Deprivation or dedication? It's just a matter of perception.

Updated: Sep 5, 2019

A funny thing happens after you commit to your training, clean up your diet or prep for a contest. People seem compelled to comment on the trials and tribulations of dieting and a 'healthy' lifestyle. They lament that they couldn't do it, they've tried before and failed miserably due to numerous reasons that are completely out of their control. Or they spin it to put you in the spotlight. 'Are you sure you can't stay out later?' 'Do you really need to train that day? It's just one time.' 'Here, have some dessert, it's delicious!' 'Please, have seconds!' Sometimes it's an innocent passing comment, or honest curiosity. Other times, you've explained the reasons for your focus on your health a number of times, but the other person seems to be oblivious to your efforts and intent on criticising or derailing you.

I've handled the sceptical glances and classic comments of 'you're looking thinner, are you eating enough?' while I dieted into my first competition. Some of my family and friends didn't seem all that accepting of it, and just didn't seem to buy my enthusiastic and informed discussions about the changes in my attitude and choices around food. Yes, I did look thinner. That's because I had ignorantly eaten my way out of shape in my teenage years. Funnily enough, on my first 'diet' I actually ate far more than I used to. I ate more than most people. It's just that I ate better foods, consistently. I felt better, both mentally and physically. It did wonders for my self-esteem and inner dedication and ability to believe in bigger goals. But I've found that if a young female wants to lift weights, build muscle, eat a healthy and balanced diet that's rich in protein, and starts to question the mainstream beliefs about women's health and body image, then she will probably be looked upon like she is a poor, naive little thing under the spell of the latest diet trend. I resented the implication that I couldn't and didn't think for myself. Seriously? I did my research and meticulously monitored my body and its bio-feedback. That's not really open for others to doubt.

It's easy to accept a slightly plump, under-muscled, book smart yet not all that physically active young woman as 'normal' because that fits our social concept of the female body and her professional career trajectories. But just being 'average' isn't for all of us. It's not a bad thing. Many people are blissfully happy leading a simple and full life. Others aspire to bigger things. Neither one is better and we really don't have the right to judge another person for their choices and ambition. But if you truly desire something above and beyond what's average, there's really no other option than to make it happen. It's encoded in your brain. You can't stop thinking about it.

If that's you, then be prepared for other people just not getting it. And that's ok. Because while some people will see your discipline and dedication as unbearable deprivation, you'll smile and realise that it's all just a series of steps along the long road you are destined to travel. You alone will understand that you thrive on the journey. You know that you will revel and take pride in the results that will unfold.

Yes, it takes work.

If it requires consistent work, you create a routine so that it's not missed.

If you want to lose body fat, then you probably need to be a little strict in your diet for a period of time. How long? I have no idea, there's a hundred questions I'd need to ask first before I could tell you. But it'll be more than just a week. To create fat loss and keep it in motion, you need to tell your body a particular story. You can't jump around and confuse it.

Yes, it takes time.

If it takes time, you make time.

If it demands a lot of time, you say no to other things. You learn that to say 'no' is one of the most empowering things that you can do. Sometime, this may be that you say 'no' to an incredible business opportunity, but it's just not the right place at the right time. It may be incredible, but it leads you astray from the path that you're committed to. You usually can't be excellent in multiple things all at the same time. Other times, it might just mean that you need to stick to your guns and say 'no, thank you' to an offer of canapés and cocktails at a birthday party because your priority is to lose body fat and these foods will only just set you back. Plus, you didn't really even want them in the first place.

If it's a long road (and it always is) and progress is slow (and it should be), you keep your mind focused on the end game and stop to appreciate the little wins.

Yes, there's a bigger picture.

If it takes a toll on your body, you listen to your body and prioritise rest and recovery.

If it takes a toll on your long term health, you understand and manage the risk. You don't just ignore it. If you find this out later, you adjust and reset your priorities. You don't just stick to the same action plan if the key variables have changed.

You're in control.

You don't make excuses or 'feel bad'. You shouldn't feel bad if you choose to say no to bread and only eat the salad, and you shouldn't feel bad if you decide to have seconds for dessert because it is incredible. You are ultimately responsible for your choices, and you will never reach your body composition, health and performance goals if you can't stand up and claim your decisions when it comes to the foods you choose to eat.

You don't blame your genetics.

You don't sit back and wait for the results to come to you on a silver platter.

You believe and make it happen.

If you really want something, believe that you can accomplish it. You will accomplish it. It's just a matter of time.

And if it matters to you, it shouldn't be a chore. I admire people that put it the hard yards and do it willingly. These are the people that still continue to enjoy their lives as much as ever because they know that they are on the road to that thing they truly want.

So, what are you waiting for? Get after it.