A few months ago I got a great email from someone in the LimitlessCOMMUNITY that talked about some of their personal struggles with creating a healthier lifestyle.
Today I wanted to share that email with you because I’m sure some of you have the same struggles. I’ll do my best to answer some of the struggles outlined below but please cut me some slack. It’s 3:00am when I’m writing this (damn husky puppy woke me up) and I’m a bit delirious.
So if you’re someone who struggles with beating yourself up when you screw up, feel overwhelmed from all the health and fitness mumbo-jumbo out there, or just love entertaining articles that reference pop culture keep reading.
THE EMAIL. IF YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT
Here is the email that I received.
I read your blogs all the time and for a very long time might I add. I really liked this article because for me, I want to lose weight but I never really thought about why. I know I have a strong why in there somewhere…but I’ve never given it any deeper thought, and that is what is probably derailing my healthy living train. I need my why.
I think my main problems are:
1. Attitude. If I don’t eat correctly all the time I really give myself crap about it and feel like I’ve failed. I really beat myself up and I wish there was a way to avoid that. That’s the worst and makes me feel beaten and I feel like I’ve failed. I’m a perfectionist in my job and just in general, and so I feel like I have little mental control over this aspect of my life and it drives me crazy. Every time I fail at eating correctly, it sets me back a lot mentally in my confidence to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
2. I feel so inundated with health/diet/fitness info that I feel that I don’t even know what to do. Which is right which isn’t. In my mind, I always feel like I’m doing it wrong…so why do any of it, if that makes sense. So I never feel comfortable eating anything really. Ie. Too much fruit makes you fat! Fake sugar makes you fat! 100 calorie snack packs make you fat! Drinking coffee makes you fat! Carbs at supper makes you fat! Dairy makes you fat! Eating at night makes you fat! Not enough sleep makes you fat!(Do you see where I’m going with this? Haha) I don’t really feel confident in eating at this point. I feel unsure of myself and it stresses me out.
I’m not trying to sound like I’m making excuses, so I hope it’s not coming across that way. I just feel like I’m in information overload and I feel a little confused by all the info out there I guess. I want to declutter my brain of all this ‘healthy’ info. I read everything, whether in a book or magazine, or internet post…and it’s like all this information doesn’t mix together in my brains.
Anyways, it would be nice to hear how you handle this type of stuff. Motivation isn’t an issue for me (I too know that it’s only there for a couple of days haha like my uncle…) it’s the confidence in my ability to achieve a long-term weight loss goal because I’ve failed so many times before using SO many different methods.
I guess I’m still doing better than everyone out there who isn’t trying at all.
Anyways-love your posts. Keep up the good work because you write good stuff!
WHAT’S YOUR WHY? FINDING YOUR DEEP REASON
One of the lessons in the LimitlessBODY Blueprint has to do with discovering your “Why” or what I like to call finding your deep reason – a term I discovered from special operations officer Craig Weller.
I’m going to share with you that lesson in the LBB. I suggest taking some time out of your day to complete the exercise. It’s a real game changer.
I have a confession to make… I don’t want to workout and eat healthy all the time. There are some days it’s just a pain in the ass, too difficult, exhausting, boring, or frankly I just don’t feel like it. I’d much rather sit on my couch, eat Good N’ Plenty’s (yes, it’s my favorite candy), and exercise my thumb muscles playing video games or watching Netflix.
Now I’m willing to bet there is a good chance that you feel this same way sometimes.
“I’m just not motivated” is one of the biggest excuses I hear.
Today, I’d like you to commit to never saying, “I’m not motivated” ever again. Motivation is a very fleeting emotion – it comes and goes. When you have it, embrace it, take advantage of it, and use it up because it won’t stay long.
It’s like that one weird uncle that you haven’t seen in years. All of a sudden he shows up at your doorstep excited to see everyone, stays a couple of days helping around the house, making everyone laugh and feel good, then he asks for some money and is gone in the middle of the night. WTF?
Instead of trying to get motivated to eat right and exercise I’d like for you to instead commit to showing up and doing the work. One way you can do this is by discovering your deep reason for wanting to get healthier (or what ever goal you have) and by falling in love with the process that it takes to get there.
HOW TO FIND YOUR WHY
You’ve felt it before. That initial mojo when you first start a new workout and diet plan. This time things will be different. You can tell.
Then two weeks in and life happens. Work keeps you late, the kids need your attention, and other responsibilities get in the way. Now you’ve missed a few workouts and you’ve forgetting all about your “diet.”
