Hi folks, welcome back for another edition of Ask a Health Coach. Today, Erin discusses how trusting your instincts might just be your best bet during these uncertain times, how finding your ‘why’ can help you stick with long-term goals, and the one thing you need to do to change bad habits for good. Got more questions? Keep them coming in the MDA Facebook Group or down below in the comments.
“I’ve definitely felt the pressure of having more time on my hands lately. Everywhere I turn I’m hearing people say, ‘what will you do during the quarantine?’ And ‘how will you come out of this better?’ What’s your take on all of this?” – Andrea
From my perspective, there are just as many people shouting “MAKE YOURSELF BETTER!” as there are “TAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF.” Honestly, I’m team DO WHATEVER THE HECK FEELS RIGHT FOR YOU.
We all have a new normal right now, even those of us who are used to doing the work-from-home thing. Your new routine might have you feeling unproductive, fearful, or totally out of it. Or it might have you living your best life 1 enjoying extra hours of glorious sleep, a reinvigorated sense of creativity, or desire to learn.
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I can’t say exactly what camp you’ll be in, because how one person responds to change isn’t the same as the next person. That’s the beauty of humans. We’re all different. And how we cope with uncertain times, new schedules, and strategizing on how to score a 4-pack of toilet paper is different too.
TP jokes aside, I’d check in with yourself to see if you’re using your situation as an excuse or an opportunity. People tend to see themselves as victims 2 or as empowered, which influences everyday behaviors, from what kind of groceries you put in your online shopping cart to how you interpret someone’s comment on Instagram.
If you’re thinking things like, “What if I can’t do it?”, “I’ll never be as good” or “Why bother?”, there’s a good chance you’re in the fear-based victim camp. Asking “What can I learn?”, “What excites me? or “How can this improve my life?” are signs you’re looking at your situation through an empowered, opportunistic lens.
See the difference?
So, if your days are spent lounging on the couch, it could be that you’re afraid of taking action. Or it could be that extra hours of relaxing with a funny movie or a good book you’ve been dying to read for 5 years is exactly what you need.
Only you know which is right. Not your online friends, your real friends, or your family on the other side of the country. You don’t need the pressure of keeping up with the overachievers or self-care advocates of the world who are unintentionally making you feel guilty for all the things you are or aren’t doing.
What you do need is self-compassion and a little clarity.
I don’t want you to look back a few years (or a few months) down the road and remember that you spent way too much time stewing over whether or not you should have taught yourself Spanish during self-isolation, tried to get washboard abs, or perfected a paleo banana bread recipe. It won’t matter. Seriously.
What will matter is the time you spent trusting yourself and not worrying about what other people think. Trust yourself and the rest will follow.
“Whenever I decide I’m ready to make changes to my diet, it never lasts more than a few weeks. Any advice for someone who chronically falls short when it comes to long-term goals?”
Let me ask you this: Do you really want to make changes to your diet? I know you say you do, but saying and believing are two entirely different things. Whenever I start working with a client, we spend significant time uncovering their ‘why’ — their real, deep-down reasons and motivations for wanting to make a change. It’s not just my approach either. Everyone from executives to athletes believes that uncovering your why 3 is one of the key elements of success.
If you haven’t done an exercise like this, I highly recommend it. My go-to method is called Why-By-Five. Basically, it’s an exercise that helps you get in touch with your true motivating factors for change. And all you have to do is ask yourself ‘Why’ five times.
· Why is this change important to you? Think about why you want to lose fat or become more metabolically flexible. What is your current situation preventing you from doing?
· Why does that matter? What would be possible if you made those changes? Would you be less hangry, less achy, or have fewer cravings?
· Why is that important? Maybe you’re sick of feeling that low blood sugar crash or getting lectured by your physician or buying pants in a bigger size. Only you know why this is important to you.
· Why would that be great to achieve? Visualize yourself reaching your goal. Imagine all the things you’d be capable of doing.
· Why? Seriously, why? Is it to prove that you can stick with something once and for all? Or reverse the clock and be a bad ass into your 70’s? There’s no wrong answer as long as it resonates with you.
