Recently a member of my Hormone Reset Program emailed me. He mentioned that things had being going really well, he'd lose 6kgs, was feeling much better and everything was great...
But then he went on holiday for a few weeks and in that short period he undone 4 months worth of progress.
This got me thinking - why is that some people can go on holiday and still retain the body/health, and other's go on a holiday and come back unhealthy and overweight...
Why is that some people follow a diet plan successfully for a certain period, then blow out completely and return to their old ways...
As I sat in my sauna that night I spent some time processing these thoughts and I think I found a reason. It wasn't will power, it wasn't close friends and family and it wasn't your gut health.
It was something that overpowered all of these things.
It was purpose. The simple act of having a meaningful motivator behind the choices you make.
Before I explain, let's look at yo-yo dieting, and mindset.
You may have heard the term 'yo-yo dieting'. This is where someone goes on one strict diet for a period, makes great results, then rebounds and loses all the progress only to repeat the process all over again (finding a new diet to go on etc).
This is similar to the situation with my Hormone Reset member, just condensed down into a shorter period.
The problem is that the individual falls into the trap of having 'healthy mode' and 'non-healthy mode'.
Having such a view towards health is going to stop one from ever getting the life long results they seek.
I'm not saying that one has to be super strict - eating a boring restrictive diet for the rest of your life, not at all.
Instead one has to look at changing their mindset around themselves. They need to view themselves as someone who eats healthy and lives a healthy lifestyle.
They must tell themselves that this is who they are - someone that values health and won't 'blow out' when your coach isn't looking or weekend the weekend rolls around or when you head off on a holiday.
It will take time, but if you continue feeling better, looking better, and learning about the harmful effects of certain foods (PUFAs & soy for example) then this will help you want to keep doing what you're doing.
Think of it this way, I could yell and scream at a client telling them not to eat cornchips. When their focus and willpower is good, they will listen and avoid the cornchips. But then if they're at a party and don't value their health in that moment, they'll eat the corn chips on offer.
Now, if you take someone that values their health, understand what they put into their body has a profound impact, and appreciates that not all food is equal, that same person will not have any issues turning down the corn chips at the party. There is no will power needed, they know the chips are junk and will only create a short dopamine hit high.
That is the state I am trying to get my members to reach. It's why I put so much emphasis on the education content in the course. If you understand how food impacts the body (for better or worse) while experiencing the benefits of a better way of eating, then you become empowered, and you don't need me to help you reach your goals. You just need to keep doing what you have learnt and has worked so well.
I know it's hard, but you really have to tell yourself (and those in your life) that you've made a lifestyle change (not a quick fix diet change), and that you are a new health conscious individual. Better yet, tell yourself that you are a healthy individual.
If I was with you at a party and the waitress comes over and offers us a plate of corn chips, I would turn it down. You and our friends in the group would understand my choice - they see me as the guy who values his health. There wouldn't be any surprise by my decision (they would however, be shocked if I did grab a big handful).
Next the waitress offers the plate to a guy next to us, he's overweight and unhealthy. He remarks to the group 'I don't think these are accepted on the diet I'm following, but what the heck' and grabs a handful. Based on this comment, the group would see the individual as he see's himself - someone who wants to and needs to make a health change, but deep down we (and him) all know he will never fully commit to the lifestyle he needs to commit to, and in turn the group is not surprised by this mans choice.
Next up the chips are offered to you, in your previous years you would be more aligned with the overweight chap above. Based on this - the group and your subconscious would not be shocked or surprised if you were to grab the corn chips as well. But if you commit to being the healthy individual you desire to be, you will turn the chips down.
Heck, you may even go further and state something a long the lines of 'I don't eat GMO corn chips cooked in soybean oil'. Doing this achieves a few things. You are reconfirming what you know and what your body is experiencing - that you don't eat rubbish, that you are healthy. And 2, it signals to the group that you are that guy/girl - yes this may bring on some teasing - but it makes it known to your peers that you have changed, that you are serious about your health.
In fact, such a decision (voicing out loud why you won't eat the rubbish) may be the incentive needed for others in the group to also say no (I see this a lot, when I make a choice that goes against the grain, soon I see other's doing the same. Turns out they wanted to do what I did, but were afraid they wouldn't fit in...societal norms etc).
But the best thing is the fact you are voicing your intentions out loud. That single comment may have a profound impact on your life. Saying out loud that you care about your health and you want to be healthy does a lot more good then following a diet plan for years and not truely believing that you are healthy. That comment may be a turning point in your life.
Everyone is viewed in their own unique way. Maybe you know someone who is the crazy partier. If you're out for dinner with the crazier partier on a tuesday night, and he decides to order a few extra bottles of wine, no one would be too surprised. He is the crazy partier after-all.
Meanwhile if there was someone their training for a big sports event, he would be excused when he wants to leave early to get to bed on time.
The choices you make, the things you say all affect how others see you, and the pressure (or lack thereof) will adapt accordingly. If you are always the one who likes to eat healthy and avoid the drink, but with enough prodding will slam cheesecake and another few glasses of wine, then guess what - the Crazy partier at the table will pressure you to stay longer whilst you really want to catch a taxi and head home with the athlete.
