Knowing what to do isn’t enough.
Everything you need to know about getting in shape can be found on Google.com, including how to burn fat, build muscle and look like a glorious, undomesticated unicorn.
Information is abundant, but if that was all we needed, we’d all be billionaires with six packs by now.
Applying that information is the challenge. We have busy lives to contend with, complete with conflicting responsibilities and these pesky little things called emotions.
If you really want to get in great shape, if you want to feel confident in your skin, attractive in your relationship, and feel unstoppable in every area of your life, the real magic is in self-mastery. Figuring out why we aren’t doing the things we know we need to do, then figuring out how to do them.
Which brings us to one of the most devastating challenges people face when trying to get their fitness up:
The Abominable Lifestyle Cycle of Doom
Scary, right? It goes like this:
Responsibility –> Anxiety –> Self Medication with booze or food –> Feel worse –> Repeat forever.
The longer you’re stuck in this cycle, the worse you feel. Life gets harder, your happiness tanks, and any hope of getting your body in shape fades into the ether.
Here’s the good news: we can break that pattern, and we can do it by destroying the cycle at any one point.
We’re going to break down the cycle, piece by piece, so you can finally put an end to its reign of terror, and build the body and lifestyle you know you deserve.
Long work hours, young children, social obligations, side projects, etc.
We’ve all got a plate full of responsibility, and unless you decide to live out your days meditating in a cave, you can’t escape it.
But sometimes we’re just trying to do too much, and we’re doing it in a terribly inefficient way.
If your level of responsibility is destroying the other, equally important aspects of your life, here are a couple ways to optimize your work-life balance.
1. Reduce It
We romanticize The Grind. We live for it, we take pride in it, and we measure our self-worth by it.
Sure, getting in killer shape and taking care of our mental health sounds nice, but we live for The Grind, baby.
We often feel obligated to do as much as we can, even if it’s just for the sake of doing it.
If we take time for ourselves, we feel guilty, like we’re missing out or falling behind.
You’re probably reading this on a cell phone. What an incredible invention. You can get so much more work done, and you can do it from anywhere.
In fact, you’re expected to work from anywhere.
As we become more efficient with our work, we quickly fill that extra time with more work.
We’re now monstrously productive, but we’re also overwhelmed, miserable, and out of shape.
Take an honest look at your day-to-day. Why are you doing so much? Can you reduce it without it negatively impacting your life?
The better question, if you reduced your responsibility, how would your life and your health improve?
2. Organize and Optimize
Sometimes it’s not the total workload that’s killing you, it’s the way you attack it.
By organizing and optimizing your day you’ll get more work done in less time, and you’ll have a clearer mind overall. That means less anxiety, less self-medication, better nutrition, and more energy for workouts.
How can I organize my day more efficiently?
This could include a daily planner, a journal for your thoughts, to-do lists, or prioritizing tasks into must-do and can-wait categories.
Planning and organizing your tasks on paper is incredibly powerful and under-utilized. By doing so, you’ll work more efficiently, and you’ll reduce the mental gymnastics around organizing your day.
Can I outsource any of my work?
Are you doing things you don’t need to do? Are you struggling with things someone else specializes in?
By outsourcing the work you hate, suck at, or just don’t need to be doing, you free yourself up to do what you love, are great at, and absolutely need to do.
This gives you more time, leaves you with more energy, and makes your day more enjoyable.
Anxiety is the unwanted guest who shows up at the most inappropriate times.
It shows up when the boss calls you to the office. It piles up on you as you navigate your day. But anxiety is strongest and most annoying when you’re laying in bed trying to sleep.
Usually, anxiety is born out of anticipation.
We get lost in a sea of worst-case scenarios, living out every possible hell we can imagine.
Most often, the fire and brimstone we conjure up is 10x worse than the real scenario. But that doesn’t make the anxiety itself any less crushing.
It’s important to remember that responsibility isn’t the source of our anxiety, but how we interact with it is.
If you want to reduce your anxiety by changing how you interact with your world, ask yourself the following questions.
1. Are you putting up mental resistance?
“Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water” ― Bruce Lee
Listen, life is going to throw some shit at you. How much misery and anxiety it causes you depends on how you interact with it.
If you mentally resist changes and obstacles, or spend energy wishing things were different, you’re unnecessarily creating more anxiety.
Instead, be like water. If you get poured into a cup, become the cup. If you get spilled on the floor, cover the surface of the floor.
This means you roll with the punches. Instead of resisting the ebb and flow of life, you adapt to it.
Become malleable. Instead of agonizing over the current situation, do the best you can within it.
