Simple Wisdom for Life

Recently when going into the notes app on my iPhone, I made an unexpected discovery.  Please understand that I’m not in the habit of using this feature and will typically shoot myself an email or text when I need any sort of reminder.  But for some reason, I opened the app and was surprised to find an entry from October of 2016.

First of all, I don’t remember ever adding the notes, to begin with.  More interesting is the fact that I just purchased my current phone last Summer of 2019.  In October of 2016, I was using an iPhone, however, it was issued to me by my employer at the time and I’m no longer with that company.  So how did a note I made on another phone show up in my current?

Yes, I am a morning person.

Being the curious sort, I reached out to my local Verizon store and they had no idea.  Who knows, it must have been stuck in the cloud.  Anyway, the crazy thing is that I still don’t remember making the notes.  Further, in writing this post, it’s clear that these insights came to me over the broad course of my life starting in early childhood right up to recent years.  Ultimately, I am grateful and now compelled to share what I found, and hope this in at least some small way adds value to your life.

  1. Having a Spirit of Gratitude – From Andy Andrews

    Andy Andrews has been a mentor to me for over twenty years through his books and other resources.  I’ve seen him speak on several occasions and he’s truly one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever known.  One of my favorite quotes from his book, The Traveler’s Gift, is “It’s impossible for the seeds of depression to take root in a thankful heart.”  

    This is a powerful statement.  Whatever you give focus and energy to in life will be manifested.  If you choose to place your focus on your doubts, fears, or any other negative situation, you will only make these things worse.  But if you will have a spirit of gratitude and focus your thoughts and energy on the positive, you will inevitably live a happier, more hopeful, and fulfilled life.

    And it’s a choice you make every day.  You can choose to be happy with what you have or you can whine and complain about what you don’t have.  You all know which is the better way to go.  Be a glass half full person…not half empty.   
    The last thing I do before turning out the lights at night is to list the handful of things I’m most grateful for that occurred over the course of the day.  It is a fact that we don’t think our way into action…we act our way into feeling.  And I promise, if you will take a moment to list just a few things that you’re grateful for, you will go to bed with more peace in your mind, heart, and spirit.

  2. Accept 100% Responsibility for Your LifeFrom Andy Andrews 

    This is a big one and while I have to give credit to the late great Jim Rohn for first sharing this concept with me, it was Andy whose teachings had the greatest impact.  It’s really simple…accept 100% responsibility for every area of your life.  This means the good and the bad.  You are where you are in life for the most part because of the choices and decisions that you’ve made.  If you don’t like where you are, make different choices.

    Now you might say, that it’s not your fault that you’re dealing with a certain negative situation.  And that may be true and yet you always have a choice as to how you respond to any situation.  When you place blame on some outside circumstances, you give away your power to affect change for the positive in your life.  So regardless of what happens to you, choose to respond in a positive way.  Be solution-oriented rather than problem-oriented and you will be all the better for it.

  3. Saying “Yes Ma’am and No Ma’am” – From Mom and Dad

    Call it old fashioned, call it Southern, call it whatever you like.  This is how I was raised from my earliest memories.  Obviously Yes Sir and No Sir were equally expected.  It is a sign of respect and giving honor to adults and it was drummed into my consciousness to the point that it will be forever an automatic response.  Whether you agree or disagree, you can never go wrong in showing respect and honor to your elders.

  4. Saying “Thank You” and not just “Thanks” – From Jeffrey Gitomer

    This may seem trivial and yet semantics are powerful.  One of my favorite verses from the bible is:

    Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”  Proverbs 18:21

    You literally speak your world into existence and taking the time and courtesy to say a complete thank you rather than just thanks will be appreciated.  It may be a small detail, but I promise the little things do matter and really add up. 

  5. Sending Thank You Cards – From Mom and Dad

    In our current age of ever-advancing technology and instant communication, sending a handwritten thank you card is a timeless and lost art.  There’s nothing wrong with sending a thank you text or email, however, if you really want to separate yourself from the masses, send a handwritten card or letter.

    My parents taught me as a little boy that whenever I received a gift of any kind or was the recipient of some kind gesture, a thank you note was an automatic.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  In fact, if you really think about it, it only takes a moment to craft a few well thought out and meaningful lines expressing your feelings of gratitude, and yet its impacts can be both powerful and priceless. 

  6. Doing Right v Doing Wrong – From Dr. Jack Graham 

    Dr. Graham has been my pastor now for almost 20 years and he’s fond of saying “It’s always right to do right and it’s never right to do wrong.”  In good faith, Mom and Dad did a great job of teaching me right versus wrong as a child however in my adult years, Dr. Graham has been my moral compass.  He is a bible scholar who teaches God’s word and he pulls no punches.

    One habit that I’ve developed thanks to Dr. Graham is a daily bible study including a chapter from the book of Proverbs.  For many years now, I’ve read a chapter a day which means I read the entire book once a month.  I can’t tell you the difference this has made in my life.  Proverbs is the book of wisdom and in particular, it teaches how important it is, to be honest, and ethical in every respect.  It is a high standard and yet it’s my goal to strive to be above reproach in every area of life. 

  7. Always Tell the Truth – From Mom and Dad

    Trust is the foundation for any relationship and honesty is an absolute building block for creating trust.  If there’s no trust, then there’s not much of a relationship.  It’s interesting how the lessons we learn as children stick with us all our lives and telling the truth is certainly one of the most critical.

    From the early influence of my parents to my daily study of God’s word, I do my best with this one and it’s always on my mind.  Telling the truth is not always easy but it’s definitely always right.  One lesson that I’ve learned the hard way is that telling a lie at the moment only seems to compound over time so that if you’re ever caught, the consequences seem inevitably worse than if you would have told the truth in the first place.

  8. Be Careful in Choosing Your Friends – From Mom

    This is a saying we all remember as kids however some adults seem to forget the wisdom of Mom in choosing their friends.  Your associations in life will make or break you so choose wisely.  The late great Jim Rohn and John Wooden, both brilliant men, used to teach at great lengths about the importance of choosing your friends and associates.  

    If you’re up to the challenge, make of list of the top ten people you spend the most time with and remember that there’s no such thing as neutral or treading water in life.  You’re either growing and moving forward in a positive direction or you’re regressing.  Now carefully look over and consider whether the people you’ve listed are lifting you up or dragging you down.  

    Depending on what you find, you may have some hard choices to make.  If it’s a negative work associate, do what you need to do to be loyal to your employer and fulfill your job.  Outside of that, be very careful with how you spend your time.  If it’s a family member that’s creating negative in your life, you may have to love them from a distance for the sake of your personal well being.  Family situations can be tricky so proceed cautiously.

    In any case, whether it be a friend, work associate, or family member, you really do need to guard your heart and mind by setting the appropriate boundaries.  Life is too short to allow negative relationships to drag you down.

