How Are You Shaping Your Path?

How are you shaping your path?  You may not know what I’m referring to if you’ve not read the book, Switch by Chip and Dan Heath.  You see, you have two brains which the authors represent with the analogy of an elephant and a rider.  The rider represents your logical “thinky” brain which typically runs the show and is responsible for most of your daily decisions.  On the other hand, the elephant is your more powerful and primal emotional brain that will take over when the rider tires or is threatened.

I often share an example with my clients of an elephant and rider at the circus under the big top with thousands of fans watching in amazement and wonder.  Under normal circumstances, the elephant dutifully follows the rider’s every instruction.  However, if you set the tent on fire and the tigers escape from their cages, the elephant will cease following the rider and look for the nearest exit in a state of sheer panic.

That’s how it can be to implement change in your life.  Of course, you can have the best intentions, but if your environment works against you, your logical brain will get lost in chaos.  So, what’s the solution?  First, you must shape your path and control the influences that impact your life as much as possible.

The four areas of concern are as follows:

1 – Social environment – The people you spend the most time with at work and at play.

2 – Cultural background – This is tricky because you may go up against beliefs that have been in place for many years and quite possibly your entire life.

3 – Intellectual environment – This is the information you take from all sources, including TV, social media, books & magazines, podcast, music, movies, etc.

4 – Physical environment – This includes your homes, workplace, and places where you gather and socialize.

According to my mentor, Darren Hardy, these environments influence your life, yet they don’t shove you in a direction; they merely nudge you.  And still, over some time of being just a little off daily, you can wake up one day and find your life completely out of control.

Social Environment

One of my favorite quotes from the late, great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones is as follows:

“You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Your mothers repeatedly told you to carefully select your friends as children.  Charlie and your Mothers were on the same page, and they got it right because your associations will make or break you.  So, by all means, choose wisely.

To expand on the first half of his quote, the people you spend time with will influence your thinking, which drives your choices.   Therefore, the association of the top 5-10 people you spend the most time with will essentially drive your results in life.  To whatever degree this is true, I defer back to the Good Book: 

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed!”
Proverbs 13:20

Every experience in your life with other people will leave its mark for better or worse.  So, be careful with your associations.  You will find situations where you have little control over the people you’re surrounded by, such as at your place of work.  However, you still have a choice in how you conduct yourself and how much you choose to interact beyond what is professionally required to excel in your job and career.

It will be highly beneficial for many to take a hard look at all your associations and evaluate whether these relationships align with your priorities and goals.  You may have some difficult choices to make in either spending less time or potentially cutting ties with various people should you determine that they are not a good influence in your life.

On the flip side, you may need to add more quality associations with people who already have the knowledge, wisdom, and success you seek.  These expanded associations can make a tremendous and positive impact on your life.  And with today’s technology and tools such as LinkedIn, building these expanded associations has never been easier.

Cultural Environment

For the influence of your native culture, I will tread very lightly.  All cultures have unique attributes, and some can be challenging to achieve and maintain optimal health and body composition.  For example, Italian cuisine is known for its pizza and pasta.  In addition, cheese and wine make up a large portion of the cooking with wide varieties.  These are all calorically dense foods that could make it challenging to maintain a healthy weight without a substantial degree of restraint and self-discipline.

The staple foods of Indian cuisine include pearl millet (bājra), rice, whole-wheat flour (aṭṭa), and a variety of lentils, such as masoor (most often red lentils), tuer (pigeon peas), urad (black gram), and moong (mung beans).  Most Indian meals (depending on whether your host is vegetarian) are comprised of rice, Chapati (flatbread), meat, vegetable, lentil dishes, salad, yogurt, and pickles.

I have worked with many clients who have followed numerous variations of a plant-based diet, and the most significant challenge always seems to be getting enough protein.  Unfortunately, the more they go in the plant-based direction, restricting other foods, the more difficult it becomes to get enough protein. 

Please, don’t blow up my post; all plant-based nutrition followers are out there.  Plant-based eating can be very healthy when done right.  For example, my boss is 5′ 9″, 190 lbs, has less than 10% body fat, and is built like a Mack truck.  He gets plenty of protein following a primarily plant-based diet.  And based on his impressive resultshe is extremely healthy.

Brad Siegel, Senior PT Dpt Mgr Life Time Healthy Way of Life

My most significant point is that regardless of your culture and its particular traditions around food, you can maintain very healthy body weight and composition if you know what you’re doing.  Regardless of your heritage, eating healthy requires knowledge and discipline.

Intellectual Environment

For your intellectual environment, I’m going to break it down into two parts, “feed” and “protect.”

Feed

Information from all sources will affect you for better or worse   Every source of media you consume will influence your thinking which drives your decision-making and, ultimately, your life.  My mentor Andy Andrews teaches that there’s no such thing as treading water.  Every experience in your life moves you closer or takes you further from your goals, and the choice is yours as to how you spend your time.   

Due to some early positive and wise influences in my life, I have been a student of personal development since my days in college.  I’ve never been in the habit of watching the news any more than the bare minimum required to stay abreast of what’s happening in the world, and I’ve always been proactive in feeding my mind with positive, growth-oriented information.  In today’s world, that’s countercultural to the masses for the most part.  If you want to be successful, look at what the majority is doing and go in the opposite direction. 

