Permanently changing behavior is a difficult task. Most people know what things in life they would like to change. However, many struggle to put the pieces together and create lasting change. I think failed behavior change attempts are caused by two things.
The first is trying to change too many things at once. The unfortunate part about humans is that we are lazy (not in the way you might think). Our brains are extremely efficient and create what are called habit loops and routines. These habit loops and routines account for as much as ninety- five percent of all behavior. If behavior change is too aggressive it works against the natural order of our brain and makes things pretty difficult.
The second is failing to break down significant change into smaller more manageable chunks. Say someone has the goal of losing 100 pounds of weight. In order to successfully lose 100 pounds they firs have to learn how to lose one pound. In scenarios like these some people get so caught up on the big goal that they lose sight of the small changes that need to occur to make that larger goal a reality.
Most of the clients I have worked with struggle more with "how" of behavior change rather than the knowledge or the why behind it. Most people know what they want to change and many have some knowledge on what changes need to be made. But, they lack a framework that successfully moves them from their current state to their goals.
My job as a coach is to bridge the gap between where someone currently is and where they would like to be in their health and fitness. That is why I have created a five step process that makes behavior change more manageable. Let me share it with you.
Step 1: Create a wellness vision
This is the second most important step in the process. A wellness vision is a present statement that combines goals and actions necessary to get there. For example my wellness vision is; "I am Pat and I live in a body I am happy with. I wake up rested each day ready to take on my goals. I feel strong and confident each day because I train regularly and fuel my body with nutritious foods that agree with me. I have a healthy balance between work and life that allows me to enjoy what I do and also live a good life". To be clear this statement encompasses what is called "deep health" also known as the multiple facets of health (physical, emotional, social, existential, environmental, and mental). This statement can be as simple or as complex as you like. The importance of this wellness vision is it gives you something to work towards. This is especially helpful when you face barriers along the change process.
Step 2: Determine what skills are necessary for success
Once the vision is created one must break it down into smaller chunks. What are the skills necessary to achieve the desired outcome? I use a framework originally created by Precision Nutrition, one of the worlds largest certifying bodies of nutrition coaches. It is called the GSPA model and its breaks the larger Goal into Skill, Practices, and daily Actions. Using the example above my necessary skills are: adequate sleep, regular exercise, eating nutrition foods, work life balance. Once skills are determined these can further be broken down into necessary practices and daily actions. For example: eat nutritious foods could be broken down into; eat five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily. This could then be crafted into a daily action of eating vegetables with dinner each night.
Step 3: Determine a starting action and test confidence
This step builds off of the GSPA model and creates a starting action to begin the process. The key here is to choose an action that is so simple that it is almost impossible to fail instituting it. It doesn't matter how small the action is. What matters is that you can successfully follow through on it. Once an action is determined it is time to test confidence. Confidence testing is simple. Ask yourself; "On a scale of one to ten how confident am I that I will follow through on this action this week?" If the answer is anything below a nine I would highly recommend shrinking the action step to make it more doable. Remember the size of the action doesn't matter. What matters is your ability to follow through on it.
Step 4: Anticipate and plan for barriers
This step is VITAL for long term success. Barriers are going to emerge along the change process. It is easier to tackle them if they are anticipated beforehand. A skill we can use to plan for barriers is known as if- then planning. The concept is; if this occurs then I will (fill in action here). Using the example above; if I run out of fresh vegetables then I will use a backup bag of frozen veggies from the freezer. This planning can be as simple or thorough as you like. But, the better you plan the more likely you are to be successful.
Step 5: Test, assess, and plan for the future
This is the most important step in behavior change. Without action change cannot happen. When talking action it is important to test your behaviors, assess how well they went, and then plan for the future. If a behavior went well it can be stacked with another habit. For example; when eating vegetables with dinner I will also eat a helping of lean protein. Making the current habit bigger is another strategy that can be used. Using the previous example; vegetables can be added to meals outside of dinner. If the action didn't go so well there are three options available. The first is simply trying again. The second is to shrink the action step. In the example above a full serving of vegetables could be shrunk to a half serving. The last option is to focus on an entirely new habit if the first really isn't working. In order to decide on any changes I recommend giving the original habit a minimum of two weeks of practice. This time frame seems to work well with the clients that I work with.