2. Are you leaking energy?
The mind is the body, and the body is the mind. There is no distinction.
If your body is tense, your mind is tense, and vice versa.
Become aware of your body as you move through your day. You may be leaking energy in the following ways:
Tensing up when things get tough: sucking in your gut, tensing your thighs, raising your shoulders. These are all common holding patterns and responses to stress. The problem is, they leak energy and create tension in your mind. If you scan your body and notice you’re tensing any muscles, take a deep breath and let them go.
Holding your breath: similar to tensing your body, holding your breath is a common response to stress that creates more tension and leaks more energy. Stay aware of your breathing, and keep it deep, slow, and relaxed. Your mind and your body will follow suit.
3. Are you catastrophizing?
One of the biggest causes of anxiety, drains on our energy, and crushers of happiness is our habit of catastrophizing everyday events.
Somehow we take a snarky email from our boss, interpret it to mean we aren’t good enough, we may lose our job soon, won’t ever find another one, we’ll be forced to sell our house and live in a cave, and our lack of hunting skills means certain death.
If you feel anxiety welling up inside you in response to… well, anything… pause, and take an honest look at the likelihood of the absolute worst case scenario.
Bring it to the light, and you’ll see the monster in the closet is just a pile of clothes on a backpack.
Of all the points we could infiltrate in The Cycle, this is the most effective, and most crucial.
Time isn’t an issue, since you’re already taking the time to self-medicate, whether that be downing a few whiskies or crushing a plate of chips and queso.
The problem with using junk food and booze to self-medicate when you’re feeling anxious is it contributes to the problem.
Eating low-quality food takes you further out of shape and makes you feel physically awful.
Drinking booze helps temporarily, but alcohol is like a credit card- you’re borrowing happiness from tomorrow. The next day you wake up feeling worse. and more likely to fall deeper into the cycle.
We’ve got to break that pattern by replacing your current habit with a new one. One that contributes to your goals instead of steals from them.
To do that, we need to understand the Habit loop:
Habit Loop = Trigger → Routine → Reward → and repeat.
The trigger is what sparks the desire to self-medicate. In this case, anxiety is the trigger.
The routine is whatever it is you do that makes you feel better. The booze, the food, etc.
The reward is the feeling the routine provides you. The booze takes the edge off, and the food makes you feel amazing (for a moment).
If you’re going to replace your old habit with a new one, the new habit needs to provide the same reward as the old one.
In this case, we’re looking to escape, reduce anxiety, and feel better.
Here are some great options that not only reduce stress, but help you build a body you can feel unstoppable in:
Yoga/ Stretching: Not only does it reduce mental stress and anxiety, it reduces physical tension as well. Remember, your mind is your body and your body is your mind. By relaxing one, you relax the other. As an added bonus, Yoga is a great way to build some strength and torch some calories.
Walking: A highly underestimated method of exercise, walking is like meditation in motion. You breathe deep, you connect with nature, and you get your blood pumping. Take a 20-minute walk, and pay attention to how much better you feel after.
Strength Training: Nothing’s better than a great workout you can pour your soul into. You’ll clear your mind, express some aggression, and reduce your stress. The fact that you’ll build an amazing looking body is a nice perk.
Meditation and Breathing Exercises: Meditation is a cornerstone habit that deserves a spot in everyone’s life. By learning to calm your mind, you develop a powerful inner peace that becomes unshakable by external events. This means less anxiety, more happiness, and a powerful platform to work from.
Journaling: When we keep our thoughts contained in our mind, we don’t solve a lot of problems. We just create more worry and overwhelm. But when we write our thoughts down into a journal, we begin to organize and make sense of them. By doing this habit daily, you’ll notice you begin to work out problems that have been plaguing you for a long time, things that used to appear daunting aren’t as intimidating as they seemed, and you’ll feel lighter and more liberated because you aren’t burdened by this freight train of unorganized thought.
If you’re a busy, stressed out person, the thought of getting in shape can seem impossible.
The idea of overhauling your lifestyle and putting more on your plate just creates more anxiety.
The body, confidence, and lifestyle you want become a pipe dream.
But by breaking down just one area of The Abominable Lifestyle Cycle of Doom, you can decrease your anxiety, increase your energy, and in turn, burn the fat, build the body you want, and feel unstoppable in every aspect of your life.
By Fat Loss Expert and Fitmo Coach, Mitch Heaslip
Mitch is going to get you into the best shape of your life! But what’s his secret? Mitch has developed solid methods that work for both men and women in losing weight and building muscle. With his very flexible approach, Mitch can tailor his methods to anyone. When it comes to building strength, muscle, and losing fat, his approach is second to none!