We hear it all the time that the mind is in fact a muscle. While this may not physiologically be true, to some extent it is. You weren’t born with the willpower and determination you have today, just like you weren’t born being able to hit the 1RM squat record you hold personally now either. You developed those over years of hard work and determination.
Now, take the mind and compare it to your legs. Sure, some people step into the gym for the first time and are able to hit a bodyweight on the bar squat for reps, to depth, with very few issues in their form and set up. Very unlikely, but it happens. The same can be said for your mind, some people truly are born knowing that they will stick to a plan 110% from the get-go without any hiccups or speed bumps along the way. Others have to build that mindset up for years and years before it comes close to that of a pro athlete. I for one have seen this first-hand in my own life. Having always been involved in competitive sports I have always felt that my mind has been stronger than the average Joe in the gym, and many people will think this of themselves, however, compared to the Ronnie Colemans and the Phil Heaths of the world, I am barely squatting 50lbs out the rack compared to their 1000lb 1 rep max. Therefore I focus one day at a time on strengthening my mind just like I do my deadlifts.
Take a sweet craving for example. I am 3 weeks out of a show right now, so my mind jumps at any thought of pizza or donuts. Am I going to jump at any opportunity to have those things? I really wish I could. However, I do not. Why? Because I focus on the goal at hand. I focus on what I want to achieve in 21 days and that is the best physique I can possibly achieve and to get there, my mind needs to be trained too. Now at this point in prep there is no space for cheat meals and re-feeds. My coach did give me a diet break this past Saturday so that I didn’t commit murder and possible tip myself too, but that was purely apart of the psychological training.
When you are following a very restrictive diet, you ARE going to crave things because you are not allowed to have them. This is one of the reasons I advocate against high restriction. But there are ways around this, and I am going to show you.
First, you need to decide whether you’re just bored or if you seriously are hungry and need that double decker pizza you heard about on a radio ad 10 minutes ago. A lot of the time when we crave things, we genuinely are just bored and feel we need to fill a void.
Secondly, you need to decide whether it fits your macros or if you can substitute it in somehow. How has the rest of your day been? If you’ve missed a meal or two, which would explain the hinger, you probably could sub in a burger in place of your standard chicken and sweet potato, but if you’ve hit your macro goals for the day and you really just want to indulge, maybe rethink your goals and where you are. Just reevaluating things can usually be enough to snap your mind out of losing control and binging.
Thirdly, look at what is around you. Are you at home alone or are you at a braai surrounded by booze, snacks and braai meat? If it’s the latter, have some fun, have a piece of steak instead of your egg whites and get back on track tomorrow first thing with your oats and egg whites. But chances are if you’re home alone, its boredom striking.
One of the methods I like to implement with clients when they're at home contemplating racking up an extra 5000 calories to their diet for the day is I say “Fine, you’ve worked hard, you can have a cheat. BUT, you need to do one of two things. Either you need to make it from scratch or you need to buy it fresh 20km away from home.”
Making ice cream from scratch involves freezing and having cake then involves baking which are two immediate turn offs because of the effort. Just like driving 20km to Krispy Kreme is a bit of a mission most people rather say, “you’re right, I am actually not that desperate I was just bored”. Yes you do get the crazy people like myself who say sure and drive halfway to Pretoria for a couple donuts.
The thing is, cravings aren’t what people think they are. They are not your body telling you that you are deprived and are desperate to get your fix, they are usually just psychological barriers where your body is looking for a guilty pleasure and to escape being a little hungry for a bit.
The last trick I have to curb them is actually get off your ass and do something. Clean your room, do the dishes, pack your laundry or go for a walk on the phone outside and I guarantee you that you will have forgotten about that double decker pizza by the time you come back inside.
Train your mind to be better and don’t be a dingus.
Dublin Strength Coach
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