Eleven weeks ago when I decided to write a practical blog post on goal setting, I had no intention of throwing myself into the deep end. While I was writing the post, I was trying to imagine something that would give the article some integrity and I realised I hadn't pushed myself for some time. I used a technique of goal setting I called the Summons, which I explained in week one. I then wrote about my experiences in weeks two, three, four, five & six, seven, eight, nine and two weeks ago in week ten.
If you want to skip my deep and meaningful message, scroll down and look at my muscles. If you want to read how this challenge has changed my life, take a minute to chew the fat before admiring the meat.
There were good takeaways and bad takeaways. In food and life.
The bad first.
The six pack was not the goal I had in mind. It was the thing I chose to use as the 'measurable, achievable thing' to indicate my ability to have an active summer. Although the weekly photo gave the goal something visible that I could share with readers, it wasn't the greatest measure of what I was trying to achieve.
In the final weeks, when I began worrying about not reaching my goal, I was driven by my measurement method (the six pack) to pick up techniques that would help me get ripped rather than to make me more active (which was what I was trying to achieve). If I had a measurable goal that was more relatable to 'having an active summer' like 'running a 20 minute 5km' I might have spent less time reading about haemorrhoid cream and more time being 'active'. I've never had an appearance driven goal before. I don't think I'll have another either.
Being thin or looking good is not enough to keep me motivated and it certainly didn't make my life more meaningful. Don't get me wrong, I love looking good but looking good alone isn't worth that amount of effort to me. Feeling good and doing lots of stuff. Now that is something worth working for. I couldn't care less about having a six pack.
I could see the weekly improvements but measuring my success every week in front of the mirror wasn't inspiring. It made all of the effort I was putting in feel a bit hollow.
Knowing that I can now do things I didn't previously think I could do has filtered into other areas of my life. I forgot about this from my swim, but achievement has a trickle-down effect. When you win in the smallest areas (like a push-up) you can't help taking that winning attitude into other tasks that fill your day.
Small wins make me feel like I can win big.
Whether it was from exhaustion or from the smugness of being a regular exerciser and a religious Banter, I slept like a baby for the duration of the challenge. I still do. Exercise helps you beat the stress out of yourself. I don't just sleep more. I get better quality sleep. I wake up before my alarm now and rarely go back to sleep. I also think more clearly.
Fitness improved the quality of my sleep.
Being fit and strong made me feel invincible. I went from being able to do one pull-up and a couple of push-ups to being able to bench press my body weight. I can now do handstand push-ups. I can do about 20 pull-ups. A pull-up might not seem too useful in everyday life but being strong as well as supple makes doing chores, staying focused at work, entertaining, looking after a six-month-old baby and carrying stuff (which any husband has to do all the time) a breeze. Chores are now easy.
Being fit has made me better at life.
If I could feel all of the above and look no different, I'd take it. Having all of that energy, sleeping well, and approaching everything with confidence is more valuable to me than any amount of aesthetic appeal.
If your aim was to sleep better, get stronger, improve energy levels and become more confident, don't you think you'd achieve it more easily and with less emotion than a weight goal? The irony is that in pursuing all of that, you'd end up looking pretty good anyways. If not from tangible loss of centimetres then from the radiance of your smile from sleeping better and the extra energy you have.
Don't Bant to be thin.
Don't get me wrong, nothing gets my tear ducts firing harder than a good set of before and afters but it has nothing to do with vanity for me. Being in shape is an indication of ability. Someone who weighed 90kg and now weighs 60kg is now able to do so much more with their life and that's what being thin is about.
If you are only dieting to look good, I guarantee you, you will not be able to sustain it in the long-term. Being thin alone, is not meaningful enough to keep anyone fulfilled and that is why people hit their goal weight and slip off the path (unless they have something else adding meaning). It is the things in life that become possible when you become thin that will keep you motivated. These things may include finding a partner, climbing a mountain, being comfortable in your clothes, running a half marathon, or a full marathon, or anything for that matter.
Being thin is like being rich.
Being thin, much like being rich, will make you no happier than being fat or being poor. As the cliché goes, 'money can't buy you happiness'. My good friend Tim (a successful financial planner) added, 'it can buy you choices. And it is the choices you make with your money that can bring you happiness'.
Being thin will not enrich your life.
Looking in the mirror at your awesomeness is the same as looking at all the zeroes in your bank account while they stare blankly back at you. It is what you choose to do with your thinness that will bring you fulfilment.
If you're reading this, you most likely have an interest in Banting. If you're in it to lose weight, I challenge you to think about why you want to lose weight. Seriously. For a lot of people, the answer is obvious - 'I want to be thin…duh'.
Think about just one thing you will be able to do with the people you love if you become thin? Then, use that for inspiration instead of the scale or the mirror.
Give it some thought. What do you want out of Banting and the rest of your life?
OK everyone, here are the shots.
I said I'd take one with my phone. I also said I'd get some done by a professional. Here they are.
1. Blogging about what I want to achieve keeps me motivated and everyone who reads this blog inadvertently keeps me accountable. So firstly, thank you for reading my six pack challenge. If I didn't have people reading this, there is no chance I would have written every week and an even smaller chance of me getting a six pack.
2. I don't believe in finish lines. I think the only way to maintain is to raise the bar. One of RMR's core values is 'Never Stop Improving'. I feel it in my bones. In the New Year, I'll be raising the bar with a new challenge and I'll be blogging about it too. Please keep reading so I have no chance of pulling it.
3. I have to thank Andrew, Nic, Leon and Raun, who jointly let me make the most of Black River CrossFit. You guys make better humans. I hope Real Meal Revolution shares the same reputation. This is only the beginning.