How do you do it?

I was asked this very question last week: “How do you do it?” In the context of keeping going with my healthy lifestyle when it’s dark, when I might have had a bad day, when I might be distracted elsewhere, when I may not have the enthusiasm to prepare a healthy meal… etc. We all have off days, days when there’s always something that needs our attention and is more important than doing all the things that we know support us in our healthy lifestyles. Things we “should” do… even when we would rather curl up in front of the TV instead of doing that weight training session or spin class. Things we “should” eat instead of grabbing the nearest convenient thing.

There are some of my readers who seem to perceive me as some kind of superwoman who never has an off day and never feels tired. Ah, if only they knew! I’m only human after all, and the fact is, all of us, without exception, have bad days when our enthusiasm wanes. The difference is that those people who can make themselves keep going no matter what, all seem to have one thing in common, and it’s to do with language. They have turned their “should” into a “must”. I am one of those people. I do not allow myself to have a get-out clause. If there’s something that I need to do or achieve, I make it an absolute necessity, not a “should”.

I have recently committed to taking on a new mentee, and he is hugely enthusiastic. He basically wants me to open up my brain and give him everything that’s in there. He wants to skyrocket his physical and mental performance and become an invincible superhero, ideally overnight. I love motivated people like this and have all the time in the world for them. Trouble is, things don’t happen instantaneously and with any program, it takes time for the benefits to manifest. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were our bodies. It can take many years to become an overnight success.

So, let’s highlight aspects of the process that “Mentor Max” is taking her new student through. David (not his real name) is a fit young man who is highly motivated to becoming successful in many endeavours. He is accustomed to hard work and realises that nothing good comes without effort, focus and discipline. Whilst we joke that he wants it all now, he appreciates that good results take time and commitment. He calls me 4 times a week and regularly sends WhatsApp photos of the healthy meals he is making. This is great, and we have ascertained exactly what he wants to achieve, why, and by when, and importantly, how he is going to feel when he gets there, and how his life will improve as a result. I am delighted that he has asked me to help him on his journey of personal growth and improvement.

David’s diet wasn’t difficult to improve. For breakfast, I have suggested that he switches to my special recipe chia seed porridge with blueberries, instead of instant oats, milk and Pringles (yes, really). Lunch is not currently within his control, but dinner is. He’s not quite ready to go plant-based yet (but based on his goals and the speed at which he wants to reach them, he will soon make the shift), so abundant fresh vegetables have been added for dinner and red meat has been eliminated, as have the white bread and digestive biscuits. He already drinks plenty of water and maintains good hydration. Exercise is easy for him to fit in. He has a physically active job and easy access to a well-equipped gym, and trains 5 to 6 days a week, with a combination of strength, endurance and cardio training. Understanding the importance of exercise and how it fits in not only to achieving his goals but how it also improves his mood and physique, David has no problem in getting his workouts done, even if he’s tired.

David is still in the early stages of his transition to a superhero diet, but his digestive system is already feeling the benefits. Raw vegan protein powder has now been added for breakfast, since David needs to maintain good strength and muscle mass for his job, and it balances out the macros in the chia porridge; otherwise his overall daily fat percentage intake may become too high. He has, within just two weeks, made changes that would take many people months to achieve. There are, after all, advantages to “wanting it all and wanting it now”, and being disciplined to stick with the changes that will get you there. Having read that we tend to become the sum of the five people we spend the most time with, David has even changed his social group and is seeking out positive people who will be a good influence on him.

So – back to “how do I do it?” and, indeed in this example here, how does David do it? Firstly, he has huge goals that he is committed to achieving. They are not a “should” for him, they are a “must”, as are mine for me. Secondly, he has tracked down a mentor to keep him on track, someone who is getting the results that he wants to achieve – me. I myself have a good friend and sport training buddy who I can call on at the drop of a hat, if I ever feel that I am wavering (which is very rare). We keep each other focussed and have fun in the process – no excuses. Do you have a mentor or training buddy? I highly recommend it. Thirdly, David is prepared to do whatever it takes to reach his goals, even if that means totally changing his diet, lifestyle and social group in the fullness of time. Let’s face it – not everyone is ready to make an instantaneous leap from Pringles for breakfast to green juice! Finally, and this is a big one, David is now familiar with, and embracing, the process of “adding the good stuff” as I call it. This is not deprivation, it’s abundance. Two weeks ago he never knew that chia seeds existed – now he eats them every morning. Just wait until we add maca to the protein powder/chia porridge combo. Now that
really will be something!

About Max Tuck

Hippocrates Health Educator. Long term living foods vegan. Athlete, lecturer, author of four books (with the 5th coming soon) and firm advocate of healthy living.
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