I guess what I'm saying in a really long way is this - if you truely want to be healthy and lose a few kgs, tell this to yourself (and others). And tell them you have changed - and believe that you have changed.
When this happens, you will be able to go away for 3 week holidays and not lose all your previous progress. Why? Because your new way to eating and living doesn't stop when you go on holiday.
I should point out a few things - I'm not saying you have live like a monk or a nun! It is possible to still have a great time and be healthy, it just means the choices you make are slightly different. Maybe you will eat the corn chips if they are from organic corn and cooked in coconut oil (check out your local health store, they do make these!).
Maybe you will eat the cheesecake and have another glass of wine (I did both things myself last week), because you know the cheesecake was made with quality ingredients, the wine is organic, you've done a big walk during the day, and you can have a big sleep in tomorrow.
Do you see where I'm going? You can be 'healthy' and still live a relatively normal life. Being 'healthy' doesn't mean you have to isolate yourself and never eat out or go on holiday again!
The email I received from my member had a comment that hit a chord with me. It read:
I know what I need to do, I just need to do it.
I thought to myself - they're half way there. But the problem lies in the word 'need'.
When I view the word need in the above context, I have see negative associations tied to it.
If you see this all health stuff as a chore, if you tie pain to the changes you are trying to do, if you resent it, even with the best knowledge in the world you still won't do it.
You have to want to do it.
I know it may sound counter-intuitive, but sometimes a 'need' is not a strong enough motivator, especially when it comes to health.
Many of us need to change our habits around sleeping, eating, drinking, exercising, working, finances etc etc. We know what we need to do (stop spending so much on our credit card, or switching off TV and going to bed), we just need to do it, but we don't.
This is why I believe 'want' is more powerful than 'need'. Especially when it comes to health changes.
You have to want to be healthy, you have to want to feel better, you have to want to look good etc etc.
How often do you hear about someone who has being diagnosed with a serious illness due to their poor eating habits. The doctor tells them they need to clean up their diet, or suffer the consequences... how often does the patient actually make these changes? And then how many of these people stick to the new strict diet?
This is a pretty strong 'need' motivator - but for many it's not strong enough. Yet if the individual wanted to make this change, then the task at hand isn't so daunting.
So if we can turn our health needs, into health wants, then we are going to have a much more healthier and happier life.
But changing this need into a want is easier said than done.
However I have found a simple yet effective way to transform a need into a want, and here's how:
To turn a want into a need you have to find your root purpose.
I talk about this in great detail in the first part of this blog series, if you haven't read that article yet you can read it here - 5 Whys: How To Discover The True Reason For Your Health & Fat Loss Goals
But in a nutshell this is how it works:
Ask yourself why you want to achieve your goal (of losing weight etc)
Then ask why on top of that, then again, and again.
For instance - a female came to me saying "I want to lose weight'. I asked why, she said 'so I can get into a bikini'. I asked why she wants to be in a bikini, she responded 'so I can go to the beach with my friends'.
"Why do you want to go to the beach with your friends..."
"So I can socialise and find a boyfriend'.
For her, the root driver was fitting in and finding a partner. This is her reason why she wants the change. Knowing this helps keep her on track.
For me, I used to want to be the best at sports. That was the reason I ate and lived the way I did. I ate healthy because it helped my performance. If I could perform and eat junk I would have, but I based on my knowledge around sports nutrition - and also my experiences from eating quality food - I knew that for as long as I valued my sporting performance, eating junk food was not an option.
Nowadays my purpose is family. I want to start a healthy family. I want to be in top notch condition so that my children have the best start to their life.
What will happen when I have all the kids I want? I guess I could switch off and start eating junk as my job would be done right? But I think I will find another purpose - something that will still keep me focused on my health. For example - I will want to be able to protect and provide for my family for decades to come. This is going to influence the decisions I make around food and lifestyle.
Without this core driving factor, you're fighting an uphill battle. It requires a ton of will power - something that is a limited resource - to make changes that you feel like you need to do, instead of wanting to do...
If you have been struggling to make the health changes you needed to make, take a moment to think about your root purpose in life. Your key driver.
I assure you that once you have found this, you will become empowered in profound ways.
This is more powerful than a cup of coffee, more potent than a motivational speech on youtube, and much more promising than the local gym's billboard claims!
And once you have found this core purpose of yours, remember to start using it for your benefit. Put it into action. Test it out. See how powerful it really is.
Walk past the bagels and muffins with a confidence in your step.
Join a health coaching program knowing this time around you will see it through and get the results so many other's have already got.
Tell your friends and family that you have changed - changed for the better!
And please, share your results in the comments section below!
This blog post was written by Alex Fergus. Alex is a ISSN Sports Nutrition Specialist, Fitness Professional and certified Superhuman Coach who continues to expand his knowledge base and help people across the world with their health and wellness. Alex is recognized as the National Record Holder in Powerlifting and Indoor Rowing and has earned the title of the Australian National Natural Bodybuilding Champion. Having worked as a health coach and personal trainer for over a decade, Alex now researches all things health and wellness and shares his findings on this blog. Learn more about Alex's Credentials HERE.
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