“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
Whether you are an athlete looking to get better at your sport, or someone just training to stay healthy, you have probably tried to lose fat at one point or another, and why wouldn't you? It makes you a better athlete, you feel better, you're healthier and you look better to the opposite sex! Sadly though, many who embark on a fat loss nutrition plan, end up failing or giving up. The blame falling on external factors or things they couldn't control, while in reality the blame is on themselves, and they most likely failed because of one or more of the reasons below.
1. YOU ATTACH A BAD MINDSET TO DIETING
Everyone starts a diet with good intentions- to better themselves at a sport, to look better or to be healthier. All great positive reasons which should fuel and motivate you to succeed. Yet most people go into a fat loss period with a negative mindset, they think of the bad parts of dieting that they will have to face, such as the hard work and the food cravings. To lesser men and women, these feelings overwhelm them and the immediate short term satisfaction of a bowl of ice cream outweighs the long term positive joy of reaching their goals. Champions, however see themselves in the future they way they would like to be, and make the training and diet decisions in the present moment so that they can achieve their vision.
To champions, the 'bad' feelings associated with diets don't signify pain, they signify work ethic, achievement, success, a resolution to become the person they want to be and the power of mind over body. A fat loss period is a time when you are bettering your self, a battle of you vs you, and until your desire to be a better athlete or lose fat is greater than your desire for 5 minutes of pleasure with a snickers bar, you won't achieve anything.
2. YOU REFUSE TO DO A LITTLE MATHS
Calories matter! To lose fat you are going to have to burn more calories than you consume, and to be sure you are doing this you will have to READ THE LABELS ON FOODS! Just because something is seen as 'healthy' (like say almonds) it doesn't mean you stuff your face with them and not gain fat. You need to count overall calories (its not hard, just read and measure out if you have to) as well as the amount protein, carbohydrates and fat you are eating.
A good basic guide would be about 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, about 0.45 grams of fat per pound of body weight, and the rest of your daily calories made up of carbohydrates. It may sound tedious but you have to get the numbers right or else you could be stuck at a certain weight and not know why. Once you start to get experienced with it all you can start to not count anything and go by feel.
3. ONE SLIP UP AND YOU'RE OVER THE EDGE
No one is perfect, and the occasional slip up with your diet isn't going to do any real damage to your end goal, the danger lies in the 'whatever' attitude that some people have. One slip up in their diet, perhaps eating a slice of cake at a birthday party (which is cool, you don't want to be 'that guy' do you?) turns into an all night eating binge. In their minds because they just messed up their diet that day, they 'might as well' just chalk this day up to a loss and go crazy! What was initially a small slip up or acceptable treat that would not have set you back at all, turns into a food craving frenzy that sets you back days. If you slip up, go on damage control! its not the end of the world, don't throw in the towel only to regret the next day.
4. TOO MUCH TOO SOON
Enthusiasm for a new diet is great (and needed) but a classic mistake made by people is to, in their huge desire to be ripped NOW, do too much, too soon. People don't want to wait weeks or months to get what they want, they want results now, and so think that the more they do the better. They suddenly switch from their junk food diets to a picture perfect healthy diet, they drop their daily calorie intake by 1500 and they go on an insane training routine. All this leads to is failure and stagnation. First off, such drastic changes will be hard to bear all at once, if a couch potato stepped into the diet and training routine of an Olympic hopeful, it would be too much change for his psyche, and soon he would give up because it was too hard.
A change in diet must be eased into, you can drop a few hundred calories every couple of weeks, switch all soda's to water for a few weeks, or replace one meal with a healthy smoothie or protein shake. These are examples of simple, small 'steps' you could take to slowly get into a healthy diet. For the experienced athlete, a kitchen sink approach still won't work, as with everything, the body adapts and stagnation will happen. When the fat loss stops, its time to adjust, you could drop another 200 calories a week or add in 1 or 2 more conditioning sessions, this will kick start the fat loss process again until you eventually stagnate once more. Then you would simply make some more adjustments. Now if you went all out on day 1 by jumping into a starvation diet and training 4 hours a day, every day, What adjustments can you make once you stagnate? You're stuck! Just as with training you must progress over time.
5. YOU COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Remember that your training and your nutrition is a battle within yourself, It is an internal struggle that you face in the war to be a better you. Your motivation should mostly come from within, your desire to get better should be for you, for your own satisfaction and pride, not to impress others and to receive attention. Saying that, you can't help comparing yourself to others from time to time, its natural, and when you do, you must do it positively. Do not look at someone whose body you want in a negative way. You can easily fall into the trap or jealously, self pity, anger and contempt that they have what you want.
This is a dangerous mindset to have, when you see those who have achieved what you desire, look for inspiration and know that they have worked incredibly hard for what they have, and once were in the same position you are in now. Look at them as examples of what can be done, and not as examples of an unreachable dream. Admiration for others is ok, but you must bring about your transformation from within. It is YOUR body and mind, who cares if that guy makes progress twice as fast as you do, did you get better in any way today? did you do everything you possibly could today to reach your goal? these are the questions to ask yourself, ignore the external if you can, focus on the internal. Its your war.
6. YOU EXPECT MIRACLES
Nothing worth having comes easy and anything that comes easy isn't worth much. Those '10 minute' ab commercials you see on TV along with the fad diets which will get you ripped without any struggle are BULL. SHIT. Anyone who is in great shape WORKED THEIR ASS OFF to get there. It wasn't a overnight thing, they made the conscious decision to go after something they wanted and to not stop until they get it.
You must know that you will not achieve your goals overnight, it will be the result of continual progression and bettering yourself every day. You must stay motivated and focused on the end result, and in those times when boredom, frustration and doubt start to creep in, you must be disciplined, resolute and hold your ground, knowing that the feeling you will get after a achieving something you striven for for so long will be worth all the blood, sweat and tears.
7. YOU DON'T TRAIN PROPERLY
In the gym train like you are trying to build muscle! Heavy weights with compound movements built the muscle you have, so keep doing them so that your body has a reason to keep all your muscle! In your fat loss sessions, make sure you do some bad ass conditioning!, If your grandmother can do it, then don't you do it! Strongman circuits, hill sprints, sled drags, barbell/dumbbell/kettle bell complexes, martial arts = bad ass conditioning. Long slow runs, exercise bikes, stair masters = lame, out of date and overrated conditioning. High Intensity training has been proven to be vastly superior to long duration cardio for both fitness and fat loss. Finally, one more more point: TRAIN HARD! It should go without saying but you reap what you sow. Put the the work in, give it your all and go the extra mile, every day.
8. WRONG CROWD
Someone once said that you are the summation of the 5 people you hang out with the most. These people you choose (or not to ) be around influence who you are as a person. If you hang out with motivated, inspiring people then it will rub off on you, alternatively if you hang out with degenerates, with no purpose or goal in life, then you will feel their negativity pass onto you. You want to succeed, you want to be better, so surround yourself with like minded people.
9. YOU LACK MENTAL TOUGHNESS
“You know that little voice in the back of your mind, telling you to stop? Well you can train that little voice. I taught mine to shut up.” - Unknown
“Me personally, I believe that it’s only pain if you acknowledge it. If someone sees it as pain, I like to describe it as something that is unusual, out of place, or uncomfortable. You have to be all about being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. In the end, there’s work that has to be done. You don’t really have the time for self pity”.-Unknown
“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”-Franklin D. Roosevelt
''A man can be beaten in two ways, if he gives up or he dies.”- Richard Machowic
“Adversity causes some men to break, and others to break records.”- Unknown
“Suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret!” -Unknown
“Nothing on earth can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”- Thomas Jefferson