What started as a relatively minor change in my diet, away from refined and sugary foods, has, over several years, developed into something more than I had anticipated. While many people adopt diets in pursuit of short-term goals, whether it is losing weight, increasing muscle, or improving health, the most successful approaches must take a longer-term perspective. In my desire to improve myself physically and ensure long-term health, I unconsciously began to adopt a lifestyle change. This transition manifested itself both the types and quantity of foods I ate as well as in my training program. However, I made these difficult changes to my life because I believe they will benefit me in the long run. The key to success is to make sure you are truly committed to making a change in your life and are putting in the effort for your own benefit, not for someone else’s.
More and more frequently, I hear my friends say to me “live a little” or “have some fun for a change.” These are most likely to occur in the dining hall, when I bring my third serving of dry turkey and raw veggies back to the table, or on a Friday night, after I refuse a second round at the pub. Having a long-term mindset allows me to brush off these comments and focus on my eventual goal. Just because some of my friend’s ideas of a good time include drinking more than a few beers and eating multiple bowls of popcorn at the pub doesn’t make that same activity fun for me. I get much more enjoyment out of beating a personal best lifting at the gym than getting drunk on the weekends. While these two things are not necessary mutually exclusive and this is not to say you can’t indulge in “unhealthy” eating or drinking once in awhile, there are costs associated with every action. Making the sacrifices to hasten the pace towards your goals is necessary, but you will only achieve consistency with your behavior if you are truly committed.
The basic message here is you should do what makes you happy because then the sacrifices necessary to achieve any desired outcome don’t seem so bad. Personally, I get the most enjoyment out of attaining a long-term goal. As a result, have improved my ability to delay short term gratification in exchange for faster progress. Keeping this perspective has helped me improve in my physical endeavors despite limited support from my friends whose interests are elsewhere.