Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Iron Resiliency, Session 3: Being Realistic

Calm down and relax.

So far, we've taken a look at the cause of negative thoughts and how to confront these inaccuracies. Today, we'll go a step further and reduce the anxiety they bring us.

Most often, when we stray away from perfection and our plan - whether it be in missing a training session or leniency in diet - we tend to be exceptionally hard on ourselves and unfortunately not forgiving enough. Feeling guilt is acceptable, but the after effect is trying to compensate by tightening up the diet even more than before or training continuously with inadequate periods for rest and recovery.

Reductio ad absurdum (Latin for "to reduce to the absurd") is the method of a pushing an argument to its very end until its illogical and becomes invalid - almost akin to disproving itself. Being realistic will serve the same purpose for our own choices.

In order to truly be realistic, there are two other things to do first, which are:
1) Imagine the worst possible outcome.

2) Imagine the best possible outcome.
For instance, take a person training for fat loss to slim down. Hypothetically, what if this person indulges one evening and has a few foods not on their diet menu? While they may feel shameful about their actions, it isn't all gloom and doom.

Doom says,
"You dare eat cake?!"

Let's run through the worst possible outcome.
  • You ate a meal with too many calories.
  • Because you overate, your weight went up.
  • Feeling dejected, you decide to binge.
  • Binging has made you balloon up and your weight to skyrocket.
  • You've gained so much weight you are no longer able to do many of your previous activities.
  • Since your appearance has changed significantly, you're left single with less hopes of finding someone than before.
  • The severe weight gain has caused a host of other problems, such as increased blood pressure & cholesterol and put you at a higher risk for heart disease and diabetes.
  • Overweight and depressed, you spend the rest of your days alone unhappy until your premature death.
It sounds bad, but I did say the worst possible outcome. It's time to lighten the mood and see the best possible outcome.
  • You ate a meal with too many calories.
  • Surprisingly, you've dropped a pound. The cheat meal served as a small break from your disciplined eating.
  • Invigorated by your hard work, you attack your final phase of fat loss with enthusiasm.
  • Shedding those final pounds of fat, you've sculpted your dream body.
  • You've done such a great job an agent is impressed by your figure and offers you a modeling job.
  • As a model, you meet an equally sexified model and get married.
  • Together you both make millions of dollars and become the most famous models internationally living happily ever after.
But realistically? You'll overeat and your weight may fluctuate slightly if at all. A single meal won't significantly impact your body composition.

The goal of these explanations was to illustrate how absurd our imaginations can run wild when we overreact to minor situations. In reality, the most likely items to occur are the second or third bullet points. The later possibilities are very unlikely to come true.

It is also important to note that problems tend to have more than a single contributing factor, but we narrowly focus on one. Likewise, we may worry excessively on variables not within our control and ignore things we can change. Attention should be addressed to the things we can change!

Consistent behaviors will determine how successful you will be in achieving your goals. Some questions to ask yourself are:
- Are you making adjustments to your diet or behaviors to allow maximal recovery, muscle growth, and/or fat loss?
- Has your training become progressively difficult for adaptation to take place?
- Outside of your training, have you been sitting on your butt all day or being active?
Remember, the whole picture is important. One moment is not equivalent to an entire experience.

Take it easy. More in session 4 next week.

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