This is something that a lot of people (including myself from time to time) misunderstand. Just because you know what to do doesn’t mean you will inherently do it. There clearly is a gap between knowledge and action. You can have all the knowledge in the world but if you can’t apply it then it is useless. During this blog, I want to discuss the gap between education and action. In my humble opinion, there needs to be a transformation of the heart and mind before you can manipulate behavior.
I think this is why so many of us are inconsistent. We tend to hyper focus on changing the behavior instead of changing our perspective. I was listening to one of my favorite financial advisers the other day (a la Dave Ramsey) and he said something that struck me. He was talking about his experience in dealing with people trying to create financial peace in their lives. He’s been helping people for a long long time and has had 5 million people go through his program. First off, when you have a sample size of 5 million that should indicate some validity. He began talking about patterns that he has seen in people over the last ten years, which in hindsight indicated they were to be successful in the area of money. In addition to creating a handwritten budget each month, the common pattern was the anger/passion they seemed to have in their voice when they would call Dave for money advice. Dave says he can almost sense if this particular person would be successful or not. The common pattern was a mindset transformation! As Dave says, they were sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Before you even think about changing behavior you need to get yourself to that point. The point where you are sick and tired of being where you are at. There has to be some sense of passion and vision before you dive into the information.
STEP 1: MINDSET TRANSFORMATION
You need to come to that point where the old way of living pails in comparison to your vision of the future. Your desire for a better life needs to overcome the desire for your current nutrition and exercise habits. I actually remember talking about this idea in one of my first blogs. I’m convinced that if we want to alter behavior then we need to believe in something greater than our current behavior. It’s not that those temptations (sugar, processed foods, etc) will automatically disappear. The change happens when you want the enhanced life more than those temptations. You become more hungry for your goal than your weaknesses. Furthermore, having structure around your nutrition/exercise actually allows you to get more fulfillment out of those 'treats'. You don't detract from your human experience on earth. You add to it.
Step 2: BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION
Once you change your mindset then you are ready to change your behavior. This is a perfect introduction into will-power. One of the topics that captivates my interest. We now know that will-power is measurable and it is limited! We only have so much will-power available to us. If you don’t have a system to help you modify behavior you will only have short-term success as will-power will diminish rapidly. To combat this, this is the system I suggest to everyone.
The Will Power System
If it’s simple that means that you understand the process. It’s not overly complicated. You don’t have to spend vast amounts of time and energy into it. It's practical and it's digestible. Simplify your nutrition and exercise into 3 practical steps/tactics. For nutrition, I only focus on water intake, micronutrients, and calories. For exercise, I focus on progressive overload, time under tension (tempo work for joint and connective tissue health) and cardiovascular techniques (doing circuits or intervals to help drive cardiovascular benefits inside of my body).
Too much structure or rules breeds inconsistency in most people. This is where self-awareness takes the prize. You need to be self-aware enough to realize what structure makes you most consistent! If you can stay consistent you have picked a sustainable system for you. If you make it sustainable you will be successful. For me, I use nutritional periodization to help me create structure around calories but not excessive restriction. I only workout 3 to 4 times per week and I use systems around exercise and nutrition to help conserve will power.
Last but certainly not least you need to find a way to enjoy what you do. If you constantly feel like nutrition and exercise is a chore that is a huge red flag that you haven’t found an enjoyable system. Don’t alter your passions around society’s perspective of fitness. Alter fitness around your passions! I intentionally eat treats and foods that I love on a regular basis. I don't restrict them, I just alter them to fit my calorie budget. I also intentionally add new movements into my exercise routine that I enjoy. Even if it doesn't make the most sense on paper, I need that aspect of variety and enjoyment because it helps me stay consistent.
When you begin to modify behavior changes ask yourself these questions based on your own self-awareness. Is this change simple? Is this change sustainable? Is this change enjoyable? If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions then figure out a way to alter the desired behavior. That doesn’t necessarily mean getting completely rid of the desired behavior. Instead, it usually means altering it to fit the three questions.
For example, let’s say Susan wants to get more exercise. It could be really easily to dive into some information on the internet and look up workouts of world class athletes. This would cause Susan to workout 6 days a week with high volume and intensity based training. Odds are she will be really motivated for the first couple weeks until she either fatigues her central nervous system and/or gets injured. Instead, Susan implements the power of simple, sustainable, and enjoyable. She picks 3 workouts a week (45 minutes each) with really simple movements and progressions. She realizes three times a week fits her busy lifestyle and stressful situation at work. She also decided to implement rowing into every workout because she enjoys that specific movement. She also loves to bike so every Saturday she goes for a 60 minute bike ride. Susan has now found a simple, sustainable, and enjoyable approach to modifying her exercise.
I would encourage you to implement these ideas into your fitness lifestyle. These tips have helped me so much and seem to be effective with people I have worked with in the past. If you love lots of variety, time efficient workouts then consider SparkThrive. This is my membership program that gives you access to all of my workouts. Regardless of your experience level and equipment availability we have a program for you (4 to 12 week programs designed for fast paced lifestyles). In addition to my programs you get access to the "Weekly Spark". This is my exact workout routine delivered to you through a user friendly app feature. All of these programs are designed around Spark Training. Simplistic fitness that create sustainable aesthetics and longevity through highly applicable methods. Essentially, this is designed to make you look good, feel good, and thrive for the rest of your life no matter your ability level.
Your best is yet to come - Eric