Former Fat Guy Rob Cooper On Mental Mindset
How important is the mental aspect to your training and nutritional program?
How you think, and more importantly, what you think is possible is more important than the training or nutrition side of the equation. You get out of any program what you put into it, and if you don’t think it’s possible, or think it’s going to take forever, then you’re right. You have to believe that you can do it and then put your full attention on it.
Pro basketball players are so good at what they do because that’s all they do. They sleep it, they dream it, then imagine it, the practice it, they sacrifice their time on other things to commit to their game. Same with sprinters, golfers, artists, musicians or programmers. The people who are the best at what they do are the best because it’s what they love; it’s what they’re passionate about. They take the time to learn, and more importantly, learn from their mistakes. They’re constantly striving to be better, even by 1%, which makes them the masters of their game / art / discipline.
Yes, you can learn about nutrition and fitness as a hobby.
Yes, you can begin by doing 30 minutes of exercise three times a week and yes, you SHOULD begin.
Take that step. Then take another step and improve it just a little bit each day. Then improve a little more each week, each month.
Increase the intensity when you can, try new things, don’t hold one single thing as gospel.
Then change it up to keep the body guessing. Change your nutritional program, change the calories day to day, change your fitness routine every six weeks – whatever it takes so it’s not routine.
Challenge your beliefs. Consider the fact that what you believe might not be the truth, or there may be other options that you’re not considering because of what you’ve been brought up to know as true, like the dairy thing. Test it out – eliminate dairy for a month and pay attention to what happens – how you feel etc. Challenge the belief of needing meat protein every day – go vegetarian for a week or a month and see how you feel and what results you get.
Most importantly, find a role model that has gone where you’ve gone and knows what they’re talking about. Someone who’s been there and done that and can offer suggestions or that you can simply duplicate what they’ve done. Know that it is possible to lose an enormous amount of weight and get fit, or to even get back in shape if you let yourself go. Know that it’s possible and begin taking steps in the direction you know you should take.
Do you have any favorite sayings? Quotes? Anything that inspires you to be better, train harder or be more diligent with your eating?
My personal quote is “… anything is possible and nothing happens by accident…”
Basically, if you hold the vision in your mind, your body will begin to move towards that vision and you must take action on the steps to get there.
“an object in motion tends to stay in motion, while an object at rest tends to stay at rest”
Knowing this allows me to understand why it’s so hard to get moving, to resist taking the steps, but also that once I begin – the doors begin to open for me and the ball keeps rolling, picking up speed. Once you begin the habit of going to the gym three times a week, it gets easier and easier. Same with nutrition, once you begin learning about new ways of eating, healthier ways of eating, it gets easier and easier while the results come pouring in.
What happens when things don’t go your way?
I either take a break, realizing I need more rest or I kick things up a notch. Over the past 20 years of me doing this, I’ve come to understand that a plateau of me means one of two things – either take a break and recover or kick things up a notch.
Recovery for me means to rest for a week or two and double my nutritional intake. I use Sunrider whole foods exclusively – no whey, no supplements, no commercial products. I use far-infrared sauna therapy, massage, yoga and chiropractor. I have not gone to a doctor in the last 20 years with the exception of a pulmonary embolism I had after a weight training injury. I believe doctors are poorly educated in the ways of nutrition and simply prescribe pharmaceuticals recommended by the pharmaceutical reps. I take care of myself with food, thank you very much. Doctors, in my opinion, are excellent at trauma or fixing broken body parts and that’s when I would use them. PS, I have three medical doctors in my family including my sister.
I believe that everything is exactly right the way it is and I simply have to figure out the lesson. I weighed 475 pounds for a reason. I lost 300 pounds for a reason. I gained over 50 pounds of muscle for a reason. I am where I’m at right now for a reason and it’s absolutely perfect the way it is.
My thing is finding the lesson in it all. What am I supposed to learn from it all? Can I share what I’ve learned with others so that they may benefit or do I experience the lesson over and over until I finally get it and I can move on with my life in a new direction? Who knows? That’s the question isn’t it.
I’m also a big believer in non attachment (that’s a joke by the way – some times I have to explain them). A big believer in non attachment – I crack myself up.
But I digress…
If you’re attached to the outcome, you’ll never get it. The universe doesn’t work that way. I am very clear about what I want – and if I get it, awesome. If I don’t – that’s ok too, as I’ll enjoy the journey.
