The end of January is upon us & hopefully you’re all well into adopting your new lifestyle goals as I am! Progress report to follow later with pics & metrics.
Anybody who has been playing this lifestyle change game for any length of time knows as well as I do that the odds of making a successful change seem stacked against anyone.
I think it comes down to the framing of the persons’ beliefs about what they are attempting to do. Over the decades that I’ve been helping people make changes to their lifestyles (the last 10 of which as an RD) I can tell you that one common theme has emerged to those who were successful vs. those who were not. This belief was that those who were successful were able to mentally wrap their heads around & commit to the fact that they were making a lifestyle change and not just forgoing some things they like for a bit. Furthermore, these individuals were also able to replace the intent of the original behavior and avoid the usual roadblocks & pitfalls that more often than not occur with lifestyle changes. As anecdotal as that is, it’s based on 10 + years of experience and real results. Let’s call it results based practice.
Let’s break down how these people succeeded.
1) They truly understood and committed to a holistic lifestyle change – therefore, they adopted new daily habits in the realm of activity, eating & sleeping. This means that essentially they redesigned their life with their ultimate outcomes in mind. This requires time & effort & commitment. Tim Ferris explains the concept of redesigning ones’ life extremely thoroughly in his 4 hour book series. However, you can do it simply by considering what your goals are & then planning out daily behaviors each week that will move you towards your lifestyle goals (i.e. consuming half my plate in low carb vegetables at every meal, etc…). The other important concept here is that these people embrace a HOLISTIC change and therefore were exercising more and consuming better quality food at the same time. Each behavior can feed forward on the other. For example, if you start your day, as I did this morning, with a 6 am CrossFit class, I am much less likely to each a load of crappy food later in the day, because I believe that would undo most of my hard work & don’t want to risk that!
2) They also implemented new thinking strategies and beliefs to help them become the best they could be. This keeps their focus on the goal and not the challenges. This is critical because of our reticular activating system (RAS) that controls our focus (among other things). This is the system responsible for you noticing the same model of car that you are thinking about buying or same breed of dog that you just got. Dennis Waitley explained it best when he said it is like the guidance system in a torpedo/missle. Without it, we just fly around aimlessly. Unfortunately, the RAS only knows IMPORTANT, not whether it’s good or bad (i.e. move towards or away from) and therefore if we focus on the things we are NOT wanting to achieve (i.e. don’t eat the cake), our RAS kicks in understanding only that we value CAKE & then we see every crumb of cake from here to Tim Horton’s. The successful people are able to control their mental focus only on the goal or replacement behaviors, which means they did the work to plan out replacement behaviors, etc…
3) One final important distinction is that these successful people reduced their exposure to or eliminated completely processed foods. This is extremely important because of the fact that processed foods are engineered chemically (that’s correct) to stimulate us to over consume them. It should be illegal, but it’s not. The bottom line is that if you want to maximize your odds for success remove processed foods from your diet while you are trying to burn fat otherwise you will be regularly undoing the progress you have made!
When I say processed foods I am referring to any food that is changed significantly from it’s original form before eating. We’re talking well beyond junk foods here (those are so obvious I won’t mention them here). Examples of processed foods include but are not limited to:
– Legume products (lesser extent) – as soon as these become powders & added to other items or pressed into shapes they are essentially as processed as Grain products, but even when consuming them whole they must be cooked for significant lengths of time before consumption, which makes them moderately processed. A quick caveat is that some people do fine with these included in their diet due to the “safe starches”. However, for fat burning I would include them as a carb and not a protein.
– Dairy (lesser extent) – this is not really true when dairy is RAW from cow, but unless you are getting it directly from your back yard Heffer or a local farmer, it is often illegal (whether just or not) and the market therefore can get sketchy. If you look at pasteurized milk, what is it, it is de-fatted sugar with some proteins present. That’s it. Yes, there are some vitamins & minerals present, but they are actually quite unavailable & there’s nothing that can’t be obtained from other good quality food sources. I personally have nothing against well raised high fat cheese, grass fed butter or fermented dairy like good quality raw full fat yogurt or Kefir.
Anyway, the bottom line is once you’ve shifted your thinking/beliefs to make a holistic lifestyle change and
then start implementing those daily behaviors, you are making solid progress! However, limiting your exposure to those processed foods will insure that you are not driven by chemistry to fall back into your old habits/lifestyle.
I hope this info helps you achieve your goal.
Be sure to check out my new website Canadian Minds on health where you can access this blog as well as my new YouTube channel (subscribe today)! I’m working hard to bring you my view on the latest nutrition research, as well as practical tips to help you achieve your goals & motivation to help kick start your success!
We’re expecting our second child in the next week or so, but I will do my best to continue posting blogs & videos as I am able to. I will probably look a lot more sleep deprived in the next 6 months worth of videos!
Take care & have a great week!