  9. Play Nice With Your Friends – From Mom

    Getting along with people is a priceless asset and there’s definitely some skill involved.  Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, The Five Love Languages, teaches that we’re all uniquely wired to feel appreciation and love through gift-giving, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and touch.

    While the book is written for couples, the principles apply to all relationships in this way.  If you don’t understand how another person is wired to feel appreciation, then you might as well be speaking a different language.  That’s how far off our efforts can be to show appreciation if we’re speaking in a way that fails to connect with the other person.  People tend to show appreciation in the way they want to receive it and unfortunately, this can fall on deaf ears.

    If you want to be a better communicator and raise the quality of all the relationships in your life, study Chapman’s work.  Learn how you’re wired and how to identify how other people are wired so you can target your communication in the most effective way for your mutual benefit.

  10. If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, Don’t Say Anything at All –
    From Roxanne Parks


    You’ve all probably heard at least a version of this from your Mom as I certainly did.  However, it was Roxanne Parks, a business associate, and friend from many years ago who did a talk that I will never forget.  It was based on Philippians 4:8 which is another one of my favorite bible verses:

    “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

    One point that really hit home for me was the importance of focusing on the positive.  Roxanne said to be very careful when making a negative statement…even if it’s true.  In the spirit of Phil 4:8, if it’s not a positive statement in general or lifts someone up, why make the statement?  She said you never know how your words may affect someone else in an adverse way.

    Now it’s not a big deal, however, I still remember a co-worker in a team meeting of about 20 people speak very negatively about the game of golf in general and especially regarding watching it on TV.  Now I love golf and I’ve spent my fair share of time watching it on TV…especially the majors.  And again, this is trivial at best and yet here we are, roughly 15 years later, and I still remember her comments like it was yesterday.  Imagine the damage that could potentially be done if it was something actually significant and important.


    The second point Roxanne made that really stuck with me is that you can’t have a quality relationship with someone when you speak negatively about them behind their back.  It will poison your attitude toward them and there’s no way you will be able to hide your body language when you’re in their presence.  Plus you always run the risk of your words getting back to them.  Can you say fraught with danger?

  11. Have a Spirit of Forgiveness – From Dr. Graham

    Having a spirit of forgiveness is one of the hardest character traits to obtain and yet one of the most beneficial.  Dr. Graham will often say that a root of bitterness is an acid that will eat its container…or your soul.  That’s why when forgiving someone of some grievance, the person often most likely to benefit is…you.


    From personal experience, I will say that the sooner you take action in asking for forgiveness, the better.  The longer you wait, the more the Law of Diminishing Intent is going to work against you.  Basically the longer you wait, the harder it will be to do what you know you need to do.  You will be way better off to hold your breath, rip off the band-aid, and get it done.  

Closing thoughts for my readers:

We are living in strange times, to say the least.  I’m writing this at the start of my third week off due to the virus.  When one of my best clients shared with me just a few short weeks ago that it had been declared a pandemic, I would have never imagined how much could change and how fast.

The best advice I can give is to trust that we’re going to get through this.  Our government has the brightest minds in our country focused on figuring out how to best deal with the situation.  One of my favorite quotes from Napoleon Hill is: 

It’s the reason why my first point above is on gratitude which is directly tied to your attitude.  This situation is beyond anything we’ve ever experienced, and yet there’s still a silver lining if you’re willing to look for it.  For those who are with your family, value and cherish the extra time you’re getting to spend together.  If you’re single with extra time, take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect with old friends.

The worst thing you can do is overdose on all the negative.  Stay up with the news as needed but don’t binge watch it all day.  That will only bring you down further and make an already horrific situation all the worse.  Focus on the positive and expect only the best outcome from this and we as a nation and world will survive and ultimately thrive again.

Best of luck in your journey.

 

Posted in attitude, Christian, communication, Faith, Follower of Christ, forgiveness, guarding your heart, jeffrey gitomer, Jim Rohn, love, Napoleon Hill, personal development, personality styles, seeking wisdom, success, the power of associations, trials & tribulations, Uncategorized, wise choices | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I Know What I Should Be Doing…But?

How often have you heard someone say, “I know what I should be doing, but I’m just not doing it”?  As a nutrition coach, I hear this all the time as if it’s as simple as flipping on a light switch.  In reality, the gap between what you’re doing and what you think you should be doing can be bigger than you might expect.  It can be far more difficult than just making up your mind that all of sudden, after years of neglect, you’re going to start exercising and really clean up your nutrition. 

Simple? Maybe not.

The fundamental habits needed for sustaining a healthy weight for the long-term are:

  1. Learning to match energy intake (food) with expenditure (exercise)

    Balancing your daily energy intake versus output can be challenging to say the least.  As long as you’re attempting this based on external cues like counting calories or balancing macros or measuring how many steps you’re getting a day, you will struggle.  The key to balance is to learn to trust internal cues…not the feedback from an external method or device. 

  2. Learning to eat when you’re hungry and to stop when you’re full

    This may be the most significant of the four points because it eliminates emotional eating and eating to excess.  If you solve these two issues, you will never struggle with managing your weight.  And like the first point, this can only be accomplished by relying on internal cues.

  3. Get regular exercise balancing cardio with strength training

    Less than 25% of our population gets in the weekly recommended amount of exercise including strength training and cardio.  While there are many recommendations, 5 hours total per week is a great standard to strive for.  For example, 3 days of strength training combined with cardio on most of the other days would be awesome.  The cardio could be more formal like using a treadmill or elliptical however it could be as simple as taking a walk.  

  4. Get enough rest to fully recover

    Approximately 40% of our population gets less than the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Please don’t discount the latter as being simple or easy to do.  Each of the four requires a number of life skills that without, you will find it virtually impossible to execute these seemingly simple steps.  You see, most people possess certain limiting factors that make up the gap between their current reality and where they would ultimately like to be.

The following are a sampling from the coaching clients I’ve worked with over the years:

  • Not eating enough protein
  • Not eating enough fruits and veggies
  • Eating too many overly processed carbs
  • Eating too many unhealthy fats
  • Not drinking enough water

Look familiar?

Does this sound like anyone you know?  And this is just getting started with basic nutritional needs.  It doesn’t include the following other significant skills and behaviors:

  • Eating slowly
  • Eating to only 80% full (satisfied versus stuffed)
  • Planning and preparing your meals
  • Managing stress
  • Getting at least 7 hours of “restful” sleep per night

Are you getting enough?

The first five are obviously negative traits that need to be reversed.  The second five are some of the positive skills & behaviors that need to be learned and practiced with a high degree of efficiency in order to achieve the four skills mentioned above.  That’s ten areas of focus that will all take time to achieve a level of proficiency.

When I talk with a potential client during their initial consultation, they’re typically looking for a meal plan including how many calories to consume combined with a certain ratio of macronutrients to strive for daily.  In their mind, that’s nutrition coaching.  In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.  Handing out meal plans is not nutrition coaching.

