As we inch closer and closer to March, and therefore to Spring Break, everyone starts pulling out the map and wondering which beach they should choose for spring break. Well, not maybe everyone, but a decent amount of people do that. What comes right after looking at the map? Looking in the mirror and wondering if you’re really that excited to walk around in a swimsuit on the beach in a month or two.
Now, I will say that how many ab muscles you can see should have zero impact on how excited you are about a beach vacation. But, we’re all human here, and we all want to look our best in every situation. When you’re on vacation somewhere much warmer than Indiana (shout out to the 40 degrees though, haven’t seen you in awhile!) you just want to feel confident walking around without a shirt. I’ve been there. I am there. So what’s the solution?
“I just need to lose 5 or 10 pounds.”
This is probably the most common solution everyone believes when they feel like they want to lean out/see more muscles. I’ve done it every single summer for as long as I can remember. Even when I was still a college athlete I always approached summer thinking, “This is the year I finally get really lean.” Talk about the wrong mindset. I was being paid to play a sport (yes, scholarship money is pay, sorry Shabaz Napier) and yet here I was more concerned with body image than performance. So, just like I imagine a few of you have done, I started cutting out some food, eating less carbohydrate, and working out like crazy. Here is the usual sequence of events:
- Decide you want to “be lean”
- Feel intense motivation, act on this by buying loads of “healthy food”
- Design a workout program with unrealistic expectations
- Cut carbs
- Workout way too much for your level
- Look no different
Seriously, how familiar is that situation? It’s disheartening, because you know you put in so much work. You skipped the cake on the 4th of July. You got up and ran early. You lifted weights. You did everything you thought you needed to do, and yet you look basically the same as you did 12 weeks ago. What happened?
The Wrong Goal Leads to the Wrong Results
This is a mindset shift that is really hard for some people to get to, but trust me it is liberating when you do it. Stop eating and working out for a number on a scale. Exercise because you want to perform better, and watch things turn around. I am not joking, this shift in thought just happened to me Tuesday night. Let me give you the rundown.
For the past seven weeks, I’ve been having my personal programming and coaching done by a brilliant friend who has a ton of credentials such as his C.S.C.S and has worked with Eric Cressey Sports Performance, probably the best sports performance company in the US. Point is, he knows what he’s doing. Anyway, I’ve been trying to put on some muscle because in order to compete in CrossFit at a high level I believe that I need to get significantly stronger. Vince, my brilliant friend, has had me cut traditional metcons out for a month in order to build aerobic base, and now we are strength focused.
This week, with the Open coming up, I basically had a freak out that I wasn’t going to be fit enough because I had actually managed to put on a few pounds. Imagine that for a second. I did what I stated I wanted to do, and then was stressed out about it. Why? Because I felt like I was getting “fat.” That may be the most ridiculous thing ever. I’ve gone over in a few posts how to gain weight and not get fat. I was doing exactly that. But for some reason that number had me freaked out.
Mindset Shift Happens
Sitting here this morning, I feel completely different than I did Tuesday night. What happened? I got rid of the scale. After a quick phone call with Vince, he just convinced me that it really doesn’t matter. Why do I want to gain weight? To get stronger. All of my numbers are up. So what do I care about the weight on the scale? I don’t. I know how I need to be eating and training if I want to put on muscle, and that is what I’m going to do. Results will come naturally.
I advise you to do the same thing. It applies to every goal, really. Say you want to lean out, like we talked about before. You know that in order to lean out, you have to workout hard, eat clean, and give your body time to recover by resting and sleeping enough. It isn’t rocket science. So throw away the scale. Losing that 5 or 10 pounds isn’t going to give you six pack abs. You know what may? Focusing on doing the actions you know are going to get you to your goal, and being consistent with them. Make it into the box four times per week. Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, fruit and complex carbohydrates, and watch yourself transform. A fun side effect is when you notice you aren’t starving for the first time ever, and you’re crushing every workout. Then get on that plane, fly to a beautiful beach, and rock that new suit like you know you can.