Dropping fat, achieving a six-pack, getting shredded, isn’t just calories in, calories out.
Something often disregarded is the mindset required to get there.
Anyone who has got seriously lean in the past knows there is a mental battle involved.
“Go on eat that extra serving of potato”
“You’ve worked hard this week, sack off that cardio”
“You deserve that big slice of cake, go on, take it”
These sort of thoughts creep into your mind all the time, especially in the later stages of your diet.
It is a mental struggle, the pressure gets greater and greater which could lead us to crack.
Having the right mindset in these situations can make or break your quest to shreds. Anyone who wants to get super lean needs to have unrivalled focus, they need to have sound habits in place and a really strong and profound reason for why they are doing what they’re doing.
Strong Reasons to Get Shredded
The first thing you need to get in place are strong reasons for doing what you’re doing. If you’re trying to drop some fat because you feel like it’ll make you feel better, or your mates are all dieting, or any other wishy-washy reason, you will not succeed. Your reasons aren’t strong enough.
You may have heard this called ‘finding your why’ and it is essentially the same. You need to ask yourself, ‘why do I want to drop fat and get shredded?’ and really go deep into it. Is it because you want to get healthier and live a longer life? Is it because you want to feel more confident in your own skin? Is it because you have a competition, photo-shoot or holiday to get ready for? Find your why, and use all the reasons you want to drop fat to help push you forward. These reasons need to be strong, if they’re weak, you’ll give in when times get a little tough.
For example, my client Mike came to me, explaining that he wanted to drop fat, get a six-pack. A few weeks in it was clear we weren’t making very good progress, Mike kept slipping up, missing workouts and over-eating. Mike would come to me and didn’t really know why it kept happening, he said he lacked motivation, didn’t have very strong willpower and would try harder in future. I stopped him right there and said:
“Mike, why do you want to drop fat?” he said the same as when he started “to get a six-pack”, I then continued “why do you want a six-pack?” this was followed by silence and finally Mike explained “because I think a six-pack will give me more confidence” great I thought, we have really found his why “so Mike every-time you think about skipping a workout, or eating off your plan remind yourself, you’re doing this to help improve your confidence, and that means a lot to you”
There on out Mike was a different man, he always completed his workouts, and stuck to his diet, sure he wasn’t always 100% on the money, but he was consistent enough to see results, he got his six-pack, he got the confidence he was after, because he had a strong reason to do so.
Hyper Focus to Get Shredded
When embarking on a diet you need to be focussed, and this focus needs to be taken to a hyper level when it comes to things like bodybuilding. That however does not mean you’re focussed on the goal all the time, because that is a sure-fire way to get disappointed and give up. The focus you have is on the process, the steps that are needed to get to your goal.
Take my contest prep for natural bodybuilding for example, I dieted for over 30 weeks, if everyday I looked at the scale and in the mirror and focussed on being shredded for stage I would get down right upset. I’d keep thinking to myself “I’m never going to be stage ready” and question why I was doing what I was doing and this could easily lead to me straying off course.
Instead I focussed on the process, I’d focus on the act of weighing myself, not the number on the scale, instead of seeing my body as not ready I would make sure to get in the right amount of protein, carbs, fat and total calories for the day, rather than getting caught up that my glutes were not striated I made sure to get my cardio and weight training done. By directing my attention to the processes I streamlined my journey to shreds, there were no slip ups, because I didn’t worry myself into breaking my diet, I didn’t miss training sessions because I thought I’d never be ready, I focussed on the work that needed to be done.
[bctt tweet=”Stay the course”]
By focussing on the day-to-day I didn’t get down, or fed up, I actually enjoyed going to the gym, I actually found making my diet interesting, fun. By removing the focus on the goal I alleviated stress, and could remove pressure, and in turn this allowed me to continue to progress. I didn’t look at what others were doing, I didn’t focus on where I wasn’t, I had hyper focus, on myself, on my day-to-day actions. This not only allowed me to arrive at my goal more effectively, but I actually enjoyed it.
Outcomes are the sum of our daily actions and therefore a goal without consistent action is useless. If you lose focus on the process, you don’t reach your goal, you fail. Plan your actions, as without doing this you are much more likely to fail. Break your goal into smaller more manageable chunks, this will help stop you becoming overwhelmed:
- Weigh myself
- Hit my nutritional requirements by the end of the day
- Go to the gym
- Get enough sleep
- Practice posing
Then when you succeed in one of these goals you’ll be motivated to move forward, continually moving in the right direction. Focus on each day, accomplish these tasks, because your progress is determined by how consistent you are at getting that stuff done. Do something everyday that moves you closer to your goal.