A flawed strategy.

How many physical books are available on the subject of nutrition and exercise?  How about on the web in a digital format?  And what about hard copy magazines or articles online?  Between these combined sources, there’s more info than you could ever possibly consume in a lifetime and yet as a nation, we’re more overweight than ever and moving in the wrong direction.

Information overload.

The problem is not a lack of information, it’s a lack of ability to put the information to use.  That’s where nutrition coaching comes into play.  My job is to fill the gap between where clients are and where they want to be.  And most want it all upfront.  Unfortunately, tackling a list like the ten items above all at the same time would be a recipe for failure.

So how many of you know someone who prides themself on being good at multitasking?  You do understand that there’s no such thing as multitasking.  It’s impossible to run two cognitive processes in your brain at the same time.  What you’re doing is actually switching and switching makes you dumber than if you were smoking dope.  When you’re smoking dope, your IQ drops by about five points.  When you’re switching between two different and yet like cognitive tasks, it drops by about ten. 

One thing at a time is best.

Look, you can walk on a treadmill, chew gum, and watch a video on your phone, all at the same time and do great because you’re using different parts of your brain.  But when you’re driving with your phone, you’re either driving or you’re looking at your phone.  You can’t do both at the same time which is why driving while using your phone is so incredibly dangerous.  Add a cup of coffee to the mix and you’re a wreck waiting to happen.   

A lethal weapon!

So, when it comes to making changes with your nutrition, one thing at a time works the best.  You’ve probably heard that it takes at least twenty-one days to make something a habit.  That’s debatable depending on what you’re talking about.  However, when it comes to nutritional habits, two weeks seems to be a really good time frame.  

Depending on the person, you might be more wired towards going after the big rocks first, or you might prefer to start with the low-hanging fruit.  Either way, just focus on one area for improvement for a couple of weeks and then move on to something different.  Don’t forget about the first area of focus however shift your attention primarily to layering in the new habit.

The list of ten above would take about five months to work through and for some that might seem slow, but if the skills gained would last forever, would it be worth it?  If the second list of five, in particular, protects you from ever relapsing back into your old ways, would it be worth it?  In the big scheme of things, five months is nothing and this is just a simple example.

My average nutrition coaching client needs to lose 25 lbs or more.  At 6 lbs per month, which is very doable and sustainable, we’re still looking at four months.  So, for sake of perspective, my example above of spending five months to achieve your goals is really not that long.

Be careful about dismissing an opportunity for growth and change because of the time commitment.  The time is going to pass regardless and no matter how much you need to lose, if what you’ve been trying is not yielding the results you’re seeking, maybe it’s time to consider a different solution.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

If you’re someone who feels like you know what you should be doing, but you’re struggling to take consistent action and or achieve the success with your health that you’re seeking, then consider getting some help.  The most successful people from all walks of life have coaches for every area you can imagine…including nutrition.  

Quote by Jim Robbins

Beating yourself up for struggling to reach your health and fitness goals is like scolding a 1st grader for not being able to do college-level algebra.  They simply don’t have the skill set to do what you’re asking which is exactly like the limiting factors I’m referring to with regard to your health.

I listed only ten limiting factors at the beginning of this post.  When working with clients, I look at eight different categories totaling thirty-three limiting factors.  And any combination of these could absolutely derail you from reaching your goals.  

Remember, at some point in life, we all need a little help. 

Best of luck in your journey.

Posted in cardio training, Diet, fat loss, Health & Fitness, Nutrition, nutrition for better sleep, personal development, seeking wisdom, strength gain, success, Uncategorized, weight training | Tagged | Leave a comment

If Your Why is Big Enough…

As a master trainer and nutrition coach, I talk to a lot of people about their weight loss goals.  One statement I always make is that I want this to be the last time they ever start a weight loss program.  My purpose is to instill belief in them that they can be successful and also lay the groundwork upfront that we want to avoid relapse.

Surely you’ve heard of someone who lost a good bit of weight only to gain it all back a short time later.  The problem?  It could be many things however I would say that one of the biggest reasons is that “diets” don’t work.  Counting calories or balancing macros or going Keto or Paleo or whatever may result in some short-term success, however, these strategies can fail in the long run.

So, how do you achieve success in reaching your ideal body weight and then maintain it for life?  There are a number of core skills and behaviors to adopt and master but first, let me say that my purpose in this post is not to focus on the nutrition and exercise part of weight loss.  The following deals with the emotional side because after all, how we think controls everything.

First, we need to consider the three levels of motivation:

Fear-Based:

Have you ever received a bad report from your doctor saying you need to lose weight?  How about a friend or family member commenting that it looks like you’ve put on weight since the last time you’ve seen each other.  As a nutrition coach, I hear on a regular basis people complain that their clothes don’t fit and use this as a reason to lose weight.

While not positive, these can be great if they will get you into action.  The only problem is that without action, this type of negative motivation can wear off.  It’s called the Law Of Diminishing Intent – the longer you put something off, the less likely you are to do it.  So, if you receive any form of this fear-based motivation, my best suggestion is to get into action quickly, before it goes away.

Results-Based:

So, you get the bad doctor report telling you to lose 20 lbs and you take action.  You change your nutrition and you start exercising and after a couple of weeks, you’re down
5 lbs.  Now the next level of motivation kicks in.  You’re thinking after 5 lbs that you just might be able to reach your goal because you’re getting positive results, and so you’re all the more determined to move forward.

Two weeks go by and you’re down 10 lbs and a few weeks after that 15 lbs, until finally after a few months, you hit the magic 20 lbs.  Now one of two things could happen.  By the way, there’s no such thing as neutral or treading water in life.  You’re either moving forward or falling backward…there is no in-between.

If the only thing you’ve been fixated on is losing the 20 lbs, you may find yourself slipping backward.  This happens to many people because they only set short-term goals and once achieved, there’s nothing left to strive for.  The worst-case scenario is that you gain all the weight back which sets you up potentially to fall into the “Yo-Yo” dieting syndrome.

If you’re not sure of what I mean, it’s as simple as this.  If you go on any type of diet plan and lose for example 20 lbs, some will come from fat, but some will come from muscle.  Your best strategy for maintaining as much muscle as possible is to incorporate strength training along with your diet plan.  All the “cardio” in the world will not help retain the muscle that lifting will.

Let’s say you do lose the 20 lbs and the makeup is roughly 15 lbs from fat and 5 lbs from muscle.  Then for some reason, you decide to give up on your diet and go back to your old ways…slowly gaining back all the weight you lost.  The sad part is that most of the weight gain will be fat…with little muscle.  The only way to gain back the lost muscle is to earn it in the gym.

Now repeat this “lose/gain” scenario a handful of times in your life and you can see the damage that can take place.  Every time you lose and gain, you’re effectively increasing your body fat to muscle ratio.  This is a really bad thing that you want to avoid at all costs because your metabolism will systematically slow down as a result of the lost muscle.