There will be days you just don’t want to work out, follow healthy habits, or feel overwhelmed and just plain ol forget. You may even have to make some tough decisions like passing up a happy hour so you can get up early to train or passing on the deep dish with the family and ordering some salmon and grilled veggies.
This is when knowing your deep reason will be important.
Your deep reason is gut check time. A lot of people say they want to get healthy, drop body fat, get stronger, but they don’t really know why. Often, it’s just because they think that’s what they should be doing.
I’ve had clients tell me to my face that they’re willing to do whatever it takes to reach their goals. I’ll then ask them to do something like take the creamer out of their coffee and I get a response like this.
“I can’t do that, there’s now way. I have to have my creamer.”
Ask yourself now; do you really want to put in the hard work? Do you really want to consistently workout, make better food choices, and work your ass off? Are you willing to give up a little to get a lot?
If you don’t that’s ok. You’re not ready yet. That doesn’t mean you’ll never be ready, but as of now you’re not. Now, if you’re not sure if you’re ready this may help a bit.
THE 5 WHYS FOR DISCOVERING YOUR DEEP REASON
Here’s an exercise that I’d like you to participate in right now. RIGHT NOW meaning do not read on – do the dang exercise.
- Step 1: Ask yourself why you want to achieve a specific goal.
- Step 2: Whatever you answer in step 1 ask yourself, WHY.
- Step 3: Repeat this process 5 more times.
Here is an example of how I answered the 5 Why’s for joining a nutrition coaching program to improve my coaching skills.
1. Why are you participating in this program?
Because I want to be able to do more remote work that creates better opportunities and benefits the lives of others.
2. Why do you want to do more remote work that creates better opportunities & benefits the lives of others?
Because doing more remote work allows me to spend more time with my family and to travel without sacrificing income – creating better opportunities and lives for others makes me feel alive (it’s the reason I wake up, my Ikagai).
3. Why do you want to spend more time with your family, traveling, and feel alive when helping others?
(shit, this just got deep) Because when it’s all said and done those are the things that will really matter (how you contributed to the betterment of others and if you spent your time doing things that mattered to you.)
4. Why are those the things that really matter?
Because I honestly feel that without strong positive relationships and life experiences I wouldn’t truly be living – I’d just be existing.
5. Why do you feel you wouldn’t truly be living and would just be existing without strong positive relationships and life experiences?
Because I believe those are the two primary reasons we’re alive.
As you can see I didn’t really join the coaching program because I wanted to do more remote work and become a better nutrition coach. I really wanted to feel more alive and helping others improve their life through health and fitness while being able to spend more time with my family allows me to do that.
BELOW IS A REAL LIFE ANSWER TO THE 5 WHY’S THAT SOMEONE IN THE LBB SUBMITTED TO ME
Note: Before starting this exercise take a look back at some things you’ve persevered through and other things that you’ve quit. Why did you push through some of them and quit others?
Your goal: I want to lose 20 pounds.
Because if I lose 20 pounds I’ll feel better and look better
2. WHY will I look and feel better?
Because I’ll have more energy and feel more confident.
3. WHY do I want to have more energy and confidence?
So that I can run around with my kids and not get exhausted and feel more confident to experience more life.
4. WHY is running around with my kids and experiencing more life important?
Because when I’m able to play with my kids more it puts me in a good mood and when I’m experiencing more of life I’m excited about what tomorrow might bring.
5. WHY do I want to be in a good mood and excited about what tomorrow might bring?
Because when I’m in a good mood life feels better and more enjoyable. When I’m excited about tomorrow I feel less stressed and in control of my life.
As you can see there is a lot more to losing 20 pounds than just losing 20 pounds. This person wanted to feel more in control of their life, less stressed, and to be excited about what tomorrow brings.
More often than not the real reason you want to drop weight, reduce body fat, or get stronger is because you want to feel more confident, in control, and excited about your life.
When you’re at your healthiest all aspects of your life are better. You’re relationships, your productivity, your confidence – EVERYTHING.
So what is your “deep reason” for wanting to become the healthiest version of yourself?
- Look better naked
- Get the attention of that special someone
- Feel more confident
- Have more energy
- Be able to play with your kids without getting tired
- Try a new activity you’v been putting off because of your health
Just be honest – There’s no wrong answer here.
THE ART OF SELF-COMPASSION
The second struggle Tiffany was having was with her attitude. If she isn’t perfect all the time she beats herself up and it really affects her mood.