So next time you get frustrated, unmotivated or discouraged, think back to what needs to be done today, not on the months ahead. Focus on the task in hand, in the present moment, congratulate yourself for every little win you achieve.
You vs. You to Get Shredded
With this focus you now have you must be direct it towards yourself, not others. You’re not seeking shreds for anyone else but you, you have your own strong reasons. Don’t look to others to define your own worth and value, you can and will improve your physique above and beyond where it is now.
[bctt tweet=”Aim to achieve your own personal best”]
You may idolise others, be inspired by many, but remember we are all unique, and so avoid comparing yourself to someone else. You cannot control them, you cannot have their genetics, their lifestyle, so their is no point focussing on them. To do so is a waste of time and effort and could throw you off course. Track progress, look back at where you have come from, and use these as powerful motivators to push forward. This will keep you on track and prevent you getting frustrated or disappointed, for no reason.
Success is being better than your past self, not someone else, it is having the knowledge that you gave your all to become the best of which you are capable.
Self Affirmations to Get Shredded
An affirmation, is a statement of belief, it is an excellent tool for the acquisition of your goals. Why? Because our mind is so powerful. Ever attempt a rep max and doubt yourself? You missed that rep right. You talked yourself out of attaining the goal.
Just like our mind can stop us progressing, it can positively enhance development. Whenever a doubt comes into your mind, or you find yourself thinking negatively, think back to your affirmation, soon enough those negative thoughts will subside.
My self-affirmation is Revive Stronger to me it means always progressing, improving and bettering myself, never satisfied, putting in the work to then Revive Stronger on the other side. This helps me to be as positive as possible about myself and my actions, so that I push out all the doubt or negative self-perceptions.
So I advise you to select an affirmation that means something to you, and any time you are struggling, say it in your head, know what it means to you and use it to keep you pushing forward.
Freedom of Choice to Get Shredded
As human beings we love freedom, and we have fought for years to achieve it. When we start a diet we automatically think of restriction; “I can’t eat this” or “I can only have half” and that restriction causes us great problems. Prohibition leads to negative thoughts and feelings, and that does not help us get shredded. If we hate our diet, we will not stick to it, and if we do not stick to it, we will not see the results we desire.
There have been countless studies showing that the more we place restrictions on foods the more we want them. I have talked about this before and it is called the “Last Supper Effect”, in that you know you’re starting a diet so then binge the days prior, making the process harder. You also no doubt know that when you prohibit something you begin to want it more and more. This temptation builds, eventually we break and we sabotage our fat loss mission.
In the Minnesota Starvation study this exact phenomenon was found, the subjects began to obsesses about food, they developed eating disorders, and this was due to the huge restriction that was placed on them. Not too dissimilar to modern-day diets, whether it low carb, low-fat, paleo or fasting they all put rules in place and cause us to obsess about food. This is why flexible dieting is such a valuable tool, it removes restrictions and gives us the power. Of course any diet has restraint, that is a given, you need to consume fewer calories than you use to drop weight.
[bctt tweet=”The mindset that leads to healthy eating is freedom of choice, freedom that is rightfully yours”]
However, that is a self selected restraint, you need give yourself permission to eat anything in any quantity, but you choose not to. You remove all rules and restrictions, you make the choice, you have the power, sure you get tempted but you understand that, you don’t resent it, you freely choose to not have the food. The more freedom you include the more self-control you can use. Make peace with food, realise you have the choice, it is not a punishment, you are deciding to do this, it is your choice.
Whenever my clients come to me asking what do I do when I am finding things tough but stay on track, I tell them to ask themselves:
“Will eating/doing this take me further to my goals?”
It isn’t as easy an answer as it might first think, of course you may say eating more than you’re meant to today will take you off course, and be a bad idea. However, what if you don’t have a time limit to get lean, and that small over eating allowed you to get back on track the next day? It may have prevented a week-long binge later down the line. Then it would be a good idea to go over one day. But, maybe you really don’t want to do your cardio, but you have a competition in a months time, you realise then that by missing this session you are taking yourself away from your overall goal. So whenever such an occasion pops up, ask yourself this important question.