If you made it all the way to the end, congratulations! You now have a framework that you can use in your life to create lasting change!
If you still feel overwhelmed by the process of change No Sweat! We can help! Click the link below to schedule a meeting with one of our qualified coaches!
I've coached a lot of people in my eight plus years as a health and wellness coach. In that time frame I've heard the phrase "I'm going to start fresh on Monday" more times than I can count. Other phrases that come to mind are "Well I already broke my diet, might as well keep going" or "I didn't start the week off great so I might as well start up next week". All of these phrases are your enemy.
I know the phrase "something is better than nothing" has been said one too many times. But, this statement can really level up your attempts at health and wellness. Let me use the example of working out:
Imagine this past year your goal was to complete three workouts per week. Now imagine that fifty percent of those weeks didn't go the way you planned. Maybe you missed your first workout of the week which turned into an entire week of doing nothing. Now imagine that instead of falling victim to the all- or- nothing mindset you decided to complete at least one workout on weeks that didn't go as planned. Over a one year period you would have completed an extra fifty- two workouts.
We can apply this thought process to nutrition as well. Imagine that every time you "indulged more than you wanted" you fell victim to the all or nothing mindset. Instead of eating a heavy dish at dinner and moving on you chose to have dinner, cake, ice cream, and raid the snack pantry once you got home. The dinner alone may not have been enough to set you back. However, deciding to eat everything under the sun will most likely leave you feeling awful and feeling that much further from your fitness goals.
The concept is simple, just do your best. I work with a lot of type a clients. They strive to do their best. But, at times this mindset can throw them off track. There are a few examples that come to mind. I have a girl I train that would skip entire weeks of her training if she knew she couldn't complete all three days. I have another woman that I train who would skip her sessions completely if she was going to be more than fifteen minutes late. The way that I handle conversations like these is usually very similar. My question is "Do you think that mindset could be holding you back?"
I know this topic isn't "sexy" and you've probably heard this concept a million times over. But, if you break free from the all or nothing mindset you will most definitely make more progress than if you constantly try to "start fresh" every time you run into a situation that doesn't go your way.
This story is very personal to me. This topic is even more personal to me. Over four years ago my father passed away. When that happened my beliefs around health, exercise, and life in general changed. My father, like most of the clients I work with, was a busy guy. He was busy selling all of his time and energy for The American Dream. He spent his weeks working long hours as a truck driver. He spent his weekends either working on his house or working on his side business. His goal was always to work really hard and then peacefully enjoy retirement. Except, that never happened.
My father, like most people, struggled to stay on track with his health and fitness goals. He would exercise for a period of time. Then he would fall off. The cycle would repeat itself a couple times every year or so. Most of the time his stress levels were through the roof. Most of that stress could have been avoided. He also carried a lot of extra weight that effected his health. Growing up watching my fathers example I too made many of these mistakes. I sold my soul to work, lost copious amounts of sleep, and lived a high stress life for a long time. But, when my dad got sick, and later passed it really made me take a look at my own priorities. I think the lesson will resonate with some of you.
I got into my career in the fitness industry at a relatively young age. I was twenty- two when I began coaching. I remember having conversations with my father about taking his health more seriously. Partaking in exercise more often, making different choices with his eating, etc. I remember he would always have a reason why he couldn't do it; I have too much going on, I like eating the way I do now, etc. I really wish he had taken a look at the big picture.
I have been coaching now for over eight years. In my time coaching I've had thousands of these conversations. I see the same patterns in a lot of the people I work with. They sell their souls to work. They invest big money into their homes and cars. Most of them are silently ignoring their gradually rising waistline and blood pressure. If this strikes a chord with you I want to pose a question; what is the fucking point? When your clock expires your job will have your position filled within a months time, maybe less. The nest egg you've been shelling away for retirement will get passed on to the next generation. Now, don't get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with hard work and having nice things. But, not if it comes at the price of your health.