“I have lots of bad habits around sleep and hitting the snooze button. What’s your number one piece of advice relating to breaking bad habits and developing good ones?” -Eric
I would say pick ONE habit and go from there. Our society is so ‘all-or-nothing’ and frankly, it pisses me off. It’s either sleep ‘til noon followed by a Frappuccino and a fritter…or get up at the crack of dawn for a fasted 6-mile run.
Listen, you’ve probably had these habits for years. And changing them all at the same time is a recipe for disaster. (Just a side note here: some people do really well by changing everything at once, but since you’re struggling, I’m guessing you’re not one of those people. Sorry, Eric. I’m not either, if it makes you feel any better.)
Like I mentioned, instead of focusing on breaking all of your bad habits, the key here is to focus on one thing you want to change. If you’ve ever read the book, Atomic Habits, you know there’s a science to this stuff. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to go to bed earlier or trying to wake up earlier, behavior change requires a strategy. Say your goal is to stop smashing the snooze button. What’s one thing you can do to refrain from doing that?
How about putting your alarm in the next room with the volume up really loud? You’d literally have to get out of bed to shut the damn thing off!
You might also want to work with an accountability partner, which is what I’m doing right now. Truth be told, I’m a snooze button pusher too. At least I was until I decided that having an awesome relaxing morning routine (tea, journaling, reading, staring out the window serenely) was more exciting to me than lazily lounging in bed for far too long. Now my accountability partner and I text each other at 5:15 every morning to make sure we’re up.
For you, I’d see if there’s someone in your circle of friends who has the same goal as you do and partner up. That way you’ll be helping someone else break their bad habit too.
The post Ask a Health Coach: Setting Goals, Breaking Bad Habits, and Making the Most of the Quarantine appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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Around here, we talk a lot about the stories we tell ourselves. You know, the limiting beliefs and thoughts that constantly dance around in our brains, preventing us from achieving our health goals. “I’m a terrible cook.” “I never have time to exercise.” “I’ll always be heavy.” Or, “I’m too lazy to stick to a plan.”
Why do you create limiting beliefs?
As humans, we’re wired to create narratives that string together the picked-apart aspects of our lives in a way that rings true for us. It might be things we heard our parents say or experiences we had growing up. Or even interpretations of those things and experiences. According to psychologists at Northwestern University, the narratives we create become a form of our identity — an identity that not only reflects who we think we are, but also what we believe we’re capable of achieving.
Just FYI, these are the false narratives and limiting beliefs you tell yourself and anyone else who will listen. As a veteran health coach, I know this drill firsthand.
Limiting Beliefs List: Examples of Common Narratives People Tell Themselves
When you have a goal in mind, it’s natural, almost reflexive to come up with reasons why you can’t achieve it. Here are some of the more common false narratives that I hear in my practice:
I don’t deserve it
I don’t have the willpower to accomplish this
I’m not disciplined enough
My body type is genetic
Any change I make will be minor, and barely noticeable
I have a tendency to fail at things like this
I don’t have the time
This is going to be just like the last time I tried and failed
I’m selfish if I focus on improving myself like this
I’m too old
These are all made up – every last one of them. I get it though. You probably have decades of proof that you’ll never lose weight. Or that everyone in your family has thick thighs or has an awful sweet tooth. But let me ask you this…
What if you could change your beliefs?
Your mind is one of the most powerful resources you have. If you can believe you can do it, you have a better chance of actually doing it. It’s sort of a believing is seeing mentality. And there are loads of studies to back up this phenomenon. Research by psychologist, Alia Crum shows that how you think about your health can influence the outcome. She adds that you can actually change your reality just by changing your thoughts.
Studies on mindset and limiting beliefs
In a 2007 study 1, Crum and her associate Ellen Langer looked at hotel room attendants whose work involved strenuous physical activity. Two-thirds of the participants believed that they weren’t exercising enough because they weren’t doing typical exercises. Once it was pointed out that pushing heavy carts, pushing a vacuum, and lifting mattresses qualified as exercise, they showed improvements in their weight, blood pressure, and body fat over the course of four weeks.
