Our Bodies Just Want To Survive
One of my guiding philosophies is this: if it were easy, what would it look like?
It’s something I got from Jon Goodman of the PTDC when I was working through my Online Trainer Academy certification.
For someone who can quickly get stuck in analysis paralysis, this is a wildly important consideration in anything I do since it enables me to take action much quickly.
One thing I’ve long noticed is that the diet and weight loss industry (other than being largely crooked) seems to make things far more complicated than it needs to be.
Changing our body composition isn’t that complicated. In fact, it’s quite easy to lose or gain weight - at least from a conceptual level.
To lose weight, simply be in an energy deficit for a certain amount of time.
To gain weight, simply be in an energy surplus for a certain amount of time.
In either situation, whether to preserve or develop lean muscle mass, be sure to provide your body with the necessary stimulus to do so (e.g. lifting heavy weight).
That’s all there is to it.
Now, I only map it out like that to prove a point. I’m well aware that the actual implementation of this is a bit more challenging. We have well established habits and environments that don’t necessarily support the behaviors required to get either or those outcomes.
So I’m not trying to downplay any challenges you may have had.
But here’s the thing, I’m fine with a little bit of a struggle. It feels good to work through things and come out better on the other side. But struggling does not mean that we need to suffer. And sadly, many of us are.
Body composition changes require work. They are tough. But they don’t need to be as tough as we often make them.
And here’s how we can shift our mindset a bit to help make things a bit easier.
At the end of the day, our body wants nothing more than to survive.
And survival requires adaptation. It’s not the smartest or the strongest that serves, but who can best adapt.
Our body is the perfect machine. It takes given inputs and produces certain outputs. If you change the inputs, you’ll get a change in the outputs.
If you’re at the gym lifting the same weight you’ve always lifted, your body has no reason to adapt. It may have had to at one point in time when that was a new weight for you. But that’s now a thing of the past.
Muscle is very metabolically active. This is great for you but not so great for a body that knows that more muscle means a greater need for calories. And to our primal monkey mind, calories are not guaranteed.
So, to develop muscle we must make sure that we convince our body that we really need it. The requires lifting the right amount of weight (heavy) and eating the right amount of food (a lot).
The latter holds true for trying to lose weight.
Our bodies are hesitant to put on muscle for the increased calorie demand, but our bodies are equally reluctant, if not more so, to release significant amounts of body weight.
Small fluctuations happen every day but from a survival standpoint, losing weight is not a good thing. Our body would much rather have more body fat on hand in the event of famine.
So once again we have to convince our bodies that we really want to use up some of its precious body fat.
To do this, we need to combine the right amount of movement with the right amount of food.
Ultimately what we’re after is that we need to give our bodies what it needs to do its job.
Create the environment, develop the behaviors, show up with consistency and persistence, ready to put in the effort.
Do this, and change will come.
Just remember, your body works overtime to keep you alive. Be nice to it along the way.