Failure, Food, and Fixations

In my psychology classes, the 3 “F’s” were fighting, fleeing, and fooling around (I’m using the PC term for the last one).  Today, I want to talk about a different set of “F’s.”

Failure

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
Michael Jordan

We are all human.  No one flawlessly executes anything 100% of the time.  The true test of character and of strength is not whether you fail, it is how you respond to failure.  Do you let it defeat you and throw in the towel?  Or do you pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get back on track? 

Mentally tough performers cope positively with adversity and use failure to resolve to do even better the next time.  It is a choice that we all have.

I failed to follow my post-competition plan.  Instead of taking a week off of training and eating clean, I took almost two months off.  The end result – I gained significantly more weight than I wanted to, lost a lot of my cardiovascular endurance, and became very uncomfortable and unhappy with my body. 

I was faced with a choice. On one hand, I could feel sorry for myself, beat myself up over things that had already happened, continue to skip the gym because I was self-conscious and my workouts were harder, and eat junk food because I was craving it and depressed.  On the other hand, I could resolve to get back on track and take the steps necessary to reverse my course – start working out and eating clean again because it was the only way to get back into shape.  I could use my first competition as a learning experience so that my second competition would be better.  Thankfully, I chose the latter (although it took me a while to make that choice).  Now, having experienced the consequences of not following my post-competition plan, I will have the information and motivation I need to execute better the next time.

Food

Eat to meet long term goals, not short term satisfaction.  Sean Harley

People abuse food in so many ways.  What is the purpose of food?  It is to fuel your body so it can survive and thrive.  Food provides the macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are essential to the body’s health and survival.  Unfortunately, our culture has also decided that it should comfort you when you are sad, relieve you when you are stressed, give you something to do when you are bored, and be a reward for any accomplishment or celebration.

Your fitness level and quality of health is inextricably tied to your relationship with food.  What are you relying on food for that you shouldn’t be?  If you are lonely, call a friend.  If you are bored, go for a walk, read a book, organize your closet.  If you are sad, watch a funny movie.  If you are stressed, go for a run.  If you want to celebrate an occasion or an accomplishment, then do it in moderation or with healthy alternatives.  Stop using food as a crutch.

Flooding your body with calorie dense foods devoid of nutrition and filled with artificial chemicals is not okay.  The junk food you eat will taste good for a flash.  The havoc it wreaks on your body once it passes your taste buds will last a heck of a lot longer.

Fixation

Eat clean and be active all year round, make health a habit, and realize it’s a lifestyle.” Channa Serenity

People in general, and particularly figure competitors, became fixated on every calorie, every gram of protein, fat, and carbohydrate.  Any deviation from the plan seems like a catastrophe.  Guilt follows, as well as the tendency to say, “Well, I already blew it by having that [insert food of choice – cookie, piece of cake, candy bar, whatever].  Might as well just eat whatever I want for the rest of the day.”

Take yourself out of this mindset!  It is so much easier for me to stay on track with eating and working out when I am not fixated on calorie counts and pounds lost or gained.  Look at the big picture.  Although how your body looks and your weight are obvious, there are so many other reasons to eat clean and work out that are less obvious – low blood pressure, normal cholesterol levels, low risk for heart attack/stroke/cancer, normal blood sugar levels, increased energy, etc.  Don’t eat healthy and work out just because you are on a diet or because you want to lose XX number of pounds.  Eat healthy and work out to minimize your risks of developing disease, to increase your quality of life and longevity, and to feel good day in and day out.

Yes, I am preparing for another competition, and yes, I know my focus right now is putting on muscle while staying lean enough to make my next competition prep cycle easier to manage.  However, my goal is to train hard and eat clean consistently throughout 2012.  I have a calendar in my living room where I mark down every day that I workout.  By the end of 2012, I want to look back at that calendar and see that I maintained an active and healthy life all year.  It has nothing to do with a number on the scale, a trophy in a competition, or even how I look in the mirror. 

Approaching exercise and clean eating as a lifestyle makes it so much easier to maintain.  Eat clean because you want to feel good and give your body what it needs, not because you have to be on stage in a skimpy bikini in 12 weeks.  Go for a run because it will help you manage your stress, decrease your risk for osteoporosis, and make your heart stronger, not because it burns XXX number of calories.

Need some more reasons to be fit?  Check out: http://reasonstobefit.tumblr.com/

Now, go out there and stop “F”-ing up!

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