How do you make life-altering changes?
Let’s be serious for a moment, weight loss should be a life-altering change, and surely part of our problem with it is in our own short-term thinking.
Attack the problem with the end in site only a few months from now and surely you make relapse all the more likely.
When you accept change into a life-long process you’re far more likely to experience success with it.
Here is another simple psyche concept, you can comfortably use on your journey to the body you want, it’ll help you focus on the skill or skills you already possess that can get the ball rolling.
What Is a Bright Spot?
A bright spot is a moment of clarity or a moment of near-perfection, that can serve to positively reinforce a skill, habit or behavior you hopefully are trying to change or improve.
These momentary events can be used to signal and remove negatives outlooks, by reinforcing that you are already capable of completing something, if only for a moment or if only a small part of your puzzle.
I pulled the term from the book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, obviously this will be my interpretation, but it really just associated a cool name with a technique I’ve been using for years as a coach.
In my work, most of what I do involves helping people identify a block and move through it.
Most people are stuck when it comes to weight loss, usually in something negative.
But i’ll have to give up on all the foods I love if I want to lose weight.
But I just don’t have the time to get to the gym or to cook.
If you think about it for a moment, you’ve probably had an excuse or two when it comes to rationalizing to yourself for almost anything.
We all have, yes, even me.
The technique though that can flip your miserable outlook on the situation to a more positive outlook is to look for a Bright Spot.
Something you already do well, that makes a difference, even if it’s small and seemingly insignificant right now.
I’ve been working the last few months in particular with an old client on overhauling her diet.
It’s not even that she eats badly, certainly better than most, but she’s also not quite where she wants to be at the moment either.
We don’t start the discussion though, by looking at what she’s doing wrong, we start by focusing on what she’s doing right, and you can do the same.
It’s like greasing your mind with a little bit of positive reinforcement, before addressing any short-comings.
For instance, she’s eating a high quality breakfast (protein, veggies, and/or healthy fruit), and dinner (lean proteins with lots of veggies).
These are things she already does well, but the mere fact of acknowledgement leaves her with a lot more confidence the moment we start nit-picking the finer details of her eating.
If you want to change something, don’t start immediately with what’s wrong in what you want to change, look for what you do well first.
Most people start with what they do wrong, these negative thoughts weigh heavily on your conscious thought, and draw our attention to all of our problems, but not solutions.
Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson‘s research out of the University of North Carolina shows a very heavy balance towards negative thought.
Though she’s not the only one — numerous researchers have shown that human being are far more affected by negative experiences — but her research draws a good ratio at a necessary 3:1 ratio of positive to negative thought to maintain sound equilibrium; In other words, negative thinking is three times as damaging to the change process.
In the case of my client, and you, it would be easy to find all the things you do wrong, but you’ll get more benefit out of finding the things that you already do right and have a direct relationship to the things you want to change.
Maybe getting to the gym isn’t your problem, but getting the most out of your time there is.
Maybe cooking isn’t the problem, you just have trouble making healthier food taste as good as your comfort foods.
Isolate what you already do well, then extrapolate how that can impact what you want to change.
When I’m coaching, this often means let’s identify what you’re doing well at the gym, not what you can’t do.
Apply what you already know to the change process.
My client was already getting good at pairing good foods together the majority of the time. One of the areas she struggled with was her post-training window, which she was pushing back five or six hours, rather than my recommended max three and the closer to the workout to me the better too.
As some of you know, one of the habits I try to encourage with my clientele is reserving starchy carbohydrate consumption for post-workout windows.
Post workout is when your body is most primed to deal with carbohydrate consumption and consequent storage, but there still needs to be a presence of quality lean proteins and ideally veggies/fruit.
Knowing she already had the proteins and veggies part down, all we did over a period of time was test drive various methods that hit these needs while still being practical for her schedule and lifestyle:
- Add 1-2 servings of fruit with a serving of protein (half a chicken breast, 4-6 oz piece of fish or meat, or the easiest thing is whey protein powder)
- Add a serving of starchy carbohydrates to the existing morning snack (this could include any type of potato or root veggie, or something like oats) that already consisted of healthy proteins/veggies
- Use a carbohydrate/protein recovery drink (typically 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates — typically waxy maize or a corn derivative — to whey protein) with a serving of veggies
- Go for her favourite lunch time meal (Sushi – with rice…) early in the day to match her workout times
Drawing upon what she was already good at, now we have some simple strategies to address where she may have been astray, that can all yield a positive result and are just slightly better than what she’s been doing.
Getting the protein and the veggies were easy, especially for meals she ate at home, her meals at work were a little more difficult to fit into the schedule.
By drawing on what you already do well, you’ll find solutions that are a little easier to swallow and implement.