Understanding

Chances are you if you’re reading this you’re looking for info on weight loss or fitness advice or nutrition advice or all of that in some combination.

Information is great, but it will only get you so far — see knowledge of vs knowledge how.

I sincerely hope that you’ve found this blog informative and useful, or at least that you will.

More than information though, more than just reading this post or this blog, I encourage you to seek an understanding.

An understanding that reading this alone will never fulfill.

You should ask questions and seek the answers. 

How fitness, nutrition, or your weight-loss mission are unique to you.

I don’t mean telling others you’re just ‘big boned’ and leaving it alone.

I mean self-experimentation to a certain extent but also a deeper understanding that fitness and nutrition are only one of several components that contribute to a healthy weight, optimal fitness or eating to feel and look good.

Case Study:

John Doe, who came to see me, who had a few movement impairment issues and was carrying a few extra lbs but otherwise exercised hard (when he could), and knew a fair bit about eating healthy (again when he did it).

It would have been easy for me to assign some exercise program (train him one to three times a week) and a meal plan dictating what he should eat every day, but I didn’t.

Why didn’t I?

Eating and exercising wasn’t the problem, when he did it.

It was ensuring that he learned the skills/habits that were really important for him to establish some kind of consistency to his routine.

The problem was his work routine/schedule. He travelled at least 1 week a month, sometimes 2 weeks, which constantly broke up his routine, so a rigid eating or exercise program, just wouldn’t work.

He also entertained frequently for his business, which meant hockey games, football games, taking clients out for dinners, all of which were food traps and nearly a licence for excessive alcohol consumption.

Instead of focusing on exercise and nutrition, I had the bigger task of changing his mindset and teaching him incrementally, how to eat better when he was out.

I had to teach him how to significantly reduce his calories from alcoholic drinks, so he would fit in with his peers, for the sake of appearances — though I would eventually want to ween him into that 80/20 or 90/10 range I talk so frequently about.

We also tried to figure out better ways to get exercise in on the road and how to time his meals more appropriately around his travel and exercise schedule.

No easy task, but I believe this strategy will prove most effective for the majority of people out there.

Why?

We’re attacking the real issues here, one at a time.

It’s not the exercise or nutrition he’s doing when he’s sticking to it, it’s getting him to stick to a strategy and understand that strategy as it relates to his particular situation.

This is what I mean by seeking understanding.

I bet that no matter what your chosen nutrition of exercise regime is, it probably will work, provided you do it consistently.

Expect then for you to have success with any ‘program’ — in the traditional sense of the word — you have to discover what prevents you from doing it consistently.

Often people will do something, fail at it, and blame the program. Even though it told them to do XYZ and they only did X, half of the time.

It is more than likely it wasn’t the appropriate program, delivered in the appropriate context for them as an individual.

Whereby the exact same program is highly effective for another individual who can do XYZ consistently.

More than likely it is not that your nutrition or exercise skills suck, though it could be, I’m willing to bet you do eat well and exercise appropriately some of the time.

More often than not, in my experience, bad habits there are a symptom of something else going on.

It’s more than likely you’re good when you’re doing something, it’s just finding consistency with it that’s the problem.

There is a limiting factor holding you back or interfering with your success, that you have to learn to work around.

It could be kids, your family, work, your home environment, — you keep junk around in the house, so guess what you reach for when you’re hungry? — your social group, your beliefs, your self-esteem, emotional state of well-being, or other habits/behaviors.

You have to develop good skills to combat bad habits, in order to change bad behaviors and habits into good ones. This is much how the process works.

A Strategy for Understanding:

1) Ask Why? 

2) Discover

What is holding you back? What do you need to change? Have others said or made recommendations to you in the past about what to change?

3) Narrow

You’re likely to identify things that are very big things holding you back.

For example, you may list something like ‘my diet’ is holding me back.

It probably is, but diet is too big to overhaul, so narrow that down further.

Then narrow those results down further, until you have manageable chunks for change that you have a lot of direct control over changing.

Working with a coach is perhaps the most highly effective thing you can do for this portion, to gain a unique perspective on your limiting factor(s).

4) Commit

Identify one of these small things as something you can commit to. Ideally, but not always, it is the easiest thing to do, that delivers the biggest dividends towards your success.

For instance, saving starchy carbohydrate consumption for after exercise — with a 3 hour window, then maybe try to shorten the window based on the initial outcomes.

5) Focus

Pick one thing, and one thing only you can commit to working on developing (Just one!).

Multi-tasking is a myth, is highly ineffective and will typically lead to failure or at least a high level of difficulty in achieving long-term success.

Batch one thing at a time to work on, even though you will need to work on nutrition and exercise, work on them separately with deliberate intent. For example, when you’re training, train, focus on training, don’t think about nutrition.

The rest of the day you can focus on your nutrition.

6) Develop

What skills can you develop that will off-set the effect of a negative limiting factor?

What habits need to be ingrained to make things easier?

Create the plan of attack to develop the skills, habits and behaviors that battle the negative enemies.

7) Practice

Deliberately practice that positive skill daily, until you no longer think about it.

Often people say that it takes 21 or 30 days to change a habit, but I believe some habits are easier to break or change than others.

Sometimes you can change something in a week or two, other times it takes 3-6 months or longer. Look for patterns of behavior, do you have to think about actively doing something?

The progression of habits looks something like this:

  • Unconscious Incompetence (Not being aware you have the bad habit)
  • Conscious Incompetence (Aware that you have a bad habit, but not necessarily doing anything about it)
  • Conscious Competence (Conscious of and taking action on changing a habit)
  • Unconscious Competence (You unconsciously execute on the good habit)

8) Move on to new limiting factor and follow steps 1 through 7 over again.

This is apart of this series of reading.

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