How difficult is a diet for fitness
If you find it difficult to lose weight, you are doing something wrong
Why do I have no discipline for losing weight, for regular exercise, for healthy eating? Many equate “discipline” with “morality” - and when they fail to do something, they feel ashamed. There is a better way of dealing with it.
Most people think they need more self-discipline, more willpower, more self-control - to eat healthy, to exercise regularly, to look good naked.
I consider this to be one of the greatest fallacies of the time. Because it leads many people into a spiral of inner struggles, feelings of guilt and frustration.
There is another, better way.
How self-control becomes torture
Have you ever tried to lose weight by “eating less” - or to stop eating even though you were still hungry? With one or two meals, this is usually not a big issue.
It becomes more difficult when you try to keep it up for days, weeks, maybe even longer.
Extreme calorie deprivation is a crash course in the fragility of the human mind.
At some point, no matter what you do, your thoughts only revolve around food, control costs more and more strength and it is harder and harder for you to focus on other things.
I used to think that it wouldn't work without giving up. I also wanted the fastest possible results, because that is exactly what the marketing of the diets and transformation programs promised. Result:
I've rarely lasted longer than a week or two. Usually only a few days.
And every time I failed to meet my strict guidelines, I felt this intense disappointment in my lack of willpower and self-control.
I was immeasurably frustrated and annoyed that others had apparently been able to successfully break down fat if they wanted to - but I couldn't.
It felt like something was wrong with ME.
If I haven't been disciplined enough to starve for weeks, then - what's wrong with you, Mark? Finally pull yourself together!
So I tortured myself. And the more I tortured myself, the more unrealistic my expectations of myself seemed to me.
How willpower works
You're reading this article, so the chances are that at some point in life you've tried to change behavior by willpower alone. How well did it work?
If you failed, all is well! That is the normal case.
Most people think of willpower when they stick with it.
Anyone who sees someone who wakes up at 5 a.m. every day, trains for an hour, meditates for an hour and starts the day with the perfect green smoothie before starting the day's work full of energy, quickly accuses them of self-abuse.
An insatiable demon has enslaved him and is forcing him to everything getting it right in life - no matter what.
But that's not true. Because when you talk to such people, you notice something frightening:
They like it.
Anyone who thought self-discipline and a lack of willpower were the problem is wrong.
There's no point in beating yourself up just because you thought you hadn't tried hard enough.
In fact, it's CONTRAPRODUCTIVE. Pretty much anyone who's tried a crash diet will tell you that it only makes things worse.
The thing is …
Willpower works like a muscle.
If you put too much on her, she will tire and ultimately fail like the muscle.
If you try to change your diet overnight and train like a world champion, you can often do it in the first week. But in weeks two and three, most people fall apart ... and fall back into their old habits.
After all, you wouldn't expect to be able to lift 200 kilos off the floor without training, would you?
If you want a realistic chance of success, you have to train your willpower - and develop an ultra-strong willpower muscle.
If the thesis is correct that you need willpower, this presents you with a chicken-and-egg problem:
- To build willpower, you have to stick with it.
- You need willpower to be able to stick with it.
Where do you start With the willpower? With staying tuned? Difficult. Or would you rather have beer and Ben & Jerry’s while watching Netflix?
There is a simple reason for this dilemma: the assumption is wrong.
As we will see in a moment, you can very well stick to your goals - even without mega-willpower muscles.
Why you should never rely on your willpower and self-control
Our minds like to invent logical explanations for certain behaviors.
But we're lying to ourselves: Your mind can influence your DECISIONS. But your feelings have the final say about your BEHAVIOR.
We do what feels good.
We avoid what feels bad.
And there is only one way to deviate from this law: willpower.
Only with willpower can you do something that does NOT feel good.
Only with willpower will you be able to overcome your feelings and longings - and to do what is supposedly “right”.
It is a path that, the further you walk it, becomes steeper and steeper and sooner or later ends at an insurmountable rock face.
We have a long history of this kind of self-denial.
In the past, life without lust or pleasure was mostly seen as virtuous.
There were monks who shut themselves up for days without food and who spoke to no one for years. It was considered virtuous to at least wait until marriage before having sex - or, better still, to live completely in celibacy.
I'll tell you, those were weird times.