This is where the point of this post comes in, look at the big picture. In the big picture you can replace your career, you can replace your car, you can replace your home, but you cannot replace yourself. Shouldn't investing in yourself be your top priority? You're right there aren't any guarantees, but investing into yourself gives you a greater chance at beating the odds of life. Investing in your health might make other things take a bit longer. Maybe you can't redo your kitchen for another year or so. Perhaps that promotion at work takes a bit longer than you expected. But, if at when it does happen at least you will be healthy enough to enjoy it.
To hit this point home I want to share one last piece of the story. I remember right before my father got sick he built this beautiful deck on the back of the house. He had grand schemes of having all of his friends over and enjoying the summer nights with my mom in front of a nice roaring fire. My parents used that deck a handful of times before my father got too sick to enjoy it. It broke my heart and still does to think about this. So, what's the point? Focus on your health. I'm not just talking about getting active and eating well. Keep your stress levels in check. Take some time for yourself. Don't work yourself to death. If my father had made his health a higher priority it may not have saved his life. But, unfortunately we will never know. I am willing to bet it would have made a difference. Next time you think you're too busy, look at the big picture.
Achieving a big goal can be a daunting thing to think about. The amount of time, effort, and tenacity achieving a big goal takes can seem unappealing. That’s why it is best to break down bigger goals into bite sized chunks. When I first became PN (Precision Nutrition) certified two years ago I was introduced to the GSPA model. This model describes how we can break down bigger goals into smaller, more manageable, daily actions. GSPA stand for goals, skills, practices, and actions. Each tier in this model represents a piece of the puzzle when working towards a big goal. Let’s start from the top and work or way down.
This is the big picture. This is the dream physique. The dream feeling. The waking up every day thriving. This is where it all starts. This piece provides the direction that will guide all decision making during the process. In this step the goal is to create a meaningful picture of what you want and why you want it. For example; feeling better, is not a good big picture goal. However; I want to feel better so that I feel confident at work and feel great in my body every day, is a much clearer and meaningful goal. During this step I want you to think deeply about what you want and the why behind it. Once this is established it’s time to move on.
Skills are the behaviors that allow the big picture goal to be achieved. For example, someone that feels good every day will need some skills to achieve that. There’s a good chance they won’t be stuffing their face with processed food and missing out on sleep on a regular basis. At this stage it is important to determine what types of behaviors are needed to achieve the big goal. Using the example above a few skills I can think of include; eating foods that fuel and nourish the body, moving regularly and often, and getting restful sleep more often than not. These behaviors, practiced regularly should allow for the big goal to be achieved. During this part of the process I have found that determining two to four big skills is a good starting point for most goals.
Practices are the next tier in the GSPA model. Practices are what allow skills to be built. During this stage it is best to think about what smaller actions need to be completed to build a skill. Using the example above of eating foods that fuel the body a few practices that I can think of include; eating regularly throughout the day, eating a lean protein source with every meal, eating some type of vegetable with every meal. Practices give us direction to figure out what actions need to be worked on. In this scenario let’s say this person was only eating protein once per day. In order to achieve the larger goal they will have to up their protein intake. Figuring out clear practices allows the setting of clear and concise daily actions.
This is where the big goal is finally broken down into actionable steps. Using the practices created from the last step we can figure out what daily habits need to be built. Continuing with the example above concerning regular protein intake. If this person struggles with consistent protein intake we first need to determine why that is. Do they not like protein rich foods? Do they not enjoy cooking? Are they crunched for time and in a rush? These details are important when figuring out what actions to work on. Let’s say this person is very busy and doesn’t have the time to cook. This problem could be solved by creating a weekly meal prep routine. Now instead of cooking every day this person can cook once during the week and have food ready for all days.
