The Six Pack Paradox
I just got off a video call with one of my coaching clients. She was a wreck, emotionally. I could see the heartbreak behind her eyes and in her voice and instantly I knew the next hour would be an interesting one.
After consoling her and putting her at ease, it quickly turned out that she had been constantly failing to stick to the nutrition plan and many nights she would keep eating, despite being full. Not only had she not lost weight, but she had actually gained a few pounds on the scale.
Worst of all, she felt like a complete and absolute failure. In that moment, I felt a ton of compassion towards her as I could completely relate to her situation. I’ve been there and it’s no way to live your life.
I realized that we needed to address this from a psychological standpoint and that she would never get to her goal until she completely rewires her mental model. Now when someone struggles to stick to a nutrition plan, invariably there are points of resistance. These points of resistance are what make up the six pack paradox.
Until you stop resisting, you will unconsciously sabotage any and all efforts at making forward progress. Now funny enough, these points of resistance are completely paradoxical in nature as you will soon see.
You Need To Accept Yourself As You Are
“Completely accept what is, because you cannot give your full attention to something and at the same time resist it.” – Eckhart Tolle
Look, here’s the deal, we all have insecurities and things that we want to change. But you must learn to accept these characteristics. If you haven’t accepted these traits, if you haven’t accepted how you look right now, there will be constant stress, anxiety and urgency behind everything you do.
In the game of dieting, stress, anxiety and urgency are your greatest foes. This is what turns dieting into a grind, this is what makes life a burden and this is what leads you into engulfing an entire bag of cookies on a lonesome night, only to feel unbearable guilt.
The clients that have the easiest road to leanness are okay with who they are. They’re not stressing out about their body fat percentage and they’re not making a huge deal about how they look. They simply focus on sticking to the plan and enjoying the ride.
When you have accepted yourself, completely and totally, your life will transform. Now you can begin productively working towards your goals without your mind messing with you. So take some time to accept and love the person you are right now. Understand that on the deepest level, nothing you could ever do, have or become will make you a more complete person.
If you catch yourself scrutinizing the person you see in the mirror, calmly and without judgement remind yourself to ‘stop resisting’. Remind yourself that you’re already awesome right now and that you’re working towards your goals to become even more awesome!
When you feel awesome you will experience positive energy to work towards your goals. When you feel down on yourself and irritated and ashamed, you will experience negative energy that will only ever work against you, pushing you into the wrong direction.
Realize Six Pack Abs Will Not Make You Happy And Complete
Most people tie their happiness and fulfilment to some form or another. They believe that sometime in the future when they have this body, this car, this girlfriend or this job then they will be enough, okay and alright. And until that point comes, they are not enough and not complete. This is a dreadful way to live your life and this makes living hard.
When you tie your self worth to some form, like six pack abs for example, you will be hard pressed to reach your goal. Moreover, you will never ever experience true happiness and fulfilment.
This mentality of romanticizing the future kills the present moment. It turns your fitness journey into a chronic obsession to get six pack abs. This is when everything takes a turn for the worse. You’re constantly thinking about your diet, the days go by slower than ever and you miss out on enjoying the true beauty of life.
You become consumed and taken over by your mind and instead of being able to enjoy the present moment that you’re in, all you can think about is your goal and your diet. Nearly all the pain and commitment that dieting takes is mind created.
Your mind is constantly resisting the present moment. Trying to escape every second of real life because it believes that your fulfilment is tied to the future with some arbitrary look. Stop resisting, stop escaping the present moment. The more you do so, the more stress, struggle and anxiety you will create.
Once you honour the present moment, nearly all of the hard work and commitment that dieting takes dissolves. Now it’s just a matter of following a simple plan and enjoying each and every day as you get closer to your goal.
You Need To Understand That Perfection Is Not Necessary
Stop trying to be perfect, to hell with perfection! It’s not realistic and it’s not dynamic. If you try to be perfect you will be polarizing yourself from everyone around you and you will be setting yourself up for cold, hard, failure.
Stick to your nutrition plan to the best of your capabilities but understand if you slip up once in a while it’s not a big deal. Give yourself permission to not be perfect. By having a relaxed attitude you will make dieting much more enjoyable and when you do slip up, you won’t feel to guilty about it. This means that you won’t turn a trivial few hundred calories into an all out food binge.
Moreover, sometimes we need to live our lives. We have to go into situations where we can’t stick to our diets or our macros to the tee. Maybe we get invited to dinner or we want to go get icecream with this cute girl. If you’re able to exercise moderation and you’re able to be accountable over what you eat, in any situation, then being in great shape year round will be effortless.
Some people can only be in control when they’re at home, tracking and recording everything they eat. Then when they’re out of their comfort zone and not sticking to their usual diet they lose all ability to exercise self control.
Being really, really, ridiculously good at not being perfect goes a long way. This allows you to make slow and steady progress no matter what situation you find yourself in. Then when you want to tighten things up for a few weeks, you can. Afterwards, you can go back to more of a relaxed and slow, but steady approach. This is a really enjoyable way for long-term, sustainable fat loss.
People that accept nothing but perfection invariably take the two steps forward, one step back approach. Or worse, one step forward and one step back. At the end of the day, the either never get to their goal or they get there but in a miserable and obsessive fashion and lack the ability to maintain their results.