The key to avoiding the fallback is to set not only short-term goals like losing 20 lbs but to also work on building in new and positive behaviors that you can effectively work on for the rest of your life.  This is the necessary action required to transition to the third level of motivation.  If you only set short-term goals, you will live your life in fits and starts.  If you will blend in long-term growth in conjunction with your goals, you will achieve far more and the ride will be much smoother along the way.

Inner Based:

I wish I could give this to you unfortunately it just takes time.  From the results of focusing on long-term growth and building positive behaviors into your life, you will reach a point where outside circumstances no longer derail you.  Your fitness journey becomes a way of life regardless of the curve balls that life will inevitably throw.  The key is a continued focus on both process goals in the short-term all while keeping a long-term perspective.  You simply move forward and persist without exception.

Focusing on small steps can really add up to big change.  Imagine standing at the bottom of a one hundred story building with a spiral staircase going to the roof.  Your task is to climb the stairs all while looking at the top.  As you can imagine, given the enormity of the goal, it could be quite overwhelming.

Now take your eyes off the top of the stairs and focus them on the step right in front of you.  Now take the step.  Not too bad, right?  Now, take the next step.  Still not bad, right?  In fact, it’s no more difficult than the one before.  If you will break your goals down into bite-sized chunks and focus on one little chunk at a time, you can walk to the moon.  The key is to simply not look up.

Now imagine that there’s a 20′ plank on the ground about 2″ thick and 12″ wide.  The offer is $20 to walk across the plank.  Do you take it?  Of course, it would be an easy $20.  Now imagine if the same plank was between two one hundred story buildings and I offered you the same $20 to walk across.  Would you do it?  Probably not, right?

Now, what if your most treasured family member in life was on the opposing roof and the building was on fire?  In fact, the fire is only a few floors below the roof and moving up quickly.  The only way to save your loved one is to cross over the plank and carry them back to safety.  Would you do it?  Of course, and without hesitation.  The change in circumstances changed everything.

You see, when your why is big enough the facts don’t matter.  That’s why it’s so important to identify your why.  It could be one thing or it could be several.  It doesn’t really matter.  The important thing is to really dig deep and determine your true reasons for going after your goals.  People who go after their goals based on just sheer grit and determination will often fail.  It can be like pushing a piece of string.

If you have a piece of string on a table and you try to push it from behind across the table, it will bunch up on itself.  If however, you pull it along the table with your finger, the string will follow along in a clean straight line.  Holding your why out it in front of you can really act as a magnet to help pull you along and help keep you on track towards reaching your goals.

I read an article about Jerry Seinfeld a few years ago and the author asked him to share one of the biggest reasons for his success.  Jerry replied back that it had to be his wall calendar.  The author, clearly confused, asked Jerry to explain.  He said that when he first started writing, back when no one knew anything about him, his goal was to write every day.  Some days he wrote “gold” and other days he wrote “garbage” however the ultimate goal was to write.

Further, he had a big honkin’ wall calendar where every day that he wrote, he would cross off the day with a big red X.  Between the commitment to daily writing leveraged by the physical act of marking off his calendar, Jerry’s daily efforts produced the gold that we know to be the sitcom Seinfeld and beyond.  Today the term is called gamification, and it’s a powerful tool that companies use to drive results both with the products they produce and with their employees to boost performance.

Closing remarks for my readers:

In closing, I have some very concrete action steps for you to consider.  First, you have to determine your why or why’s along with your goals and write them down.  I like sticky notes and learned this little trick from my long-time mentor, “King of Sales”, Jeffrey Gitomer.  Also, determine the 2-3 key behaviors that you will need to adopt in achieving your goals and write them down as well.

Now post them in the following places to help keep your focus laser-sharp on what you’re working to achieve and why.

  • Bathroom mirror
  • Bedroom mirror
  • Front of your refrigerator
  • Front of your microwave
  • Front of your laptop or desktop
  • Front of your steering wheel

Change in any area is never easy and sometimes it can be really hard.  If you will surround yourself with your goals and your reasons for pursuing them, they will help you stay the course, especially when the storms of life come crashing in.

And above all, persist without exception.  I heard this phrase from another of my long-time mentors, Andy Andrews over 20 years ago, and it’s become a part of me.  Never stop pursuing your dreams.  If you will persist, without exception, you will reach them.

Best of luck in your journey.

Posted in Andy Andrews, attitude, fat loss, goal setting, Health & Fitness, jeffrey gitomer, ketogenic diet, Nutrition, personal development, seeking wisdom, self talk, success, Uncategorized, weight training | Tagged , | Leave a comment

My First Week – Working Out At Home

As a fitness professional and nutrition coach, the events of the past two weeks have been life changing. Last Monday afternoon, March the 16th, my boss sent a group text to our team saying the gym would be closing that evening at least through the 29th.  Immediately my mind began racing with the ramifications. The biggest for me personally were the impact on my family and friends, the well-being of my clients, the well-being of my company and co-workers, and the well-being of our nation.  

The purpose for all my blog posts are to offer encouragement and this one is no exception. I’m going to share what I did this past week and suggest that you can do the same.  My workouts were done with very minimal equipment and yet I was able to get in a great training effect each day. If you have more equipment at your home, then you’re only in a better position to get your training done.

Only God in heaven knows how long it will take for things to return to normal. I’m hoping for the best and yet I’m preparing to train at home for an extended period…just in case that reality comes to pass. You can get in good workouts at home. It just takes a mental shift. Once you get your first workout done, the next will be easier and your belief and confidence will build with each succeeding session. 

My first suggestion is to stick to the same routine in terms of when you used to train as much as possible. If your schedule has changed due to recent events and it makes more sense to train at a different time, then book and commit to the new time…just like you did when you were still going to your gym.

My second suggestion is to go through the same preparation that you did at your gym.  Given the limitations of your equipment, go through the same warm up process including  listening to the same music if relevant…all with the intention of creating the same feel for your mind and body. Just pretend you’re starting a totally new routine and embrace the change rather than giving into the thought that training at home with limited equipment is going to suck.  

The following is what I did starting Tuesday morning the 17th through Saturday morning the 21st.  I had already completed the first two days of my training week starting on Sunday the 15th.

Tuesday:  Calves and Cardio



I ordered a set of resistance bands on Monday evening however as of Tuesday morning, the only equipment I had was a set of 25 lbs kettlebells. How do you train calves with two kettlebells? Well, as a fitness professional, I am creative, I am driven, and I am a little crazy.

My apartment is on the first floor of a three-story building. The stairs going up to the upper floors are just outside my door and I simply used the bottom step for my calf raises. My goal was just to get in a solid training effect so I set a target of 10 sets of as many reps as I could, holding a kettlebell in one hand and holding onto the handrail with the other.

