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Plato once said that the first and greatest victory was to conquer one’s self. The human body is like a dictator – it is bent on maintaining the status quo and it will not yield peacefully. As with all positive change, it takes a long and hard-fought battle in order to see great results. You can get out of shape by “letting” yourself go, but you can only get back into shape by taking back control and overcoming your limitations. Using every fiber of your being, you have to win your body back.
1. Know Your Opponent
We do not all fight the same battles. What works for one particular person may not yield results for another, and so it is important that we understand our bodies. Your body fat percentage, weight, metabolism and genetics are unique to you and they all play a part in your weight-loss journey. You can see a specialist to find out where you stand in these areas, or you can visit reliable online resources (like 23 and Me, ATHLEANX etc.) if you are on a budget. You have to fight hard, but you can also fight smart.
2. Measure Your Victories Correctly
Imagine being discouraged by an unchanging scale when in fact you had achieved significant gains. If your goal was to burn fat and gain muscle, then weighing yourself would be illogical. A better metric would be to calculate your body fat percentage, tape measurements and increase in muscle mass. Determine what progress means to you and be diligent in keeping track of your developments. The same goes for your workouts – it’s not about the amount of time you spend in the gym, but the quality of work that you put in while you’re there.
3. Leave It All On The Battlefield(s)
You are mainly going to fight in three arenas: the gym, the kitchen and the bedroom. How you sleep and how you eat are just as important as how you exercise, if not more. Work like a horse, eat like a horse and sleep like a bear. Fuel the body that works with quality food. Personally, I do not condone counting calories because “a calorie is a calorie” is misleading. 500 calories of fruits can give you more benefits than 500 calories of chocolate. When you work out, do your reps until failure instead of counting in order to get the maximum benefits. Rest and recover properly to ensure you’re at 100% for your next workout and practice sleeping in the best possible posture.
4. Enjoy The Fight
It’s not all blood, sweat and tears. I only compare weight loss to a battle to stress the amount of intensity and seriousness you need to bear in mind going in. Gaining weight is a sprint, but losing it is a marathon. However, that doesn’t mean that the experience has to be devoid of all joy. In order to maintain and continue to improve upon your health, it has to be a lifestyle that you find exciting. Diets are exhausting and limiting, but nutrition is sustainable and enjoyable. Experiment with healthy alternatives to foods that you love and find new ways to bring excitement to your training. Use music, change locations – anything that brings you joy in the process. It should be a rewarding experience, not a punishment.
5. Relish The Spoils of War
This is a part of enjoying the fight but it deserves a spot of its own. They say that it’s all about the journey and not the destination, and the same is true for a weight loss journey. We can get so hung up on where we want to be that we forget to celebrate where we are on the way to where we’re going. Take time to enjoy your progress. Take a selfie. Wear that outfit that wouldn’t fit you before. Have a cheat meal (responsibly). Rejoice in the knowledge that your future self will eternally be grateful to you.
Nothing works unless and until you do. The best training and nutrition regimen that can yield the best results is the one you can keep up indefinitely. Winning back control over your body and your life will be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever experience. See you on the battlefield!
Written by Tiwayi N Mushambi. Tiwayi ‘TY’ Mushambi is a motivational speaker, author and life coach. He has worked hand-in-hand with organizations such as Maximum Impact and Enactus (Formerly SIFE – Students In Free Enterprise) to train many entrepreneurs in Southern Africa to start, grow and save their businesses and become socially-responsible business people. He has had a passion for personal development for over four years and channels it into this concise guide to self-discipline and self-improvement.
Books by Tiwayi N Mushambi: The First Victory: The Power of Self-Discipline