This is a very crude example of how to use this model, but I hope this has shed some light on the steps necessary to break down a big goal into small manageable pieces. I have used this model to help hundreds of people get results on their schedule. I believe that with the right approach this model can work for everyone. If you have been struggling to reach your goals try using this model to break it down into more manageable pieces.
I want to start off by saying that this article is targeted towards people that want something out of their training. Whether that is increased strength, improved aesthetics, improved energy, improved mental health etc. If you are someone that simply exercises for the sake of doing so this message may not resonate with you.
Most people are working out to achieve a desired outcome. Some of the most common include; increased energy, better mental health, a sexier bod, a stronger more resilient body, etc. In my time coaching I have found that many people have been fed a lie that showing up and doing something is the only thing necessary to improve. At first this message is true. Beginners can walk into the gym and get better doing pretty much anything. However, after the first three months to a year this begins to change. This crucial transition is where many beginners fail to leave the mediocre intermediate state of training. Many of these gym goers arrive eager to reach their goals with the belief that doing the same thing over and over is going to get them results. While doing similar exercises and movements is a great idea for progress; lifting the same weights, walking at the same speed on the treadmill, and not pushing the envelope are not ways to get there.
What most people fail to realize about training is that change is created through doing enough work. For example when a new PR is successfully lifted the body didn't magically get stronger in that moment and rise to the occasion. Instead that PR was created from doing weeks and months of hard work leading up the event. The body naturally adapts when presented with the right amount of work. Why does this matter? For those with goals, the only way to reach these goals is to create change. Want to lift heavier? The body must get stronger. Want to run faster or longer? The body must develop better cardiovascular systems. Want more energy? The body must grow new mitochondria or make its current mitochondria more efficient. Want to look better? The body will need a few more pounds of lean muscle. I could go on but, I think you get the point. In order for the body to change it has to be presented with a REASON to change.
This is where improvement enters the picture. In order to change the body has to improve in some way. My point in writing this is to open your mind up to the possibilities of what training the right way can do. It's a natural experience to improve at something if it is performed consistently and at the right intensity. Too many people are stuck in the belief that if they; run faster, lift heavier, push harder that they will end up hurt and washed up. This simply isn't the truth. If you make the time to train and do the right amount of work your body should naturally get stronger. Don't be afraid to push the envelope. If you don't you won't get any closer to your goals.
- Patriel Dunford, Owner
Lifting weights has often been misunderstood as a high risk activity. Meaning certain movements and exercises are bound to cause injury eventually. While there is a chance that lifting weights can cause injury not lifting weights is much more likely to lead to a detrimental end. For those that doo decide to brave the storm and enter the gym this article is designed to educate you on how to decrease your chances of getting injured both inside the gym and out.
Lifting weights can be a useful tool in creating a strong and resilient body. After all lifting weights is simply a way to place stress on your body in a controlled manner. Over time, the body adapts to this stress which creates a body is stronger and more resistant to disease and injury. I think it's important to zero in on the fact that lifting weights is a controlled stressor. This means that progression should be done intelligently to prevent as many problems as possible. I want to provide three simple tips to help you progress safely and confidently in the gym.
1) Listen To Your Body
One of the best ways to reduce injury risk in the gym is to simply understand that you aren't going to be at 100% every day. If I think back on all the times I have felt pain in the gym it usually started by ignoring the way my body was feeling. When training, it is normal to have days where the weight on the bar is lighter than normal. It's tough to accept, but being at your strongest every day is not realistic. Instead, it is better to ride the wave and understand that while everything might feel heavy today, if you listen to your body everything might feel better next week. A great way to tune into your body is to pay attention to how your warm up sets feel. If everything is feeling heavy and labored it may be best to save your high weight attempts for another day. The more that you listen and ride the wave with your training the easier it becomes to accept bad days.
