How to make mental connection

Good Morning,

How are you champ?

The long weekend has come and gone and we hope you all had a great time enjoying this extra stretch of time to be with loved ones, family, friends and to be able to rest and recover!

I had a great weekend which started off with being SUPER PUMPED that the Raptors won their last game even though it took us till over 2 overtimes and had me on the edge of my seat.  Regardless of what anyone says, we are the only Canadian team in the NBA amongst all of our American friends and competitors and competing with a chance to win the playoffs  in Easter Conference Standings!

This weekend my wife and I started it off with an amazing outdoor jog and workout to get our minds cleared and enjoy the outdoors, we had the time to take our kids downtown and visit a slime making sale (great idea for entrepreneurs ages 7-10 years of age, visit Greek town for an amazing lunch and finished the evening coming home to watch a movie with our kids.

If you’re like me and took this weekend very slow, were a bit lazy and over ate you may be waking up this morning saying “Oh my goodness”, “I ate a lot of food, watched too much TV and now feel guilty!”.

For those of you who work out regularly, follow the 80/20 rule of eating (80% of the time its healthy, clean and based on your body types macronutrient mix & 20 % of the time its fun food) you won’t have any regret at all because long weekends, holidays and special occasions or events are meant to “Enjoy” and eat the soul foods that make us feel happy.

For those of you who don’t workout regularly, don’t follow ANY rules or eating programs (regimen) your may be feeling guilty this morning, feeling sluggish from not moving at all and feeling heavier (check your scale if you can) because you over ate and did so with no intention of keeping track!

Its hard to always be perfect and on point, and if your juggling a business, travel for work, taking the kids to practice every night, dealing with housework, lunches, homework assignments and the regular routine of juggling a family or work life balance it can be hard to be perfect when it comes to long weekends and getting started or serious about a fitness program,  especially when you have been so used to being sedentary, or not active.

This brings me to the 2nd of 5 Key Components in Making the Mental Connection to Fitness that id like to share with you and I hope after reading this you will be able to take some of this info and carry it as arsenal to help arm you with confidence, motivation and a more positive outlook for anything or any challenge you may face in your day to day life!


#2 Pain vs. Pleasure Theory

Why do some of us work overtime hours, why do some of us become entrepreneurs when clearly we know that we will have to be working more hours, working 7 days a week and sometimes will make less money or have less stable, less secure careers only to say that we are self employed?

Why so some of us go to bed early, so we can wake up at the crack of dawn to get ready to work out or drive to the gym? Why do some of us push ourselves past our comfort zones and hire a coach who we know will make us work harder, sweat more, push beyond our normal comfort zones each and every workout let alone have to pay $70 -$100 per hour just to help us exercise when we can always do it by ourselves?

Why do we often put things in our body like, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, excess sugar, fast food or processed food when we know deep down inside its not the best thing for us?

We all save money or spend it, we all watch our diets or don’t and we all take the time to take care of ourselves and our health or we don’t because of two words that for centuries have managed to control our human thought process and behavior…Pain and Pleasure.

Rule #1: All Human Choices & Behaviour are made to Avoid Pain or Gain Pleasure 

When it comes to motivation and why people do the things that they do, it comes down the simple science of pain versus pleasure.  In its simplest form, all decisions that human beings make are to either gain pleasure or to avoid pain. Any act can be broken down this way.  Why do you brush your teeth? Why would a woman spend precious time applying makeup, and teasing her hair before going out?  Why would anyone go to the gym daily, exercise and place their body under so much stress? All of these actions can be sliced down to an individual trying to attain pleasure and/or avoid the pain that an action is going to bring. It’s all pain and pleasure.

Rule #2: We all will Pay Attention and Do so Much More to Avoid Pain than they Will to Gain Pleasure!

No matter how you see it or want to admit it, all human beings want to both avoid pain and gain pleasure at the same time; its like a double edged sword,  they will do more for one than the other.  Procrastinating something scary or avoiding immediate pain is much more motivating than gaining immediate pleasure.  If there is a tiger chasing after you versus a suitcase full of money in front of you, which would motivate the average person to act quickly? Avoiding a certain amount of immediate pain wins over gaining immediate pleasure every time. Studies have demonstrated time and time again that people will do much more to avoid short-term pain than they will to gain short-term pleasure.  Look at fitness, exercise and eating healthy; so many people know it’s the best thing for you, will extend your life expectancy by min 5-10 years yet almost 1/3 of North Americans are obese, continue to buy fast food, smoke cigarettes and not join gyms?

Rule #3: Awareness and Perception IS Reality!

It’s the perception of pain and pleasure, not actual pain and pleasure that drives people. At first, this concept might seem a bit strange but a quick inspection makes it seem rather obvious. Since we don’t really ever know for sure what the future will hold, our brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex within the frontal lobe of our brain, is constantly making assumptions and judgements about the future. It’s this perception of future pain and pleasure that drives our actions. Unfortunately, it turns out that our perceptions are often very flawed, especially when it comes to things that are a bit more complex than running away from a predator or falling from heights.

