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“Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a month. We overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade."

- Matthew Kelly

Now not tomorrow

The future isn’t as strong as the present. When it comes to diet and training, we all tend to look at our-self in a favourable way - don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we don't dislike the way we look or feel, no, we tend to over-estimate our future abilities and under-estimate our present ones. For example, people tend to overestimate how much weight they can lose in a week or month and underestimate how much they can transform in a year. You just must look at the popularity of 7-, 14- and 21-day diet plans. Go ahead type it in and see how many options come up. This quick fix approach is the biggest hurdle I have personal faced with my clients. Crash diets, wedding plans, holiday six-packs. They used to be my bread and butter. When achieved, by the time you get to day three on the beach the belly is back along with a low mood. Part of the issue that we have is what I call the 'unconscious calculation error', for example, think about eating a healthy salad and exercising frequently (in the brain that's much better than the sandwich and crisps you may have eaten in the past), we say tick and tick, 'I'm going to lose a lot of weight today', and then we say no to those unhealthy foods and snacks 50 times a day, every time we do that, the brain starts to add it up. So, 'I've eating a low calories salad and eating protein, I've done my 7 Minute Morning workout, I said no to like 10,000kcal worth of snacks that I was offered or was craving, I'm going to lose 8lb today. Urm….

You stand on the scales and unconscious calculation Error appears 'What only 1lb' you shout. There we have it. the calculation of effort, effort to exercise and eat healthy and effort to avoid unhealthy foods stacks in the head and give us a very unfair sense of effort vs reward. Then we stand on the scales and think '1.5lb for a whole week of misery isn't worth it'. We assume that we can easily lose 2-3lb each week for 10 weeks. Ending up between 20-30lb lighter. However, this happens less than 5% of the time for the general weight loss market. This calculation error is met by another bias too, the competence bias. We believe that we have the focus, the willpower, the dedication to achieve a little weight loss, after all we did (enter one of your big achievements). This future promise gives us a false sense of self control and prohibits us from taking the control in the here and now 'I'll start Monday mindset takes over.

When you start a programme like this one, you are making a future promise. A promise that you will look better, a promise that you will feel better, be more active, eat more healthily. The promise you make yourself becomes so big in fact, that you must act on it. There often is a final moment that leads to the desire to change, for example, someone saying you’ve gained weight, your big clothes feeling tight or seeing a picture that gives you the ‘enough is enough’ action mindset. The birth of this fresh motivation gives you the focus and energy to adopt these new lifestyle changes and so your health and fitness journey is born and here we are.

The issue with any future promise though, is it’s too far away so it makes us delay our actions, under the illusion we have all the time in the world. I’m in it for the long run we say.

You see, future promise is ‘delayed accountability’. We are letting our future self-manage the problem we have created today and assuming or hoping they will be in a better position to deal with it.

I’ll deal with my diet tomorrow, or I’ll be better from Monday, is the slippery slop to undoing all of your hard work or to never getting any result at all. When you say this, you are assuming that come Monday, your energy and time will be renewed, today’s problems will be long gone, and you will have all the energy and time in the world to fully commit. Of course, your brain wants to believe this, better to save homework to the last minute and rush then to do it now, right. Many of us are programmed by delayed accountability. When the future comes, though, you will just push it back again and again, because no doubt the time and energy you thought you’d have doesn’t arrive, I know, I’ll start next month. better yet, the new year. Until the situation gets so bad it becomes extremely hard to get even started. But you are listening to this, so you have started, congratulations to you.

The power of now

But if you want to avoid this situation, you must never rely on the future, as we do not have a crystal ball, we can not predict what tomorrow will bring, so we must act in this moment like mature adults with our health. I know it means forcing self-discipline and that isn’t always easy, I know. But, unless we break this delayed tactic, we will never be in the control seat and be able to take control of our body and health. So, we must accept responsibility and take ownership in this very moment.

During this new routine, you will have to battle with the internal voices that are trying to regain control of your rational operation system. You know that voice that says, ‘just one won’t hurt’ or ‘start Monday, you will be more focused then’. You might be tempted to make a deal with a future self. I’ll eat this now; you can deal with it tomorrow. This instant gratification makes a promise that it simply won’t keep. When you do that, what you are doing is removing the guilt of the action, you are convincing yourself that you should just have this one and you will deal with it at X time in X way. The issue is, when you break the seal, it just encourages you to do it again, you will make a thousand concession, until you start promising for the future further and further away. Tomorrow ill workout more, Monday l go hard, start of the month and go all in, near year is the best time, summer holidays I’ll have more time and so on and so forth. When does it bloody end. Well, it doesn’t. For most people, they will be in the never ending up and down battle of the flab for life.

This happens to us all, but it’s the exact formula that will guarantee you will not succeed with this plan. You may correct it some days and struggle others. But it will mean you will allow your old habits to live on, the pain of self-punishment to be your main driver and you will never learn to take control of the here and now.

To beat this unconscious calculation error and avoid delayed accountability you must act in the here and now. These tactics are you brain trying to help you avoid the pain of self-criticism, disappointment and starvation. But, unless you take the controls, you will always be controlled about these unconscious behaviours.

So, what should you do instead.

If you eat something, count the calories and train now. For example, if you eat sugars, and move within 90 minutes your muscles use the energy of those sugars and they are less likely to sit on the body as additional fat cells. The now, is the only time. IF you are out for a meal and wanted to overeat and promise yourself something in the future like I’ll do a 2-hour jog for the next 3 days, you are simply lying to yourself to remove the pain and making you future self-suffer for you presents self’s gratification. It’s totally unnecessary though. You Can enjoy a meal out but all or nothing type mindset, the future promise, the delayed accountability must stop, or you will never achieve what you want for yourself and body and that’s simply not good enough. Instead follow the steps I’m about to lay out for you. instead count the calories, adjust your calories for the next day, or even better, plan your food ahead of time by reviewing the menu.

The goal is to create an immediate response. Don’t delay. This body change starts as an emotional issue for most, but should move to a way of life, a way of living in the here and now and focusing on the right behaviours and habits, ones you are willing to keep for your life. Breaking the future promise, overcoming the calculation bias and acting proactively or even reactively but without delay will add up to amazing transformation that lasts. You will be slimmer, leaner, stronger, have less disease, be able to wear nice clothes, still eat foods you enjoy but in a controlled way without it making you give up.

After all tomorrow is a promise to no one, do not use delayed accountability. Your future self will be even less willing to deal with the problems you’ve’ created.

You must learn to deal with the issues in this way.


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