Then, in conversation with a client, I said the following:
"In order to get a result you've never had, you have to do something you've never done."
In the hours that followed, the quote stuck out in my own head (and I'm proud to report, for my client as well), and I began to take a look at things I have never done:
1) Rely on my own adrenaline for workouts (without pre-workout supplements, coffee, etc). The article by John Meadows on T-Nation reinforced this thought. Article HERE.
2) Give up alcohol completely, for training/body composition reasons and not for Lent or before a vacation. Typically, I would be the first one to get sleepy during a night on the town during the weekends, and I would have trouble staying up doing work past 9pm, especially if I had a drink with dinner.
3) Avoiding simple sugars, in the form of candy and chocolate. Typically, I would 'rationalize' my cheat meal or candy meal by saying I did it on a workout day, and I would also say that it was 'too complicated' to get my carbs from quinoa, oatmeal, beans, etc. HELLO EXCUSES!
My 3 Simple Fixes, spread out over the past 3 months:
MARCH: No coffee. This allowed my sleep quality to improve, the amount of times I hit the 'snooze' button on my alarm to dwindle from 5-6 times to me waking before my alarm, and me to substitute green tea. Adding in green tea was great as a substitute: it was the warm drink I was craving early in the morning before my first client, and the antioxidant content in green tea cannot be disputed or ignored. Another reason I validated my ignoring coffee: it's one of the most widely sprayed crops in the world.
TOUGH or EASY? First two weeks were tough, but after the first 14 days, the strength to continue avoiding coffee began to build, and it has now been over 9 weeks and I don't miss it one bit.
APRIL: No alcohol. This was a big move for me! Being Irish, living in NYC and typically needing a night out on the weekend to de-stress usually added up to drinking some sort of alcohol on more than one night (usually Thurs-Sat nights). The looks on people's faces, and the questions you're asked when you tell them you're not drinking is counter-intuitive:
"What diet plan are you on?"
"Is everything okay?"
"How long are you doing this for?"
"But I heard wine and beer are good for you!"
Really, you'd think I'd contracted some sort of disease, that this was more difficult than doing a marathon, and that those people telling me of the 'benefits' of alcohol were Sommelier's.
TOUGH or EASY? Easier than I imagined; waking up the morning after having 2 drinks (after not having any alcohol for 28 days) on April 28th and feeling like absolute crap reinforced how much more productive and efficient I am when not hungover or needing a nap after a night of poor sleep. Will continue to avoid alcohol except for special occasions.
MAY: No Candy/simple sugars. To date, this will be my toughest challenge (probably why I saved it for last). Combine my sweet tooth (ask my dentist), my love for chocolate, and the spa ladies I work with who store chocolate and candy in bowls for their mani-pedi clients, and I am completely surrounded by sugar in its simplest form. Yikes.
TOUGH or EASY? Time will tell, but I'm currently 3 days in, haven't had candy or chocolate yet, and plan to 'snack' on gum when the cravings hit, sprinkle pure cocoa powder on greek yogurt for dessert, or have seltzer water with a dash of flavoring.
Since I've started this new challenge, I've realized a lot:
- energy levels are more consistent
- sleep is WAY deeper than I can remember
- abs are more noticeable than ever before (final phase of ab program coming out next week)
- I've become more of a role model to friends, family and clients via my actions
- I only need naps 1-2x/week (instead of feeling like I needed one everyday)
- I use less pre-workout product than ever (typically half of what I used to)
- My taste buds recognize flavors more distinctly (and I appreciate them more too!)
- Low-blood sugar episodes haven't occurred; my workouts are always done to completion and never cut short
- I've set personal bests in 5 lifts (in 6 weeks of a new program)
MOST IMPORTANTLY: Body fat levels are down 5% since March, and 3% since April. Currently, at 9% and going strong (and this is WITHOUT cardio).
Want results quicker than 3 months? Try this, in succession, instead:
- 2 weeks no coffee (sub: green tea)
- 2 weeks no alcohol (continuing to avoid coffee)
- 2 weeks no added sugar (continuing to avoid coffee and alcohol)