All total, I did 400-500 reps and my calves have seriously never been so sore in my life. As I wrote this post on the Saturday the 21st, my calves were still store. After calves, I decided to use the stairs for my cardio. Sticking with the kettlebell theme, I walked up three flights carrying a kettlebell in one hand and then down the other side switching hands. For the next round, I just did the opposite with my hands.

Being an over achiever, I walked the stairs for just over an hour. I figured the intensity was a bit lower than using the stair master or elliptical at the gym, and so I made up for it with more volume. It was a good start to my efforts at home under the circumstances.

Wednesday:  Chest, Back, and Shoulders

My resistance bands were not due to arrive until Friday so I still only had two 25 lbs kettlebells. The workout was pretty simple. I used a small filing cabinet with a pillow on top for my “bench” and did high rep chest presses paired with rows. Like my calves the day before, the reps were really high because I was making up in volume what I couldn’t achieve with intensity and or heavier weights.

Next came standing overhead presses paired with pullovers again using my makeshift bench. In total, I did only four exercises and yet it was a great little workout as you can see from the screen shot from my Fitbit above.

Thursday:  Core and Cardio

On Wednesday afternoon, I ran to Walmart to pick up an ab wheel and stability ball. And to my surprise, my resistance bands were waiting for me when I returned home. This put me in a much better position for my Thursday morning core routine. Given the lack of cardio equipment, I just doubled up and did four rounds of my normal core circuit. As you can see from the image above, my core routine is challenging from a cardio standpoint. To add a little extra intensity, I also integrated in some kettlebell swings just for fun.

The exercises are as follows done in one big circuit…repeated 4 times:

  1. Ab wheel roll outs – 20 reps
  2. Stability ball step offs – 20 reps
  3. Resistance band kneeling chops – 10 reps / side
  4. Resistance band reverse kneeling chops – 10 reps / side
  5. Stability ball jack knives – 20 reps
  6. Ab wheel roll outs – 20 reps
  7. Kettlebell swings – 20 reps
  8. Body saw with a foam roller – 20 reps
  9. Weighted floor crunch with both kettlebells – 40 reps
  10. Kettlebell swings – 20 reps

Friday:  Legs and Arms

Of all the days, this was the one where I felt the most disadvantaged given the lack of equipment. When my boss gave us the word regarding closing earlier in the week, I immediately drove to the gym to get my trap bar. I don’t have any weights at home but I at least wanted my bar.

My challenge then Friday morning was how to add weight to my trap bar when I didn’t have any. As mentioned above, I am creative. I took my trap bar and strapped the kettlebells to each side with elastic knee wraps. The total weight was only 95 lbs however in line with the theme of the week, I made up for a lack of weight with lots of volume. I paired this with an exercise I actually used to do years ago and was grateful to be able to pull it out of my trainer toolbox.

If you take a stability ball combined with a resistance band set with ankle attachments, you can do two-leg or single-leg loaded stability ball leg curls. I used my two heaviest bands and it was actually quite hard.  

The second pair of exercises were kettlebell squats paired with single-leg deadlifts holding the two kettlebells in the working hand. Again, the volume was high and the training effect solid. To finish up, I did standing kettlebell curls paired with lying kettlebell extensions using my stability ball.  

Saturday:  Cardio

Saturday is normally my day off where I will typically take a long walk at home before work. If the weather is agreeable, I will walk outside. If it’s cold or raining, I will utilize my apartment complex gym which has a couple of treadmills.  Given the “virus”, our apartment gym is closed and I really didn’t feel like walking in the 42-degree weather.

So, for fun, I walked the same stairs I used back on Tuesday again with a kettlebell in tow.  This morning however to spice things up, I did 15 kettlebell swings at the bottom of each round of stairs. This added effort kept me plenty warm and eliminated the issue of the cold weather. All total, I did a little more than 100 flights of stairs and approximately 450 kettlebell swings. I’ve never done anything like this before and I suspect my hamstrings will be a little extra sore, but it was fun and way better than just walking in the cold.

A Sample Routine for You

The following is a simple two-way split that you can do 2-4 days per week. Just alternate the two routines back and forth up to a total of 4 weekly sessions.  I designed these routines with a minimalist strategy in that all you need is a resistance band set.  With the vast number of exercise options and variations available depending on the equipment you have, you’re certainly welcome to substitute other like movements.  My primary intent is to share a balanced and simple program you can follow until we can get back to our regular gyms.

Routine A:  Chest, Back, Shoulders, and Core  

1A  Resistance band chest press:  2-3 sets of 8-12 reps
1B  Resistance band back row:  2-3 sets of 8-12 reps

2A  Resistance band chest fly:  2-3 sets of 12-15 reps
2B  Resistance band reverse fly:  2-3 sets of 12-15 reps

3A  Resistance band shoulder press:  2-3 sets of 8-12 reps
3B  Resistance band lat pulldown:  2-3 sets of 8-12 reps

4A  Resistance band lateral raise:  2-3 sets of 12-15 reps
4B  Resistance band straight arm lat pulldown:  2-3 sets of 12-15 reps

5A  Plank:  2-3 sets of up to 30 second holds
5B  Resistance band Pallof press:  2-3 sets of 10 reps / side

Routine B:  Legs, Arms, and Core  

1A  Resistance band squats:  2-3 sets of 12-15 reps
1B  Resistance band leg curls:  2-3 sets of 12-15 reps

2A  Walking lunges:  2-3 sets of 15-20 reps
2B  Resistance band pull through:  2-3 sets of 15-20 reps

3A  Resistance band drag biceps curl:  2-3 sets of 8-12 reps
3B  Resistance band overhead triceps ext:  2-3 sets of 8-12 reps

4A  Resistance band preacher curl:  2-3 sets of 12-15 reps
4B  Resistance band triceps pushdown:  2-3 sets of 12-15 reps

5A  Mountain climbers:  2-3 sets of 15-20 reps
5B  Bird dog:  2-3 sets of 5-10 second holds per arm / leg x 3 for one complete set

Optional exercises based on ability and equipment:

Kettlebell front squat or Goblet squats

Stability ball Jack Knives or Kettlebell swings

Closing thoughts for my readers:

You can train at home and be successful.  At the minimum, you can pick up a set of resistance bands for less than $25 bucks.  The set I ordered from Amazon was as a little more at $40 but I think you will find a number of options from different retailers in this general price range.  I purchased my kettlebells years ago and you can find them at a variety of retailers both local and online.

My ab wheel and stability ball are from Walmart at $12 and $15 respectively.

Again, this is just a simple temporary training solution.  Hopefully we will be back in our regular gyms sooner than later.  Maybe now more than ever, you have to make your training a priority because there are so many competing distractions in our homes.  There’s no reason to not take care of yourself physically including your nutrition during the increasingly challenging times we’re living in.  

You can do this…and I believe in you.  