This also reminds us that it is our decision to get shredded, no one else is making us eat, or train this way. Which when things are tough is important to remember, so we do not take it out on others. I know there were times for my client Rob when he was struggling to keep it all together, and so he would vent to me, and I’d always remind him that we are doing this to ourselves, so don’t take it out on anyone else. This is why having a coach to talk to can be invaluable when trying to get contest lean.
Keep Perspective to Get Shredded
Sometimes when dieting we get so wrapped up, we are hyper focussed on the day by day, we are in a sense selfish and block out the world. We get so set in our ways that we lose perspective. You must realise that the world doesn’t stop for you, you’re still expected to do your job, your partner still wants to go out and socialise, maybe have a meal out.
My client Stephen came to me explaining how no-one understands why he can’t eat out, why he isn’t drinking alcohol and he is getting annoyed and angry. Everyone else was having so much fun and eating all these incredible foods, and he was finding it really hard. So hard he wanted to lock himself away, ignore his friends, so he could focus on the task in hand.
Stephen had got so hyper focussed he has forgotten to have perspective, the world doesn’t evolve around you when you diet. Remember that there are bigger more important things going on, so your diet is hard, bringing up kids is harder. So what your diet is hard, recovering from long-term illness is harder. By keeping your attempt to get shredded in perspective you realise it isn’t all that hard. This makes it easier and gives you more power and drive to stay on track.
[bctt tweet=”Put your diet on the back-burner”]
The key here is to put your diet on the back burner, it isn’t constantly on your mind. It is just something you’re doing alongside your life right now. You eat in a certain way and go to the gym, workout and that’s just what you do. It isn’t some massive all-encompassing monster that takes over all your energy reserves and focus. At least for the most part of your diet, there may be a few occasions when trying to get super lean for a bodybuilding show it takes over, but in relation to the whole diet it is very small period of time.
Embrace the Suck to Get Shredded
When we are eating very little, trying to lift heavy weights and doing cardio it will get hard. Diets are hard, there are things in life that are more difficult, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that restricting energy intake is not something our body wants to do. You will experience hunger, you will have low energy levels, sure we can do our best to avoid this through proper nutritional programming and sensible weight training but there will come a point that it gets very hard.
[bctt tweet=”Embrace the suck”]
The key is to embrace this, as Dan John puts it “embrace the suck”. Use the sign of hunger, low energy levels etc. as a sign that things are working, if it was easy you might question why everyone isn’t shredded right? So we know it is going to get tough and we need to embrace that. Because there does become a time we inevitably become very food focussed “what can I eat?” “what can I fit into my macros?” I remember a time I would spend hours on the internet looking up low calories recipes and searching for treats to have once I finished my diet.
When this happens you need to remember to adjust your focus back to the day-to-day processes, suck it up and get back to focussing on the processes required to get to your goal. Not everyone will have to go through this, but for those of you with goal to step on stage you will go through periods that really suck, they are to be expected. Push through, embrace it, and know you’re going to be tired, lethargic, but you can get through it, do the work and persevere through it and come out on top. Jeff Alberts goes over this brilliantly in the above video.
Fat Loss Mindset Summary
As you can see there is a lot you can do in addition to nutrition and training to get yourself set up for streamlined shreds. Often the hardest battle is in your head, and by using the strategies above I assure you you’ll stick the course and drop that unwanted fat.
Develop Strong Reasons
Develop a You vs. You Battle
Make a Self Affirmation
Realise you are Free to do as your please
Suck It Up
I strongly believe if you get your mindset right your body will follow, and when it comes to getting shredded there is a lot playing on our minds, so by going through these 7 steps you will set yourself up for success.
- The ‘Get Shredded’ Series Part 1 (Food Selection)
- The ‘Get Shredded’ Series Part 2 (Environment)
- The ‘Get Shredded’ Series Part 3 (Sleep)
- The ‘Get Shredded’ Series Part 4 (Weight Training)
- The ‘Get Shredded’ Series Part 5 (Supplements)
- Smith, C. F., Williamson, D. A., Bray, G. A., & Ryan, D. H. (1999). Flexible vs. Rigid dieting strategies: relationship with adverse behavioral outcomes. Appetite, 32(3), 295-305.
- Urbszat D Herman CP Polivy J (2002) Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we diet: Effects of anticipated deprivation on food intake in restrained and unrestrained eaters J Abnorm Psychol 111 396 – 401