Friday, January 15, 2016

Mind Over Matter Part 4, "Bracing" or "Suck It Up Buttercup"

A belated Happy New Year! It has been a great first 7 months for us here at Barbell Strategy Weightlifting. Thanks to all of you who have joined us, trust us with your development and take part in our programs. Our commitment is to help you make 2016 the healthiest, happiest and strongest year yet.

I have struggled to hit the right tone with this particular blog. On the one hand I don't want to be discouraging and on the other hand I don't want to be Pollyannish either. The truth is, when people set out to make changes in their nutrition and exercise routines to accomplish a New Year's Resolution they often don't know what to expect. And when it turns out to be more than they can handle, they give up. Thwarted and frustrated is no way to start off the New Year, so let me offer some clairvoyant aide.
  1. Your body likes its current fat and lean composition. It is used to it and wants to keep things the way they are. Maybe even a little more fat please. Changing your body's predisposition to keep things the same requires you to alter your diet sufficiently to knock your body out of homeostasis for an extended period of time. Could be months, could be a year. Not only will this be uncomfortable, it is going to be uncomfortable for the duration. You are going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Your body doesn't distinguish between starving and dieting. Guess which signals it is going to send you? ( Y U do dis?)
  2. There is an old saying from the human potential movement: there are no breakdowns unless there is first a commitment. I promise you, as soon as you commit to changes designed to produce results which differ from the status quo, you will start confronting breakdown situations. Your friends from college will want to go out. That guy or gal you have your eye on will finally say yes to dinner. If you are married your spouse will revolt. If you have kids, it will be worse. There will be an outbreak of bar-b-ques and house parties. The Universe will seem to be conspiring to derail you. And all because you decided to lose a few pounds. 
  3. Another old saying: you can tell what someone is committed to by what they are doing at the moment. If you are consistently implementing your plan in the face of the attendant unpleasantness, good for you. If you are constantly caving and falling off the wagon, then you need to face some facts about all those other things that you are letting be senior to you staying committed to your nutrition goals. Remember, there's no wagon to fall off if you aren't truly committed. How do we know "if" you are committed? We can see. Get the steak salad, oil and vinegar on the side. Sorry.
There is a coping strategy that many athletes use when going into a competition. It is called "bracing." Bracing is preparing yourself for the worst so that an effective response can be generated. It is NOT being negative. It is simply anticipating that things can and do go wrong. Rather than hope you can get through three, six or nine months of dieting to get to your body composition goals (hope being an insufficient coping strategy) try bracing yourself instead. There is a reason pro bodybuilders only plan to seriously cut fat for competition: cutting sucks. Cutting fat is not a sustainable lifestyle. Once you cut the fat you want, THEN you can look at a maintenance lifestyle plan that is sustainable. But until you get there, brace yourself and be prepared for the worst. 

Good luck and if we can be of any support in developing and sticking to your plan let us know. I went through all this a couple of years ago for six months and 50lbs. No fun at the time, but the satisfaction of getting there far outweighed (no pun intended) the social awkwardness and unpleasantness. Just let us know how we can help!