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Returning from vacation is usually a good time to set new goals. Regardless of what these goals are (lose weight, get fit, learn a language…) there is one thing that they all have in common: you have to make changes, start doing things differently, and sticking to your resolutions over time. We have all been through it and we have all experienced how difficult it is; however, there is a tool that we rarely use and that is actually the key that will allow us to open any door and achieve any goal we set for ourselves: everything is in your mind. Absolutely everything.
To get the most out of this great tool, it is important that we understand its operation and logic well. The mind is the control center of everything we do, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Our body has its own goals (which do not always coincide with ours) and is guided by automatic mechanisms evolutionarily reinforced over thousands of years. Our preference for calorie-dense foods has a very good evolutionary reason, and also our preference for comfort, our taste for sleeping and resting… all these mechanisms have helped us survive throughout history; However, today’s reality has changed substantially and we have to “unlearn” certain things to regain control over our bodies and achieve our goals.
As we said before, we are programmed to survive, not to have beautiful bodies. In this survival objective, there are two fundamental things: getting food and resting. Our brain knows that it needs to eat calories. The more, the better, and we will store the remaining energy in case we need it at some point. In this race to get calories, the most caloric foods will be preferred, especially if they have a lot of fat and a lot of sugar. Therefore, when we are very hungry, a plate of lettuce does not attract us much. However, eating high-calorie foods triggers the production of a neurotransmitter called dopamine in our brain. Dopamine, incorrectly called the “pleasure hormone,” is actually a neurotransmitter (not a hormone) that causes desire, not pleasure. Dopamine pushes us to repeat behaviors that have produced pleasurable sensations in the past, that is, the more junk food we eat, the more we want to eat. The more we sleep, the more we want to sleep.
How can we do to “reprogram ourselves” and get out of this vicious circle? There are several things we can do, and there is one thing common to all of them: it is about getting out of autopilot mode and trying to make most of our decisions fully conscious.
Here are some tips to help you achieve it:
- Plan in advance: plan what you are going to eat, when you are going to train, how you are going to train, when you are going to take steps… Improvising is usually a bad idea when it comes to acquiring new habits, since our natural tendency is to maintain the same habits. current habits. Have a plan and keep track of how well you’re sticking to it. Remember: failing to plan is planning to fail!
- Don’t push yourself too hard. The change should be progressive so that you can get used to it gradually. Drastic changes do not generate the adherence we need to see results. A very common mistake is usually to set overly ambitious goals that require too great sacrifices. You can’t (no one can) maintain very restrictive diets or super demanding training plans for long enough to see results. Make small changes that are easy to maintain. This is a long distance race , don’t be impatient.
- Take control of your inner dialogue. As we explaied in this article, your mind is going to try to trick you, giving you a thousand and one excuses not to do what you have to do: I need to eat something sweet now, I need to sleep a little more, I will start tomorrow… Learn to respond to your unconscious with your conscious: I have no real need to eat, I can wait until dinner time; I’ve already slept, now I have to get up; My plan is to start today and I will start today…
- The process is the real goal, not the result you are looking for. Trust the process and think in months or years, not days or weeks. If your goal is to lose 10 kg, it will take months to get there; If the scale is the only thing you look at, it’s easy to get discouraged and give up. If your goal is to take a few steps, train for 15 minutes, and be in a slight calorie deficit, this is something you can achieve most days. Achieving these daily goals will make you feel better, and seeing how you are getting closer to the weight you want to have will help you maintain those changes.
- Discipline versus motivation. Motivation is a good tool to make the decision to make changes, but it is discipline that will keep us in them. Motivation will disappear quickly. We need to develop discipline. Every time your mind encourages you to deviate from the plan you have outlined, remember: freedom is not doing what you want, it is doing what you should, because you want to. Discipline is what makes you a truly free person, not a slave to your desires.
- Find comfort in discomfort. Our excessive taste for comfort has led us to where we are. To get out, we need to get used to having a little discomfort in our lives. Not eating every time we are a little hungry, getting up the first time the alarm goes off, a little cold water in the shower… all these things will reinforce our self-control and give us back control of our lives. Embrace discomfort and you will find freedom. Remember this every time you are tempted to return to the comfortable path.
Summing it all up: Design a plan that you can maintain (ask us for help if you need it), focus on following it daily, assume that the plan involves some discomfort and that getting used to that discomfort will give you back control of your life and true freedom.
Let’s go Life Warriors!