2) Train In Multiple Planes
The tough part about popular exercises is that they all mostly happen in a singular plane of motion. Think about the three staples of strength training; the squat, bench, and deadlift. All three of these movements involve moving the bar up and down in one plane of motion. If steps are not taken to also strengthen other planes of motion it can cause problems in day- to- day life as well as training. At any given time there are forces acting on the body in all planes of motion. In order to reduce injury risk we must train these plans of motion as well. Doing this can be as simple as adding rotational and lateral movements into a program. Some examples include; split stance contralateral reach deadlifts, lateral lunges, landmine rotations, etc. Simply performing movements like these on a regular basis can go a long way to increasing training longevity.
3) Don't Be Afraid Of Form Breakdown
This is probably the most controversial of the three tips that I will give. Many people view form breakdown as a bad thing. If form breaks down it can mean injury, right? This sentiment is actually pretty misplaced. Think about what I said in point two; training in multiple planes can increase the bodies resilience. The same concept holds true when training in multiple positions. If the spine is only trained in a neutral position it will not be as strong as a spine that is trained in a flexed and extended position. Now, I will interject with the fact that there is nuance to this advice. The goal is not to look like a high schooler doing deadlifts. The goal is to push the limits of your strength bit- by- bit to create a stronger body. Pushing the numbers on the bar will most likely lead to minor form breakdowns. This is okay and is a normal part of the strength training process. The more that you push the envelope and the stronger you get the more tolerance your body will have to stress and injury.
It is impossible to completely eliminate injury in the gym. It may happen from time- to- time. But, understand that the alternative of avoiding the gym altogether is much more likely to produce long term ailment and injury. Instead, using the tips above, it is best to progressively challenge your body. Remember you are strong, capable, and resilient.
- Patriel Dunford, Owner
If you want to level up your physique, you need protein, it’s that simple. Protein isn’t the only thing you need. But, most people tend to fall short on getting the adequate amount of protein to build a great physique. Before I dig too deep into the how I want to first explain the why. We need protein for one main reason: repairing and building new muscle mass. The big difference between muscle and fat is that muscle is “expensive” tissue. What that means is it COSTS our body energy to keep muscle around. Fat on the other hand is stored energy. Because muscle is expensive tissue our body, if given the chance, will break it down if there is an energy shortage. It also requires a certain amount of stimulation and nutrients to keep around. This is where protein and weight training enters the picture. Weight training creates a stimulus that forces our bodies to adapt and grow new muscle. Then, the protein provides the building blocks with which to do it. Without this vital cycle of stimulus and repair new muscle cannot be built and that means our physique won’t change. Studies have shown that eating somewhere between .8-1.2 grams of protein per pound of lean mass is ideal for building muscle for most average people. Talking about how to find the ideal number for you is outside the scope of this article, but for most people this will be a significant increase in the current daily norm for protein intake. So, if changing your physique is important to you I HIGHLY recommend using either some of all of these tactics to level up your protein intake.
Step 1: Get some form of protein in every meal/snack
The lowest hanging fruit for most people is simply making protein at each meal/snack a non- negotiable. Making sure you have a piece of lean meat with every meal is a great place to start. Or if you are vegan even a nice piece of tofu or seitan is a viable option. These days there are even a plethora of high protein snack options. Greek yogurt, beef jerky, protein bars, shakes, etc. Even for the pickiest of eaters there are ways to keep protein intake high even if you are an avid snacker. But, this has to become a non- negotiable. Unfortunately, most high protein foods require some form of prep work so this element of your diet should be planned out.
Step 2: Supplements
In my opinion there is zero excuse for not hitting a protein goal. Here’s why: if you don’t have any cooked high protein food in the house you can always substitute a shake or bar. There are THOUSANDS of protein powders and bars out there. They also come from a variety of places: whey protein, egg protein, meat protein, pea protein, etc. This means they can fit a variety of dietary restrictions. When in a bind slamming down a shake or protein bar is an easy way to get an extra 30-50 grams of protein in a single serving. Even if you were having the WORST day every all you would need to do is drink 3 shakes over the course of a day to either hit or get close to your protein goal.
