Mantra Monday – Flexibility

It’s been a busy day from wake to now, Brandonians. First, I’d like to wish you all a Happy Earth Day! Please take a moment and think about the impact you’re having on the planet.

Okay, because it’s been a busy day, and because this post is also a little later in the day, we’re just gonna get after it. As I’ve indicated in a few articles now, I’ve had a rough couple of weeks, but I’ve still found ways to meet my workout goals. Here’s how:

Flexibility is Key

Bamboo bridge across Indian forest.
Bend. Don’t break.

There’s a million old proverbs that go something like this – the tree that bends when the wind blows will not break and outlast the storm. The same is true for discipline – whether it be diets, workout plans, or whatever changes you’re trying to make in your life to achieve your goals – you’ve got to build flexibility into the system.

For example – and I’ve tweeted and posted on Instagram a lot about this – I allow myself to skip a day of going to the gym if life gets in the way, but the rule is, I can skip a day, but I have to go the next day.

The same is true for dieting. I have done a myriad of different diets in my life, and none of them work – for me. The only one that ever came close to producing the type of results I’ve seen in the last couple of years is Weight Watchers, which I did rougue (counting points with an old manual points system counting app) and allowing myself Saturdays to eat as much of whatever I wanted. But that system only worked so well.

Use Rewards that Work

I’m stealing this idea from Steve Kamb at NerdFitness, which is who helped to kickstart my weight loss journey, but the thing is this. With the old WW system I was on (this was probably back in around 2011/12), I was “rewarding” myself on Saturday for being “good” all week, so then I could be “bad” on Saturday.

Stupid, right? Yeah, I think so now, too. Steve pointed out that you should reward yourself with things that HELP you on your journey, not set you back a day. So he suggests rewarding yourself with new clothes (ones that fit your new, slimmer body), workout or fitness gear, or anything, really, that doesn’t hinder your progress.

So Banana Splits Are Out, Then?

Well… here’s where Steve and I may differ a little. For me, the reason Weight Watchers worked was because I could eat whatever I wanted, I just had to watch my portions. I do the exact same thing now, I just don’t keep track of points, I keep track of calories via the MyFitnessPal app. I eat whatever I want, whenever I want, but I only eat a little bit.

If I want an Ultimate Cheeseburger from Jack in the Box (which, occasionally, I do) I can go and have one and not feel a shred of guilt. Because I know that the sandwich (while containing a ridiculous amount of fat and calories), is probably one of only a couple of things I’ll eat that day, and I’ll still have a net calorie loss, which will lead to weight loss.

I can hear you nutritionists screaming at me already, and I know. It’s terrible advice. I’m just saying it’s worked for me, and I’m in the best shape of my life right now. No, I don’t eat salads – unless they contain the words pasta or taco in front of them. No I’m not a fan of veggies (though I do make a small effort every now and again), and I eat processed foods. It’s not great. But here’s what I have accomplished…

Flexibility in Choice, Discipline in Restraint

Be flexible.

I eat what I want, and I still lose weight. That’s a claim everyone wants to be able to make, right? Well, here’s the catch. I didn’t say I eat as much of and whatever I want – which is the way I used to operate. I mentioned the Ultimate Cheeseburger above because I love cheeseburgers and I know I’m going to want one someday. Here’s where the two ideas about being flexible and using positive rewards come together:

By rewarding yourself for good behavior with things that will actually help you on your weight loss journey, you’re constantly in the mindset of not going backward.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I ate more calories than I usually do. Because I’m flexible and I know that I’m hitting the gym today I didn’t even have a second thought about it. I also know that I’m going right back to staying well below my calorie limit today. This is what allowed me to have some beers and a couple of tacos and other goodies throughout the day without any guilt.

Soon, you’ll find you won’t need the rewards. The fact that I now fit back into all of the bitchin’ clothes I bought two years ago? That made me happier than any reward I could have given myself.

Give Yourself a Break, but Get Back To Work When It’s Over

I’ll leave y’all for today with an example from last week. Friday evening I spent walking over eight miles around my hometown, and I was sore, so I decided to put it off. And just like my Instagram Feed reflects, I went on Saturday, and I pushed it. Today I’m tired, and it’s 5:30 as I’m writing this and I haven’t gone yet, but I’m still going to… And If I don’t I know I’ll have to go tomorrow.

If you skip a day, get after it the next day. If you blow a meal, skip the next meal or make it something really healthy. The point is. It’s okay to skip every once in a while, but get right back on it; and on that point you must never waiver.

Alright, see you at the gym.

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