Weight Loss: How Mentally Tough Are You?

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Embracing the suck! I need to stop whining and restart my outdoor 5k training, regardless of the temperature. Adversity in any form makes me stronger! Image courtesy of Freedigitalphoto.net and papaija2008.

Embracing the suck! I need to stop whining and restart my outdoor 5k training, regardless of the temperature. Adversity in any form makes me stronger! Image courtesy of Freedigitalphoto.net and papaija2008.

Lately I’ve whined to the hubby a lot about the weather. You see, it’s just too cold to go outside to train for my 5k. Sure, I could go to the gym and run on the treadmill, but I hate running on a machine. My solution? No running.


During yesterday’s snowstorm, I sat down and listened to a great new podcast — Spartan Up. Produced by the creator of the Spartan Race, the podcast focuses on success and “everything required to create it.” Featuring interviews with successful people from all walks of life (authors, athletes, CEOs, explorers, etc.), one particular episode really hit me hard.

If you’re trying to lose weight or get fit and need some motivation, this podcast is for you.

Choosing Easy Over Adversity
Former Navy Seal and creator of SealFit Mark Divine discussed mental toughness. Its something I’m seriously lacking when it comes to exercising outside this winter. According to Divine, our society desires the easy fix rather than embracing adversity. By opting for the easy way out (like staying indoors), I’m not getting stronger and it makes it easier to excuse other types of bad decisions.

A person’s spirit soars when challenged. When you push yourself, you discover you’re capable of doing way more than you ever thought. The easy choice is easy, but it doesn’t teach you jack.

One particular comment by Divine resonated greatly with me:

“Life is made up of the quality of the small choices you make moment to moment. Rarely by the big choices.”

Should I go to the gym this cold morning? Did I track how much cream I added to my coffee? How about that hour wasted watching cute puppy videos on YouTube rather than going on a run?

Those things may seem trivial, but the choices I made this morning, along with the hundreds of other little choices I made throughout the day, have an cumulative effect. Those choices show up every Saturday morning during my weigh-ins. Next week, they’ll show in my blood work for my physical. Added up, these little decisions dictate how fast I reach my weight loss and fitness goals.

My before and after photos during the 2014 Gold's Gym Challenge.

My before and after photos during the 2014 Gold’s Gym Challenge.

What Is Mental Toughness & How Do You Get It?
Divine defines mental toughness as developing enough control so you take the time to notice when you’re about to make a bad choice unconsciously.

Saying I’m too busy, or there’s not enough hours in a day, or operating on autopilot, doesn’t cut it. I need to train myself to pause long enough to look at each small choice, see what’s wrong, and pick the best option.

It sounds simple enough, but that doesn’t make it easy. This takes time and lots of effort. But it is so worth it. The better the choice, the healthier I get. And my health is worth the effort.

Yes, these jeans use to fit me snugly.  I'm down 133 pounds so far. Knowing my "WHY" was key to getting me here.

Yes, these jeans use to fit me snuggly. I’m down 133 pounds so far. Knowing my “WHY” was key to getting me here.

Know Your “Why”
Another key to mental toughness is set a goal. A goal that’s yours and yours alone.  That way, when adversity rears its head…and it will…you’ll meet the challenge head on.

In the past, I’ve set a goal of losing “x” amount of weight.  Each time, I failed. After a slight gain in weight, a plateau or binge, I’d give up. That’s because I really didn’t know MY “why”: why was I doing this?

Losing weight is a good goal. My doctor, family, and friends all told me I needed to lose weight. I was morbidly obese, it was pretty obvious. But losing weight wasn’t my goal. Certainly not a goal that deeply meant something to me. Otherwise, those past setbacks would have never stood a chance against me. Because losing weight wasn’t important (enough), I nudged myself into bad choices, resulting in lots of regret.

After my umpteenth time of trying to lose “x” weight, it was time to sit down and get to know my “why.”

At 325 pounds, I was a depressed workaholic, boarder-line type 2 diabetic on high blood pressure meds with a family history of heart disease who was eating herself into an early grave. I didn’t want to be filled with regret at the end of my life because I let my weight and health stop me from living the life I always wanted.

My “why” was no longer about losing weight, but living my life for the first time. The 133 pounds I lost along the way turned out to be an awesome bonus.

Analyzing Little Decisions
This coming week, I’m going to work on control – taking the time to look at each decision, no matter how small.

During another Spartan Up podcast, I got a cool idea to help me with my mental toughness. Before making any decision, I’ll ask myself “Will this help me lose weight?”

  • What’s on the telly? Will watching TV help me lose weight?
  • Let’s go out for drinks. Will drinking alcohol help me lose weight?
  • Do you want to go ice-skating? Will ice-skating help me lose weight?

Will this be a pain in the ass to do? Absolutely. But as Divine said during the podcast, I need to “embrace the suck.” It’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’ll make adversity my friend and get stronger doing so.

Taking the easy fix is no longer an option for me.

Check out the Mark Divine interview on Spartan Up below.

You can subscribe to Spartan Up via iTunes (audio only). Or you can watch Spartan Up on YouTube.

3 thoughts on “Weight Loss: How Mentally Tough Are You?

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