3 Mental Tricks That Help Me Lose Weight Very Quickly
A strong mind creates a strong body.
Losing weight is part of my job.
Most people can’t say that. Most people will never lose weight “professionally”.
As an athlete in a combat sport, my ability to generate income comes either directly from my success in competition or indirectly from strong competitive performances that lead to teaching opportunities. Competing in the right weight class is one way to ensure strong competitive performances.
In what I do, being at the proper weight will help you make more money.
This is probably the best motivator for weight management.
In my career, I’ve had to lose weight close to a hundred times. In high school wrestling, I used to gain and lose 8–10 pounds of body weight every week.
It wasn’t healthy, but I did it, and I learned a lot about the right ways to lose weight. I learned the right way from doing it the wrong way for years.
Here are the 3 best mental tricks that I use to help me lose bodyweight, lean out, and feel good while I do it.
1. Extremely mindful eating.
When you’re dropping weight, there is no way around the fact that you have to cut calories.
To gain weight, you need to be in a caloric surplus. To lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit.
The problem is, being in an extreme caloric deficit or surplus kind of sucks. It’s just not fun. Depending on how much weight you have to gain or lose and how long you have to maintain this state, you will probably feel tired, a little “off”, and if you’re anything like me, a bit grumpy, too.
This is just kind of how it works. Every time I've had to lose weight, I have had to accept a bit of discomfort in the name of reaching my athletic goals.
One way that I’ve been able to deal with this a bit better has been by being mindful of when I do eat, and noticing everything I can about my “eating experience”. I notice how I feel before I eat. I notice how I feel after. I pay attention to the energy I have after eating a salad or a pile of veggies, and I pay attention to the taste of my food.
Dieting has made me a much better cook because nothing is worse than a small amount of shitty food.
2. Approaching weight loss like a pro.
When most people approach dieting, they approach it like a hobby.
They want to lose weight, but they do not want to skip out on nights out, fancy dinner dates, or sneaky late-night runs to the Wing Stop up the street (what? Just me?).
There’s nothing wrong with experiencing all that the world of food has to offer (when I’m not cutting weight, I can be a real glutton), but if you want to achieve weight loss goals, you have to look at weight loss like a job.
Weight loss is probably one of the hardest jobs that you’ll ever take up.
I stole this idea from Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, a bestselling book on turning your creative “resistance” into unlimited potential, and I think it fits well in terms of dieting. Instead of “wanting” to lose weight, I look at the weight I have to lose as a part of my job that needs to be done so that I can step out and be my best when my competitions go down. It’s not a question of if I’ll lose the weight anymore, it’s just about how long it’s going to take.
“The sign of the amateur is over glorification of and preoccupation with the mystery. The professional shuts up. She doesn’t talk about it. She does her work.” ― Steven Pressfield
In case you needed a reminder, here's the truth about weight loss:
Weight loss is simple. It’s not easy, there are no secrets.. It makes you uncomfy. It makes you tired. It might make you cry a bit, and it will definitely make you a little cranky.
Welcome to the world of delayed gratification. It’s a long road, and it’s not an easy one.
3. Forgiving myself for messing up my progress.
The fitness industry is full of people who don’t know how to forgive themselves.
If everyone forgave themselves for slipping up on diets and training occasionally, it’d be really hard to sell supplements that don’t work to people who don’t need them.
Getting frustrated for slipping up is natural in a way — we all want to feel like we’re doing our very best, all the time — but problems arise when we start to view ourselves as less than because we have “slipped up” on our diets. We start to view weight loss as an all-or-nothing affair.
This is just not true, and it’s actually less conducive to weight loss in both the long term and the short term.
Last night, for example, I was well under my calorie limit for the day (I currently have about 5 pounds to lose before my next Jiu-Jitsu competition in mid-March), and I ate 3 cookies. I still finished the day under my calorie limit, but I “sinned”.
I ate the cookies.
I could have lost more weight yesterday, but instead, I ate the cookies.
This is a great opportunity for me to hate myself. After I finished the last cookie, the thoughts of self-hatred pattered my brain like bullets.
“Fuck it,” they said, “let’s just finish the whole bag of cookies. You already fucked up.”
In the past, I’d have given into this voice and finished the bag. I mean, if I broke my diet, I might as well finish the job, right?
If you can learn to forgive yourself for not being perfect on your diet, your ability to lose weight quickly will reach a new level.
Learn to control your mind, don’t let it control you.
In October of last year, I lost 17 pounds in 3 weeks to make weight for the ADCC Trials.
I didn’t have the best tournament of my life, but I got the weight off, and my weight cut did not impact my performance.
Throughout all of my weight cuts in my career, I’ve been using these same strategies, but often on autopilot. This last cut, I was observant of the mental tricks and strategies that help me lose weight smoothly and with minimal stress. I am now applying them once again.
With all these tricks, the most important mindset shift is this: learning to control your mind is the first step to learning to control your body.
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