The key is educating yourself about what foods are good choices for your body and mind and then create habits accordingly, so that those food choices become automatic. The key to sticking to a good nutritional plan is finding or creating a plan that includes your preferences – foods you like, enjoy and that work into your lifestyle and schedule. If you can make your nutrition automatic, it becomes the way you eat and not a diet you’re following. In other words, eating well becomes a habit.
With enough practice and repetition, any behaviour, good or bad becomes automatic over time. The key is having conscience thought and self-awareness about which habits are supporting you and which ones are destructive to your life. If your goal is to lose body fat, build more muscle or have more energy throughout the day, understand which habits you need to break or create in order to become that person. After that, it’s about following the right habits on a consistent basis.
Reflect on how deeply your habits are rooted and then put the plan in place to create new positive ones in their place. Sometimes, it’s as easy as making the decision and then using your ‘why’ to get you there.
Find Your Why
Think of it this way: If I were to put a 10-inch-wide, 30-foot-long plank on the ground and say, ‘if you walk the length of the plank, I’ll give you 100 euros, would you do it? Of course, it’s easy money.
But what if I took the same plank and made a rooftop bridge between two 100-story buildings? Then that money would not look as desirable and you probably wouldn’t even consider doing the task for a second. However, imagine if your child were on the opposite building, and the building were on fire, would you walk across the length of the plank to save him/her? You would be gone before you even thought about it.
Why is it that the first time you wouldn’t cross the roof top plank, but the second time, you wouldn’t even hesitate? The risks and the dangers are the same. What changed? Your ‘why’ changed, your reason for wanting to do it changed. When the reason is big enough and your why is strong enough, you will be willing to achieve your goal no matter what it takes.
‘All of us, throughout our lives, have learned certain patterns of thinking and behaving to get ourselves out of pain and into pleasure’. – TONY ROBBINS
Pain and negativity can be powerful motivational tools and as long as they don’t consume you.
they’re vital for achieving great things in life. Thus, on days when you’re struggling and want to give up, recall the pain that made you get started and remember your why. Your why will keep you going on the days you want to give up. Use your why and go get what you want.
Cortisol is your body’s natural response to stress, and it can be a good or a bad thing depending on when it’s released.
Just like any other hormone, there is a delicate range of how much our bodies can handle – too little or too much and things start going haywire. Too much stress in your life keeps the cortisol pumping and can have negative effects on your body, mind and physique. For anyone trying to stay healthy and look good, this can be a critical factor that you haven’t thought of yet. Stress is the figurative ‘death by a thousand cuts’ – you can get everything right with your nutrition, training and supplementation, but if you are in a constant state of fight or flight, stress or anxiety, you are going to struggle to hit your own natural potential.
Perhaps the best way to begin is by making a mental list of the sort of things that you find stressful. You would no doubt immediately come up with some obvious examples – a partner, family, friends who are always negative, or something more abstract, things like traffic jams, the gym at rush hour or work deadlines. You might even find things like ‘not looking a certain way’ or ‘comparing yourself to others’ as your main stressors.
Thinking about these people, situations or events can trigger an automatic release of cortisol throughout our body. Has someone ever made you so mad that even the thought of them sent blood running through your veins? That’s cortisol. Have you ever found your brain racing at 3:00am because you are worried about not waking up from your alarm – yeah, cortisol showing up. How about seeing that guy or girl that you find attractive who you just can’t bring yourself to talk to?
That’s cortisol again.
Anxiety is a complex emotional response that’s similar to fear. Both anxiety and fear arise from similar brain processes and cause similar physiological and behavioural reactions: rapid heart rate, breathing disturbances and ‘heart in mouth’ feeling or the ‘fight, flight or flee’ response. The thing that’s always made me curious about anxiety and fear
is that fear is typically associated with a clear, present and identifiable threat, whereas anxiety occurs in the absence of an immediate threat.
Fear and anxiety are so closely related that we regularly confuse them. We feel fear when we are actually in trouble, like when someone overtakes a car on the opposite side of the road and is coming directly toward you. We feel anxiety when we have a sense of dread or discomfort, but at that moment, we are in no immediate danger.
Have you ever had a roof over your head, food in the cupboards, a nine-to-five job and still worried about not having enough money in your bank account? I know I have.
You’re possibly familiar with the pre-frontal cortex – the ‘thinking part’ of the brain. It’s what separates humans from other species – it enables us to use reason, create language and envision the future.
Have you ever wondered why your dog gets happy every single time they see you? Dogs and other animals haven’t developed the part of the brain that allows them to picture the future, so when they see you, they are completely present every single time. They’re not worried about when you will go again, whether they will get food that day or any other scenario that may or may not happen.
Fear is an immediate threat, whereas anxiety is thinking about a potential threat. There are cases where there is a genuine hormonal disruption and several of these people find western medicine great for their anxiety. However, for a lot of us, it’s something we can control ourselves. I love the quote: ‘Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but you never get anywhere’.
Worry and anxiety are two sides of the same coin – we are the only species that have acquired the capacity to envision and anticipate our future.
Every second we don’t work, or when we are engaged in a conversation or focusing on a task, our brain automatically starts thinking about our social relationships – the ‘default mode’. Think about yourself. How often, as you’ve been driving home from work, have you replayed the conversations or interactions you had that day? ‘What did Suzie mean by that comment?’ or ‘I wonder if Paul likes me?’ We’ve all done it, and again, like most things, it constantly serves an evolutionary purpose. The more social awareness and theory of mind we possess, the more socially accepted we will be. Thousands of years ago, if you were isolated from your large hunter-gatherer group, it meant you ended up as dinner for some sabre-toothed tiger, so it was important to be accepted into the group.
This may explain why we have such a yearning to be liked and accepted. It’s an evolutionary survival adaption. Like most things, when used positively, it can enhance your life tremendously. Deep down, most of us want to be accepted and liked by our peers and build positive and thriving relationships with people.
But what happens when the desire to socialize isn’t positively channelled? Those social thoughts that allow us to integrate better into a society can consume every free moment, which leads to… you guessed it – worry!
Make a list of all the things you want in your life – the body you want, the job you want, the relationships you want – and put them all somewhere visible, where you can see them. After that, consume as much information as you can that supports that end goal.
Use your free time to consume the information that supports you in creating the life that you want. Before you know it, even when you are left to your own devices, your automatic thoughts start to manifest themselves in ways that support your vision– not to the silly comment made at you during lunchtime.