The assumption that you need willpower or self-discipline to achieve a goal comes from this time.
It is based on the invisible script that you can only be successful if you suppress or deny your emotions.
Do you fancy a piece of chocolate? Bad Mark! You don't deserve chocolate! You didn't deserve anything, except starve and give up!
Classically, the concept of willpower - i.e. the ability to suppress one's own needs and emotions - is a moral virtue.
Anyone who can resist chocolate is a good person.1
And whoever becomes weak is a failed existence.
How shame wrecks you (when you think you are not disciplined enough)
Feelings of shame have long been used in our culture to control people. It works, for a limited time anyway. Until the shot backfires.
The most prominent example of shame in our society is sex.
The brain loves sex. No wonder:
- Sex feels great.
- Biological evolution has given us the desire for sex.
Both are self-explanatory.
But even so, people still grow up believing that sex is a bad thing that turns people off the path of virtue.
People, often more so for women than men, are often still judged for wanting sex.
So they are torn inside: “I feel like it, but also afraid of it. It feels right but wrong at the same time. "
This mix of desire and guilt creates uncomfortable inner tension.
Since the desire for sex never goes away, the feeling of shame also remains.
In the long run it is practically impossible to suppress one's needs - so it does not help to deny them.
What does that mean for sticking to your fitness goals?
Not feeling like training for a few days and still going is usually not a big drama.
Things happen in life and such isolated cases can be bridged well with willpower.
However, your exercise should make you feel good in some way. Otherwise it will be difficult to stick with it in the long term.
If this positive connection is missing, then with the willpower, the motivation for training disappears and you would simply stop at some point.
It's the same with diets.
You can get yourself up for a day or a week to follow any strict nutritional model that works on paper. (And for every nutritional model, there are people who are great at it.)
As long as you don't find emotional satisfaction in it, sooner or later you will say goodbye to it.
This is why my early attempts at dieting never worked. Okay, for me these diets were just a drag on the fun - it just didn't feel good. I was torn inside and had the feeling that I had to do without everything.
At some point my willpower was exhausted and my emotions took over.
It was a prime example of how one can maneuver oneself into a dead end with iron discipline.
A long-term solution only works WITH your emotions, never against them.
Therefore, self-discipline, true sticking to it, is not a question of willpower or self-denial. The opposite is the case: it's about self-acceptance.
Here is yours Self-discipline to wear
Take a look at our #DRNBLBR collection. The clothes are a symbol of your (new) identity and self-acceptance:
How to stay tuned by accepting yourself
Suppose you want to lose weight and your big problem would be the three liters of ice cream that you would have put in every week up to now.
Let's say you were obsessed with ice cream.
You tried willpower, you tried dieting with friends, you forbade your partner from ever buying ice cream again in an attempt to blame them for your issue.
There is simply no day without 1,000 calories of icy and creamy temptation on the menu.
And for that you hate yourself.
Look, that's the first problem.
Here is the first step in sticking with it: You separate personal failure from moral judgment.
You are allowed to accept that you have certain cravings and that these cravings do not make you a bad person.
We all crave certain things. We all know the feeling of shame. We all follow our impulses sometimes. And sometimes we all just want to eat the best fucking ice cream in the world!
Self-acceptance sounds simple, but it can be quite complex.
Because we usually do not have the many ways with which we evaluate our behavior on the screen.
Your brain thinks non-stop and gives meaning by attaching your IDENTITY to many of these judgments.
There are many people for whom this identity "... because I'm a bad person”Is:
- "I skipped the training, because i'm a bad person.“
- "I ate a chocolate bar because i'm a bad person.“
- "Other people can do it, but I can't, because i'm a bad person.“
- "Everyone in the gym thinks I'm a complete idiot because i'm a bad person.“
Our brain is wonderful at stacking these negative reviews on top of one another: “Boa, while reading this text I just realize how I was constantly beating myself up ... because i'm a bad person.“
Here's the catch:
Negative parts of your identity also give you security in a macabre way. Because they take you out of responsibility.
If you had decided that you couldn't stop eating ice cream every day because you were a bad person - then this “bad person part” in you is responsible for the fact that you CANNOT make any progress.
Your hands are practically tied, right?