Best of luck in your journey.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline”

2 Timothy 1:7

 

Posted in attitude, cardio training, Circuit Training, Faith, fat loss, goal setting, Health & Fitness, home training, learning from mistakes, muscle preservation, Nutrition, personal development, strength gain, success, Uncategorized, weight training | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Food: Liar, Thief, and Destroyer

The popular culture often trivializes people’s struggles with food making reference to their indulgence in “comfort foods” like it’s no big deal. While women are far more likely to be a  target, trust me, men struggle with food just as much. The sad reality is that turning to food for comfort is a losing proposition because food will never comfort you.

“False Comfort Food”

Oh, it may taste good in the moment, but it will never fill the void you’re trying to fill.
In reality, most people at least to some small degree, occasionally struggle with emotional eating. For others, it’s a war they wage daily that too me, is so much more difficult than for example, an addiction to alcohol or drugs.

You don’t need alcohol or drugs to live and yet food, the very thing you battle, is an absolute necessity for daily survival. It can be like walking a proverbial tight rope where you’re constantly struggling to maintain balance. And with just one false step or bite, you can plunge into overindulgence.

Food can be a “liar”, “thief”, and “destroyer”. If you really do struggle with emotional eating, then you know what I mean. Food will lie to you when you’re feeling tempted to indulge. And when you’re behavior really gets out of control, food can rob you of your peace of mind and ultimately destroy your life.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

There’s a difference between disordered eating and an eating disorder. Stuffing yourself to the point of minor misery at Thanksgiving could almost be considered disordered eating and yet it’s a culturally accepted practice. But that’s way different than someone who regularly binges and then forces themselves to throw up to keep from gaining weight. That’s calling Bulimia. And don’t forget Anorexia where people literally starve themselves also for fear of gaining weight.

If you struggle with either of the latter conditions, please seek professional help. Dealing with these challenges is way beyond my scope of practice or the intent of this post.  However, for those who occasionally struggle with feeling out of control with their eating, I may be able to offer some practical suggestions.

First of all, if you struggle emotionally with food…

  1. Identify your triggers and seek to remove or avoid them. For most this will be people, places, and activities. If you find yourself every Friday afternoon after work at happy hour with a certain group loading up on margaritas & chips & queso, you might consider a change. The people may be fine but the place and the activity you’re taking part in is not doing you any favors with your health.

  2. If you determine that your social group is okay and that the problem is the place and activity, then seriously consider changing up your scenery. If they’re really your friends and have your best interest at heart, they will be supportive. If they resist the change, then you have a choice to make. Remember, your associations in life will make or break you…so choose wisely.

  3. This last point is heavy, but it could really help. When you’re facing a “binge”, you only have two paths to consider. If you shut your thinking off to the “after” and focus all your energy on satisfying yourself in the present moment, you will likely give in. If however, you can take a deep breath and really consider the “after”, you may find your escape.

    Now if you’re willing to take that breath and seriously consider the absolute consequences of what you’re considering, then the next step is to move. I literally mean to get up and out of the physical place you’re in. If you’re at home, go for a walk or a drive. If you’re at your office, get up from your desk and again go take a walk. If appropriate, call a friend. Act your way into a different feeling. If you stay in your current place, you may unfortunately slip back in your thoughts only to come face to face with the enemy…the binge.

Remember, you can only eat so much and then you must return to reality. Regardless of what is waiting for you, do you want to take that step under normal circumstances or in the midst of a food “hangover”? I promise, no one wants to be a parent, child, friend, or name your occupation or activity under the cloud of a food hangover. I know full well from personal experience that the most common feeling is to simply want to shut yourself off from the world.

A lonely place to be.

Part of the struggle people face is actually self-inflicted by pursuing perfection with their eating. They possess the false notion that you have to eat “perfectly” all the time to achieve and or maintain an ideal body weight. There is no such thing as good or bad food…only more or less nutritious food and both can have their place in a balanced and healthy nutrition plan.  

When you deprive yourself long enough from whatever your favorite thing or things are, you will hit a wall. Nutritionist Keith Klein, in Houston, TX, calls this the psychology of deprivation. After a lengthy period of severe restriction, you will have a trigger event that throws you over the edge. It could be as simple as a long and stressful day at work which leaves you feeling nothing more than…I want my Ben and Jerry’s.

It doesn’t have to be this way…either.

For the positive, you can avoid this whole scenario by treating yourself on an appropriate basis with a normal serving size of whatever your favorite thing is. I wrote about this in detail in “No Cheat Meals Required“, but the essence of the strategy is this. It’s called 90/10 Compliance.  Regardless of how many meals you eat per week on average, if you will make 90% of them clean and on track, you can have the other 10% to loosen the reigns and enjoy your favorite foods.

I only caution you in two ways. First, don’t decide after an extra-long and stressful day that it’s going to be a 10% or “treat” meal night. That’s probably not going to end well because you’re not thinking straight. Consider planning in advance when your mind is clear and then stick to this second little guideline. Eat whatever you want but stick with normal portion sizes. Then walk away with no guilty feelings.

This little practice will work for the majority and will keep you from running smack into the wall of deprivation. The only time this may not work is if your emotional eating is a little more advanced and you have certain trigger foods where when you have a bite, you’re likely to eat the pint…or tub.

For me, this is store bought sweets. I decided after years of struggle to simple abstain…period. I love my homemade treats including cheesecake and cookies and my daily pancakes of course, but they’re all super healthy and don’t cause me to lose my freakin’ mind.

Amazing! and Healthy!

Equally Amazing! and Healthy!

Only you can determine whether a given food is okay to occasionally enjoy or not. If you find yourself going in with the best of intentions and yet you consistently end up out of control, you may have identified a trigger food that you simply need to avoid.
Another possible solution is that you could come up with a healthy alternative.

Precision Nutrition is the name of an industry leading coaching and educational company. I have their Level 1 certification and I’m currently working on their year-long Level 2 master-class certification. PN does amazing work and the info they teach is life changing.

Precision nutrition is also a philosophy of eating and preparing meals. You can take any dish that might be considered less than healthy, like store bought pizza or Mexican food or sweets and totally change them for the positive. When you pull out the excess sugar and unhealthy fats and replace them with clean proteins and healthy fats, you really can create some great tasting and healthy meals.

My favorite way to start the day.

I love my daily shakes!

This has been my go to strategy now for years. I have three protein shakes a day and they’re all different in terms of what they do for me and in how they taste…and they’re all amazing! Further, I have protein pancakes literally every day of my life unless I’m traveling. It’s my own recipe, it’s super healthy, and they are incredible! These collectively feed my sweet tooth daily and yet I’m never tempted to over-indulge.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Writing this post has been on my heart for some time. As a nutrition coach, I work with people daily who struggle with food and I just felt compelled to share. If you really do battle with your eating, consider getting some help. The most successful people from all walks of life have coaches and seeking professional help with a food struggle is really no different.

