There is a story that is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi and which may or may not have actually happened. However, as a parable it works well and is a very good example of practicing what you preach. The fact that it addresses the issue of excessive sugar consumption is also very helpful to me.
Allegedly, a mother brought her young son to see Gandhi because she wanted the Mahatma to tell him to stop eating sugar. After hearing her story, Gandhi sent them away and told them to come back in 2 week’s time.
2 weeks later the mother and son returned, and Gandhi said to the boy: “Stop eating sugar”. The mother was a bit annoyed at having to make 2 journeys to hear this basic instruction and asked him why he could not have said this to the boy 2 weeks ago.
Gandhi replied “Because 2 weeks ago I was eating sugar”. Even if the story is not 100% accurate, I believe that if you “Talk the Talk” you have to “Walk the Walk”.
Today, I’ll go through some aspects of training, nutrition, motivation and lifestyle that have worked for me over the years but, most importantly, I am using them now.
You could have the best nutrition and training programme in the world, but if you’re not motivated to use them, then they are useless to you. My main motivation in life is to stay energetic, healthy, fit and strong enough to be able to run a business, provide for my family and see my young daughters grow up.
In order to do all of the above, I have goals for work, strength/fitness and a list of things that I want to do and see with my family. These goals are written down, and I read them every morning and evening. As each item is achieved it is replaced by something else to aim for.
This is a fairly simple method that you can complete by taking a little time to think about what is really important in your life. Using this process I’ve discovered that some items that I thought were important to me, were not important at all and I was easily able to discard them. This in turn gave me the time and energy to concentrate on what is meaningful to me.
My current training goals are to improve my strength in the squat, deadlift, bench press and chin-up, while maintaining my current body fat levels. In order to do that I weight-train 4 times per week and also do some high-intensity interval training. However, I let my recovery dictate the intensity and amount of training I do. I no longer beat myself up about missing a training session if I’m sick or feeling that the energy levels aren’t there to support a good workout. On days like that, I will simply do a lighter session, go for a walk, do some stretching/core work or have a day off if I’m really tired.
I tend to keep weight and body fat levels within a fairly narrow range. Although, like most people, I put on a certain amount of excess weight after holidays and “blow-outs”, my main motivation for eating as healthily as possible is not related to body composition.
When I eat well and avoid junk food, I feel better, I sleep better, I have more energy, more concentration, more motivation and tend to be in much better mood. These are far more important to me than mere numbers on a scales or a body fat calipers.
Healthy eating for me means 2-3 litres of filtered water per day, green vegetables with EVERY meal (yes breakfast as well!), some form of lean protein with every meal (breakfast again) and the absolute minimum amount of processed food. My “treats”, which usually only happen at the weekends, consist of red wine, cheesecake, dark chocolate and, when I’m on a different type of “session,” Cider.
The best and most under-used form of recovery is sleep. For a long time I was looking for the magic food or supplement that would give me more energy. The real reason I was tired was because I wasn’t sleeping enough. Now, I’m asleep most nights before 10.45pm and I get up between 5.45 and 6am feeling energetic enough to face the day. I’ve also been meditating on a daily basis for the last number of months and have found it to be a great way to reduce stress levels and take the edge off the madness.
Try some or all of the above and see if they’ll work for you!