Take a second to think about it. In what other areas of your life are you perfect? I’ll wait….
The answer is NONE. Not a single one of us is perfect in any area of our life so why do we have these expectations? Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that and I’m not sure anyone else really does. However, there is something that you can do about it. That something is practicing a little self-compassion.
Paul Gilbert, Ph.D and author of The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life’s Challenges discusses self-esteem, self-criticism, and self-compassion and their links to emotional systems in the brain.
Dr. Gilbert says that self-esteem rely’s on the neurotransmitter dopamine which is linked to the pleasure and reward systems in the brain. It’s what leads you to pursue social status, resources, skills, etc… It’s rooted in self-evaluation and social comparison which can cause narcissism.
Self-compassion, which we’ll discuss in a moment is rooted in acceptance. Acceptance of being fine with who you are but being honest with yourself about the things you can improve on. It’s accepting your faults and your fuck-ups. It’s being vulnerable with yourself and with the world.
Self-criticism rely’s on the neurotransmitter norepinephrine which is involved in the fight or flight response. It is activated through physiological changes due to a stressful event. Like running from a Lion or when you perceive that your self-esteem is being threatened. Like when you tell yourself, “I suck because I can’t stick with my diet.”
When compared to self-criticizers, compassionate people perform better and rarely choke in stressful situations, are more resilient and able to bounce back from adversity quicker, are less depressed and anxious, are less egocentric and have more emotional intelligence, and most importantly are not afraid to fail.
According to Dr. Gilbert, the first two systems dominate our thoughts, emotions, and actions. However, it is the last system of self-compassion that we need to learn to emphasize.
Self-compassion is something that has evolved in us because of our need to care for our children. Oxytocin is known as the “love” hormone and when released in the brain can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
Three ways it can be released are through labor, breastfeeding, and orgasm. I’m a big fan of one of those. Yup, I just went there. But you can also release small amounts of it by giving money away, hugging someone, laughter, and drumroll please…… self-compassion, as noted by Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading expert on self-compassion.
The 3 ingredients that make up self compassion:
Self kindness: Treating yourself with some decency.
Common humanity: Understanding that you’re a part of a greater whole, that you’re not a weirdo, and that other people have the same problems as you do.
Mindfulness: Being non-judgmental, accepting your faults and limitations (yes, part of living a life without limits is the process of discovering your personal limitations), getting in-touch with your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
Not that I’m using a personal example or anything – but a real life example might go a little something like this.
Mindfulness – I’ve been trying to put on muscle for 2 weeks and nothing! I’ve followed my “diet” perfectly and have been training like a beast. This isn’t working, I just can’t put on muscle, why do I even bother?
Self kindness – According to your habit trackers (talking to myself here) you never missed a workout and you did follow your muscle-building nutrition habits to 90% consistency. Great job! Maybe this week you can try to get a little bit better. More consistent with the habits, add a little bit more weight to your lifts, or maybe make one small change that you think will help you put on a little more muscle.
Common humanity – Take a deep breath ya knuckle-head! You’re not the only one that has struggled with this. Take a look at these guys, these guys, and this guy. How bad do you want it?
I know what you might be thinking. I try to practice compassion but I just can’t do it. I’m just too damn hard on myself – I’ll never be able to practice compassion.
Well I call bullshit and here’s why.
Just like any change you’re trying to make this is going to take time. If you’ve been beating yourself up all your life you’re not going to wake up one day, decide to be compassionate, and then BOOM! – suddenly you are. It just doesn’t work like that.
You have the ability to make this change and neuroplasticity explains that. You’re brain can change so that you are able to build new habits and erase old ones.
But how can I do this so that I’m more self-compassionate?
One simple way is by asking yourself what a really close friend would say to you? Maybe not even a friend. Someone that you respect, are tight with, or look up to as a mentor.
You can also try viewing yourself as a parent. What would you tell your child that was talking to themselves in this way?
If you follow me on instagram, the twitters, or the Facebook you’ll know that something I’ve done a lot lately to practice more gratitude and self-compassion is journaling. I picked up a 5-Minute Journal off of the recommendation of a Mr. Tim Ferriss and have used it right after my headspace meditation practice.
Every morning I list 3 things that I am grateful for (sometimes I write stuff I want to be grateful for in the future). Then I write 3 things that would make my day super-boss! I then wrap it up by writing one daily affirmation for myself.
In the evening before bed I write 3 things that went great during the day and 2 things that I could improve tomorrow.