For some additional resources on healthy eating, consider the following:

Gourmet Nutrition: The Cookbook for the Fit Food Lover

Healthy Treats from T Nation

Eating for Life from Bill Phillips

Best of luck in your journey…

Posted in attitude, better mood, better sleep, Health & Fitness, personal development, seeking wisdom, self talk, the power of associations, Uncategorized, wise choices | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Saying Goodbye to My Friend Paul

On Monday November the 25, 2019, I received a text from my client and good friend, Mary Durie.  She said that if I wanted to see Paul again, it would need to be soon.  Paul had been battling liver cancer for several months and after exhausting all options, his doctors had sent him home.  Hospice was called in and they were doing their best to make Paul comfortable during his last days.  For more background, go to Prayers For My Friend Paul.

Fortunately, it was my day off and I promised Marie to come over right after lunch.  As I explained in “Prayers”, Paul was a big time Dr. Pepper lover and had recently gained the taste for Hershey’s with Almonds.  So, on my way over, I stopped at Kroger’s and bought him a little pack of 7.5 oz miniature DP’s and two extra-large Hershey candy bars…with almonds of course.

My door knock was greeted as usual by the barking of their two little dogs, Thelma & Bandit.  One of Paul’s nurses answered the door and led me back to Paul’s room where he was watching an old Western.  Due to a recent fall which slightly fractured his hip, Paul was pretty much bed ridden without help from his caregivers.

When I walked in, his face lit up and he was so surprised to see me.  To my shame, it had been too long since my last visit.  All was forgiven when he saw his Dr. Pepper and Hershey bars.  He was curious to know how I knew about his new found love for chocolate, and I explained that Mary had told me.

We chatted for a bit and then Mary came in to join us upon returning from running a few errands.  While I was thrilled to see them both, I could see everything I didn’t want to see in Mary’s expression.  Paul was running out of time and it was hard to find the words.  I mean, what do you say to someone who’s facing their end.  For the positive, I knew Paul’s faith was solid having had that conversation months before.  He was a believer in Jesus Christ and his salvation was secure.

As Paul started to struggle with nodding off, Mary said that it was probably best for me to leave however she asked me to pray with Paul first.  So, I knelt down by his bed and took his hand and asked for God’s grace and mercy to be with him.  It was short but from the heart and with that I gave him one last hug and Mary walked me out.

As we stopped just inside their front door, I asked if I could come back that Friday as I knew my schedule would be light.  She said that today would probably be the last time as Paul’s strength was rapidly going down.  Little did I know how prophetic her words would be.  As it turned out, Paul’s pain level spiked the next day and the nurse had to give him extra pain meds which helped, but he was never the same.

Looking back, I’m so grateful for seeing him one last time still in good spirits and relatively pain free doing at least a few of the things he loved…watching Westerns with a Dr. Pepper and Hershey bar.  He passed that next Saturday morning and Mary was good enough to let me know that same day.  I had been booked solid at work and never saw her text until I broke for lunch at 1PM.

As I promised Mary months before, I attended Paul’s funeral the next week.  Fortunately for my schedule it was literally right across the street from my gym and I was able to rearrange my calendar accordingly.  There was a nice turn out and I was all the more thankful for being able to go.

After signing the guest book, I made my way in and down to the front where there was a big picture of Paul on a tri-pod.  They had a private service for Paul that morning so the afternoon event was more of a memorial service to him.  To pay my last respects before the service officially started, I stood in front of his picture as my mind filled with memories of all the times I worked with him in the gym.

I couldn’t help but cry as the enormity of Paul being gone set it.  If there was any silver lining, it was good to know that his spirit was now at peace and his body restored after the battle he waged with cancer.  Mary came in soon after surrounded by family and sat down towards the front.  I was able to give her a quick hug before taking my seat.

For the first few minutes, they just played a slide show from Paul’s life with the song, Leader of the Band, playing in the background.  The one thing that struck me both from my time with Paul and from seeing his pictures was that he loved people and he loved life.  By the way, he loved his golf too which naturally made us kindred spirits.  I will always remember our many conversations about Indian Creek where he used to play and practice…and where I used to work as a club professional…many years ago.

Paul…you were a good man and I will never forget our time together.

God bless you.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:4

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No Cheat Meals Required

My goal in this post is to encourage you, to educate you, and to encourage you some more.  If you will persist without exception, you can reach your health and fitness goals.  For the most part, you are where you are in life in terms of your health because of choices and decisions that you’ve made.  If you don’t like where you are, simply start making new choices today, and all your tomorrows can be different.

The buck really stops with you.  Be willing to accept complete responsibility for your life including everything that happens to you.  Life will always throw curve balls and occasionally fast balls and they can hurt.  This will never change however you always have a choice in how you respond.  Once you let go of responsibility and place the blame for your circumstances on some outside force, you give away your power to effect positive change in your life.  Life is not always fair but you can always rise above and beyond your struggles.

Have you ever heard someone say they are going on a diet after a certain event or period of time?  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and family vacations are among the most commonly named.  And yet, do you know what these people are really saying?  Their underlying intention is to eat everything in sight because they know lack and deprivation are soon to follow.

Unfortunately, this is how most people view dieting, and the truth is that it simply doesn’t have to be this way.  Most diets are based on deprivation and a strict list of do’s and don’ts.  They don’t offer the flexibility required for long-term sustainability and leave their followers with a high likelihood of relapse.

What if I said there is a better way to stay on track for the long term?  Would you be interested?  Well, there is and it’s not really a diet at all.  In fact, I have purposefully stopped saying diet unless absolutely necessary and prefer to use the word nutrition.  The word diet naturally has an err of restriction associated with it, and that can create struggle for people from the very start.

As I said in the opening paragraph, you’re where you are today in terms of your health because of choices you’ve made regarding food and exercise.  If you’re not happy with where you are, all it takes is making different choices.  You’re not a slave to your past.  Outside of possible medical limitations, your past has little to no bearing on the present and or your future.

Belief test.  When I meet with a new client, we always discuss their goals and I ask on a scale of 1-10 where they are in terms of confidence in reaching their goals.  Few say 10 as there is typically a gap created by some past negative experience causing a lack of belief in the present.  How about you?  What’s your belief with regard to reaching your goals?

I wrote about this in detail here, however in brief, let’s consider that I’ve given you a brand-new shiny axe with the following instructions.  Go home and with the biggest tree in your yard, take 5 swings a day.  This is just a mental exercise so please just pretend if you don’t have any trees in your yard.  Now, I’m not asking you to go chop wood for hours at a time.  Just take 5 swings a day…every day…rain or shine…hot or cold…every day…no matter what.  If you do this consistently and don’t miss a day, will the tree fall?

Swing Your Axe!

If you’re like virtually everyone I’ve ever asked that question to, you said some version of “yes”…eventually.  Right?  It’s very logical.  And that’s how I want it to be with your goals.  If you will persist without exception, you will reach your goals just as logically as our imaginary tree will fall.