Brian Tracy teaches the E to E ratio, the ratio of time you spend entertaining yourself versus educating yourself.  For example, the highest achievers in the world intentionally invest time in furthering their growth, especially in the areas of their passions and strengths.  In contrast, the average person spends far more time entertaining themselves, and as a result, they stay a part of the masses achieving far less in life than they could if they only challenged themselves to grow.

If you’re not investing in your personal growth, I encourage you to start.  Most people underestimate the value of small blocks of time.  For example, if you commute 20 minutes to and from work daily, that short time investment equates to over four forty-hour work weeks annually.  Now, you can spend this time listening to music or sports talk radio which is bubblegum for your mind, or listening to an educational podcast or audiobook, which can change your life over time.  The choice is yours.

Look for the small spaces in your day where you can layer in listening to something positive while doing another activity.  For example, I listen to a couple of hours’ worth of growth-oriented audio every morning before and after the gym and while getting ready for my workday.  My mentor, Darren Hardy, calls this “net time.” You’re already doing the other activity, so make the most of it by feeding your mind wherever it makes sense.

Protect

Negative news media will beat a path to your door in our technologically hyper-connected world.  The news machine is in an all-out battle to get and maintain your attention and trust me, it’s not by sharing messages of hope and inspiration, as these will go unnoticed.  You respond far more to shock and awe, and the news media knows this.  They know you in some cases better than you know yourself, and they are maximizing this knowledge to monetize their message through advertising $’s. 

You have to build a fortress to guard your heart and mind.  And despite your best efforts, the world’s negative news will find its way in.  That’s why it’s critical to continue flushing your mind with positive information daily.     

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
Proverbs 4:23

Physical environment

Where do you do life?  Beyond your homes, you work, play, travel, worship, and serve in many different environments.  For most, your homes are the one place where you have total control, and I will come back to this in a moment.  For the rest, consider the suggestion I gave above regarding your associations.  Be very careful with the different places you “do life.”  You may determine that you need to make some changes if you identify an area you frequent that negatively influences your life.

And this includes your job   Life is too short to spend the bulk of your waking hours doing something that doesn’t make you happy   A career change is typically not easy and can seem daunting; however if you’re not satisfied, be willing to seek a positive difference.

Leadership expert John Maxwell gives some great counsel on changing your career path.  First, figure out what you want to do and what you need to do to get there.  Even if it involves a process like acquiring further education, determine if the price is worth it and if it is, get to work paying the price.  Be very careful to dismiss an opportunity because the process takes time.  The time will pass regardless, and you can look back with a sense of accomplishment or the dreadful feeling of regret for having been unwilling to change.

Once you’ve pruned your life of harmful environments, you still need to have a game plan for how to thrive in what’s left.  For example, if you work in an office where people routinely eat fast food for lunch or indulge in highly processed snacks, you have to be prepared with your own healthy choices.  If you go to work each day unprepared, you are all the more likely to be influenced by your associates and join in with their unhealthy practices.

Your gold-standard solution is to meal prep on the weekends so you can always be prepared with healthy meals and snacks throughout the day.  If eating out is a part of your routine, then have a game plan for that as well.  Your choice of restaurant is the first big decision that can make or break you.  The better the restaurant, the easier it will be to make healthy choices.  And better does not necessarily mean more expensive.  Shoot for a place where you can get a good portion of clean protein, veggies, smart carbs, and healthy fats, and you will be good.

As I mentioned above, there is one environment where you have total control, and you must make the most of it.  So, if your home is your castle, treat it as such.  And this includes both the environment in your home and the things you bring into your home, namely food.

Please be clear; discipline is to be exhibited at the grocery store, not when staring at the Ben & Jerry’s tub in your freezer.  Whatever your choice of indulgence, you will eventually eat it if you bring it home.  The better your preferences when shopping for groceries, the easier it will be to stay on track once you’re back home.

And please don’t think I’m suggesting that you never have ice cream or any other treat.  Instead, I address the idea of thoroughly treating yourself in “No Cheat Meals Required.”  Still, it would help if you were smart about the quality and quantity of “treat” foods you bring into your home.  For example, if you struggle with occasionally losing control when eating ice cream, consider only bringing home a pint-sized container rather than a gallon.  Another consideration is to opt for lower-calorie options such as Halo Top or make your healthy treats. 

You have to understand that food manufacturers know how to combine sugar, fat, and salt in a way that makes some foods almost irresistible   Ever taken a bite and found yourself wanting the rest of the tub?  That’s how full-sugar and full-fat foods, in particular, impact your brain.  So the old saying, “you can’t just eat one,” can be true.  In contrast, you can make some amazingly good-tasting healthy treats that will not impact your brain similarly.  This is a much better way to go where you can treat yourself regularly without running so much of a risk of overindulging.

Protein Oatmeal & Raisin Cookies

I have one more thought on your home not related to food.  If you’re motivated by inspirational sayings and artwork, take advantage of this and decorate your home accordingly.  I constantly teach my clients the importance of identifying your “why” and then having examples of it strategically posted around your home.  It could be as simple as post-it notes on your bathroom mirror, fridge, microwave, pantry, laptop, etc.

Your “why” should be your guiding beacon; trust me, there will be days when you need it to stay on track.  Remember, if your “why” is big enough, the facts don’t matter.  You will never always feel like doing the things necessary to succeed, which doesn’t matter.  Do them anyway because they’re the right things to do, and your “why” is worth it.

