The following is a guest post from Nick Sorrell, fitness coach and writer over at NickSorrellTraining.com.
Unlike most fitness pieces you’re used to seeing, this one is a little different in that it’s a story (written in 3rd person). Nick is known for being that long-time chubby kid who lost over 100lbs, but what most people don’t know is that he went through a vicious cycle of failure & disappointment after accomplishing his amazing feat. There was a lot of resistance. The weight started to creep back up. His mindset wasn’t in the right place. And the motivation started to drift away.
Luckily for him, Nick figured something out before it was too late…
This is a story of boy-meets-girl.
The boy, Nick Sorrell of Louisville, Kentucky, grew up believing he’d eventually meet “the one“.
The girl, Emily, from the small town of Centrefield, Georgia, grew up believing in everything except “the one”.
Nick met Emily during the summer of 2009, both freshly graduated from high school. And Nick knew (almost immediately) that Emily is who he had been searching for.
During the course of the following year, Nick (a long time chubby kid) lost over 100 pounds in an attempt to swoon his newfound love interest. Emily, impressed with Nick’s dedication to change his body and his life, decided to give Nick a chance.
And it was at this point I’d love to tell you how Nick and Emily went on to live a long and happy life together.
…except they didn’t.
This is a story of boy-meets-girl, but you should know upfront:
This is not a love story.
(cue the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack)
For a short time after Nick’s initial weight loss, he and Emily were like two peas in a pod. They were crazy about each other. And it seemed like all of Nick’s hard work had really paid off.
Anywhere he went, she went.
And anywhere she went, well… she just didn’t tell him about.
And that, my friends,
is what we call a turn in the story.
Slowly, during the following year, our two lovers began to drift apart.
Emily eventually moved on, found a new curly-headed boyfriend, got a job at a catholic school, and promptly fell head over heels for her new suitor.
Nick spent the next few months getting drunk and listening to Blink-182 on repeat.
Oh, and he gained 20 pounds.
The seasons came and went. And slowly, as he managed to let go of the 90’s emo kid music, Nick made his way out of his heart-broken stupor. Unfortunately, he found this staring directly back at him.
Extremely discouraged by his aesthetic set-back, Nick made the decision to once again take control of his life and shed the weight.
Except this time,
something strange happened.
Unable to get his mindset in the right place, Nick quickly found himself in a vicious cycle of failure and disappointment.
This was a multi-step cycle, with each step escalating and feeding into the next.
That cycle went a little like this:
- Disheartened by his failure he felt the urge to fix things immediately.
- This urge led him to making drastic and unsustainable nutritional decisions.
- These unsustainable decisions resulted in burnout and dietary failure.
- See Step 1.
Like I said earlier, this is not a love story.
This is a story of how a boy overcame fitness failure.
And a story about how you can, too.
Beating Fitness Failure in 3 Simple Steps
Step 1: Just give it another chance.
Leading up until Nick’s fitness break through, was the repeated search for motivation.
Or something like that.
Where as before, Nick was fueled by the thought of a pretty girl with dark brown eyes. Now, though, he was left scrolling through motivational memes and inspirational YouTube videos.
All in an attempt to relight whatever spark had died out.
Intermittently, Nick would find a flicker of inspiration. He would spend the following couple of days watching what he ate and crushing his workouts. But, as quickly as the motivation had found him, it left all the same.
The tail end of these cycles always ended in a similar fashion: a day of skipped workouts, meals blown, and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. At this point Nick would spend the next few weeks once again searching for some sort of motivation.
After more bouts of that process than Nick would like to admit, one morning he woke to find himself amongst the wreckage of the previous night’s failure.
It was at this moment that Nick simply got up, threw away the pizza boxes laying astray in his apartment, and made one single decision:
The decision to try again.
That same day Nick went to the gym, watched what he ate, and decided to just keep doing that. And that is what he did. Day after day.
- No motivation.
- No fancy quotes or videos.
- And no beating himself up over the night before.
I’d love to tell you what took hold of Nick in this moment, but I can’t. And to be honest, I’m not sure he knew what was different this time either.
But, since you’re here,
here’s my guess…
One of the hardest parts of jumping back on a diet is the fresh sting from your previous failures. Even harder than that is the fear that your goals are unreachable.
In order to really move forward, Nick had to be willing to let go of his recent failures.
The number one mistake people make when coming back from any failure is they feel the need to immediately make up for the damage that is done.
And that same mistake was one that Nick finally had to hurdle.
Realizing that he was living within a never ending cycle, Nick made a decision. Rather than attempting to fix the cycle, Nick decided he was going to break the damn thing. Instead of getting caught up in his repeated failure and the discouragement of his continued regression, he was going to start anew.