So, what do you think is the number one challenge my clients share with regard to their nutrition?  Answer:  “I don’t know what to eat”

Do we go with the coffee and doughnuts or the heart healthy omelet and fruit?

Do we go with the double meat cheeseburger with onions rings, two special sauces, and bacon or the grilled chicken and steamed veggies?

Do we go with the deep dish pizza or the grilled salmon and steamed veggies?

Now logically we all know what the three healthy choices are, and yet the last time I checked, the doughnut, burger, pizza, and overall fast food industry is doing pretty good.  So, for all the practical knowledge we have about what constitutes a healthy meal, why do we still eat “crap”?  It’s because logic plays a small role in what we eat compared to emotion which plays a massive role.

Remember this little scenario: Fatigue plus a lack of preparation equals the path of least resistance.  And that convenience is a slippery slope.  If you don’t have a daily plan for having healthy food available when you get hungry, you’re going to eat something and we tend to do a poor job with our nutrition when we’re starving and flying by the seat of our pants.  The answer by the way is integrating meal prepping into your life.  It is one of the master skills to adopt in your quest for optimal health.

Got willpower?  Yes?  That’s great, however I will let you in on a little secret.  It will fail you.  You see, your willpower is like a battery that starts each day at 100%.  Then as you resist temptations throughout the day, your battery drains.  That’s why after a full day of resisting all the temptations we’re literally bombarded with; you can literally walk into your home on flat “0”.  That’s also why most of our “bad” eating and drinking habits seem to manifest in the evenings because we’ve got nothing left.

So, what do you do?  The secret is not to resist but to remove the temptations as much as possible in the first place.  You have to create systems and habits that protect yourself from yourself eliminating the need for discipline and willpower in the first place.  You may not be able to do much about your office environment or the make up your city if you’re out and about on daily appointments, but you can be prepared each day with your own healthy food options.

There is one environment that you do control and that’s your home.  That’s why it’s so important to exhibit discipline at the grocery store.  When you’re staring at the tub of Ben & Jerry’s in your freezer after a long hard day with no willpower left, Ben & Jerry’s is going to win time and time again.  Hint:  What you bring home from the store, you will eventually eat.  That’s why it’s so important to make good choices at the store.  You’re literally setting yourself up for success or failure once you get back home.

So how many of you have ever been on a diet?  See if this little scenario resonates with you.  You start a new diet and you’re all fired up thinking this time, you’re going to make it.  Next, you meet two of your friends for lunch and they are “not” on your diet.  In fact, they are eating and drinking and having a big time and you’re literally white knuckling the table cloth in an effort to keep from giving in to their fun.

And so, you do great in avoiding the appetizers, you order a healthy entree, and now it’s time for dessert.  You’ve already determined that there’s no dessert for you and yet your friends both order cheesecake…and cheesecake is your kryptonite!  Now as you’re literally holding your breath, one of them offers you a bite and you give in.  It’s so amazing that you now rationalize ordering a piece for yourself.

Wow!  You’re thinking that was the best cheesecake you’ve ever had in your life and you’re also thinking that cheesecake is NOT on your diet…the diet you’ve now blown at least for the day.  So now what do you do?  You’re committed to getting back on track the next day but for now, you’re thinking that if you’ve blown it, you might as well blow it good and you proceed to order 2 more pieces of cheesecake.

Where does this all or nothing thinking come from?  If you were to have a flat tire on your way home from work today would you:

  • Fix the tire yourself?
  • Call for roadside assistance?
  • Or slash the other three tires?

Simple problem, simple solution.

They apparently slashed the other three tires.

Now hopefully you wouldn’t pick the third option and yet why do we essentially slash the other three tires in the restaurant scenario?  I learned this many years ago from my long-time friend and mentor, Nutritionist Keith Klein, in Houston, TX.  It’s called the psychology of deprivation.  If you deprive yourself long enough from whatever your favorite thing or things are, you will eventually crash.  You will give in and eat and most likely eat to excess.

What’s your kryptonite?

Following this “crash” will come feelings of guilt, remorse, and disappointment.  In many cases you will resolve all the more to strengthen your discipline and to not give in the next time around.  Unfortunately, going head to head with deprivation is a losing battle where you will eventually be crushed.

Remember, there’s no such thing at good or bad food.  In the image above, the apple is not “good” and the cake is not “bad”.  The apple is arguably more nutritious than the cake however both can have their place in a balanced and healthy nutrition plan.  You can have your proverbial “cake” and eat it too?  Interested?

No Cheat Meals Required

Last year when working with a potential new client, she asked me if she would be able to have “cheat” meals as a part of her weekly nutrition plan.  I quickly told her no and her face immediately dropped.  Then I said however, you can have several “treat” meals each week.  Her face brightened somewhat but she was clearly puzzled.  She asked, “What’s a treat meal?”

My response was that there’s no way that you can spin the word cheat as a positive.  To label an experience as a cheat meal is to essentially label yourself as a cheater.  A treat on the other hand is something someone gives you which is cool.  Or, it’s something you earn because of positive performance.  I learned this little strategy years ago and it’s called 90/10 compliance.

Let’s say that you eat on average 4 meals a day…breakfast, lunch, dinner, and an afternoon snack.  4 meals a day times 7 days a week is 28 meals.  If you will be compliant with your healthy nutrition plan 90% of the time, you can have a 10% flex factor to eat whatever you want.  10% of 28 is 2.8 or let’s round up to 3 free or treat meals per week.

I do have two little caveats.  Please don’t decide to have a treat meal after an especially long day at work where your willpower is shot and you’ve not prepped anything in advance for dinner.  Calling Pappa John’s under the circumstances and calling it one of your treat meals is probably not going to end well because you’re not thinking straight.

Instead, plan to meet friends for dinner on a Saturday night at your favorite restaurant.  Enjoy whatever you like however stick to normal portion sizes.  Don’t go to Olive Garden and polish off one of their Tour of Italy or wherever plates by yourself.  That’s enough food for two people easily.

And then most importantly, walk away from the table with no guilty or remorseful feelings.  You didn’t blow anything so there’s no reason to go off the rails.  We are social beings and you simply enjoyed a good meal with friends.  Even if it was less nutritious than your typical 90% fair, you didn’t do any damage.  Ultimately, allowing yourself a few weekly treats will keep you sane, emotionally healthy, and on track for the long-term.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

I’m sharing the info in this post in the spirit of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

God of All Comfort

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Most people struggle emotionally with food at least at some level and I’ve certainly had my battles over the years.  My biggest problem initially was adopting the false idea that eating “perfectly” was the only way and that eventually caused me to develop some rather unhealthy behaviors.

If you struggle with food, consider what I’ve shared however if your struggles are severe, please don’t feel like you have to go at it alone.  Negative habits can become like steel cables wrapped around you, and the only way to break them is with outside help.  My prayer is that you will be willing to reach out for help as needed.

Best of luck in your journey.

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