Closing thoughts for my readers: 

In closing, I will ask my opening question again   How are you shaping your path?  After years of working with clients and doing countless consultations geared around helping people improve their physical and emotional health, the information I’ve shared in this post strikes the heart of where and why people struggle.  

If you’re unhappy with where you are in life in any capacity, then be willing to change.  You know the definition of insanity, don’t you?  It’s doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting different results.  So if you want something to be different in your life, you have to be willing to change.

An excellent method for goal achievement is to determine your ultimate destination, break it down to what you have to do each month, break it down to each week, and then down to what you need to do this very day.

And then act.  A journey of a thousand miles truly starts with a single step.

Best of luck in your journey.

 

 

Posted in Andy Andrews, Brian Tracy, career change, Christian, Darren Hardy, Diet, Faith, goal setting, Health & Fitness, John Maxwell, life path, living your dream, Nutrition, personal development, success, the power of associations, Uncategorized, weight training, wise choices | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where the Nutritional Rubber Meets the Road

Name your diet.  I don’t care whether it’s Keto, South Beach, Atkins, Whole 30, or any other program.  Unless you’re willing to follow the simple steps below, you will struggle to achieve success.

What do I mean?  Well, it’s pretty simple.  Three steps must occur to have a healthy meal or snack during the day, not including eating out or purchasing a pre-made product like an Icon meal.

1 – You must plan what you will eat for the next week.  For most people, one week at a time is enough.

2Your plan will drive your shopping list, and you must purchase the food.  This has never been easier with grocery pick-up and delivery services in today’s world.

3Finally, meal prepping and cooking will be required.  A strategic meal prepping routine will generally make things easier once you get into your workweek, where time can be precious and life schedules crazy.  Then it can be as simple as warming up one of your prepped meals, and you’re good to go.  There are endless strategies that can be utilized.  The bottom line is that you’re not starting each meal from scratch.

4Enjoy!

Now, these steps might seem totally obvious, and yet this is where I see people struggle the most.  It doesn’t matter what nutrition plan you’re following; if you’re unwilling to do the last steps and become proficient at them, you will find consistently eating healthy challenging.  A classic example is poor planning, which results in not purchasing enough food for the week.  Then later in the week, when the healthy food runs out, many will take the path of least resistance and head for McDonald’s or whatever their quick fix preference may be.

Don’t believe me?  The two biggest excuses I get from my clients are that they ran out of food or didn’t have time to cook.  Running out of food should not happen if you carefully plan for the week ahead.  And running out of time is a poor excuse.  The truth is that they failed to prioritize the time for meal prep which streamlines the cooking process significantly.  Seriously, if you have the time to run through a fast-food drive-through window on your way home, you have the time to warm up a prepped meal that should be waiting in your fridge.

For example, I cook all my lunch and dinner protein portions on the weekend, which saves me a ton of time during the workweek when the bullets are flying.  Then, I steam my veggies and starchy carbs daily by microwave.  Then after warming a portion of protein, I have a hot, great-tasting meal.

The Continuum – Home Cooked Meals Versus Eating Out

Above, I mentioned not eating out or using pre-made meals.  Eating out socially and professionally is a normal part of life, so please don’t think I’m suggesting you never eat out.  And pre-made meals can be an excellent source of clean nutrition whether you’re on the go or using them regularly as a part of your weekly game plan.

The Challenges with Eating Out That Can Be Problematic

1 – Quick and Easy:  When you’re looking for something quick and easy, it generally means fast food.  While you can make healthy choices, the unhealthy landmines you must dodge can often take you out in a fleeting moment of rationalization.  For example, justifying ordering the French fries because it’s been a long and hard day at work.

2 – Peer Pressure:  When you’re out with a group that’s not into eating healthy, you being the odd one out can be difficult.  And unless your discipline is extraordinary, peer pressure can often cause you to rationalize choices you shouldn’t be making.

3 – Too Many Choices:  Restaurants today like The Cheesecake Factory or its equally impressive sibling, Grand Lux, have menus like old-fashioned encyclopedias.  And while you can successfully navigate the abundance of indulgent options to make healthy choices, your willpower had better be fully charged.

Unfortunately, many people stumble into these restaurants unprepared, lose their minds, and, as my Dad used to say, end up with eyes bigger than their stomachs and ultimately eat way too much.  And you know, occasionally, there’s nothing wrong with that; however, if you’re trying to make a significant change in your body composition and hitting your favorite spot regularly, the odds are stacked against you.

My Client Gio

When I first shared the “plan, shop, meal prep/cook” concept above with my long-time client Gio, he replied, “Kelly, there’s no way I can rely solely on eating my own food from home.”  Further, he said, “I have to take clients to lunch almost every day of the week as that’s the nature of my business.”

Now I never intended to make him feel like he had to eat only his own home-cooked meals, yet that’s how he took it.  That was an ah-ha moment for me, and now I always share my little concept, carefully explaining that eating out and utilizing pre-made meals can undoubtedly be a part of anyone’s success plan.  That’s also why I don’t do “cookie-cutter” programs.  I always design my client’s nutrition plans around their individual needs, including their lifestyle.

