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Changing Everything: The Mental Game

So here we are at week three of these entries and we will dive into the mental game behind all of this. This is a hard topic to discuss because it's not universal. We all think and act differently. This post may even come across scattered as I've found it even difficult to put into words so don't expect a long post. It's pretty clear that we all need self-discipline. Some work better using a "buddy system" where you can encourage one another to continue to reach goals. For myself I chose to do it alone.

Starting out I would just sort of randomly decide to do a workout here and there and I had no order. With food I would cheat a lot and it was hard to really stick with anything. I found the biggest thing that helped get me on a workout schedule was creating a daily routine. I started off with mornings and I would wake up, eat a banana or something light, drink some water, then hit the recumbent bike, hike, or eventually go for a ride. Obviously this early morning wake up and workout thing isn't for everyone but that's what I did, enjoyed, and that routine lead to the end of my brain fighting against itself to "do it tomorrow" or something like that. I also of course had the advantage of being an independent contractor where I usually made my own schedule.

It's not easy to change your eating habits over night. I listed in a previous post some of the actual things I did to change but mentally I would sometimes crave something else, want more, etc. Here's a brutal example for you. When I worked for the Skip Barber Racing School we would go to lunch at the Cheateau Elan by Road Atlanta everyday of a school for lunch and they had a killer dessert bar. I not once had any. You have to develop the mental power to just overpower your immediate wants. The only way I can describe the mentality behind changing this is to clinch your fists, say no, and walk off. That is easier said than done for sure as the mind is a powerful machine. If you have the mentality that you can beat something though, you can beat it.

After a while, I started using the high I got from working out or the accomplishment I felt from turning down junk as fuel to continue. I have even sometimes written down the feelings I'd get and carried them around or sat them on my desk to remind myself. It sounds silly and of course this isn't a "how-to" guide but that's something that worked for me. Eventually some of the wants you get die, for example now I can easily walk past a dessert bar and not care and I never crave meat or fried foods anymore. I get that question a lot.

You all may remember in my previous post where I mentioned being embarrassed to workout outside. This was because of my weight and how I looked. This probably falls into a line of depression. It's a scientific fact that working out releases feel-good endorphins. I am sure almost anyone has felt it before. This high will overpower the negative thoughts and eventually you'll want to continuously chase the high. The good news is this specific high is healthy albeit very addictive.

One issue I personally have when chasing this high is if one day I ride fifteen miles and the next day only five, I am sometimes hard on myself and feel I am getting lazy. You have to remember some days you may not have the time to put in, maybe you just don't feel it, there's a number of reasons. Keep in mind though anything is better than nothing. So even if it's an hour walk, it's better than sitting at your desk browsing the web. Put in the effort or as cool kids say "do work."

I have said it in one of these posts and I will say it again. The number one phrase my mind would say to me was and still sometimes is "just start or do it tomorrow." It's so easy for us to set a start date. I mean look at a gym on January 1st. Start today not tomorrow, it only becomes easier the more you do it and the more your mind overpowers the voices in your head.


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