When most fitness enthusiasts talk about resistance training, they’re talking about strength training using weights, resistance bands, or machines. You know, the stuff you do in the gym to get stronger, lose fat, or build endurance.
But there’s another kind of resistance training that is just as important. Maybe even more important. It’s training yourself to resist the stuff that’s bad for you.
Whether you have a weakness for ice cream or beer or sleeping until noon, learning how to avoid the “easier” path of giving in to what tempts you is a key component of getting fit and staying fit. Your mind needs resistance training as much as your muscles do.
I used to dread getting out of bed when my alarm went off, but the only time I had to workout was before work, before the kids were awake, wayyy before I really wanted to. So I set the alarm for 5 a.m. The first 10 times that alarm went off, resisting the pull of my pillow and warm blankets was a real battle. But eventually, it wasn’t so hard. Eventually, it actually wasn’t hard at all. Now I wake up five to ten minutes before the alarm, every day, and getting up and working out is just what I do. No resistance necessary.
The easiest way to start resistance training your brain is simple avoidance. By not bringing crappy food in your house, for instance, you learn how to resist the urges you have to eat it. For instance, say you typically have a bowl of ice cream after dinner, and it’s become so much a part of your routine that it’s hard to imagine life without it.
Step one is obvious – don’t buy ice cream.
Step two – when you have the urge for ice cream, pay attention to what it feels like. It’s a feeling, a hankering, a desire, not a compulsion. You’re in charge of whether you act on it. Don’t.
Step three – wait it out. When that “oh my god I need ice cream” feeling passes, congratulations. You’ve just logged a resistance training session.
The cool thing about learning resistance skills is that they build on each other. It’s fairly easy to not eat something that you don’t have access to (like ice cream in the example above). But as soon as you realize to that you CAN overcome those “gotta have it now” moments, you can start applying that new skill to times when it’s harder. Like when you go to a party and you want to shove an entire wheel of brie in your face.
Training yourself to resist the things that are bad for you, to eat reasonable portions instead of ridiculous ones, to get up early to workout instead of staying in bed for an extra, these aren’t just skills that will help you get fit or healthy. They’re skills that will help you in all areas of your life. Finding strength inside yourself that you might not have realized was there… that’s powerful.
Whether you’re developing inner strength or muscular strength, it’s pretty clear that you’ll get best results through resistance training.
What have you trained yourself to resist? What tricks have helped?