Step 3: Meal Prep
Just like I mentioned before most protein heavy foods require a form of preparation. Making foods in bulk ahead of time is an easy way to ensure that you have high protein foods ready to go when you need them. Like to sleep late? No problem make breakfast ahead of time. Starving when you get home from work and don’t feel like cooking? No problem because you already made chicken on Sunday. The one piece of push back I get a Lot from people is the time commitment to meal prepping. Yes it does require time, but it doesn’t have to require a lot of time. Crock pot, insta pot, air fryer, baking in the oven are all pretty quick and easy ways to make high protein food that can also be done while doing other chores. Watching a movie? Cool throw the chicken in the crock pot and set a timer, easy peasy.
Step 4: Keep grab and go options around
I get it, you’re busy. But, if you know you’re busy and building a physique is important to you then you have to plan around your lifestyle. Keeping things around like greek yogurt, beef jerky, and protein bars are all great options for traveling. Things like sandwiches and deli meat can also be a great options for to- go meals. Lastly, if you are really in a bind stop at your local grocery store and grab a pre- prepared rotisserie chicken or cut of meat that is pre cooked. A rotisserie chicken can last an individual 2-3 meals depending on how much protein they need. Always having grab and go options around is a great way to ensure that you hit your protein targets even on the busiest days.
Step 5: Persistence and back up plans
It’s important to remember that sometimes in life shit is going to hit the fan. You won’t feel well, you will get busy, you will feel unmotivated at times. During these times it is important to have a back up plan and keep being persistent. As I said before muscle is expensive tissue and it requires upkeep and maintenance. Always try to have a back up plan in case things go awry. Ran out of prepped chicken for dinner, run to the store for a rotisserie chicken or have a shake. Woke up late and no time to make breakfast, grab a yogurt and head out the door. If you have a goal of changing your physique you have to be persistent about it regardless of your situation.
I know some of these tips fell into different categories. While some were more concrete lifestyle tips. Others fell into the category of more philosophical and mindset related actions. However, I believe all of these tips carry equal weight when it comes to consistently hitting a protein target from day to day. Use them, follow them, and watch your physique change.
Have you ever sat down and asked yourself, “why do I do what I do?”. Or “Why do I make the choices I do?” About a year and a half ago I read a book called The Power Of Habit. Not only did the book change my life, but it also changed the way that I approached coaching others. It is my firm belief that if I can get someone to make one positive change it has the ability to change their entire life.
About a year ago I was sitting on my couch flossing my teeth. Mid way through pulverizing my already bleeding gums I asked myself “why can I not make this a habit”. My entire life my hygienist would say “you have to floss your teeth or you’ll lose them”. Every time I got out of that chair I would leave with a sense of “I’m going to do this once and for all”. Then I would leave, do my part for a few days, and fall right back into the slump of not prioritizing my oral health.
Now, at this point I’m sure you thinking where the fuck is this dude going with this meaningless teeth post. I’m getting there I promise. Us coaches are really not that different from the person screaming profanities at us while we show them how to exercise. We may not have been exactly in your shoes, but like everyone else we have bad habits, future goals, and people we look to to help us better ourselves. The thing is, most good coaches, and those that make their health a priority have SYSTEMS in place that set them up for success. Since I made flossing a nightly habit a little over a year ago I really sat down and asked myself, “How can I replicate this?”. How can I use this system to help other people, and also change my own life for the better. After all, we all have bad habits, kind of like staring at this computer screen at 9:15pm when I should be resting for my early start tomorrow (I know, I know, shoot me).
So, getting back to the book. In The Power Of Habit there is a phenomenon discussed called a habit loop. Basically, the brain gets what’s called a craving which sparks a chain of events that eventually leads to a habit. The reason why our brain does this is it frees up space for our brain to focus on more challenging tasks. For example, let’s say you wake up and you feel a bit tired. Well the nearest Starbucks is 10 feet away. So instead of dealing with the tiredness you pop on over for your Veinti Iced Frappuchino Mocha Chai Latte with extra whipped cream and happiness. Boom, you have just taken the first step to creating a habit loop. Because in this situation you have given your brain a positive response to its craving. Now, this habit can be fine, but we all know that friend that survives on Monsters and black coffee. Many times it gets to the point where you start grabbing a coffee even on the days you wake rested just because it’s part of your daily routine.