If things don’t go my way – that’s ok – it is what it is.
How do you deal with boredom in your program?
I change the program. Simple. I never do the same thing more than 4 weeks in a row and I’ll even change methodologies a few times a year – a few months of interval training, a few months of body building, a month of doubles (2x a day in the gym), then two weeks of training but no cardio. Then throw in a bootcamp or two.
I train in the gym,
I train outdoors in the park,
I walk, I stair climb, I run stairs, I use the Expresso Cardio bike, I row,
I do various sorts of bodybuilding techniques always changing things.
I have a personal trainer who develops training programs for me which takes the “development portion” of the program off my shoulders. She creates the programs and then I follow them.
In Ayurveda, my body type is referred to as Kapha-Pita. I’m a two dosha body type and I need stimulation on a daily basis. I can get bored quite easily and I know this, so I have to mix things up a lot to keep interested. The pita part of me is “fire” which generates my drive, so once I get moving, I keep moving.
For my diet – yes I can get bored with it as well. I don’t have a traditional diet by any means. I’m part vegetarian but I eat meat. I like meat and I eat the best quality meat when I do. You’ve heard the saying that “life is too short for bad wine” and It’s a major part of my philosophy. I like the best when it comes to anything that goes in my body. It’s the same reason I choose Sunrider foods. It’s the same reason I search out grass bed bison and only eat grass fed, open air chicken and eggs. I only drink distilled water and I only drink imported beer and the best wines.
Saying I’m “part vegetarian” does not honor vegetarians so I always use a disclaimer when I talk about it. I eat primarily a plant based diet for days or weeks at a time and then have meat for a few days – with the plants, then return to a plant based diet.
Having so much variety in my diet keeps my interest as well, so I don’t get bored. My Girlfriend is an excellent match for me. She’s a fabulous whole foods cook and we create some amazing recipes each week. A new recipe is featured each week on my blog, so if you like whole foods or are looking for something new to try, check it out.
The question is about dealing with boredom and the answer is as easy as saying “I change the program” but I felt it needed a bit more explanation.
How does missing a workout affect you?
I work a “missed” workout into my week. No worries. I train pretty hard, so an extra day of recovery time is fine. It’s also different which keeps the body off guard. A missed workout works to my advantage. Now, that said, I don’t plan to miss workouts, but I most certainly do not stress about it as that would be worse than missing the workout.
What do you do about it?
If I miss a workout, I just get back to it when I can. In the long run, thinking one year, five years or twenty years down the line, a single missed workout is of no consequence. Like I said earlier, it is what it is, so I consider it a positive thing.
How important is a reward meal or a cheat meal from a mental perspective?
A reward meal is critical, for many reasons. Mostly mental of course, where you get to simply indulge and just release any tension you’ve been keeping about it, but also physical, resetting your hormones.
I work a re-feed “weekend” into my program as well as reward meals.
I eat pretty clean as part of my day to day routine, and I enjoy it, so I don’t think of them as cheats. I drink wine on a pretty regular basis, but I know the difference between a “clean training week” or two weeks, then a relax week.
When I focus on something, I can go at it for weeks, then take a break and coast. I recover during the coasting.
There are four ways I look at training / nutrition:
1. Weight loss
3. Weight gain – bodybuilding / mass gain
4. Endurance sports
Each one has different methodologies when it comes to training and eating. It’s pretty hard to be in any two at the same time, so I believe that you have to pick one and stick with it for months at a time. I’ll do weight loss for a few months, then switch to weight gain for a month, then go back to weight loss. Then I might maintain for a week while traveling or doing some other project.
Reward meals / cheat meals fit into each of those systems in different ways.
I also plan around cheat meals or evenings out. If I know I have a meal out with friends / girlfriend, I make every effort to train right before so that the meal supports me. I work it into my schedule as it were.
I think the best way to summarize the question about cheat meals is to answer from the “stress” point of view.
Too much stress brings any nutritional or training program to a halt. Training stress stimulates muscle growth, but too much has our bodies eating itself. I once wrote an article about the benefits of simply letting go of all the “rules” around eating and training and it goes something like this:
Eat to live.
Enjoy your food, enjoy your life.
Have your goal clearly in place and take the action steps towards them – food / nutrition being one of them, but then allow room for some fun. The fun you allow yourself supports your goals. Know this – live this.
Eat well 80 to 90% of the time and you’ll get exactly what you want. You always get exactly what you want.