Month: January 2017

I am currently in the midst of reading the book Switch authored by Chip and Dan Heath. I am 12 pages in, and I felt compelled to put my thoughts down on paper. Simply put: the book is fascinating.

The first 12 pages discuss the idea of changing behavior, and why it’s so difficult for most people.

The Heath Brothers essentially call everyone schizophrenic, and with good cause. They divvy up the brain into two parts, with a useful analogy from another book: The Happiness Hypothesis, into the Emotional part (the elephant), and the Rational part (the rider).

The rider holds the reigns as he sits on top of the elephant. He appears to be leading the elephant, and dictating which direction that they both move. However, the rider is so small, and the elephant ultimately has control over which direction the two of them go. If the rider and the elephant get into a disagreement as to which way to go, he (the rider) is powerless to stop the gigantic elephant, and will ultimately lose every time.

So how does this analogy of a man riding an elephant relate to willpower? That’s a great question. Let’s talk about that.

Consider the following scenario.

Researchers asked college students to participate in an interesting study that tested will power.

2 groups of students walked into a room that smelled AMAZING (a prerequisite for participating in this study was that the students had to enter the room after not having eaten for several hours). In the middle of the room sat two bowls on a table.

The first bowl was filled with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

The second bowl was filled with radishes.

Group 1 could only eat the cookies.

Group 2 could only eat the radishes.

The researchers said “You have to eat only what is in your group’s bowl. You cannot eat out of the other groups bowl.”

Group 1 was all like: “That sounds fantastic.”

Group 2 was all like: “This is the worst study ever.”

The researchers were testing will power. They left the students alone for quite a while, and then they came back. Both groups had followed the rules: Group 1 only ate cookies. Group 2 only ate radishes.

Then, a new group of researchers did something very interesting. They came into the room, and presented a puzzle to each student in each group. The researchers were sly and said that “they wanted to see if college students were better at finishing this puzzle than high school students.” So, naturally the spry, cocky college students were eager to show up the imaginary high schoolers.

The puzzle was, by design, impossible to finish, but what the researchers wanted to see was:

Did the radish eating group that had to restrain themselves from eating the cookies perform differently from the group that had free reign on eating freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, and had to expend virtually zero self-control?

The answer was yes..

Group 2 (radish group) spent 8 minutes trying to figure out the puzzle before giving up.

Group 1 (cookie group) spend over 2x; 19 minutes, trying to figure out the puzzle before giving up.

Very interesting.

A quote from the initial pages of the book switch will wrap this discussion up:

“They ran out of self control. In studies like this one, psychologiests have discovered that self-control is an exhaustible resource. Similar to sets at a gym, your first repetition is easy. Your muscles are fresh. But with each additional repetition, your muscles get more exhausted, until you can’t lift the weight anymore. The radish eaters had drained their self-control by resisting the cookies. So, when their internal elephants (emotional side) started complaining about the puzzle task — it’s too hard, this isn’t fun, we aren’t good at this, we’re hungry–Their riders didn’t have enough strength to yank on the reigns for more than eight minutes. Meanwhile, the cookie eaters had a fresh, untaxed rider atop their elephant, and fought off the complaints of their elephant for 19 minutes. Self control is an exhaustible resource”

I’ll leave it at that. Think about this in your own life.

Have you ever slept in after hitting snooze 12 times, overeaten, procrastinated, tried to quit something and failed, missed a workout, said/did something that you regret after getting angry, abandoned a hobby because you didn’t have time?

I’m going to read about the 3 ways to control the rider and the elephant, and I’ll summarize that for you soon.

For now, eliminate the unnecessary laboring over reversible decisions.

Lay your clothes out the night before. Have your breakfast for the next morning predetermined. Minimize your options for eating out. If the decision is reversible, do not lament over the choice. Make the damn decision and move on. Save your will power and self control for the decisions that matter.

Until next time.

 

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

The following is a lesson that really hit home for me that I read today from Precision Nutrition coaching.

In essence, it asks the reader to figure out what is progress? What are you ACTUALLY trying to accomplish as a result of X? This could be nutrition. This could be exercise. This could be meditation. Hell, this could be trying to rekindle a damaged relationship, or pursuing a career path.

The article below is specific to health and wellness, but it can be applied to all aspects of life.

Please enjoy:

Imagine you’ve already changed

Imagine that tonight, as you sleep, your world magically changes.

You wake up tomorrow morning with everything you’ve ever wanted.

Every life change, every goal, everything you’ve ever strived for has been achieved.

You don’t how know this wondrous transformation occurred — you were asleep, after all — but you know it’s perfect.

You open your eyes, yawn, and look around.

Now answer a question for us:

How will you know that your life has changed? Which things are different?

What is “progress”?

If you’re going somewhere, how will you know when you get there?

And how will you know that you’re on track to your destination?

At PN (Precision Nutrition), we like to focus on three important measures of progress:

  • Body composition: How much lean mass and body fat do you have?
  • Health: Are your body systems operating well?
  • Fitness and athletic performance: How do you perform in the gym or in your chosen activities?

In other words: How do you look, feel, and perform?

