The most mediocre man at my wedding (the name we gave to my best man) texted me the other week.
“Bro, you and all of these fitness guys make flexible dieting seem so easy. You make it seem like anyone can do it and you’ll get results no matter what.”
Actually it’s not. It’s super hard, probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And even though I’ve been on a 3 week streak of hitting my macros, time will only tell before I slip up.
Diet and exercise are the most difficult and frustrating things to get a hold of. Once you feel like you have it down, you get stressed and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Or skip a week of workouts set on by a massive 2 day hangover.
I’m projecting those last 2 things (which have both happen to me).
There’s no such thing as the perfect diet nor the perfect training program. Even if you have a coach, the process must be intrinsic.
You know what the best diet and exercise regimens are?
The ones that not only work, but that you can stick to.
Here are 10 unconventional tips you can implement right now to dial in your diet and exercise and take your physique, performance, and life to the next level:
Meditation is the foundation of my life, everything else permeates from it: the quality of my work, my interactions, stress levels, etc. A lot of these tips #2-9 relate to decreasing stress, because most stress crushes shifts in behavior change. And let’s be honest, having success in diet and exercise requires us to change our behavior, A LOT.
Meditation helps us see things more clearly. “If I do X today, how is it going to effect me tomorrow?” Meditation is really about controlling our thoughts by giving up control (sounds weird, right?). That voice in the back of our head (that most times has zero benefit to us) is what tires us out, causes stress, and derails progress.
I use the Headspace App. 10-15 minute guided meditations. Start with 1x/day for 10 minutes, do it in the same place, and after 2 weeks either up to 15 minutes per day or 2x/day.
Failure is often seen as a negative, but it should be seen as a positive.
Why? Because now we know what doesn’t work. And we can rule that out for the time being or strategize how we can make it work. The more we fail, the closer we become to refining what works for us and what doesn’t work for us at that moment.
You’re going to skip workouts, your intensity in the gym isn’t going to be great sometimes, there’ll be days in you’re in your own head, your going to binge eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, you’re going to fall off the wagon.
And guess what? It’s all OK.
What kills us is the self hate we put ourselves through. Accept that we are human.
- Momentum, Material/Money, Mating, Mastery
These are the 4 M’s of motivation.
Money motivates you? Cool, bet your friend $100 that you’re going to exercise everyday for the month.
Material object motivate you? Rip out a picture of a new purse you love from a magazine and treat yourself after 3 months of working out 5x/week.
Knowing what motivates you can be a great tool to put in your toolbox to push through those times that quite frankly, suck.
What motivates you?
- Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are fantastic for relaxing and focusing.
Have you ever been in “the zone” before? If you have, you’ll know everything feels effortless and focused. Breathing exercises that utilize the diaphragm are great for eliciting a parasympathetic, rest and digest, response. Not only that, but slowing down your breathing slows down your heart rate.
Here are 4 breathing drills for you to try: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtuPywPhBrA
- “Relax” During Your Workouts
Sounds kind of counterintuitive right?
This is not for beginners. Once you have a solid foundation of the exercise technique, you’re arguably going thru the motions.
Have you ever watched Olympic sprinters and noticed how relaxed their faces are? Most of their mouths just open and close limply. A lot of people have also proposed that Usain Bolt’s pre-race dancing is to help him relax. Many of the other sprinters have adopted something similar.
Put your body in enough tension to do the motion, but with enough relaxation that you aren’t straining thru the movement.
Beginner or not, trying to get the body to relax between sets is also great metabolically, because it helps bring the heart rate down fast so you can drive it right back up (intervals).
- Reverse Engineer Your Goals
Take your #1 end goal and work backwards.
You want to lose weight? What does that take for you? If your nutrition is near perfect but you have trouble going to the gym, it’s usually a priority issue.
So wake up and go to the gym early?
Kind of, but first start by waking up early.
Do what you normally do for two weeks, but just at an earlier time. Once you have that down, then and only then add in going to the gym after you wake up early.
What are you grateful for?
What are some things that would make today great?
How do you want your day to go?
Write these things down to set your day up for success.
- “Food” Log
I put food in parenthesis because this isn’t your typical food log. Sure, you can write down portions, calories, macros, etc if you want to.
But moreso, write down how you are feeling around the time you’re eating.
Are you stressed? Anxious? Happy? Sad? You’d be surprised what is triggering stress and/or overeating.
- Go All In
We are a society of all or nothing. It takes 90 days for a habit to become ritual. Going “all in” for 90 days can be a good weapon if you think you can fight the burnout before the 90 days.
- Do More of What Makes You Happy
We often forget why we eat clean or follow certain diets. Does it make you feel good? Happy?
Why do you exercise? If your routine isn’t fun anymore, either you need to change your outlook at your routine or find something different. Alternatively, you can focus on the things in your workout that are fun and try not to harp on the negative. Do you like interacting with the people at the gym? Do you like to bench press? Create a positive relationship to health and fitness, because that will last a lifetime.
The one thing I wanted everyone to get out of this is that there is no right or wrong way to achieve success. I always hear “this diet is wrong” or “that exercise routine doesn’t work.” Let’s stop getting paralysis by analysis and just take some action!
In Good Health,