Many people don’t follow their diets and workouts for varying reasons…lack of time, life gets in the way, their boss is potbellied and is jealous of them and makes them work long hours every day and so on.
But there is also another reason people fail. It’s in the metrics that they measure success by.
Screw up these metrics and you may think that your fitness motivation is gone…when in fact it is not.
Let me illustrate with a story. After all who doesn’t like a good story! I got this story from the book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.
This book is on the New York Time’s Best Sellers List and ranks No. 6 on Amazon’s Best Sellers’ List in the motivational category. It’s not your traditional motivational book but I like that it’s written in a real life tone without a ton of scientific terms or fluff.
What’s your metric?
Dave Mustaine was the founder of legendary heavy-metal band known as Megadeth. Mustaine is considered one of the world’s most brilliant and influential musicians in the history of heavy-metal music.
Megadeth sold over 25million albums and toured the world many times over performing in various continents.
But before Mustaine founded Megadeth he was part of an even more widely popular heavy-metal band known as Metallica…. from which he was kicked out from in 1983.
Part of the reason Mustaine founded Megadeth was to prove to Metallica that he could be better than them. His obsession and mission in life became to show Metallica how good he was and how fat and drunk and unsuccessful they would become eventually.
Unfortunately for Mustaine, Metallica sold over 180 million albums worldwide compared to Megadeth’s 25 million…..a factor of 7 times!
And because of this Mustaine considered himself a failure! Come on dude!!!! You are famous, rich, have busloads of hot chicks screaming for you and you think you are a failure?
But despite all that he accomplished, in his mind he would always be the guy who was kicked out of Metallica.
The Wrong Metric
Mustaine measured himself not by the millions in his bank account, or by his hundreds of thousands of fans but by if he was more successful than Metallica.
And his choice to hold on to this metric of measuring himself according to Metallica’s success continued to hurt him decades later.
Now if we were to measure our own internal metrics like ‘I earn enough money to send my kid to a good school ‘then Mustaine seems very successful.
But by his own metric of ‘be more popular and successful than Metallica’ he is a failure.
Which Metric Do You Use
Do you measure yourself and progress by what some random dude at your gym is benching or squatting?
Or by how healthy your buddy eats compared to you? Or how much more flexible the girl next to you is at yoga class?
If you do this you can be setting yourself up for failure.
Early on in my fitness journey I use to compare myself to power lifter guys. These guys were amazingly strong dead-lifting 600lbs and squatting 450lbs.
This sort of comparing almost made me quit working out and I felt intimidated because I could no way even lift quarter of what they were lifting.
For weeks my metric wasn’t how hard I was working out or how closely I stuck to my diet. It was ‘oh my I am such a weakling compared to these guys’ instead of ‘I am trying my best and getting stronger and leaner week by week’.
Can I now move the same amount of iron like they can? No way!
Do I feel bad about it? Hell no! Looking back I was so stupid. This brings me to some of the other metrics that can create problems for people.
Problematic Metrics & Values
According to Manson the following metrics and values creates problems in people’s lives. I am going to try and apply these to fitness and health – where I can. Here they are:
Always being right
This one is pretty easy. No one knows everything. If you think you know it all then you never take advice from anyone.
If this is your attitude you could be sabotaging your health and fitness goals as you would close yourself off from useful information.
I have also found that if you can’t admit that there are things you don’t know then you wouldn’t seek out advice that could shortcut your route to success.
Experts in all fields agree that expert advice is one of the quickest and fastest route to success saving you lots of frustration which occurs when you try to figure it all out on your own.
Staying Positive (yes but be real).
Some people measure their lives by how positive they are. Lost your job? Great! Now go explore your passions.
Husband cheated on you? Wow cool….now you are learning what you mean to people around you.
Nothing is wrong on staying on the sunny side of life but sometimes life sucks and you just got to admit it.
According to Manson, constant positivity is a form of avoidance, not a valid solution to life’s problem.
For example when I was overweight and wearing size 44 pants and XXXL shirts my good buddy and I would go chat up girls whenever we went out.
The results: Zero dates and lots of false phone numbers for both of us.
My friends would tell me all sorts of positive things such as ‘a boatman doesn’t become a captain unless he has seen rough seas’ and words like that to encourage me further.
Female friends even told me that I was too good looking and that the girls were intimidated by me hence why they gave me wrong phone numbers!
Armed with the knowledge that I was a hunk (according to my female friends) and a boat captain in training navigating rough seas (according to my male friends) I went forth with renewed confidence.
The result: Same as above. Zero dates and lots of false phone numbers week after week.
But along came the fitness bandwagon which I jumped on and after 6 months of training and shedding fat and packing on some muscle the new result:
Girls blushing at me, lots of real phone numbers and dates!
So if you are not getting results from training or dieting then being more positive may not be the answer.
Positive thinking should be backed up by positive doing. But make sure that you are positive doing the right actions.
To deny reality would mean never improving or succeeding as you would be too scared to even admit that you are not seeing your abs or cannot fit into your small t-shirt.
Manson calls pleasure the ‘false God’ defining it as the most superficial form of life satisfaction and the easiest to obtain and the easiest to lose.
He says that people who focus their energy on superficial pleasures end up more anxious and emotionally unstable and more depressed.
If you think about it, if we focus too much on the pleasure of tasty food and chocolates and beers then our bellies and waist lines would reward us for it.
At the same time if we focus too much on the pleasures of working out: a good body, abs, girls of all sizes and shapes and colors then we could be hurting people around us like friends or family, spouses and kids.
When I caught the fitness bug I was obsessed! No one saw me for months as the gym was my new found castle. Even my dog thought I was some stranger.
I didn’t see aunts and uncles and parents too often either. Such a lifestyle cannot be healthy.
Now I make sure to spend time with family and friends and engage in more social activities.
While being healthy and looking good and fit is a great thing don’t fall into the trap of measuring your self- worth on it.
There is a concept known as the ‘hedonic treadmill’. Not an actual treadmill btw!
The hedonic treadmill theory says that we all have a set level of happiness that we always return to.
When good things happens that level of happiness goes up…but only temporarily as it returns to the original set level.
Also when bad things happen we feel crappy for a while but then also return to that original set point level of happiness.
If you base your self-worth on your abs or on the size of your biceps then after you have achieved that goal then what?
Yes you may feel elated like Superman temporarily but then after a few weeks or months after your happiness have returned to its original level then what would you do?
So you find yourself in a’ treadmill like state’ (walking but going nowhere) always trying to achieve more and more material pleasure and success but with no increased happiness.
Some authors suggest that you should also focus on spending time with people that you enjoy, pursuing a passion or hobby and spending money on experiences rather than material things.
I do think it’s important to be proud of what you have achieved and the fact that you are taking care of your health and being disciplined is a commendable effort on its own.
But remain true to yourself. Maybe help another guy who is struggling. I have seen too many guys get all hooked on their look and how strong they are, sometimes even looking down on other guys.
If life circumstances were to take away your ability to train and maintain your physique then you would end up depressed and lonely.
So remember choose your measures of success the right way. Give yourself the gift of health and fitness but don’t let the wrong metrics cause you to fail.
Pick up a copy of the book here for some really awesome life tips that’s not the typical same ole stuff that you read every day.
Manson lays it as it is and is not afraid to offend anyone…but he keeps it real. And real is what gets the girl…oh I meant the body and fitness!