Diets don't work. Clients may lose weight initially, but diets don't get to the root of the issue. The main issue concerns your habits.
Focusing on changing habits is much less painful than starvation diets where you have to rely on pure discipline and willpower.
40-45% of your decisions actually come from your habits. A problem emerges here because most of our habits are autopilot. Habits are more powerful than conscious thought and willpower.
We can use habits for positive or negative ends. We have "bad" habits (we can break those with skillful strategies); however, we can use this autopilot habit feature to create "good" habits too.
Many of our current habits help us feel safe and secure. When we feel stressed a certain part of the brain is activated which then gives us a powerful urge to do something to relieve that stressful feeling. When the distress is relieved, our brain relaxes and it remembers that habit for next time.
Most of you don't know that my older brother is a really cool guy and we have the most interesting conversations (some of you know my older sister as she comes to my classes and she is awesome too). My brother Ron is a Mindful Habit coach. If you are interested he wrote 100+ Habits of Great Leaders.
Habit change is super important for exercise and nutrition. If we can master our habits, then we have the ability to get the body and health we desire. But as we all know, incorporating and sustaining healthy habits can be very challenging.
I enjoy the way James Clear of Atomic Habits describes habit change. I have summarized his main takeaways below:
Clear says "your entire day is a summary of your life's habits." Powerful stuff to ponder!
He says "what you repeatedly do ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality you portray."
Clear has broken the process of building a habit into 4 steps: cue, craving, response, and reward.
Over the past several weeks I have been exploring methods of recovery. It’s not simply about resting the body after an exercise session, but about intelligently helping the body heal and move to reach healthy balance within the body.
In the first post I explain there is a constant play of stability and mobility. Certain areas in our body function best when strong and stable and other parts of the body function best when flexible and mobile.
In the second post I explore how strength training helps build the body to function optimally. I highly recommend strength training with a plan designed by a certified personal trainer, as it’s important to have a solid program and system built to work with your unique set of strengths and weaknesses. More info about training here.
In the third post I delve into stretching and self-massage.
In the forth post, I explored how stress can limit your ability to lose weight and become healthy.
A little while ago I was complaining to my hair stylist. I was complaining about the fact that for the past four weeks I hadn’t been consistent in my workouts because of a serious chest cold that just wouldn’t go away. You remember that nasty chest cough that everyone had in December? During cardio (or really just laughing) would send me into a flurry of deep chest coughing. I could still do weight training, but I thought it wouldn’t be so considerate to be at the gym hacking away spreading my germs everywhere, so I focused on performing light weights at home.
My biggest complaint was that I was losing weight. And that made me annoyed because I knew I was losing lean muscle mass, not body fat. And that muscle was hard earned. For the past year I trained 6 days a week, lifting 6-12 reps for 3-5 sets, twice a week per body part.
So here I was in my stylist’s chair complaining about losing weight because I wasn’t exercising. I said...
I often answer “the best diet is the one that you can maintain long term.”
This is such a complex discussion. And really there is no right answer as to whether there is one diet that works for all people. Well….maybe one right answer: whole foods. Selecting most of the food you eat from whole sources, meaning minimally processed, feeds your body the nutrients it needs and keeps it healthy.
The reason that no one diet works for everyone is that people are diverse. Every body needs different macros (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) depending on several important aspects.
In the first chapter of the Precision Nutrition's “The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition” textbook for my Level 1 Certification I am currently enrolled in, it gives an excellent and explained overview of several ways that people are diverse. Allow me to paraphrase…
Body Type – some of us are tall and thin, some short and stocky, and some in between....