Researchers conducted another study 2 where participants were given a 380-calorie milkshake, but were told that it was either an indulgent 620-calorie shake or a more sensible 140-calorie shake. When participants drank the milkshake they thought was indulgent, they had a steeper decline in the hunger-inducing hormone, ghrelin than when they drank the milkshake they were told was sensible. Basically, their bodies had a physical response based on what they believed.
I see this in my clients too. For one reason or another, they were programmed to believe that walking wasn’t a good form of exercise or they couldn’t go a single day without eating chocolate or that they’re flat out lazy.
They believed these thoughts until I helped them see things differently. And you can too.
You can always work with a health coach, but I think you’ll be surprised at how simple it can be to start to rewrite the limiting beliefs that have been holding you back for maybe, forever.
How to Change your Limiting Beliefs in 4 Steps and Reach any Health Goal
Here’s a snapshot of my 4-step action plan to shift your mindset so you can reach all of your health goals:
- Visualize your new identity
- Think about what qualities that person has
- Describe the specific actions they take
- Prove it to yourself with small wins
1. Visualize your new identity (and really feel it)
As I mentioned, your identity is based on your limiting beliefs, so instead of putting all of your effort into the behavior you want to change, focus on the person you want to become.
EXAMPLE: You’re trying to be healthier and your spouse comes in the kitchen with a drive-through burger and fries. Instead of saying, “no thanks, I’m on a diet,” try “no thanks, I don’t eat fast food.”
See the difference? In the first response, you still believe you’re a fast food eater (or soda drinker or whatever) but are trying to act differently. In the second response, you believe you’re the kind of person who doesn’t eat fast food. The more you associate with that person, the more your brain starts to automatically believe it.
ACTION STEP: Describe the type of person you want to be. The more specific, the better.
2. Think about what qualities that person has
What are the qualities you’d associate with someone who is healthy? Really visualize a person in that situation — it could even be someone you know. What traits do they have that make them so successful?
EXAMPLE: You’d probably say that they’re mindful and patient. They might also be excellent planners, respect themselves and have a good sense of self-esteem.
Remember, you’re not listing out your own traits, you’re imagining yourself as a person who is mindful, patient, and a good planner. You’re laying the groundwork for becoming the person you want to be so that you can reach the health goal you want to achieve.
ACTION STEP: List out the positive qualities of the person you want to become.
3. Describe the specific actions they take
How does the person you’re becoming act? What’s the first thing they do in the morning when they wake up? What do they do at mealtimes? How do they organize their fridge?
EXAMPLE: A healthy person eats according to their hunger level and recognizes when they have an emotional need (like boredom or fear) versus actual physical hunger. They also fill their kitchen with fresh veggies and good protein sources, making it easy for them to eat healthy.
Your interpretation of what this person does is completely up to you. There’s no right or wrong answer. The key is to visualize the specific actions this person takes, so you can follow suit.
ACTION STEP: Write down the types of things a healthy person does on a daily basis.
4. Prove it to yourself with small wins
Once you’ve visualized your new identity, brainstormed what qualities they have, and figured out the actions they take, your subconscious will start associating with that type of person. Now is the time to take note of all the small wins you’ll be racking up.
EXAMPLE: I’m a healthy eater because I planned out my grocery list for the week. Or, I took 15 minutes to cook a meal of scrambled eggs and bacon instead of grabbing a breakfast sandwich at the nearest drive-through.
Making a grocery list or cooking breakfast one day may not feel like a big deal on its own, but as you see these wins add up, your brain starts to get onboard with your new way of being. And before you know it, you’ll be proving it to yourself with bigger and more consistent wins for the long-term.
ACTION STEP: Keep a record of all the small wins you experience and add to it regularly.
The idea isn’t to become someone else entirely. It’s about reframing your narrative to include all the possibilities you hadn’t yet allowed yourself to believe, then giving yourself the evidence that the life (and awesome health) you want really is available to you.
The post The Secret to Achieving Any Health Goal is All in Your Mind appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.
This week how genetic tests impact your motivation, moralizing food linked to weight regain, and Whole Foods packaging linked to cancer.
Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!
Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!
