With out a doubt the number one predictor for success in any diet, whether it is gaining weight or losing it, is about dietary adherence. Yup. I said it. Which kind of diet you follow is COMPLETELY secondary to picking one that you can actually follow.
Yes, there is a lot to be said about how different diets affect us at a biological level, but having the worlds BEST diet is completely redundant if you can't stick to it.
Now the science behind Human Change Psychology (1,2,3,4,5,6) is a HUGE topic that could warrant an entire blog dedicated to that alone. Suffice to say that it is an incredibly complex topic, where altering one variable often has multiple unintended changes on a number of others.
But as much as this may be a bitter pill to swallow, the largest obstacle to your own success is you.
Our greatest drive in life is not for success; but homeostasis.
Despite our biggest hopes, dreams and aspirations, we are often held back our own mindset which seeks to maintain the comfort of the known rather than face uncertainty of the future.
We seek homeostasis.
Now you may be thinking this sounds a little bit like voodoo ass-hatery, but this drive to maintain our current situation manifests as negative thoughts or beliefs, that in that moment convince us to alter our plan. I wonder if perhaps any of these thoughts resonate with you?
No matter what I do I cant seem to lose weight
I cant wait to finish dieting so I can go back to eating normally
I am naturally a fat person and my body always seems to want to go back to being overweight
I tried counting calories but it didn't work
I struggle to fast, I am so hungry first thing in the morning
I must be a hard gainer, I still cant gain any muscle
I have plateaued on my diet, I probably need a refeed
I will just run a short Protein Sparing Modified fast to drop this fat as quick as possible
Some other negative, self defeating crap that isn't true.
At its core each of these thoughts share one common thread; A desire to be outside of the present moment.
Ask yourself, have you, or will your ever experience anything other than the present moment? Of coarse not. Yet we spend our entire lives projecting our hopes and dreams forward to some future moment where we hope that we will finally have achieved the things we want, and for a brief, fleeting moment, will feel happiness.
And we might, but it wont last.
By spending our lives hoping of a future that we will never experience, in the vain hope of feeling positive for a moment that wont last, we forget that the present moment is all that we can ever experience.
How many times have you been tempted to cut calories that little bit harder? To extend your daily fast just that little bit longer?
How many times have you looked longingly at that bowl of cereal waiting for that weekend "carb-up" to "refill glycogen" (your not fooling anyone but yourself, by the way).
How many times have you been tempted to skip the gym because it was a hard day at work and gym felt like a chore?
How many times have you adjusted your training or diet plan, micromanaging the tiniest of details to "optimise your results"
How many times have you felt "off", and decided you needed to "listen to your body"?
I could literally keep going all day. My point is we sabotage ourselves, by attempting to escape our present moment.
Your desire to reduce calories as hard as possible, or to optimise every detail of your diet is a attempt to escape your current situation of dieting.
Your desire to follow a CKD or "carb-up" is an attempt to escape your current situation of feeling restricted.
Your desire to skip gym is an attempt to escape your current situation of exercise feeling like a chore.
Your desire to "listen to your body" or "refeed" or "increase your calories" is an attempt to escape your current situation of feeling hungry.
The secret to success is not in escape from suffering, but acceptance of the moment.
Being "Present" in the now.
If we can never experience the future, than the secret to happiness and success is finding joy in the present moment. To be truly successful in building the body of your dreams you need to accept that all you can ever really experience is the process of building that body. The process is its own reward.
You must be willing to surrender completely to the fleeting feelings as they come with out allowing them to control your mindset. For example:
Feeling fleeting moments of hunger on your diet is a GREAT thing as it reassures you that you are making progress.
Feeling the desire to "listen to your body" is GREAT because it means your body is attempting to resist the change, but changing you are.
Stop chasing the future.
You need to stop dieting. I don't mean that you need to stop controlling your intake, or accept that you are going to be overweight or small for the rest of your life. I mean that you need to stop treating the moment, this one right now, as a race to reach an endstate. Any time that you find yourself thinking about how to get results "quickly" or planning "refeeds" or what your going to do when you finish your diet have missed the point completely.
You need to learn to find happiness in the process of achieving your goals, not in the end state of having achieved it. Find a diet that you love eating, and that you don't feel deprived on and simply follow it. Make it something you "just do". The same with training, find a form of exercise you enjoy and make it part of your routine, something that you can do forever.
Only when you stop stressing about where your going will you one day wake up and realize you are already there.
Flip the script
In the same way that our thoughts often sabotage us, so too can they build us up. Negative thoughts can lead us to self sabotage, whilst positive affirmations can keep us motivated.
Everyday remind yourself:
I am making progress towards my goals
I have an unshakeable, iron clad will.
I choose to live this lifestyle because I enjoy how it makes me feel.
Getting lean is stupidly fucking easy once I found out what I was doing.
I am getting leaner and stronger every, single, fucking day.
I am already enough.
Any time you feel yourself trying to escape your moment, to be somewhere other than where you are now, recognise that it is only an attempt of your brain to resist your progress, but that means your making progress.
Embrace the moment. Crush your work out and feel amazing because of it. Eat your food and savour the fact that you took another step closer to your goal today. Embrace hunger as the fleeting feeling it is and recognise that it means your losing fat. Celebrate that success by feeling good about it.
Surrender to the now.
Its the only one you will ever experience.