do on day 85? Over eat and scoff half of the local supermarket down probably, all by breakfast. Instead if you have the foresight to enjoy your meals during a transformation and take the time to cook healthy, good tasting meals then it will become a lifestyle. Look at ALL the ingredients you are allowed and get creative. As an example, I am allowed natural peanut butter so my partner made me an unbelievably tasty satay chicken meal on the weekend. It tasted better than any restaurant food yet it was 110% compliant with my diet. When this is achieved why would I crave junk food? The same can be said for YOU!
When you have a cheat day to eat what you want how do you feel after the first few mouthfuls? By the end of the day you feel pretty crap both physically and mentally right? The next day you probably feel worse. However next week or the week after you forget about this and want to go through it all over again. Keeping a diary is a fantastic way to keep yourself mentally on track with your new lifestyle. Just record how you feel and read it before another ‘’binge’’ day is due. It might well encourage you to go for a more sensible day of eating knowing what the outcome shall be from past experience.
Human nature says that we enjoy having things to look forward to. This can mean looking forward to a gathering in 20 days’ time, where you know there will be loads of great food you would love to enjoy. If you are eating clean for the majority of time knowing you have up and coming dates where you want to relax is great, you can go there and indulge knowing that the next day you will back on track. The secret to longevity with a lifestyle transformation is to do the right things most of the time, this is what really counts.
These pointers will help you do these things, over and over again equating to long term progress.
Are you the type of person who always sets a goal to begin a new transformation ‘’next Monday’’ only to find that the following Monday seems a more suitable date? If so then you will find that ‘’next Monday’’ always appears to be better than this Monday. It is a vicious circle which always justifies inaction. More often than not the same social network obstacles cause this and in order to overcome this you need to break the trend. Do any of these factors seem familiar to you?
If you work in an office with a large group of people there is always some reason to celebrate, birthdays, anniversary’s and the likes of. In a tradesman’s environment the usual suspects include pasties, biscuits and sandwiches and in a trade `where ‘’physical’’ energy is needed it is no wonder people resort to sugary foods. The first thing people will say to you at work is ‘’why’’ are you eating that food? They will probably belittle it too and call it ‘’rabbit food’’ or question your intentions, this is where most people cave in and think ‘’sod it.’’
Outside of work the people who probably influence you most will be your friends. In a group of friends there will always be people who support your new lifestyle, and unfortunately those who do not. The latter will laugh, think it is pointless and say it will not work – this is possibly one of the hardest things to deal with during a transition in lifestyle.
Probably the hardest hurdle in my opinion is your partner. If they are on side it is a BREEZE, if not then you are going to have some tough times ahead. Partners generally have the strongest pull on your behaviour and they won’t mind arguing about it if they don’t like your response. If you say ‘’no’’ to certain foods and they want you to say ‘’yes’’ they will let you know, sometimes causing friction between you.
There are several easy solutions to all of the above issues. Positivity is the first thing you need to surround yourself in, in abundance might I add. Find role models who inspire you and make you want to achieve your goals – if it takes a ‘’pep talk’’ from them every day to keep you focussed do so, take their book to work, read their online blogs or watch their videos. Anything which makes you feel as though you can comfortably deflect any negativity which is thrown your way at work.
With your friends this is a case of being selective – not necessarily avoiding those who disagree with your efforts but choosing your time with them wisely. Going out for food with them isn’t wise and in some instances you may end up not spending so much time with certain friends of yours.
With the partners this is a much more complex situation. If you intend on staying together then education and showing them WHY you want to do it is the only way, if this doesn’t work then. . . . . . . .I am not your point of call!
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