1. Mindset: I STARTED HAVING 2 WAY CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN MIND AND BODY.
Previously, my body had entirely too much to say and my mind was idle in conversations, particularly when it came to exercise. If my body felt tired, I accepted that and didn't exercise. When I did exercise, if things got tough, I expected less of myself or stopped. Engaging my mind was invaluable to my success.
This was most notable in attaining the most out of each workout by having a plan before starting, and using my mind to tell my body what to do all the way through. I made sure that my workout goals were clear - I would look at my past weights lifted, rest times, run times/paces etc, and decide what I was capable of accomplishing during a particular workout and I accomplished it.
This was not easy, but when my body said, "I'm tired", "I can't do this" or "stop", my mind said "you are strong", "you can do this", "you WILL do this" - and my muscles responded! I now realize the role of my brain in neuromuscular performance and literally tell my muscles what to do.
2. Nutrition/Food: I CONSTRUCTED A "COMFY WAGON."
By far my best food strategy, was making a custom 'wagon' for myself that would be hard to 'fall off', during - or after - the challenge. This strategy comes from insight into my own personality, but I believe it can benefit many who want Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM) to be a lifestyle, not just a challenge diet.
A lot of people in the Burn The Fat Inner Circle talk about how being an 'all or nothing' person can be a barrier to long-term success, and I agree! I typically operate from an 'all or nothing' outlook and I had to understand this when setting up my approach to food. Accordingly, I redefined 'all' to mean an enjoyable experience with food each day, but one meeting the principles of BFFM (which does, by the way have tremendous flexibility!).
This included picking foods that I loved eating, being creative with delicious recipes, viewing my food as fuel for my body, but also allowing myself treats that wouldn't be classified as 'diet' food. Don't get me wrong, my nutrition was very sound, my meals well-planned and I did a great job sticking to my plan - but it was my plan, not someone else's.
Some people might think: "But you you came in 2nd in the Burn the Fat Challenge... wouldn't it have been better to be stricter for the 7 weeks at least?" My answer would be: 'nope, not for me'. If I had approached the challenge with a contest diet strategy I can guarantee I wouldn't be in the winner's circle at all; I would have fallen off the wagon, beat myself up about it and wasted my mental energy to that end.
Instead, my wheels aren't spinning in the aftermath of the challenge - I've decreased my deficit a bit, but am happily sticking to the plan, feeling awesome and achieving results. My wagon is comfortable and I'm driving it!
3. Training: I TRIED TO 'RECREATE' TIMES IN MY LIFE WHEN I FELT THE BEST.
Before the challenge, while I was learning the ropes of BFFM, I learned a lot about myself, my past, and how to create the future I want for myself. For most of my life I've played sports on a competitive level and have experienced some very intense sport-specific training, particularly for track and field events. One day I was running intervals and realized that the 'feelings' evoked from that type of training were so powerful that they took me back in mind and memory to the times in my life when I felt the strongest, the fastest, and the fittest.
How my five senses were engaged during training were memory cues that helped me not only to visualize my success, but to actually feel like I used to feel. I deliberately tried to recreate these feelings during my workouts to reinforce my affirmations, and to attain the most out of each training session. For example, my sport-specific sprint/jump training was very high intensity, high volume, and included lots of plyometrics, so I incorporated similar styles of resistance and cardio as my primary workouts.
Instead of begrudging the winter wind in my face when running, I reminisced about how many times in the past I'd trained under similar conditions and remembered how good a powerful stride feels. When I felt symptoms associated with my max heart rate, the familiar sensations made me feel satisfied about my hard work. I loaded my workout playlist with memorable songs that I associated with times in my life when I felt the best. As soon as my old running shorts fit again - I started wearing them again.
I don't mean to suggest that high intensity, high volume, plyo workouts are best for everyone, but I see huge value in reflecting on the times in your life when you felt best, and trying to recreate as many memory cues to evoke feelings of success. I also highly suggest to any personal trainers who may read this, that you take the time to ask your clients (no matter how unfit they look) whether they have athletic history or about when they felt their best. Then, endeavour to train them as though they are still that person - because on the inside -- they ARE that person!
4. Other: I ACCEPTED THAT NOT EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS OR WANTS ME TO SUCCEED.
I feel blessed with an incredibly supportive husband, parents and close friends who make it clear that they are in my corner. The fifth element - social support - is no joke - having a support group works wonders!
There is however a flipside to this, and realizing it exists and understanding it helped me to stay focused. Not everyone has struggled with weight, so some people can't relate to the effort required to lose fat. Some people can relate to weight struggles, but are still holding onto excuses about why they can't overcome them (I was this person), and may not want to see others accomplish their goals because it demonstrates that excuses can be overcome, and may make people feel uncomfortable about their own complacency.
Others have taken drastic, unhealthy and downright dangerous measures to overcome their weight issues and will unconsciously resent it when people do things in a healthy manner and see astounding results.
I experienced all of the above kinds of people in my day-to-day interactions and sometimes it took an emotional toll. Some people who knew my goals would constantly (and forcefully, at times) encourage me to indulge in unhealthy foods.
A 'professional' with a specific 'certification' constantly told me I was eating the wrong foods (believed extremely low-carb, blood type, food combination diet was the only thing that works), even though I felt healthy, was getting stronger and seeing results.
People who had never heard of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle rolled their eyes or snickered as though it was a gimmick program and I was a gullible fool. I had to remind myself constantly that people respond this way because of their own issues, not mine. I could not let them confuse my goals or strategies and I could not let anyone make me feel guilty about my progress. I stopped putting stock in their words or negative vibes.
Instead, I took to heart the affirmations of those who see me the way I see myself, and who were supportive of my journey. If I felt isolated I reached out within the Inner Circle. Capitalizing on the 5th element was a huge factor in my success!
If you're new to the Burn the Fat community, downloading Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle (e-book) ) is the best place to start. It's been called, the Fat Loss Bible, and it's available on the home page at the link below:
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