Mental Tricks to Stop You From Quitting
Mental Tricks to Stop You From Quitting
This week I will be revealing the 7 Secrets I Learned from Bodybuilding, one secret per day. When you think of bodybuilders, the image most people have in their heads are the outer physique – the six pack abs and bulging biceps. When I looked at bodybuilders I thought that the key would be to live at the gym and lift weights four hours a day.
Would you be surprised if I told you that exercise is actually the smallest component of bodybuilding? #Truth. More than anything, the first lesson I learned from bodybuilding is that this is a mental game. How else could you follow such a strict diet for months, lift heavy weights your body doesn’t want to lift, and stand on stage in a teeny-tiny posing suit with confidence allowing others to judge your body publicly?
There were so many different points where I wanted to quit, and that’s totally normal. Shoot, last week I said to my husband, “Why am I doing this again?” But I got through it, and so can you, even if your goal isn’t to do a competition but just get healthy again. Here I’m going to break down some common points where people want to quit and some mental tricks that have been helpful for me to push past it.
Women tell me all the time that they see transformation stories online or have a friend who lost weight but they don’t think it’s possible for them personally to do it. I fell into this category. It was not from lack of effort. I had tried every diet known to womankind: the Atkins Diet, Nutrisystem, Herbal Life supplements, Slim Fast, Kashi Shakes, The Cabbage Soup Diet, diet pills, you name it. I even tried the Beyoncé cayenne pepper lemonade “cleanse” (which is fancy for starve yourself and take laxatives. And they all got me to lose weight…which I immediately gained back when I stopped plus ten more pounds, because life is unfair.
Exercise also did not cure my yo-yo weight. I had tried videos, pilates, group exercise classes, elliptical machines and worked with various personal trainers throughout my 30’s. Shoot, I even ran marathons (marathons!) and still did not have the physique I wanted.
I told myself all those things that women say to themselves: I’m too old, my metabolism is too slow, the effects of having two children would leave me forever frumpy.
Until I discovered natural bodybuilding. At age 38 and after two C-sections I learned that I could lose the 50 lbs. hanging on me, I could reshape my entire physique in a relatively short amount of time. Think about the actor The Rock – do you think he was born with all those muscles? No, he built them. How about the actor Jake Gyllenhaal? He transformed his thin body into someone who looked believable as a boxer in Southpaw. If they can do it, you can do it too. So if you are a person who thinks, “I can’t get fit, not me, not my body,” then the first mental trick for you is to realize this:
Change is Possible.
Say this mantra to yourself every day when you wake up and before you go to sleep. Say it when you don’t believe it. Say it even though it feels weird. Eventually you will believe it because you will see change in your own self.
5 Tips for Sticking to Your Meal Plan
Eating clean can be hard, especially when you get invited to birthday parties, networking events for your job, and when it’s a random Tuesday and you just really, really want a cupcake. Here are some tricks that kept my hand out of the cookie jar.
- Drink water. If you’re feeling hungry, you may actually just be thirsty. Drink a glass of water and wait ten minutes to see if you really are hungry or if the drink did the trick. I keep a gallon of water on my counter to remind me to drink it throughout the day. I also write little messages to myself for motivation.
Chew sugar-free gum. Gum is amazing these days. Did you know that they even make a cheesecake flavored sugar-free gum? It gives you that little burst of sweetness and gives your mouth something to chomp on. It can also help you concentrate, which is why I have my kids chew gum when they do their math homework. So the occasional gum is a good thing. But don’t chew when you’re lifting weights (’cause you could choke and die and where’s the fun in that?) and don’t go overboard either because you can get extra air in your tummy that could make you feel bloated. I usually go through about three or four pieces of gum a day when I’m struggling with my meal plan.
- Eat before you go out. If you’re hungry, you’re more likely to eat foods that give you quick energy, which are the kinds of foods that are the worst for your waistline, like sugary snacks and simple carbs like white bread served in a restaurant. If you’re already full you can make more rational food choices.
- Food prep. Who here has nothing to do, raise your hand. Oh, that’s right: you’re busy like everyone else! I don’t know about you, but I have zero desire to cook midweek. That’s why I food prep for the week on the weekends. Cooking in bulk is actually pretty fast and I portion out my meals in Tupperware for the week. Then I don’t have to think about it during the week, I just heat it up.
- Healthy snacks. It’s better for you to eat a healthy snack than feel like you’re starving and cheat on your meal plan. If you have some wiggle room in your meal plan, try 6-10 almonds. They have healthy fat and make you feel satiated. But don’t go nuts (you caught that pun right?) stick to a handful and not a bagful. Also, make sure the almost are unsalted and natural so you’re not packing on extra calories. Let’s say you want a lower calorie snack or something crunchy. Try dill pickles, cucumber slices dipped in salsa like chips (sounds odd, but tastes surprisingly good), and/or romaine lettuce. Want something sweet? Here’s a recipe I got from a bodybuilder friend for Brooke’s Lemon Meringue Cookies – only 9 calories!
4 Tricks for Exercising When You Don’t Feel Like It
It’s too cold, or too hot, or you’re too tired or sore, or you just don’t want to so there! But exercise anyway. Here are
- Remind Yourself Why You are Doing This. You’re reason needs to be stronger than your reason not to exercise. For me, fear is a great motivator. When I want to sleep in I remind myself that I will be standing on stage in a bikini in front of 400 people. That gets my sleepy ass out of bed! Why are you exercising? Because your doctor told you that if you exercise you can get off your diabetes medication? Because you don’t want your kids to see you quit? Because you have a wedding to go to (maybe your own?) Whatever your reason say it to yourself when you want to quit.
- How to Lift Those Heavy Weights.
Cursing is uncivilized and now that I have kids I have tried to limit my use of f-bombs. Except when I lift heavy weights; then I f***ing go for it. Know why? Because a 2009 study from the U.K.’s Keele University found (what I always intrinsically knew) that cursing has a pain lessening effect (hypoalgesic) on many people.
- Use Rewards and Punishments. The key to this is to make sure the reward/punishment is intense enough to motivate you. The gym I go to has a Jacuzzi. The first month I started back with exercising I told myself that if I exercised all week I would reward myself on Saturday by sitting in the Jacuzzi. It was amazing. For punishment I told myself that if I didn’t exercise and follow my meal plan I would send a check to the Tea Party (I’m a Progressive Democrat, so you can see how this was motivating to me.) The key to this is to make sure the reward/punishment is intense enough to motivate you. (And don’t make the prize food-related.)
- Exercise with Friends. You might sleep in if you were exercising alone, but if you were meeting a friend you’d probably show up right? Workout buddies hold you accountable and encourage you to keep going when you get tired.
Still Feel Like You Want to Quit?
Still feel like you want to quit? Then I want you to read this excerpt from my book, “She’s Losing It!” :
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