Rule #4: Pain and Pleasure are Controlled by Time

Not only are we trying to avoid what we perceive to be painful and get what we perceive to be pleasurable, but timing also matters. We are focused avoiding immediate pain and we are trying to attain immediate pleasure. The closer something is to this moment, the more pain or pleasure we attach to it. Therefore, pain tomorrow is not as powerful of a force as pain today. Pain in a decade is absolutely far less motivating (or demotivating) that pain a week from now. This is precisely why most human beings have such a hard time saving money even though you can receive interest and free money by delaying spending.

As time goes on, our perception of pain and pleasure changes. Every decision you make results in at least one or more of the following: short term pain, long term pain, short term pleasure or long term pleasure. Short term always wins over long term unless there is a substantial amount of pain or pleasure associated with the long term avoidance of pain or gain of pleasure involved. Pain, or the level of perceived pleasure decreases with time.

Rule #5: Emotion Beats Reason When Thinking of Pain and Pleasure

When we prepare to make a decision based on gaining pleasure or avoiding pain, there is also an emotional aspect to the decision and a logical or more intellectual aspect to it.  How many times have you looked at some chocolate or delicious dessert placed in front of you and you ate it despite the fact that  you knew intellectually that you should not have the ice cream because your on a diet, had too many or are trying to cut back on your waistline?  How many times have you worn a brand new pair of sneakers outside on a day were the weather was not the best knowing that they can get dirty, yet you still did and in the end they got dirty?  We have all been there. Logically, you shouldn’t have the dessert or wear those bright white sneakers out when it was cloudy but emotionally, you wanted the ice cream or wanted to feel great walking in our new sneakers. What wins? Intellect or emotions?

One ounce of emotion wins over two even three ounces of logic every time! The pain or pleasure related to our emotions is hard-wired in our brains to be much stronger because it’s the primitive part of our brain that tells us to act rather than think ahead to the future.  This also further explains the reason of pain and pleasure by time. When something is going to happen now, it’s much more likely to trigger an emotional response in us than something that is going to happen decades from now.

Rule #6: Survival vs. Desire in the Pleasure & Pain Principle

Lastly, anytime we are placed in a situation that is scary, unknown or can cause danger our survival response is activated and everything else essentially shuts down.  This notion can be explained by thinking that pain and pleasure can be further broken down into things that are hard-wired for survival and things that are mere wants.  It’s easy then, to understand, that if something triggers a survival response, such as running away from a someone trying to rob you, it is going to override just about every other desire in that moment. When most people hear this principle, however they assume that the survival instinct is naturally going to be the one that is trying to avoid pain but that doesn’t always work the way you would think.

The desire to consume sugar or other addictive foods is the perfect example of something that is absolutely hard-wired. If you love sweets and someone puts a dessert or pastry in front of you, you are naturally motivated to eat the cookie. On more than one occasion, we are able to use enough sense or thought process and future pain to stop ourselves but over 50% of the North American population loses that battle every single day! You are hard wired to eat sugar to stay alive and while processed foods are only 100 years old, our genetics are over 100,000 years old! From a survival perspective, the more food or calories, the better. Your brain thinks eating the sweets means survival and not eating it means death!

Connecting Pain and Pleasure Principles Together:

The pain and pleasure principle is much more complicated than we would think. Many of us know that we are motivated to avoid pain and to gain pleasure, however, factors like, time, emotion, logic and survival versus desire all create a complex personal formula which influences us to act.

1.   We want to avoid pain and to gain pleasure

2.   What we want more is to avoid pain, even if we won’t get pleasure

3.   But we don’t know what is actually going to cause pain or pleasure so we have to rely on what we perceive to be painful or pleasurable

4.   Then the clock takes over and we focus on now rather than later and immediate pain or pleasure become magnified

5.   If for any reason emotion enters the equation, that element gets much more magnified, regardless of the type or reason

6.   Finally, if anything triggers our survival response, all else goes out the window because we are hard-wired to survive.

Putting The Pain and Pleasure Principle to Use in Your Life:

Everyone has specific formulas for what works for them. How can you use these rules to influence and motivate yourself to do the things that you want and need to do? For one, knowledge is power. Use the rules of the pain and pleasure principle to your advantage. In addition, think about what works for you. Knowing that your brain is focused on this moment, come up with ways of making future pain seem more real now.

Hope you enjoyed this email and it was helpful for you! If your looking to get help and get started on a fitness program with assistance, motivation and guidance, join our 60 Day Summer Shape Up Challenge and watch how easy it is to get results, learn new nutrition habits and be motivated before the summer hits with your new improved body.

To Learn more or join Click Here!

Have an amazing day your coach,

Dimitri Giankoulas

Dimitri Giankoulas

Fascinated since an early age by the potential of the human body, I have devoted my career and much of my private life to pushing beyond my own limits – and to lead others to personal health achievements greater than they thought possible. My level of commitment to each and every client is unparalleled in the industry. I try to bring energy, optimism, and pure motivational power to every one of his workout sessions. I have been in the fitness industry since 1997, working as a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, and ultimately Personal Training Director at various well-known gyms across the GTA. Combined I have over 11,000 hours of hands-on personal training experience.