That was a relief to Gio, who used to eat out practically every meal, and he was not always making healthy choices.  Our custom plan is to cook his own breakfast, eat out for lunch most days of the week (making healthy choices), have his own shake in the afternoon, and hit about 50/50 on eating out or cooking at home for dinner.  Gio’s plan works because he believes in what he’s doing and because it’s a sound strategy where I hold him accountable weekly.

My Client Mark  

Mark walked into our club in May of 2020.  He said he was looking for a trainer who knew nutrition, and my boss pointed him to me.  Mark, from day one, did zero cooking.  He had a shake for breakfast, ate out for lunch, a shake post-workout in the afternoon, and ate out for dinner.

Since he was not ready to start cooking, I encouraged him that we would make the best of his eating out.  I did give him guidance for portion control and tweaked his shakes to maximize his nutrition.  When we started working together, Mark weighed about 208 lbs.  His muscle mass and strength consistently increased throughout the summer while his body fat trended down.  His body changed and looked better, yet he still weighed over 200 lbs.

When September hit, he was emotionally ready to embrace the shift to start cooking at home.  We didn’t go 100%. However, he made a strong move in that direction, cutting his restaurant meals dramatically.  By November, Mark was down to 192 lbs., which lined up perfectly with LifeTime’s Holiday 60-Day Challenge.  I encouraged Mark to enter, and he did.

Two grueling months later, Mark finished the contest at 174 lbs. and placed in the top 20 finalists for the nation.  I was thrilled for him, considering how far he had come, especially with the struggles he had endured in his personal life in the years before our meeting.  He had endured numerous trials that no one his age should ever have to take.  And yet, he survived and ultimately thrived to become the man he is today.

To me, both Gio and Mark are successful with their respective plans.  For Gio’s current lifestyle and goals, his blended cooking approach at home and eating out is working well.  He doesn’t have the same goals as Mark, who had to push the continuum much further towards relying on home-cooked meals to reach his goals.  And now, he’s pushing himself even further as we prepare for him to enter his first physique competition in early 2022.

I share these stories to show what success looks like to two completely unrelated clients.  And let me be clear, neither is following a plan superior to the other.  Gio is a much better representation of the average fitness enthusiast and is making progress.  Mark is pursuing a goal that few ever consider, and there will be a higher price for the leanness and overall condition that he seeks.  The important thing is that each has a plan for achieving his goals, including the plan, shop, meal prep/cook concept I’ve shared.

For Mark’s goals, eating out has become more of a luxury and a treat to reward himself for his hard work and discipline.  For Gio, eating out is much more a part of his daily life, and it works.  In either case, when they eat out, they have a plan for portion control.  Now please don’t get me wrong.  I’m not a total control freak and allow all my clients to enjoy themselves regarding food.  In fact, one of the first blogs I ever published is titled “You Don’t Have to Be Perfect.”  Life is too short to live on grilled chicken, steamed broccoli, and dry baked potato.  You can have your proverbial “cake” and eat it too.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Last October of 2020, I wrapped up Precision Nutrition’s Level II Certification.  It was a year-long course that completely changed how I approach nutrition coaching.  Towards the end of the program, I had clarity of thoughts regarding the process I spelled out above, and I’ve shared it with countless people over the past few months.

My message always resonates, and they agree that eating good-tasting healthy meals is not a challenge.  It’s doing the work to plan, shop, and prep/cook that produces healthy meals where people struggle.  If you had the good fortune of having a professional chef running behind you daily, providing gourmet-level healthy meals designed for your specific needs, achieving optimal health would be easier.  Unfortunately, most do not have that luxury.

I teach my clients and encourage them to take things one step at a time.  With few exceptions, any positive new behavior is going to yield results.  So depending on where you fall on the continuum of eating out versus eating home-cooked meals, figure out what works best for you and then stick to your plan.  And then, consider implementing what I’ve shared for the meals you’re cooking at home.  It may be intimidating at first; however, it will get easier and easier with time.  And I promise that the better you get at planning, shopping, and meal prepping, the easier your life will be to reach and maintain optimal health.

Best of luck in your journey.

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The Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned From Darren Hardy – Part 2

This post is part two of a follow-up to the background story for how I met Darren Hardy. The following is the second half of the top lessons I’ve learned over the past eight years from the man who has become one of my most influential mentors.  

From Darren’s book, “The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster”:

6 – Habituating to Fear

One of my favorite stories is from Darren’s early days of playing baseball and learning to bat from his Dad.  His challenge was staying in the batter’s box due to a fear of being hit by the ball.  The further challenge was that Darren’s Dad was a hardcore,  man’s man football coach, who could have doubled for Gunnery Sergent Hartman from “Full Metal Jacket”.  So, for Darren to be afraid of being hit by the ball was completely unacceptable. 

The solution to conquering his fear was to remove the need for fear in the first place.  Darren’s Dad started their batting practice with Wiffle balls to help him learn to stay in the batter’s box.  Initially, Mr. Hardy threw right at Darren over and over teaching him not to flinch at the sight of the approaching ball.  Being hit by a Wiffle ball was essentially painless, and yet the repetition of the drill taught him to stay rock-solid versus jumping out of the way.

Gradually Mr. Hardy started throwing over the plate so Darren could actually swing at the ball.  Occasionally, he would still beam Darren just to remind him that being hit was okay.  Once he conquered Wiffle balls, they moved up to tennis balls repeating the same process.
Now being hit by the tennis balls did sting a little, however, with his strengthened resolve, they moved on to actual baseballs.