Well, there is nothing you can do. If you can't do anything about it anyway, why should you even try it?
There is a strange fear associated with the thought of letting go of the negative parts in us.
We rebel internally for fear of responsibility.
Because then we would have to face the truth that we are not only able to change our behavior (and change scares many people). We suddenly realize that a lot of time has been wasted in the past trying to capture the status quo.
We easily fall into the next psychological trap when we decide to be a bad person because we have only now recognized that progress is possible after all.
But as soon as you are able to decouple your needs for food, rest, exercise, sex or whatever from morals - as soon as you realize that you do not bad person are just because you feel because of something feel bad - you are open to something new.
You are not your emotions.
As soon as you accept that, you realize that you can manipulate your emotions - in such a way that they work more and more FOR your goals instead of against them.
When I asked my dentist for a tip on regular flossing, he said, “Put the floss next to your toothbrush. So you will be reminded of it every day and never forget it. "
Once you stop getting ready for an "ice cream slip", you can use it as a REMINDER to look a few levels deeper for a solution.
This requires the willingness to deal with your emotions and needs: WHY would you have eaten liters of ice cream so far?
Many people use food (or drugs like alcohol) to numb their emotions. When they're feeling bad for whatever reason, emotional eating is their medicine.
Therefore the question is important: What are the triggers? What is the REAL need? Why the shame?
Find it. Work with it. Most importantly, accept it.
If you want to change, you can go to a diving station and face your inner demons (which can look pretty funny on closer inspection). So get out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to feel what you feel in such situations.
This is how you get to the bottom of your REAL needs.
And if you have used food as medicine before, you will soon find that the REAL need was not the food.
The point is that you ACCEPT these needs.
They are part of you and they will always be part of you. That's okay.
Now you can work WITH them, not AGAINST.
As soon as you take this step, something magical happens:
- There is nothing left to numb. Suddenly it seems pointless to eat ice cream every day. What for?
- There is nothing left to punish yourself for. On the contrary, you are a great person. So you want to do something good for yourself instead of harming yourself with alcohol or other drugs. Now it feels RIGHT when you are doing something good for yourself with a healthy diet.
Suddenly the feeling that you associate with a liter of ice cream changes. It doesn't feel good anymore. The temptation subsides and you become more and more aware of what is actually happening: That your body sends you signals after a liter - a bloated feeling of physical discomfort.
You can also change the feeling that connects you with your training.
Suddenly, your training goal is no longer an impossible endeavor.
On the contrary, it gives you power and recharges your batteries. And the more good feelings you associate with it, the less self-discipline you need to stick with it.
Self-discipline and willpower are not the solution to sticking with it. They can be used to bridge the gap, but what makes you stick with it starts with your identity - and the feelings of shame associated with it.
You stop judging your needs morally.
As soon as you find a way that meets your needs, you are on track to long-term success.
Now you can create framework conditions so that the EMOTIONAL REWARD for DOING is much greater than the emotional reward for DOING NOTHING.
Then the following happens:
Suddenly you stick to your goals because it gives you an emotional kick.
You start eating more fresh vegetables, fruits, and other natural things because they FEEL GOOD and it feels less good to eat a lot of processed foods.
You go to workout because it FEELS BETTER than sitting on the couch and piling up crisp crumbs on your body.
This does not reduce the resistance.
The weights you lift are still just as heavy. The cardio units keep your heart pumping and sweat flowing.You can still plan your diet, shop, cook. All of this is an effort.
But the effort MEANS something to you.
It makes sense to you. And it's that sense that makes the difference. Now you can work WITH the resistance instead of against it.
Now you can chase the resistance instead of running away from it.
And every hunt makes you stronger, healthier, fitter. At some point you get to the point where other people tell you, “How do you do this? I would like your self-discipline, your willpower. "
To others, it looks like you're doing monumental work, like having an inexhaustible reservoir of willpower and self-discipline.
But it's not a big deal for yourself. It's the natural way.
Because you stopped judging yourself for your behavior and needs.
You're a stickler.
- In this context, chocolate is of course a metaphor - admittedly, brilliantly chosen. Feel free to replace them with a topic / food of your choice. [↩]
Category: MotivationTags: Discipline, sticking to it, sticking to it, emotional eating, mindset, psychology, invisible scripts
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