When you get started on the path to changing your habits – nutrition, exercise, mentality – you end up forming new habits, or rewiring the process within the habit. The problem here is that as you develop those habits, things become routine. You get used to the new way that things are and stop looking for the way they could be or questioning whether they can be better.
Then, you have an “Oh S&%!” moment.
I had one the other day. The backstory goes something like: I was a lazy, unmotivated bum (physically) for several years. I didn’t go to the gym regularly, I ate a bunch of junk food because it made me feel good for a little bit but then it didn’t so I ate more to feel good again. I generally just didn’t take care of myself physically, which bleeds over to your mental state really quickly. I put on a bunch of weight, attempted time and again to take it off but kept falling back to the old habits.
So I said, “I’m sick and tired of being fat, sick and tired. I don’t want to feel crappy any more. I don’t want to feel fat anymore. I want to just be and feel healthy. I need to – for me, for my family, for the people – and various furry friends – that depend on me.”
So I started the process of change, which is probably a post or three by itself. My wife and I threw away every gram of junk food in the house, started planning our meals and started going to the gym three or four times a week, relentlessly. We started losing weight, our clothes got loose, we felt great and were motivated.
It was during this time that I started thinking about “up goals” versus “down goals”. I noticed that when I started, I couldn’t get three sets of 15 assisted chin-ups in. I pushed and pushed, but I just couldn’t get there. I did 10 / 7 / 5 with 100 pounds. Then the next time I did 10 / 7 / 7 with 100 pounds. Then I managed 12 / 10 / 7. And so on, until finally after several weeks I was able to do 15 / 15 / 15 with 100 pounds. So I dropped the weight to 90 and on I went.
Four months later, I’m at the gym and it’s been a week or so since I’ve had a formal workout since I’d been traveling. I get going and the first thing I do is jump on the assisted chin-up. Well, I forgot to check the weight this time. I just jumped on and started going. Man, that was hard. Did not working out for a week really turn me back into a puny pile of fat again?!?
9 reps in and I’m struggling. I gotta do 12 at least. 1. 2. 3. Whew, that was tough. Wait, let me… Oh wow – the weight was set at 60 pounds, not 90 like I usually have it.
“Oh S&%!,” I think… I haven’t been pushing myself. I mean, I thought I was pushing myself. But I wasn’t pushing myself. I dropped the assistance weight from 100 to 90 pounds thinking that was doing something. I should have dropped it to 70 pounds or even 50 pounds. I should have made myself struggle and work. Instead, I was happy that I could bust out three sets of 15. I got mentally complacent. That probably means that I lost out on weeks’ or even months’ worth of real progress.
Look for the “Oh S&%!” moments. They will probably hit you accidentally, out of nowhere. And they will probably remind you that even though you’ve come a long way in the right direction from where you were, you still have room to grow.