Guest post by Belinda Thomson
Sometimes you reach a point where you ask: ‘Is this as good as I get?’
I was training pretty hard, watching my diet – I figured I was doing everything right. But I just couldn’t seem to get any leaner. I had good strength gains, but it was kind of hidden by a layer of fat.
So, I figured, maybe this is just who I am… maybe I’m meant to look like this. But that’s not really my style. Self-acceptance is ok up to a point, but then it just turns into laziness and complacency. So I figured I would give it one last shot, and invest in a strength coach.
Now that I’m about six weeks into my program, I can see the high level of bullshit I was feeding myself. We humans have a phenomenal ability to delude ourselves, and it usually takes someone else to call us on that stuff. So here are some myths Shannon has been helping me bust in recent weeks:
Myth 1 – I’m doing everything I can – I was eating a low-carb paleo diet and training at least 3 days a week. Surely that’s enough right? Well, if I actually was eating a strict paleo diet with no cheats and no alcohol, maybe so. But the food diary doesn’t lie. When I actually wrote that stuff down, I was drinking nearly every day, even if it was just a glass or two of wine. On weekends, a lot more. (I thought my husband would divorce me if he lost a drinking partner). I was also eating cheat meals for whatever social occasion demanded it – and there are lots of social occasions. Oh, and I was going pretty heavy on the flat whites and lattes, convinced my life would be ruined without them, even though I knew they spike my insulin.
Funnily enough, giving up wine and milky coffee didn’t ruin my life (although the jury’s out on the divorce part). I replaced milk with cream or coconut milk for a while, but now I actually prefer the taste of the black coffee. A complete lack of sugar in my diet has changed my palate – or as my husband says, my tastebuds simply reflect my bitter heart. And like a preachy AA member, I’ve realised how much better I feel without alcohol. Its siren song no longer has any power.
Myth 2 – I’m doing more than everyone else – When I started with Shannon, I was at 20% body fat. He said I should easily be 15% or below. I pointed out that I was already slimmer than a lot of people, and he sagely replied that they should be leaner too! Basically, we live in a fat, lazy world of convenience and poor nutrition. So comparing yourself to the 99% of people who eat shit and don’t exercise isn’t really helpful. In fact, you have embrace being a freak: the only one not drinking on a pub crawl, the only one not eating bread at dinner, the weirdo who eats steak for breakfast. After a while, you just stop caring – and it helps when you know how much you squatted this week and how much body fat you dropped.
Myth 3 – I can do it on my own – Yeah, you can – up to a point. But when you write everything you’ve eaten in a food diary and handed it over to someone to inspect, you see how much more disciplined you can be.
Beyond accountability, though, it’s all about technique. Just like you can’t ever really see how big your arse looks in the change room mirrors at the shops, you can’t ever really check your form with your own eyes. Having a coach to weed out your weak spots and correct your form is where you really start seeing results. Turns out Shannon is completely underwhelmed by my awesome bench press abilities, because I have a lot of weaknesses in my back, which we’re fixing. And of course, a coach can always get that extra rep out of you.
So I’ve already seen some impressive results with my body fat loss and muscle gain. Most importantly, I feel better: lighter, more clear-headed and very focused. I read a quote from an Olympic rower recently, who says ‘What I deserve, I earn’. It makes sense.
I don’t want to be as good as most people – I want to be as good as I can be. Unfortunately, there’s no way to get there except with hard work, discipline and sacrifice. No matter how many stories you tell yourself, the real truth is in the results: whether you’re getting the ones you want.