Are old goals holding you back?

I have found switching gears from slow carb to Occam’s Protocol and Occam’s Feeding to be quite an adventure. I have never before aimed to eat so much on a daily basis, and I find myself constantly challenging my own mind, to make sure I’m feeling positive thoughts about the food I’m taking in.

This comes from a long history of weight challenges. Though I’m in great shape now, going back to my teens I was not. I was active, however a combination of genetics and some early teenage depression led me to gain some serious weight as I used food as my friend. Ironically, I had some great friends back then too, I guess most of them weren’t into sitting on the couch with me after school like food was.

So I have a ‘mental hangover’ of sorts, and this had driven me to gyms, distance running, triathlon, clean diets, and more, and at times it has gone a little too far. At one point I was at a gym every day without fail, and some Saturday nights I was out running my 10k. Not a great scenario for being social and enjoying life. But the reality of this situation has meant that for a long time I’ve been eager to monitor what I eat and to include exercise in my daily routine.

I am actually amazed at how many different variations, or ‘flavours’ I came up with, which I see now were all aimed at the same outcome – lose fat, look lean and healthy and feel good. Feeling good by the way is mental and physical, there’s no denying that regular exercise makes you more positive, happier and get into life a little more, as well as any self confidence effects there might be.

Fast forward to 2011, where I lose the fat I’ve been aiming to lose, but in a way that’s so much more liveable, and easier than any other methods, and I am in an interesting and new situation.

Now I have got to think about the ‘what next’. 150 pounds is low enough for any guy that’s 6 foot tall and wants to be strong, fit and agile. A little dumbfounded for a while, travel meant I had a week or two to think about my options.

As my other posts show, my decision was to jump, both feet, into gaining muscle and achieving the strength and look I’d imagined for a while. It was a big struggle though.

For so long, my brain had been tuned to focussing on seeing scales getting lower, or seeing more definition in a mirror, that the idea of gaining weight was a real challenge for me. And anything that’s a mental challenge will have it’s physical effects.

Enter the food monster.

All of a sudden, I found myself having to add more than any part of me thought was reasonable, to a meal plate, and having to repeat this again and again. It was surprising to me that I continually had issues with this. Some meals, I actually avoided adding rice, and other times I found myself shorting the beans on the plate. Worst of all, a couple of times I got lazy with the protein component and probably halved it.

And yet commitment to the method has given me success. I expect it could have been even more efficient if all of me had of been on-board from day 1.

But, it’s been a journey. One of re-writing the mental notes, and re-telling the mental stories, every time they come up. Every time I take out a tape measure, and say to myself ‘a higher number is a good thing’, and every time I get on the scales, and rearrange my brain to be excited about seeing a gain, even to the point of manufacturing disappointment when I’m lower than my goal weight. Now that takes some rearranging!

I think the key point from this is that my old goal, the one I set so strongly in myself many years ago, was so well developed that it’s in the fibres of my brain. I am having to rewrite that goal, every time it comes up, because my new goal is nothing like as strong as that. Even with the new knowledge I have. This week, I caught myself thinking about halving a meal, or delaying one because I could ‘get by’ – those things do not help muscles to grow!

Another very closely related thing is perception. Perception and information you’ve heard or read. I had come to believe, somehow, that putting your body below 8% body fat was quite unnatural, and would most likely increase the risk of illnesses and hurt recovery. Having just learned that functional (necessary) fat on a man is 2-4%, my perception has changed and all of a sudden I have a different believe of aiming for 5-8%, rather than aiming for that whilst believing it would put me in worse health. See the difference? It’s powerful.

Think about what goals you’ve set in the past, and whether they could be affecting your actions today. Perhaps you decided at one point that ‘weight loss is the hardest thing ever but I’ll do it’ – and so now your brain finds ways to make it hard, when it could be easy. Or maybe, you’ve written yourself a story about how weight loss only comes with extreme exercise, and so you’re still finding ways to cheat it into this new program, despite what you ‘know’ is true.

Let me know if you’ve had a similar experience, or share this with someone and get a conversation started. It’s amazing how much power and strength comes from sharing these experiences with somebody.

All the best.

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2 Responses to Are old goals holding you back?

  • Jill says:

    It’s interested to read about the mental/emotional aspect of weight loss from a male perspective. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of support for men in this area, or even an acknowledgement that many men might not be happy with their bodies. Thank you for posting this.

    • Luke says:

      Hi Jill,

      You’re welcome. I think it’s very important for everyone to realize that there’s a lot of media out there that implants mental images and body images into men’s minds at a young age, just like women. Though I realize there’s less volume in total aimed at men. Depending on where you grow up, body image might never cross your mind, or it might be top of mind every day, especially when you’re going through teenage years and interested in being attractive to the opposite sex.
      I think a lot of men may be unable to admit dissatisfaction with their bodies, and others may be unable to admit an unhealthy obsession with maintaining their bodies. It’s easy in both cases for men to disguise their feelings by referring to standard cultural stereotypes – there are plenty of fat successful business men, plenty of overweight construction workers, plus there are plenty of guys who look amazing and go the gym every day, so in either case there’s reference points that leave a man able to declare his state of being is ‘normal’.


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