That’s kinda how it is with poor health habits. Do you know how easy our society makes it to get what you want when you want it at all times? You can literally walk out your door and be surrounded by a smorgasbord of your favorite treats and delights all within walking distance. Heck these days with the tip of your fingers some weird guy will deliver your favorite food right to your door, right after he eats a few of your fries that is. Or skipping the gym. Not only do you have the most hectic of days, but now you have to find an extra 60 minutes to get to the gym not including drive time. This shits hard man, help me.
The truth is, the more these decisions are made the deeper and deeper we dig that habit loop. Can’t cook, no problem let’s just hit Uber Eats. No gym, no problem I’ll fill my time with TV at the end of the day that really de-stresses me. The thing most people miss when they walk through my doors is we have to now undo several years of the same choices and habit loops all without having any extra time in the day. It can be a bit much for well everyone.
That is why I believe in tackling just one thing at a time. Cue the flossing story. After about a month of flossing on the reg (oh yes this is how I speak) staring in my bathroom mirror at my pearly whites I thought “I’m onto something here”. So next I thought why not start doing the dishes every night. Boom 6 months later now it’s a rarity to see dishes in my sink overnight. Was it perfect? Nope I missed some days. Was it easy? Definitely not, and as I said I didn’t win every day, but every day I focused on that one habit. Over and over and over until it just became the new normal.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “I have so many things to change, making just one change won’t be enough to see progress”. Let me tell you why you are wrong. Sure maybe eating an extra serving of vegetables might not get rid of the extra holiday fluff you’ve been working on since Christmas. But, you know what it will do? It will give you momentum, and it will show you that you have the ability to grab your life by the balls and show it who’s the boss. Because one serving of vegetables a day plants a seed (literally according to my siblings when I was young) of bettering your health. One serving of veggies becomes two, then 5, then before you know it your plate has more veggies on it than pasta. Then you start taking a loop around the neighborhood because you have extra energy from those veggies you just crushed. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And you know what it’s not sexy to sell this stuff. Everyone want’s to talk to you about their new diet pill or magic vitamin. But, how often does someone ask you how happy you are with your habits?
Now, usually when I sit down with a client I walk them through a step by step process of how to change different things and when, but for the sake of making a blanket system I think there are a few steps you should take when forging a new habit.
1) Start small
Whatever the easiest thing is for you to change, start there. Most people get. Discouraged easily especially when it has to do with health and weight loss. The more positive wins you can create for yourself the better.
2) Be realistic
If you aren’t working out at all right now and you make the goal of lifting 2 hours a day 5 days per week odds are you are setting yourself up for failure. Not everyone, but for most that’s a bit too big of a bite. If you aren’t doing any activity even taking a 10 minute walk 3x per week will do wonders for your health and wellness.
3) Ask yourself why you do what you do
Recently I started cutting our caffeine in my diet. My caffeine came in the form of a delicious Bang almost every day, even when I wasn’t tired. When working on cutting it out I really thought about why I drank them. Yes they give me energy, but in reality they just taste amazing and that was the main reason why I drank them. So I picked up some flavor drops and started replacing my bang with flavored water. If you can figure out what exactly the habit you have now is doing for you it becomes much easier to change it.
4) Create a system
When I started flossing my system was to make sure the picks were in sight every night when I went to brush my teeth. If I saw them it was a constant reminder of this is what I have to do every day. Your system could be removing easily consumable food from your work station, that way when the boss loses their shit it won’t send you down the sour patch hole.
5) Expect to fail a little and be ok with it
It’s not going to be perfect and most days it isn’t going to be pretty. But, that’s why we start small and work our way up. It’s much less discouraging to have one loss after you’ve had 10 wins rather than to start your journey out losing. Some days life will get in the way. You’ll miss the gym, you’ll gorge out on that popcorn, whatever, shit happens move on. Remember you got this.
