“This year, I will work hard and achieve the body of my dreams!” It’s a New Year’s resolution we all know too well, and one that somehow manages to slip into our list – Every. Single. Year.
Recent reports have stated that the “spiralling rate of obesity is far bigger than just a health issue, obesity racks up a staggering bill – at least £5.1 billion for the NHS and tens of billions for the UK every year.” These health issues are leading us and the future generation to pay these bills through our already incredibly high taxes. Moreover with social media’s pressures, today, there is more urgency than ever to get in shape and lead a healthy lifestyle.
As appealing as it sounds, it’s a struggle many of us face.Artefact spoke to Sam Walker about his incredible fitness journey, as well as the founder and director of Harley Therapy, Dr Sheri Jacobson, to explore what stands in the way of achieving our goals and what we can do in order to overcome those obstacles to benefit ourselves and society with a lean mean body.
In one year, 22 year-old Sam Walker transformed his body beyond his expectations. Having lost 70kg (154lb), he is gaining attention on Instagram and becoming an inspiration to those looking to begin their own transformation. “I always had some issues with body image and how I looked but I really let myself go since high school. I decided to go and do something about it,” started Walker.
“I was a depressed, overweight 160kg (353lb) man who was looking for change, I don’t remember fear being a part of it,” said Walker. “The human species hates change, but I don’t believe it’s a reasonable excuse.” Despite research stating that humans fear change, Walker’s fitness journey was an exception. Since September 2017, he has continued to move towards the goals he set out for himself from the very start, “I’m still, today, training for my original goals I set out one year ago. I’m my biggest critic and I suck at taking compliments.”
Dr Jacobson confirmed the fear and discomfort people may face with change, “It is true that our primal, ‘lizard’ brains are programmed for survival. And if a change is registered by this primal part of our brain as threatening, then we can have a fear response, even if we logically don’t think it’s threatening.”
However, despite having a ‘fear of change’, the personality of the person comes to play an important role in the process. Throughout her career she’s understood that some people “are driven and always seek change” whilst others “want things to stay the same because it makes us feel safe and comforted.”
Walker relates himself to the former. “Knowledge on training and nutrition, 100%,” Walker explained. “A lot of people do one side of this equation really well, generally it’s the training side. Training gets addicting and it’s enjoyable, everybody loves the post-session endorphins flowing through your body. But where I believe the majority of people fail is nutrition.”
Shawn M Talbott, PhD and nutritional biochemist said that: “As a rule of thumb, weight loss is generally 75% diet and 25% exercise. On average, people who dieted without exercising for 15 weeks lost 23 pounds; the exercisers lost only six over about 21 weeks.”
Walker shares the same views: “I’m a strong believer that losing weight is around 70/30 to 80/20.” Walker began his fitness journey on an ‘Eight Week Challenge’ at a gym called F45. Throughout the eight weeks, he was training in classes as well as following the meal plan provided, “I ate 100% meal plan for every challenge. Nothing but challenge approved food,” said Walker. Thanks to the guidance in nutrition, today, he has gained understanding on the importance of it in the process of weight loss.
In 2016, a study found that 26% of adults are obese and 35% are overweight in the United Kingdom. This highlights the fact that more than half of adults in United Kingdom are unaware of what and how much they should be consuming on a daily basis.
Dr Jacobson says that “life experience creates the core beliefs that would affect how we relate to change.” She explains that our traumatic experiences can make us fear change, however she also goes on to say that: “those with traumatic childhoods can be accustomed to navigating the fear response. They have it more often, and develop strategies for handling fear.”
“Set goals and understand WHY you want them. If your ‘WHY’ is serious enough, and you believe in it, I 100% know you will be successful”
– Sam Walker
However, those who have had easier childhoods might steer away of change due to their lack of experience with it. “They might also be used to ‘fitting in’, to being the normal, reliable type,” she shared.
Other than fearing change, we discussed the possible fear of achieving our goals that may be holding us back. “Some people are afraid of success, some people thrive on it. If we were afraid of success it would generally be because we have hidden beliefs that we would suffer if we succeeded,” says Dr. Jacobson. “Life coaching suggests that for each thing we gain in life we must lose something.”
This means we would for example lose friends due to their jealousy or becoming lonely due to our difference. In this case, she advises “identifying what each win means we stand to lose, and then getting comfortable with that, we make our path to success easier as we are less likely to sabotage. And if we decide we can’t face the price of the achievement, we can change our goal.”
“It’s fucking difficult staying strict,” says Walker, “the best advice I’d give is literally set goals and understand WHY you want them. If your ‘WHY’ is serious enough, and you believe in it, I 100% know you will be successful in your weight loss or any journey on that matter.”
“Some people are afraid of success, some people thrive on it.”
– Dr Sheri Jacobson
With time, our motivation naturally tends to slip away and we can easily begin to talk ourselves out of whatever we were planning on doing. By understanding what and who you are doing this for, you can keep yourself motivated by reminding yourself of why you began. Walker finishes off by saying: “Cut out the bullshit, hit your protein goal from the start and believe in yourself.”
Life coach Tony Robbins, in his book Awaken the Giant Within, speaks about the importance of changing our association. He explains that we have to make our association of the discomfort and fear of not doing something to be greater than the fear and discomfort of doing it, in this case, that would be what we are eating and how often we exercise.
If you, however, are struggling with body confidence that may be holding you back, Dr Jacobson recommends shifting focus on what your body is capable of doing and enjoying it with sports or other activities. She also talks about practicing mindfulness: “It helps us be more in our skin, present with our bodies and what they do for us.”
However she explains that “if body confidence is a deeper issue related to things like poor parenting or childhood trauma, then it might mean working with a therapist to discover and process traumatic experiences and repressed emotions that are causing you to not like yourself.”
Now, with New Year’s being around the corner, how can you achieve the long-awaited resolution and not face yourself putting it back on the list?
- Establish if you have a fear of change holding you back. This tends to develop from a cause. Try and figure out yours before dealing with it.
- Figure out why you want to start. Really dig into it until your answer gets your excited and motivated to start first thing tomorrow, or even right now.
- Once you have your why, work on your association with that goal. Begin associating discomfort and fear with the idea of not doing it rather than the difficulties you will face by doing it.
- Educate yourself on diet. Take the time to do the research and find the right people to talk to who are educated in the area. As we have established, it turns out that our discipline and motivation isn’t required for the early morning grinds at the gym as much as what we are putting into our mouths throughout the day. You’ll end up losing motivation due to lack of results and be back to where you started.
- Practice mindfulness. Become more in touch with your body, it will help you appreciate your body and enjoy your process even more.
- And lastly, follow Nike’s wise words, “Just do it” – the first step can sometimes be the hardest.
Featured image by The Lazy Artist Gallery via Pexels CC