Now Mr. Hardy was not going to intentionally hit Darren with a baseball and yet the potential for being accidentally hit was still intimidating.  To sweeten the deal, the agreement was that if he was hit three times, he earned a trip to get pizza.  Now Darren LOVED pizza, and while the baseballs did hurt a bit, he quickly learned that a few moments of pain were well worth the payoff of a large pepperoni & sausage.  

Ultimately Darren’s weakness became a tremendous strength as he became quite accomplished at getting on base because he learned to conquer his fear.  And you can do the same with whatever fear is holding you back.  Simply break it down to the smallest possible step…and then take the step.  If appropriate, build in a reward system like Darren’s trip to the local pizza parlor.  One small step at a time with the right mindset will allow you to conquer any fear you may have.

Image from darrenhardy.com

7 – Failing Your Way to Success 

Michael Jordan ranks in the all-time top ten for the most shots missed and yet he is arguably considered the greatest player in NBA history.  Thomas J. Watson of IBM had a philosophy of embracing failure.  In fact, he believed that ultimate success was found on the far side of failure.  And Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com has burned 100’s of millions of dollars in the process of building the most successful company on the planet.  Amazon has built a culture of failure that drives their universe denting success.  

Darren learned this valuable lesson during his early days of selling real estate.  In a down market, where most of the veterans in his office waited for the phone to ring, Darren forced success by stacking up failures.  He would go door to door approaching homes listed as For Sale By Owner and then spent hours on the phone in the evenings calling on expired listings.  He went from being the rookie to the top agent in his office by pushing the pendulum so far to the side of failure, that it catapulted him to the extreme opposite side of success.  

It was a numbers game much like a lesson I learned from my first sales manager.  In a deck of cards, you have 52 cards with 12 face cards.  With the deck face down, drawing one card at a time, it is impossible to not eventually draw a face card.  You know they’re in there…you just have to trust the process and run the numbers until the numbers prove you right.  When applied to life, the challenge is to simply have the intestinal fortitude to go through the struggles needed to ultimately reach success.       

From Darren’s digital program, “Insane Productivity:

8 – Digital Addiction 

The single biggest threat to our productivity in today’s world is distractions.  Between our phones, tablets, computers, social media, and the seemingly endless number of apps, our attention is constantly being pulled into a multitude of different directions.  And the problem is that for the most part, we’ve done it to ourselves…and we love it. 

I say we love it because according to Healthline.com, “For many people, social interaction stimulates the release of dopamine. Because so many people use their phones as tools of social interaction, they become accustomed to constantly checking them for that hit of dopamine that’s released when they connect with others on social media or some other app.”  So, digital addiction is a real thing and it can be extremely hard to break.

Image from Kern Valley Sun

The challenge with phones has become so pervasive that to see someone in public, alone, without their face in their phone is almost an anomaly.  In the gym environment where I earn my living, it is rare to see someone training without their phone.  The challenge is that more and more, people tie up equipment between sets with their faces buried in their phones…texting, emailing, surfing, or whatever.  The bottom line is that it’s becoming a nuisance.    

And for all the warnings about not using your phone while driving, you still see people every day with one hand on the wheel and their phone in the other.  It’s time to stop the insanity.  Thankfully Darren made me aware of my personal challenge and with awareness, there comes the possibility of change.

Image from Safewise

My particular struggle is not so much with social media or staying connected with the news.  My kryptonite is email & text messages and they’re the monsters I’m still working to tame.  The problem is that they’re the primary tools that I use to communicate with my clients.  And being a people person who loves to serve, I feel compelled to constantly check my phone for the sake of running my business.  The solution was simple enough and now I only check for messages at specific times of the day.  This keeps me in control and has reduced my stress level substantially.

My favorite strategy from Darren, especially concerning not using your phone while driving, is to leave it out of reach in the backseat…or if needed in your trunk.  Now, if the very thought of not having your phone “handy” in the car gives you the shakes, you may have a problem.  And it’s not just confined to your car.

Nomophobia—an abbreviation of “no-mobilephone-phobia”—is also called “cell phone addiction.” Symptoms include: Experiencing anxiety or panic over losing your phone. Obsessively checking for missed calls, emails, and texts.

Sound familiar?  In Darren’s “Insane Productivity” course, he provides a “Digital Addiction Assessment” to determine your true level of digital struggle.  Once you take the test, your roadmap for change will be clearly spelled out and with one step at a time, you can take back your life.

9 – No Multi-tasking Required 

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.  Right?  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.

Don’t believe me?  Try this.  Count from 1-10 as fast as you can.  Now name the letters of the alphabet from A-J as fast as you can.  No sweat, right?  Now try 1A, 2B, 3C…all the way to 10J and see how you do.  I bet you slowed down quite a bit.  And why?  Because you’re running two like cognitive tasks in switching back and forth between the numbers and letters which comes close to locking up your brain.

This one was hard for me to accept however I promise you will get far more done doing one thing at a time.  And remember, it’s not a matter of getting it all done anyway.  You will never get it all done.  Your inbox will never be empty and your to-do list will never end.  The key to high productivity is to get the right things done.  Focus on priority management, not time management.  You will never control time, but you can maximize it by focusing on your highest producing activities.

