This month is about transformations. But while all the other articles talk about how to transform your body into its best condition yet, this article will speak about why, despite our best intentions, some of us have been (so far) unable to do anything about our bodies. And who better than a serial yo-yo dieter to write on this topic?
In just the last 5 years, I’ve gone from 80 kgs to 62 kgs to 81.5 kgs (as on October 5, 2018). After my first
bout of weight-loss, I was so happy that I threw away all my old clothes and bought an entirely new wardrobe comprising Size 38 Slim shirts and Waist 30 pants. I’m currently using hand-me-downs and scavenging discount sales to help drape my burgeoning belly.TC 6.0 will be the 6th time that I’ll be participating in the Transformation Challenge. The longest I have lasted in any previous avatar of the challenge was till Week 5.
Does this sound familiar?
- Begin with gusto and enthusiasm
- Start off on a really low-calorie diet (usually Keto)
- Lose steam and the will to live
- Give up with a promise to start again soon
If this has been the story of your dieting and exercise history, then this article is for you!
Why do you keep failing?
Human beings love one thing above all else – comfort. Or, to put it differently, we dislike discomfort. A diet and exercise program involves stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something that you’ve either never done before or that doesn’t come naturally. Whenever we try something new, the mind and body protest. They want the status quo to be maintained, they are in love with inertia. Trying to change the body and get fit thus meets with a lot of internal resistance and most people give in to it, despite knowing that losing weight and becoming healthier has immense benefits. The other reason why you keep failing? You expect too much to happen too soon. Step by step, brick by brick, that’s how Rome was built. And it did take a long time to build the damn place.
Is Motivation The Solution?
Everyone who wants to become a writer knows that you cannot wait for inspiration to strike before you put pen to paper – you have to write whether or not you feel like it. Getting healthy requires something similar – you cannot wait for motivation to hold your hand and whisper sweet nothings in your ear; you need to take the steps irrespective of how you feel about them. Like the writer’s muse, motivation is also a whimsical companion. She always drifts away and is nowhere to be found just when you need her the most! The only way to achieve what you want is to embrace the suck and keep doing what needs doing.
Sure-shot signs that you will fail
How many of us have bought the kitchen scales and Apple Cider Vinegar, prepared our diet charts, enrolled
in the gym, downloaded the perfect workout tracks and still – AND STILL – not managed to stick to our diet
and workout plans? Clearly, well begun is not half done. If you catch yourself doing any of these things, know that you will probably not make it to the end of TC 6.0:
1. You’re planning to do EVERYTHING all at once
You’ve decided that you will wake up at 5 am, workout for 2 hours a day (maybe even twice a day), eliminate
carbs (especially sugar), stop drinking your ‘adrak wali chai’, eat no more than 1000 calories a day, drink 6 liters of water, sip only green tea and black coffee, sleep for 8 hours a night and you will do this all IMMEDIATELY – even though you’ve literally never done any of these things before today. You think you’re going to become a new person with stellar habits overnight? Think again. Changing your habits takes time and as we saw earlier, our minds and bodies don’t like change. Be sure you will meet with resistance.
A better strategy: Be realistic and taking things slowly
For instance, if you’re not a morning person, you are NOT going to suddenly start waking up at 5 am. Instead, aim to wake up 15 minutes before your normal time. Which also means you may have to go to bed a little earlier than usual – another habit that will need to be formed slowly. If you haven’t been working out, start slowly. Work out for 30 minutes on the first day, make sure you work out for at least 3 times during the first week. Then, come week 2, increase your workout time or frequency.
Take baby steps to build better habits. Will it be easy to change habits? No! Will it be worth it? Oh yes!
2. Your goals are not your own
You’ve decided you want 6 pack abs. Why? Because that’s what you’re supposed to want when you want to
transform. The only problem is that you’re at 40% body fat. So the question you need to be pondering is: is this a SMART goal to have? Ask yourself: I have 12 weeks to transform. But transform what? And to what extent? Having a 6 pack is a good goal to have BUT it is not the best goal for you, given where you are and how much time you have.
A better strategy: Fix the smaller, more doable things first
You have a 36-inch waist. Can you push yourself for the next 12 weeks and bring it down to 32 inches?
You’ve been diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Can you do something over the next 12 weeks to reduce your
medication or even go off it completely? (It’s possible!) Don’t look at others with envy. You do you. Keep yourself and your life as the focus and what you should be aiming for will then become clear.
3. You’re thinking short-term
What happens to most people after they go off a diet? They go off the diet with a vengeance. TC 6.0 isn’t just about the next 12 weeks. It’s about what you can teach yourself that can be applied over the long-term. “I want to lose 20 kg in 12 weeks” – that’s a narrow goal. You may even achieve it but you probably won’t be able to hold on to it. The reason? You’ve not managed to address the reasons why you had gained so much weight in the first place. Without understanding why such a thing happened, you are bound to repeat the same mistakes once TC 6.0 is over – perhaps even before the 12 weeks are up!
A better strategy: “I want to change my lifestyle and learn better habits”
If you keep this as the goal, then you will orient all your efforts towards bringing about a sea change in your actions, thoughts, emotions, and attitudes. In short, you’ll understand yourself and your relationship with food and exercise better. You may unearth the reasons why you’ve always slid back down the ladder and gone back to square one, over and over again. As a famous writer once said, “When you know better, you do better”.
TC 6.0 is an opportunity to rebuild bridges with your health and well-being. It’s a call to action to really
understand yourself so that you stop sabotaging your body and start treating it with the respect and care it
deserves. Make use of this chance, approach it with the right spirit and attitude and you’ll not disappoint
yourself or shoot yourself in the foot like you have every other time.
Author- Jaideep Bhide