Working with “normal folks” in our online fat loss program gives you a completely different lens with which to view the word “optimal”.
What is optimal for one person may not be optimal for another.
Black and white topics quickly blur and become 50 shades of grey.
Without all of the bondage and sadomasochism, of course.
While us “fitness pros” like to debate the pros and cons of scientific approaches to “optimal”, it’s become blatantly clear that “optimal” means nothing if execution doesn’t take place.
It matters not what the best macronutrient split for fat loss is if you can’t make it through the day without binging on a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
The “soft skills” of fitness will take you much further than the minutiae.
Before you scour the web to select rep ranges, exercises, and meal frequencies, ask yourself the “big questions”.
Do you have the inherent traits required to make long term progress and continue to improve upon your fitness goals?
We have pinpointed these 4 requirements for long term success, vitality, and ultimately, health.
Necessary Skill #1: Curiosity
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but in the world of your personal health, it’s easily the most important skill to success.
You do need to be willing to try new things, eat in a different manner, and question the common advice you see on so many click-bait articles.
Breakfast may not be the most important meal of the day, and eating it may not have a favorable effect on your body composition when viewed in isolation.
At the same time, if the elimination of breakfast doesn’t work for you, then there is no reason to try to fit the square peg in a round hole.
Those who have the most success are constantly asking one, big question: “Why?”
Why is eating protein, especially lean protein so efficient at helping you whittle away your body fat?
Why does the dumbbell incline bench press build your upper body aesthetics more effectively than flat, barbell bench press?
Why does your favorite internet guru keep telling you that fruit contains too much fructose, and therefore, is detrimental to your overall health?
There is a lot of nonsense online in the fitness industry.
Most of that nonsense exists to reach into your bank account and drain you from the inside out.
Ulterior motives need to be uncovered and pondered.
There may be nuggets of truth in every sound bite you hear.
But ultimately, your curiosity on why those sound bites exist is more important than the fact that they exist at all.
Necessary Skill #2: Self-Acceptance
At times, we are all trying to be someone we aren’t.
When it comes to body transformations, this realization comes to the forefront.
We like to tell our fat loss clients to make sure their actions match the person they want to be.
Do you want to be the guy with the 6-pack that glistens in the summer sun?
Well, that guy very likely watches his diet religiously and trains without fail.
That guy also could be overly obsessive about his appearance, and suffering from his own insecurities and faults.
Do you want to be the girl wearing a bikini with a huge smile on your face, brimming with confidence?
Well, that girl is probably struggling with the same issues you’re struggling with, wishing she could improve upon her seemingly flawless appearance.
The reality is, we all struggle with who we are from time to time.
What separates those who “make it” from those who don’t is the ability to understand who they are, and accept who that person is.
The person who has an extra 50 pounds to lose who has mastered the art of self-acceptance understands that they aren’t “fat”, they simply have “fat” on their body they wish to eliminate.
Eliminating that fat may change their outward appearance, but the qualities that make them who they are will always be present.
Your beliefs, your values, your morals, and your kindness to others determine your place in this world.
You are not your physical self – you are much more than that.
You will mess up. You will fail. You will fall off the “wagon” and cheat on your diet.
You will miss training sessions to have a “Sunday Funday” and drink with your friends.
Instead of feeling guilt, shame, or embarrassment, if you want to climb to the top of the mountain, you’ll have to brush yourself off quickly after your transgressions.
Accepting this as a fact, and accepting who you are as a person will ensure that you reach your own, personal apex more quickly and less painfully.
Necessary Skill #3: Emotional Detachment
Separating the emotional from the physical is one of the most difficult tasks a person can attempt to tackle.
Ever since we were self-aware, we have had emotions attached with who we are.
In middle school, we become self-conscious of our glasses, our braces, and our pimply mugs.
In high school, we are quickly embarrassed by our inability to talk to the pretty girl who sits behind us in English class.
Upon graduation of college, we become ashamed by the “freshman 15” we put on since high school. (In my case, it was more like “freshman 50”…….)
A re-framing of our physical selves as a separate entity from our emotional and spiritual side is necessary in order to move forward with vigor.
In the internet world, we refer to this as “not giving any fucks to anyone”.
While somewhat vulgar, the sentiment behind this is important in your quest for self-improvement.
Have you ever found yourself at a social gathering while on a diet?
When everyone else orders calorie laden chicken wings, beers, and heavy IPAs, do you get anxiety when the waitress turns to you?
You want to order a side salad with low-fat dressing, and a seasoned chicken breast with broccoli.
But what will the others think about you?
Ordering in this fashion will be a sure-fire way of inadvertently telling everyone that you’re watching your weight.
They’ll “know” you’re on a diet!
You’ll be perceived as “narcissistic” and “selfish”.
More often than not, the latent desire we all have to not stand out from the crowd could be the very thing that’s holding you back.
Our perception of those we come into contact is one of constant judgement and critique.
Truth be told, this perception is a self-created construct. It’s a “self-fulfilling fallacy”.
We perceive it to be true, and therefore, it is true – at least in our own minds.
The reality is that nobody actually cares about what you’re doing.
Your actions cause the “magic mirror” to be placed in front of their faces.
Everyone is inherently selfish, only viewing the world as a reflection of their own thoughts and actions.
When your healthy decisions cause others to uncover their own shortcomings and failures, they often take out their internal frustrations on the external stimulus – you.
You would rather skip Happy Hour for “Leg Day”? Then do it.
You would rather sip a diet soft drink than get late-night pizza after the bar? More power to you.
You would prefer to stay in and get your 8 hours of rest than party hard until 3 am? Cue the Netflix, you got this thing figured out.
In short, you do you. And you shouldn’t give a damn about what others think of your decision.
Necessary Skill #4: Consistency
Fitness pros love to talk about “consistency”.
It’s a nice sound bite.
Be consistent, live consistently, eat consistently, blah, blah, blah.
But in keeping with our theme of being curious, I propose a different solution.
First, you should aim to find out what consistency means to you.
Sure, you want to be “on point” with your diet and training, but if your current diet and training causes too many falls and scrapes (figurative, not literal), then alterations need to be made.
Is your diet unnecessarily rigid?
Does it cause you to move from obsessive, “clean” eating to the Asian buffet in record time due to its restriction?
Does fasting cause you to be unnecessarily hungry, which in turn causes overeating later in the evening?
Does your current cardio regimen cause you to be tired and famished, making it impossible to eat in an overall calorie deficit?
There are roadblocks to consistency, and your own, personal situation should be analyzed and nit-picked until you find a training and diet regimen that works for you and your own lifestyle.
Which allows us to come full circle.
Remain curious about fitness.
As yourself the big questions and reflect on the realizations you uncover.
Accept yourself from the inside out.
Your mistakes are not a reflection of your self-worth.
They are mere valleys before you experience a peak.
Detach your physical body from your emotional well-being.
Pretend as if you’re the “CEO of a fat-burning enterprise”.
Make business decisions, and nothing else.
And always strive for consistency.
Pinpoint and eliminate the factors in your own regimens which have a negative impact on your own, consistent actions.
The next time someone takes a look at your own plan for personal health and fitness and tells you what they think “optimal” should mean, you’ll have ample firepower.
You will also have the knowledge and understanding that what is “optimal” for one person can easily be suboptimal for someone else.