Change comes suddenly but it is not a product of the present moment. It is a result of a long preparation in the past. Usually it is a fruit of a lot of mistakes made and the gathering of some experience from each one of them.
Being in shape is not just a physical expression. It is a balance, a relationship between the way the body feels and looks and the way the soul feels and the mind functions.
Having abs and constantly thinking how you can’t wait for the end of the week so you can eat something forbidden is not equivalent to being in shape.
Being able to do something with your body, and then having lower back pain or knee pain, all day long, is not an equivalent to being in shape.
I’ve been the main character in both scenarios. I’ve had difficult moments both in the gym and when it comes to nutrition. But change comes in a sudden – not the change of appearance, but the change in self awareness.
The moment when you realize that the efforts you make are too much but with low return of the investment. The moment when you are left motionless and you just allow the significant to emerge on the top and the insignificant to deposit on the bottom.
My stroke of insight and the moment when being in shape is not a burden, an obligation or torture, and just a consequence of who I am and what I believe that a life worth living should be filled with.
The moment of insight about nutrition:
Have you happened to:
-eat really “clean”- omelets without any fat, salads without spices, without condiments; boiled meat; plane oats; low fat milk and huge amounts of low fat curds?
-to eat a lot of vegetables, because you are hungry but it is not part of your diet, neither it is time for a meal and just fill up your stomach with veggies, yet not take too much calories?
-to eat mainly green salads, and just a piece of meat or an egg every now and then;
-to follow a strict diet that deprives you, and to eagerly anticipate the cheat day and when it comes to overeat with huge amounts of food- to feel bad – both physically and mentally?
And so forth…
1.The Only Way to Lose Weight Is to Eat Less
Well, I’ve done everything. Until the moment, when I realized that the only way to lose weight is to not eat too much. And the only way to not eat too much food, is when I eat to actually feel pleasure of the food, to feel satiety and to feed both the body and the mind. The only way for food to bring me satiety and to feed the body and the soul is for my meals to be complex- as a variety. Because what brings the feeling of satiety is a result of the reactions that food provokes in the body. When a food contains more spices, a combination of fat, protein and carbs, then it “touches” all our senses. The more senses get activated, the more “lights” will fire up in the brain and the more the scale of satiety gets fuller.
I realized that it is not important to eat low calories food in bigger quantities, that the end of the day sum up to more calories and the feeling of deprivation and hunger.
What matters is that food is enough – as a quantity, quality and nutrients.
I realized that I can eat a salad of nuts, raisins, meat, dries tomatoes, basil, olive oil, sesame seeds, avocado and then the salad combines carbs, fats and protein. At first sight it sounds like a lot of calories, but it brings satiety and pleasure and I do not feel hunger in the next 4-5 hours.
It is far better, than eating green salads with chicken breast and then spend the next two hours thinking about food and dreaming about chocolate and donuts.
The most important insight was that food has a warming and a cooling effect, and that if I achieve balance between them, I can foresee during what part of the day, what food I will have appetite for and thus give it to my body. It is exactly this that freed me from the guilt of combining carbs with fats. If you want to know more about the cooling and warming foods, read my post about the 2 unconscious ways that we slow our metabolism.
2.I realized that the harder and the longer are my workouts, the more I am gonna eat
The more we demand out of our body, the more we need to give it. If we train an hour and a half or two on a daily basis, the body gets exhausted and it needs to get recovered. The fastest way to get energy is food. Then, it doesn’t matter how challenging and killing was the workout – the muscles will need fuel. If we do not achieve balance between demanding from our body and recovering it and if we constantly want more out of our body, it will expect more out of us in return – our biology will drive us to eat more. Because biology always takes toll on will.
I am sure that you have been in this situation – you go to the gym. You train every single day. You have killing workouts. Then you are exhausted but content that you have spent a lot of calories and how you feel every part of your body burning. Then you suddenly feel the urge to eat sweets and junk. You eat and you lose control. You have no idea why it happens like that.
The reason is the lack of balance between what we anticipate out of our body and what we give it in return.
I realized that I am in better shape when I do a couple heavy workouts during the week, and throughout the other time I am more active – and being active is not equivalent to working out.
Thus, I give my body enough time to recover, and I do not exhaust its energy on a daily basis.
Besides that I train even better, because I recover better, I have more power and nothing hurts. Thus I can invest in my workout more without wondering how I will move throughout the day.
3.It doesn’t matter what you do throughout the workout, but how you are doing it.
In the gym it is the same as it is in life – you do not need to do more, but to do enough with more awareness. When you are aware of your body, the way it moves and the signals it sends you, every workout becomes a lesson – about when and how your body reacts. Nothing has thought me more about the human body and movement, than the way my own body reacts to different loads, different angles and techniques of performance.
Do you know what I do while I workout? I do not use the heavy weights I used to train with (90-110kg.) I use a weight, that is half the weight and I perform the movement with bigger awareness. For me, I realized that I’d rather perform the movements with less weight, but with more presence and awareness. To track every single second of the movement and to focus on my body and the sensations. When I perform a particular exercise, I imagine how I want to shape my muscle.
I felt, that with lighter weight but with more conscious movement, I feel the load more – in my muscles.
Because when you lift heavier weights, sometimes parts of your body compensate and you start loading tissues that are not supposed to be loaded. You focus more on getting there, than how you are getting there.
(by lighter weight, do not understand that I am not challenging myself and my body. But there is a difference between challenging yourself and torturing yourself 🙂 )
Besides that, this way we give our body time to recover. Too much weights is a stress not just for the body, but for the nervous system as well. At the end of the day, what you can physically do is dictated by what your nervous system allows you to do. When it is exhausted, this feeling carries over on the body.
Thus, I give my body enough time to recover and to allow me to give my best in the next training session.
4.My achievements are defined by how I move
My body is how I move. Our lifestyle, predisposes us to losing the functions of our body and to become immobile and sedentary. Few people can use the capacity of their body, because most of us have lack of sufficient mobility. Actually, the range of motion that we have to move our body is something like a map of the choices we’ve made and the life we’ve led. Isn’t it amazing? To be able to read a person and to take a sneak peek in his life, just by seeing how he moves?
I realized, that my attention should be focused not just on working out – because of the sake of working out, but on keeping our body mobile and functional. I realized that I need to pay attention to some movements and exercises that actually neither burn calories, nor directly make my butt stronger and my legs leaner and well shaped; neither they will help me have abs. But these exercises will allow my body to move with full ROM which will later on transfer to performing the exercises properly and to activate a bigger part of my muscles.
Do you wonder why despite your workouts, your butt is still skinny fat and it doesn’t have the strong, bubble shape you want? You can’t develop a muscle that you can’t activate. It doesn’t matter how much you train, what is the weight you are gonna lift, if your body doesn’t allow you to activate all your muscles.
Here is the latest challenge 🙂