This has really been a game changer. It helps me to start and end my day with more self-compassion and positivity, while also helping me to stay solutions focused about any mistakes I may have made during the day so that I am better tomorrow.
F*** IT! I’M OVERWHELMED
The last thing Tiffany was really struggling with was feeling overwhelmed with all the health and fitness info out there. What’s right, what should she believe, who should she trust, and what should she do?
Here’s my a 4-step method for overcoming fitness overwhelm.
STEP 1: FITNESS MEDIA FASTING
For at least 2 weeks, and to be honest I’d say closer to 30 days ignore any and all fitness media, resources, and experts. Don’t read any books, blogs, magazines, listen to podcasts, or anything else the cool kids are doing these days to get their fitness fix.
STEP 2: DISCOVER YOUR NUTRITION AGE
This is something I learned from my mentors over at Precision Nutrition. Your nutritional age is what you know, plus what you do with what you know and how often you combine them both.
It doesn’t make much sense worrying about whether it’s best to drink a protein shake before or after a workout if you aren’t eating protein dense foods with each meal.
Nutritional ages can be broken down into Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. For the sake of making them sound much cooler (or nerdier) lets call them Page, Squire, and Knight.
Page: Should focus on the quality of calories. Calories, macros, and all that fancy stuff can be ignored. Choosing more nutritionally dense – real food is your mission.
Squire: These folks already make good nutritional choices often and their aesthetics, performance, and blood work show this. If you fall into this category you can start to make adjustments based on your activity levels, goals, and body type. You can also start to use really cool calculators like this or this.
Knight: If you fall into this category you probably don’t read this site. And if you’re reading this I just want to say hi.
Discovering your nutritional age can be a bit confusing but I’ll try to make it easy for you to figure it out. Most of my clients and the general population fall into the Page category. If you’re not close to where you want to be physically this is most likely where you’re at.
If you have one cabinet full of junk food and another one full of supplements this may be you… just say’n.
A few people fall into the Squire category – this is where I fit. I have the basics down and am pretty close to where I want to be physically. A few tweaks here and there would make some difference.
If you’re a Page and feeling overwhelmed here is exactly what you can do when feeling overwhelmed.
Pick 1 and only 1 small change to make that you feel would get you one step closer to your goals. Measure how consistent you are practicing that one small habit for at least 2 to 4 weeks. You can use this fancy tracker if you’d like. If at the end of those 2 to 4 weeks you have been 90% consistent with that habit go ahead and pick a new one to practice for another 2 to 4 weeks.
If you have no clue what the heck you should practice here are a few that I have members of the LimitlessBODY Blueprint practicing.
- Include a serving of protein with every meal
- Include a serving of veggies with every meal
- Drink only zero calorie beverages
You can also check out this quick start guide to perfect paleo.
Ok, now 2 to 4 weeks and report back to me. 3..2…1…GO!
STEP 3: GET BACK TO BASIC TRAINING
This post is getting pretty long and detailed so I’ll make this part quick. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about what training program you should follow, how many sets, reps, or if you should work out at night to burn more fat or in the morning here’s what I say – Get back to basic training.
Basic Training Exercises: You can use your own bodyweight, barbells, dumbbells, or kettle bells to do these exercises.
- Lower body – Squats, Lunges, Step-ups, Deadlifts
- Upper body pressing – Bench presses, Overhead presses, Dips, Push-ups
- Upper body pulling – Pull-ups, Bent rows, Inverted rows, Single arm Db rows
- Lung suckers – Sprinting, box jumps, burpees, kettlebell swings
Now pick one exercise from each section above. Lets say you choose walking lunges, bench press, inverted rows, and box jumps.
Perform the exercises in a circuit style so that you are moving from one exercise to the next, resting between 0 and 60 seconds between exercises. Do anywhere from 10 to 20 reps of each exercise for a total of 3 to 5 circuits.
You could do this workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week and mix in some HIIT or Tabatas on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. If that’s not your thing how about some yoga, rock climbing, or tango lessons.
If you’re still a little confused, give this beginner workout routine a shot.
You my friend have yourself a kick-ass workout for a few weeks.
STEP 4: KEEP THIS UP UNTIL YOU NO LONGER FEEL OVERWHELMED
Seriously, don’t worry about your weight, the latest fad diet, or magic berry you can take to help meet your goals. Just focus on being consistent until you no longer feel overwhelmed.
Now lets here from you. What’s your why? How do you plan on being a little more self-compassionate? Are you a little less overwhelmed? Post to the comments below.
Photo – Inner struggle – Mission possible – Happiness