We all do it. The object of desire tempts and teases us. It invites us to give in and betray all that we know is right. It gnaws- prodding the next move, which is to indulge ourselves. You promise yourself this is the last time, until it happens again a few hours later. You’re angry, disappointed, and ready to give up. Now that you’ve given in, what’s the point of discipline and commitment?

When you’re hungry, there are physiological signals that remind you it’s time to eat. So without giving it much thought, you consume something. Pretty simple. If you’ve decided that you’re ready to lose weight and get in better shape, then WHAT you eat becomes more important. Now it’s time to make more sophisticated decisions when it comes to your diet, and the ability to avoid impulse becomes more important than ever before. First, consider your weaknesses. Are your portion sizes too large? Do you eat too many sugary snacks throughout the day? You must begin by analyzing yourself and asking questions. 

We are a society that thrives on instant gratification in every form. Whether it be fast food, technology, or exercise gadget infomercials advertising false promises- we’re seduced by a quick fix. Make no mistake, very little worth having in life comes without sacrifice and hard work. It’s cliche, I know, but it’s damn true. Successfully changing your body requires you change your mindset as well, and this may very well be the most difficult part. 

When dieting for a bodybuilding competition, I’ve fielded many questions on the subject of temptation. When asked how I avoid giving in, it’s difficult to put into words. My philosophy has been cultivated out of experience in the daily art of “going without.” Eating becomes less arbitrary and more precise. There’s a purpose in each macronutrient that facilitates the whole process, and giving in is not an option. If the goal is clear enough and the drive strong enough, then very few things will sway you. When you strip away the useless fluff in life, you expose an authenticity that you’ve perhaps never experienced before. The best part is that it’s within your control. There’s a depth of mystery, and maybe even fear when beginning a diet/exercise program with the intention of change. Accompanying physical alterations are powerful mental changes that are difficult to establish, but equally difficult to undo once they’ve become habit. 

A slight deprivation of society’s daily pleasures must be a gradual shift, as an abrupt disconnect may  hinder future progress and cause even more frustration. What you want is to slowly let go of the things that bring you instant satisfaction, and in doing so you become both mentally and physically stronger. If you need to lose weight, why not invest in home exercise equipment instead of buying a new T.V. which will only encourage sedentary living? Think about pursuing only things that will bring you closer to what you need, not what you desire. Desires are usually quick fixes that bring temporary enjoyment in life. What you’re after here is clarity and better control. 

Unlike impulse, delaying instant gratification offers a reward that is sweeter and long- lasting. 

The mindset that one must have in order to stay dedicated to anything in life must be focused. I’ve never met a successful person, athlete or otherwise, who gave in to instant gratification on the level that the average person does. The difference is preparation and consciousness. Temptations will come, probably every day in some form, so you must be ready to confront and deal with them. Prepare to elevate yourself to a level that not many are willing to go. Trust and education yourself, have compassion for your failures- yet don’t indulge them too long. If you fall, get up. Briefly consider what you’ve done wrong, and get started on figuring out a solution. You won’t believe what successes await you.