Links of the week
- What Happens When You’re Convinced You Have Bad Genes – Looks like DNA tests can prime you to have a fixed mindset about your health. Don’t fall for it. (The Atlantic)
- Why People Wait 10 Days to Do Something That Takes 10 Minutes – Another big issue in changing health behaviors is delayed action/procrastination. It’s a common occurrence, but you can get past it. (The Atlantic)
- Successful Weight Management May Depend on the Embrace of Imperfection – Another big one that I’ve discussed a lot here at Summer Tomato is moral licensing. Looks like a new study has quantified how much this tendency is likely to impact weight regain. Hint: it’s not good. (Weighty Matters)
- Whole Foods Ranked Worst on Cancer-Linked Package Chemicals – Props to Whole Foods for addressing this immediately. Still it is disappointing to know that compostable packaging can be linked to cancer. Hoping the packaging industry figures this issue out soon. (Bloomberg)
- The fat-burning heart-rate zone is a myth: How exercise and weight loss really work – Yep. (Washington Post)
- This Emotion Can Help You Eat Healthier – Love this. (Greater Good Magazine)
- Your ‘grass-fed’ beef may have not have come from a cow grazing in a pasture. Here’s why. – This article has been stressing some people out. My advice: find a good butcher you trust that knows the farms. The next best thing is using those animal welfare ratings Whole Foods posts at their meat counter. (Washington Post)
- Scant Evidence Behind the Advice About Salt – I love science, but it makes some topics way too complicated for a normal person to make realistic decisions. Here’s what you need to know: 75-80% of the sodium you eat comes from processed foods. Processed foods are bad for you for a zillion reasons. Avoid processed foods and cook for yourself, and you can use as much salt as you need to make your food taste good. (NY Times)
- ‘The Worst I’ve Ever Seen It’: Lean Stone Crab Season Follows Red Tide in Florida – You can expect a lot more stories like this in the coming years. It’s such a tragedy. (NY Times)
- Golden Beet Hummus – A less calorie-dense and more nutrient-dense take on one of my favorite snacks. (101 Cookbooks)
What inspired you this week?
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Everyone loves a good upgrade, right? via GIPHY But, hey, upgrades aren’t just for airplanes or rental cars or hotels. They can also be for your fit life. via GIPHY And we’ve got five fun upgrades that we recently tried and think are pretty rad. via GIPHY Upgrade Your Sports Bra There tend to be two types of people when it comes to sports bras: those who like inserts and those who don’t. I tend to be of the first camp — I like the nipple coverage, I like the fullness, and did I mention I like the nipple coverage?…
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“You have to rig the game so you can win, set yourself the lowest minimal bar to do something. That was really the key to my success.” – Sarah
It happens to the best of us. You get a little older, your life changes, you start moving less, maybe have a kid or two, and before you know it the extra pounds have slowly crept on. And when you finally realize something needs to be done about it you find you can’t lose it as easily as you used to.
This can be a crucial moment in a person’s life. Do I hop on a diet and get back to my target weight right away or do I look at my lifestyle and start thinking long-term? The latter can seem like a daunting task and you may lack confidence in your ability to do it. But it is the only way to achieve lasting success.
This insight was the key to Sarah’s success. Having been raised on whole foods she found Summer Tomato and immediately identified with the philosophy of using Real Food to lose weight. She knew dieting was not the answer.
Exercise was a different story. Sarah knew that developing a consistent workout routine would be crucial for her success, but that it would also be her most challenging obstacle to overcome.
In this episode Sarah explains the very small yet critical mindset shift she made that enabled her to not only build an exercise routine, but to look forward to it every day.
If you hate exercise and have been trying to develop a routine for years without success I invite you to try Sarah’s approach. It’s a game changer.
Wish you had more time to listen to the podcast? I use an app called Overcast (no affiliation) to play back my favorite podcasts at faster speeds, dynamically shortening silences in talk shows so it doesn’t sound weird. It’s pretty rad.
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan
Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting by Darya Rose, Ph.D
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
Zero – fasting tracker app from Kevin Rose
If you’d like to be a guest on the show, please fill out the form here and tell us your story.
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