Fitness Lessons From A Boiling Frog

Creative Commons License photo credit: jronaldlee

“Go big or go home.”

You hear that phrase a lot, and people like to use it for almost everything.

Going to a fancy buffet? Go big or go home. Translation: overeat until you can’t possible bear anymore because you paid for it all.

Shopping for a new car? Go big or go home. Translation: the more gadgets and power, the better.

Trying to lose weight? Go big or go home. Translation: if you’re not getting huge results every week, you might as well stop trying.

Wait a minute – that last one doesn’t sound right. Yet how many of us actually believe it?

How often have you been upset about “only” a two pound loss in a week?

If you’re a married woman and your husband loses twice as much as you (never mind he’s twice as big as you), does it make you upset?

Even I was getting jealous when I saw a couple other fellow 4HB bloggers getting better results than I was.

It’s time for an attitude adjustment. “Go big or go home” just doesn’t apply here. In fact, it’s the smaller stuff that really makes the lasting difference.

It starts with one

Some people can just wake up one day and decide to change their lifestyle. I’ve never been that kind of a person. That’s why my “diets” never lasted long enough to make a real difference. That’s why so many people lose weight and put it back on.

Leo Babauta, Zen master of the internet, posted once about the “spiral of successful habits.” He said

In 2005 I was in a bad place in my life with so many changes I needed to make that it was utterly overwhelming and discouraging. Then I made one of the smartest decisions of my life (aside from marrying Eva):

I chose just one habit.

The frog in the pot

You know the story: drop a frog in hot water, and it’ll jump out. Slowly crank up the heat, and he’ll never notice. We know it’s true so why do so many of us jump right into the scalding water?

If you can trick yourself into staying in the water long enough, eventually you’ll find yourself cooked. Which in this case is a good thing. 🙂

Today I’m going to outline some different strategies you can use to help affect change in your quest for healthy living. Slow, incremental changes will be what really make the difference. Once you master one strategy, move on to the next.

Some of them are really just mind hacks, but they’ll work just as well as a non-placebo.

Stay hydrated

The first tip I will always – always – give someone is to drink more water. Smart money says people aren’t drinking enough water, especially when trying to get leaner. This is so easy you can do it with your eyes closed.

If you feel hungry, chances are you’re actually thirsty. If you aren’t peeing nearly clear, you aren’t drinking enough.

Added bonus: drinking more water means more trips to the bathroom, and more movement is always good.

Use positive mathematics

Avoid using the words “subtract” or “remove”. They automatically give you a negative connotation, and we want to make your fat loss positive. Don’t tell yourself you are subtracting bread or sugar. Sure, you might be, but don’t tell yourself that.

Instead, add things to your diet. Don’t stop eating cookies; start eating more nuts and blueberries or cranberries. Go for the nuts first, and you may find yourself not going for the cookies.

If you’re OK with fruit, try Larabars. The kind we buy only has dates, nuts, and fruit (but I wouldn’t eat more than one a day if you’re trying to get lean).

Find different ways to move around

You don’t need to spend hours at the gym. Once your diet is under control, your weight will almost come off automatically. Moving around is good for your body, though.

Park farther away from the door of your office. Don’t try to get the closest spot at the grocery store. Walk to the corner store to get milk instead of drive a few blocks.

A trick I use is to not fill up my water bottle but rather use a smaller cup. When the cup is empty, I have to get more water. That not only keeps me hydrated, but it also keeps me moving.

If you’re feeling like trying something extra, go for a walk with your sweetie after work. It’s a nice way to wind down the day and get some quality time. If you don’t have a sweetie, just treat yourself to some fresh air and a little bit of sunshine!

Eventually, you may want to use subtraction

You may reach the point that you actually have to decide you won’t eat something. It’s OK now though, because if you’ve been taking it slow then it won’t jar your system.

If you want to get leaner but aren’t having success, you may need to remove certain things from your diet, or at least cut back significantly. For example, if you’re eating a cup and a half of beans a day, drop down to 1/2 a cup once a day. You’ll start seeing results soon.

Never stop learning

One difference for me now from before is that I am always learning about nutrition and fitness. I’m not a “health nut” about it. I read a few blogs like Robb Wolf’s and Mark’s Daily Apple. I find out what my body needs and how certain foods affect my health. I’ve learned what to eat and what not to eat, and as I learn more my diet changes. It’s slow, so it’s more permanent.

Some books I would recommend are:
The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss
The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf
Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes
The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain

Keep it going; don’t ever stop

Fitness isn’t a fad, so don’t treat it like one. If you slowly change your lifestyle, it’ll stick. You’ll notice the difference small changes make, and you’ll like it. You won’t feel deprived, you won’t feel burnt out, and you’ll only begin to feel better.

Take it slow and steady. Fitness is not a race, it’s a journey.

What change will you make TODAY that will start you on the next step of your journey?


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  1. “Some people can just wake up one day and decide to change their lifestyle. I’ve never been that kind of a person.”
    “One difference for me now from before is that I am always learning about nutrition and fitness. I’m not a “health nut” about it.”

    Amen brother! ; )

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