10 – Design Your Life…Then Your Business

Many people get this backward.  They choose a job without careful consideration for the life that career path will give them.  How do you define success?  How do you want to live your life when you’re not working?  Do you want a long commute or a short one?  Or none?  Do you want to travel?  Do you want to have your nights and weekends free?
These questions could go on and on and they should.  

Some people spend more time planning their vacations than they do planning for their life.  The key is to design the life you want to live in the most vivid detail and then select the career path that supports your dreams.  Or if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, build a business to support the life of your dreams.  This concept is not complicated and yet again, many people get it backward.  These are some of the same people who live for the weekend, and life is too short to live for only two days out of seven.      

Closing thoughts for my readers:

Outside of his Dad, Jim Rohn was Darren’s most significant mentor.  Personally, I discovered Mr. Rohn back in the ’90s and I’ve studied his teachings over the years as well.  Jim was simply brilliant and considered America’s Foremost Business Philosopher.  He touched the hearts of people literally around the world and he certainly touched mine. 

Image from nextlevelgents.com

To wrap up, I want to share the two dominant principles that are burned in my mind compliments of Jim:

1 – Leave the world better than you find it.
2 – If a book or song or movie or any experience touches your heart and life, you have a responsibility to share it with others.

It is in the spirit of Jim that I’ve shared Darren’s impact on my life.  

Best of luck in your journey.

For more information on the resources Darren offers, go to darrenhardy.com.

 

Posted in Darren Hardy, Entrepreneur, increased focus, Jim Rohn, personal development, seeking wisdom, social media, success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned From Darren Hardy – Part 1

This post is part one of a follow-up to the background story for how I met Darren Hardy.  The following is the first half of the top lessons I’ve learned over the past eight years from the man who has become one of my most influential mentors.  

From Darren’s book, “The Compound Effect”:

1 – Long-term Perspective & Consistency:

The compound effect is a powerful force in your life for positive or negative and many people fail to realize it.  Do you know what happens when you double a penny every day for 31 days?  You start with $.01 on day one, and then $.02 on day two, and then $.04, $.08, $.16, $.32, $.64, $1.28, $2.56 and so on.

After nine days and a total of $2.56, there’s not much to be excited about.  And yet, when you jump ahead to day thirty, you have $5,368,709.12 and on day thirty-one, you have $10,737,418.24.  Now here’s the catch.  The math never changes from day one to day thirty-one.  It’s just simple duplication.  The power is in the consistency.  Miss any one day and you don’t get anywhere near the same total.

Image from LIBQUOTES.COM

This simple concept has taught me to have a long-term perspective while maintaining absolute consistency in the present moment.  Many are tripped up in two ways.  With negative habits, you don’t see the damage being done at the moment.  And yet, like in the penny example above, a negative habit compounded over time can destroy your health, relationships, career, and ultimately your life.  For this reason, you have to remain vigilant and aware of every area of your life.

Image by JAROFQUOTES.COM

Even when trying to build in new and positive habits, it can work the same way.  People don’t see the benefits in the short run because the positive effects are too small to be noticed.  Exercise, nutrition, and weight loss are great examples where people try again and again to change, only to give up too soon because of a lack of apparent results.  The key is to be patient in the short run and to trust the process until the power of the compound effect kicks in.  Then the positive results will be so compelling that there’s no way you will stop.

2 – Taking Responsibility

This is a big one, and while I have to give credit to Darren’s mentor, the great Jim Rohn, for first sharing this concept with me, it’s been Darren in recent years who has hammered this principal deep into my consciousness.  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 because of the choices and decisions that you’ve made.  If you don’t like where you are, make different choices.

Image by Heather Parady

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 in how you respond to any situation.  When you place blame on outside circumstances, you give away your power to create 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 your life will be all the better for it.

Image from INVESTIVATE.COM

3 – Associations

Your associations in life will make or break you so choose wisely.  It’s been said that you’re the combined average of the people you spend the most time with.  This principle is nothing new as you’ve heard it all your life…starting most likely with your mother.  The challenge is that it’s not easy.  

I encourage you to take a serious inventory of your life including faith, family & friends, finances, and fitness.  Now, look at the people you spend time with and consider how they’re doing in these areas.  Depending on what you find, you may have some hard choices to make.  Life is too short to allow negative people to drag you down.  And remember, there’s no such thing as treading water…you’re either growing for the positive or you’re slipping back for the negative.

Image from darrenhardy.com

And for an added emphasis, it’s not just people that you have to be careful with.  News in any format, social media, television, movies, and music all carry a message and it’s either positive or negative.  You seriously have to guard your heart and mind daily because, in our over-tech-stimulated world, you are being bombarded day and night.  To paraphrase Darren, you have to be hyper-vigilant in feeding your mind with the positive and in shielding your mind from the negative because trust me…the negative will beat a path to your door.

4 – Momentum

Momentum is an awesome force.  When properly harnessed, it can propel you to the pinnacle of success, regardless of your pursuit.  According to Darren, a train traveling 55 mph on a railroad track can crash through a 5-foot thick steel-reinforced concrete wall without stopping. That same train, starting from a stationary position, won’t be able to go through an inch-thick block in front of the driving wheel.