On your measurement days, we ask for body weight, body girths, and photos. While these numbers are helpful, they’re only a small part of what you’ll improve in PN Coaching.

For instance, using the three measures of progress above, you might also improve:

  • strength
  • your blood profile (e.g., triglycerides, cholesterol)
  • speed
  • work capacity
  • recovery
  • immune system

You’re here for your own reasons.

Your journey — and your body — is unique.

What counts as “progress” to you will be different than what determines “progress” for someone else.

Track other kinds of progress

It’s hard to see “progress” in daily life because you see yourself every day.

But you can easily measure other types of progress, depending on your goals:

  • Can you lift 10 pounds more today than you could last month?
  • Can you run 5 minutes longer than you could last week?
  • Have you been virus-free this year — after getting 6 colds last year?
  • Has your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol gone down from your last blood test?

While these are “hard facts”, other types of progress are intangible. And some can really surprise you.

For instance, here’s what some of our previous clients said improved:

  • “I walk tall now.”
  • “My posture is better.”
  • “I’m so much happier on the inside.”
  • “I’ve become a better father / husband.”
  • “I feel healthy.”
  • “I feel confident in my food decisions.”
  • “I’m more organized.”
  • “I’m stronger…inside and out.”
  • “I’m determined.”
  • “I’m more focused.”

Track what’s important to YOU

PN Coaching is YOUR journey. So track what’s important and meaningful to YOU.

Ask yourself:

  • What will tell me that I am getting better at doing what I want to do?
  • How do I know I’m on track to my Destination Postcard?
  • If I get what I want, how will I know?

Look for progress everywhere

You never know where progress may lurk. Keep an open mind, and hunt for it.

You’ll find that it’s easier to let yourself go slowly if you can find small signs of everyday progress.

 

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

This is just a life update I wanted to share with the world.

So I’ve been given the privilege of being a part of a Precision Nutrition coaching group.

It’s a one year program geared towards consistent behavioral change, and practicing these behavioral changes as it relates to nutrition and lifestyle. Long story short: It’s effective and impossible to fail if you give it the time of day.

Every few weeks you get ONE habit. One habit to master. The first one was “making time” to simply read the lessons, which take about 5 minutes.

(More info at http://www.precisionnutrition.com/)

Long story short, my second habit is “Eating Slowly”. So, naturally I take the challenge on head first as a cocky fitness professional.

The goal is to add 5 minutes to your meals, and eat with ZERO distractions. No phone. No laptops. No television. Initially, not even conversation if it interferes with your awareness and mindfulness of what you are doing: eating slowly. Savoring every bite.

It’s ridiculously challenging for me. I ate 7 scrambled eggs, 6 sausage links and drank 2 cup of coffee in 6 minutes. The goal over time is 20-30 minutes per meal. Savoring EVERY BITE.

I realized my time allotment to eating reflects accurately the way in which I eat: typically 2-3 breaths per meal, whilst checking e-mail and watching “This is us” with my beautiful fiance.

One lesson that will make you understand just how interesting, and highly valuable this platform is, would be an exercise in patience and awareness from my recent lesson plan which you will find below:

_________________________________________________________________________________________

“Eat a raisin… really, really slowly

At some point in the next few days, grab a handful of raisins. (If you hate raisins, try dried cranberries, fresh berries, or a few chunks of fresh fruit.)

Book 15 minutes with no interruptions or distractions to complete the following task.

(If you can’t find 15 quiet minutes alone, then either you’re a father of a newborn, you’re in a trench in a war zone, or you may want to re-evaluate some things in your life.)

Set your raisins out in front of you and look at them. Pick one up and inspect it closely. Notice how each raisin is unique.

Sniff the raisin. Does it smell like anything? If yes, what? Can you identify the scent?

Pop the raisin into your mouth. Roll it around a bit, feeling the texture.

Bite into it. Notice what happens to your taste buds. Chew it slowly. Does the taste change as you chew? Chew the raisin 15 times.

Then swallow the raisin and repeat with the rest of the raisins.

Observe carefully

After doing this exercise, ask yourself:

What did I notice?
What did I experience?
Don’t worry — we aren’t going to make you eat all your meals like this!

This exercise simply shows you how much more you can experience and enjoy your food when you slow down, pay attention, and eat mindfully.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________

It’s incredible. I did this with a salad from Panera Bread. I took 22 minutes. Probably the longest single course meal I have ever had in my adult life. Those salads typically don’t satisfy me, and this time I was completely content following a mindful eating protocol.

It’s a very simple way to not over eat, and actually pay attention to what you are eating. If I successfully eat like this, I never find myself wanting second plates, or even dessert. Try it and I am sure you won’t either.

It makes sense. My body has time to recognize that I am eating, rather than me shoveling 3 plates of food in to my mouth before it even reaches my stomach. (Read more about the process of digestion here)

Do it and think about every bite you take. Every time you chew. The flavors. The textures. How delicious (or maybe disgusting) your meal is.

Just try it. An easy quote from my current lesson to summarize this is: “Eat slowly and deliberately without distraction”.

I’ll be back with another update at some point. Until then, my habit is to eat my food more like a koala, and less like a vacuum cleaner.

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email