Because if the quickest way to never get anywhere is to stay focused on where you’re coming from… then it’s only by letting go of the past — and focusing on where you want to go — that you’ll ever get anywhere.
But, that’s just my guess.
You’ll have to ask Nick about that one.
Step 2: Have a Plan
Upon deciding to try again, Nick began looking back at his first major fitness journey; the time he lost 100 pounds.
Of course Nick didn’t have another 100 pounds to lose, but successes often leave clues in their wake. And Nick wanted to steal a few of those clues from his previous accomplishments.
When Nick originally changed his body, he did so by following a handful of simple guidelines:
- He followed a strength training program 4 days a week.
- He rarely did any cardio.
- He tracked his nutrition every single day.
- He ate a specific amount of food consistently.
That was it.
On the surface, you would think those 4 things above are the exact recipe for success. But if we look a little deeper, we can see the difference between what Nick had then and what Nick has now.
In the past, Nick had a plan and he followed it consistently.
No bouts of intense exercise or extreme dieting. Just the daily execution of a moderate nutrition plan and an exercise program he enjoyed.
This is where Nick got really real with himself.
Understanding that he was at a point in which he would naturally feel the urge to overdue things, Nick decided to outsource his fitness efforts. Now, Nick, a 100 pound loser, was no stranger to the fitness game.
But he was beginning to understand how easily we can get in our own way.
To offset this, Nick hired his first online coach.
Nick’s coach, some jacked Canadian, set Nick up with exactly what he needed:
- A strength training plan he thought Nick would enjoy.
- And a diet that would slowly get him to where he wanted to be.
There was nothing otherworldly amazing about the plans Nick was given. But Nick followed each of them as best he could. Regardless of motivation, how he was feeling, or whatever, he decided to just try.
And, as time went by, something started to happen.
Step 3: Remove Lifestyle Hurdles
Earlier we talked about how this fancy little tale was not a love story. And I think it’s important to retouch on that fact.
While Nick was able to bounce back from the depths of fitness-hell, it was not all sunshine and roses along the way. It wasn’t as simple as he just woke up and did, or that his Canadian Coach in shining-sleeveless-armor swept in to save the day.
No, this story is a bit more real than that.
And I think that is something we should talk about.
We’ve talked about how Nick was honest enough with himself to admit he needed help. But, that wasn’t where the self-honesty ended.
And it isn’t where it began either.
You see, Nick took a hard look at his own life and tried identifying the things that would offer resistance in the pursuit of his goals. Things that would hold him back. And, upon doing so, he discovered a few forms of resistance that triggered relapses or dietary crashes.
Oh, you want a few examples?
You’ve undoubtedly heard the advice “never go grocery shopping while hungry”, right?
Well, Nick had a similar problem. Except instead of grocery shopping, Nick’s problem was more along the lines of “never track your food when you’re hungry“. By attepting to track his food on the fly, Nick would often find himself justifying poorer choices with the sentiment of “I’ll just eat less later”.
Which, sounds good in theory.
Except when it actually came time to eat less later in the day, Nick would simply decide that he was too hungry and would try again tomorrow.
Here is a quick tip: how you do one thing is how you do everything.
You should probably write that down.
Realizing that tracking on the fly led to poor choices (read: fitness failure), Nick decided to pre-plan all of his meals the night before. Instead of trying to make it up as he went, he set himself up to enter each day with a plan already set.
And, like the kids say: boom.
How does this apply to you?
When beginning a diet you’re going to quickly encounter resistance. You’ll experience people and things that don’t want you to succeed. Like Nick, you’ll frequently find that these hurdles typically come in the form of your own friends or family.
The worst part of it all is that these hurdles you’ll encounter will very rarely be of ill-intent. And as such, it can be difficult to see them coming before they’ve already came. Whether it be your girlfriend asking you out to dinner or your grandma sending you a batch of your favorite cookies.
To combat these hurdles, we are going to have to implement strategies. Plans for avoiding these potential setbacks as they come. Each of us will suffer from different forms of resistance, meaning you may have to come up with a few different strategies.
If grandma’s cooking is your down fall, it may be unrealistic to just never talk to her again. In this case, cooking for her or suggesting certain meals may be a better idea.
If you girlfriend asking you out is what leaves you crippled, maybe try choosing non-food dates like laser tag or a hike at the local park.
The trick here is finding a strategy that works for you and the life you live.
So, there you have it.
A story of boy meets girl.
A story of overcoming fitness failures.
And a story told entirely in 3rd person.
Here’s to living happily ever after.
Or something like that.
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