Image from YouTube

The trick then is to get momentum working for you so that like the train above, you become essentially unstoppable.  The biggest secret I’ve learned from Darren regarding momentum is that it takes time and patience to build.  A great example is Apple’s introduction of the iPod.  For the record, Apple was the eighth company to introduce an MP3 player…four years behind the original from South Korea’s SaeHan Information Systems. 

In 2000, Apple’s revenue growth was 30%.  In 2001, the year they launched the iPod, their revenue growth dropped to – 33%.  In 2002, it improved to only -2%.  In 2003, it improved to 18%, and in 2004, they hit 33%.  From there, Apple skyrocketed up to controlling over 70% of the MP3 player market.  And today, according to Mother Google, Apple as a brand is worth in excess of $100 billion dollars.

Image from Wikipedia.org

This story has always been such an encouragement to me.  Remember, the iPod entered the MP3 race four years behind the leaders with a technically inferior product, and yet due to Steve Job’s dogged persistence and brilliant marketing mind, Apple caught momentum and rode the wave all the way to market dominance.  

5 – Thanks Giving Journal

Of all the lessons I’ve learned from Darren over the years, my favorite is on the power of gratitude.  His favorite holiday is Thanksgiving where he puts more emphasis on showing his love and affection for the special people in his life versus any other time of the year.   

One year, in particular, Darren gave his wife Georgia a very special gift…a Thanks Giving journal.  For the entire previous year, Darren journaled daily one positive thought regarding his wife.  It could be anything from the way she styled her hair to the meal she prepared for dinner or the way she cared for their dogs.

Image from theittteam.com

This is a classic case of manifesting what you give focus and attention to, and Darren will say that one year of constantly looking for the good in his wife dramatically impacted their relationship for the positive.  The benefit he discovered was that by proactively focusing on the positive in Georgia, he found himself compelled to show up differently and ultimately to love her all the more.  Needless to say, she loved the journal expressing that it was the best gift he had ever given her.

Stay tuned for part 2…

 

 

 

Posted in Darren Hardy, Entrepreneur, Jim Rohn, personal development, seeking wisdom, social media, the power of associations, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

My Secrets for Working Out at Home

On March 16, 2020, my company along with many others across our nation closed its doors.  When our boss gave the word, my mind immediately began racing with all the mostly negative ramifications.  Beyond the obvious health and financial implications for our country, I wondered how in the world I would be able to train at home. 

Since I’ve always trained at a gym, I had very little exercise equipment at home.  I had my trap bar and two 25 lbs kettlebells and that was about it.  That evening, I ordered a resistance band set from Amazon which thankfully arrived a couple of days later.  The next day I purchased a stability ball and ab wheel from Walmart, and a small number of free weights for my trap bar along with some extra resistance bands from Busy Body Fitness.

I would have purchased more weight however they were out.  As crazy as the rush on toilet tissue has been, the rush on fitness equipment has been almost equally crazy.  Even as of this morning, it’s still difficult to find fitness equipment locally or online.  My one other purchase was a trip to Home Depot for a metal pipe, chain, and a couple of spring links to build my homemade chin-up bar.

10′ chain – $10, 3′ galvanized pipe – $20, 2 spring links – $7, being able to do chins at home – priceless!

Now I will admit that while training at home is not the same as going to the gym, it’s still doable and it certainly beats the alternative of not doing anything.  I had never used resistance bands before as one of my primary tools and I’m still figuring out little tricks almost daily in better utilizing them.  Actually, in some ways, I like them more than some of the equipment I was using before, and will definitely be integrating them into my training in the future once I’m back in my gym.

With that short background, I want to shift to my biggest reason for this post.  As I’ve reached out to a number of my clients over the past few weeks, the most common feedback I’ve received is that they’re not motivated to workout at home.  This is even coming from a few clients who actually have some decent home equipment…certainly more than my little hodgepodge.

So here’s the same tuff love that I’ve given to my clients regarding their lack of motivation.  Motivation is a trap…based on your emotions.  If you live your life based only on how you feel, good luck.  You will live your life on a freakin’ roller coaster as your emotions go up, down, and all around.  Live your life based on your commitments to yourself, your family, your friends, your coworkers, and your fellow man…do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. 

Question?  Do you always feel like going to work?  The answer is “no” for most.  So why do you go?  Because of your commitments to take care of yourself and your family.  Obviously, there’s more, but this really cuts to the core reasons for why you go.  Feeling like it generally has little to do with it.  

So, when it comes to your exercise, it doesn’t matter if you’re motivated or not.  Do it because it’s the right thing to do…for you.  Further, do it because you’re no good to your family or anyone else if you physically break down.  And this will be the end result of not taking care of your self.  World renown physician, Dr. Ken Cooper teaches that you can proactively invest time to build and fortify your health…or you will reactively be forced to take time to put yourself back together once your body breaks down.  

As a morning person, I’ve trained in the early mornings for most of my life.  Since I’ve been training at home the past few weeks, my schedule has not changed at all.  I get up at the same time and do my morning bible study along with coffee and a small protein shake before getting dressed to train.  The only difference is that instead of driving to the gym, I’m simply training in my apartment.

So, depending on your circumstances, figure out first of all when you’re going to train and then schedule the time.  Then when you actually do your workout, go through the same warm-up process as much as possible as when you were going to the gym.  It will be different on the one hand because you’re at home, however, I promise that your body will start to kick in once you take action.  If you usually wear head-phones, wear your head-phones…if appropriate.  The more you can simulate the feel of the gym, the better.  

Once you get your first workout in, I promise the second will be easier and so on.  To add a little gamification to the process, add your training to your calendar.  The calendar in your phone or computer will do however an old fashioned wall calendar is the best…because of the visual element.  Commit to your next week of training and then focus strictly on the first workout.  Once it’s done, mark it off your calendar and then focus on the next.  There is power in seeing your progress as evidenced by the check marks on your calendar.  One workout at a time, one week at a time, and you can do this.

Closing thoughts for my readers:

In my previous life as a manufacturer rep, I used to travel quite a bit and trained in a lot of different gyms.  I learned what I shared regarding your training at home from my time training on the road.  At first, it was difficult because of the different environments, the variations in equipment, and the fact that I was coming from my hotel instead of the comforts of my home.

Once I learned, however, to follow the same routine as my home town gym in terms of my warm-up, the differences seemed to fade away.  Further, after a few trips, I got used to the variation to the point that it wasn’t a big deal.  In fact, I had some great workouts over that three and half year period and value now all the more the lessons I learned.

As I’ve said to my clients many times, I will never ask them to do anything I’m not willing to do myself.  So, in that same spirit, the following are screen-shots from my Fitbit starting back on March the 17th right up to this morning.  My rotation is four days of weights followed by an off/cardio day.  As of this morning, I haven’t missed and you can do the same with whatever your personal schedule is.  Set your goal for how many days you’re going to train this next week and get it done.  Just turn your brain off and do the work.  You will be so glad you did.

Best of luck in your journey.

 

 

 

Posted in attitude, better mood, Christian, Faith, Follower of Christ, goal setting, Health & Fitness, home training, learning from mistakes, Nutrition, personal development, success, Uncategorized, weight training, wise choices | 2 Comments

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 often hear this 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 more significant than you might expect.  It can be far more complex 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.  You will struggle if you’re attempting this based on external cues like counting calories, balancing macros, or measuring how many steps you get a day.  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 an excellent standard to strive for.  For example, 3 days of strength training combined with cardio on most other days would be fantastic.  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 several life skills; without them, 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 is a sampling of 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 efficiently to achieve the abovementioned four skills.  Ultimately, these ten areas of focus will take time to achieve proficiency.

When I talk with a potential client during their initial consultation, they typically look for a meal plan, including how many calories to consume combined with a specific 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 knowledge to use.  That’s where nutrition coaching comes into play.  My job is to fill the gap between clients and where they want to be.  And most want it all upfront.  Unfortunately, simultaneously tackling a list like the ten items above would be a recipe for failure.

So how many of you know someone who prides themselves on being good at multitasking?
I learned this valuable insight from my mentor, Darren Hardy.  You do understand that there’s no such thing as multitasking.  Right?  It’s impossible to run two cognitive processes in your brain simultaneously.  If you are doing two things at once, you’re switching between the two tasks, making 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 simultaneously 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 looking at your phone.  You can’t do both simultaneously, and that’s why driving while using your phone is 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 to 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, two weeks seems to be a perfect time frame to focus on building a new habit when it comes to nutritional habits.

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 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?  Would it be worth it if the second list of five, in particular, protects you from ever relapsing back into your old ways?  Five months is nothing in the big scheme of life, and this is just a simple example.

My average nutrition coaching client needs to lose 25 lbs or more.  We’re looking at four months of losing 1-2 pounds per week, which is very doable and sustainable.  So, for the sake of perspective, my example above of spending five months to achieve your goals is not that long.

Be careful about dismissing an opportunity for growth and change because of the time commitment.  The time will 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, precisely like the limiting factors I’m referring to about your health.

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

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

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 many 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 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 back a short time later.  The problem?  It could be many things; however, 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 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 several 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 that I learned from my mentor, Nutritionist Keith Klein:

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 regularly hear 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 get you into action.  The only problem is that this negative motivation can wear off without effort.  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 terrible doctor report telling you to lose 20 lbs, and you take action.  You change your nutrition, start exercising, and you’re down 5 lbs. after a couple of weeks.  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, so you’re all the more determined to move forward.

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

Let’s say you 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 regain the lost muscle is to earn it in the gym.

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

The key to avoiding the fallback is setting short-term goals like losing 20 lbs while building 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 blend long-term growth with your goals, you will achieve far more, and the ride will be much smoother.

Inner Based:

I wish there was a shortcut I could offer you, but unfortunately, it just takes time.  From the results of focusing on long-term growth and building positive behaviors in 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 add to significant change, and I learned the following two examples from my mentor, Darren Hardy.  So, 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 while looking at the top.  As you can imagine, given the enormity of the goal, it could be pretty 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.  You can walk to the moon if you break your goals into bite-sized chunks and focus on one little piece at a time.  The key is to simply not look up.

Imagine 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.  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?

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 top 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.

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 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 you pull it along the table with your finger, the string will follow along in a clean straight line.  Holding your why out in front of you can act as a magnet to help pull you ahead 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, 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 an extensive 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 their products and their employees to boost performance.

Closing remarks for my readers:

In closing, I have some concrete action steps for you to consider.  First, you must 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 you will need to adopt in achieving your goals and write them down.

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; sometimes, it can be challenging.  If you surround yourself with your goals and 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 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…

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