“And once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom and the responsibility to remake them” - Charles Duhigg
People say to me all the time, wait you have a coach? But, aren’t you a coach? Why yes, yes I am. However, as a coach I see the importance of having a coach to have someone to support you, to learn from, and to just make things more simple overall. So I have had 2 coaches over my fitness career. I had one right before I became a personal trainer and I hired a little over a year ago. My first coach prepped me for a physique show and my second coach is prepping me for hopefully a solid career in powerlifting. Now, obviously I could go the road alone. I mean after all I am a coach and I do a lot of research and try to learn new things every week. But, I believe that everyone should have a coach, down to my core. And I will explain my reasoning behind this.
1) Coaches make things simple
Before I hired my coach I had outlined goals, but I would second guess them all the time. I would work towards getting stronger, but then I would look at myself in the mirror and say “Oh this muscle needs work, or that muscle needs work”. Then I would change up my routine here and there and that would mess with my progress. A coach really helps in this situation because they keep you focused. When you know you need to check in with someone weekly, bi- weekly, or monthly it gives you a sense of tangibility with your goals because you have someone pointing you in the right directions. And, if you are in the right hands you will see progress in the right direction if you listen to what they say.
2) Coaches keep you accountable
I know every week when I check in with my coach that I have to tell him what I did for the week. Accountability has never been an issue but sleep, mobility work, and other odds and ends have. When you’re checking in with a coach every week it can be kind of demoralizing if you aren’t putting in the work on all fronts and not seeing the progress your coach knows you are capable of. This is also true for all the people I work with. When they come in we have conversations about how their week went and what they can improve upon moving forward.
3) Coaches Build You Up
Lifting weights, losing weight, building muscle are all very challenging processes. It can be very demeaning not seeing results. Especially if it is something you have been trying to work at for a long time. A coach can help you through this process. I know there has been many a week where I’ve checked in with my coach and things have not gone the way I wanted and he is there to reassure me we are moving along and making great progress and that sometimes one small change can make a massive difference. I work with so many people that have had a hard time building up momentum, but after they have a few weeks of positivity and perspective it sparks small changes which lead to big results. A coach will be there with you when you have the hard days, and fall off the wagon. A coach will be there for your wins as well. The whole process is done with another human being by your side helping you traverse the uncertain path that is fitness.
4) Coaches Will Teach You Something
While working with my coach the past year not only has my strength and overall athleticism increased, but my career has also blossomed. Even if you are not in the industry if you are working with the right person you will build a wealth of good information that will keep your training career going years after you stop working with your coach. I know when I have a session with my clients I say to them every week “I want you to learn this for yourself so there comes a time when you don’t need me”. Don’t get me wrong I would prefer to train all my clients for life, but I know hard times can come, they could move, I could move and at the end of the day you need a good knowledge base to stay safe and see results when you are working out without your coach.
5) Above All Coaches Will Keep It Real With You
I know with a lot of the clients I train they can fall into the bad habit of lying to themselves. They have a check in where they don’t lose any weight and they say “but I’ve been eating so well and working out regularly”. Then we break it down together. Did you track your calorie intake? Did you miss any scheduled workouts? Did you overconsume at all? The hustle and bustle of life can cause many people to forget what they actually did. And in most cases people give themselves the benefit of the doubt. A coach will make sure that you are being real and honest with yourself as well as helping you find avenues to fix these issues.
Coaches make a huge difference in the fitness world. And, in many cases having one is the push many people need to actually achieve the goals that they set for themselves. So, if you have never worked with a coach before I highly recommend trying it out. You will be amazed at the benefits. That’s why most of our people stay with us far longer than they originally planned because they see how beneficial it is to their overall progress. I will be putting up a post within the next few weeks of how to find a coach that will align with your goals. But, until then if you need a good one, send us a message. And as always, stay strong.
My name is Patriel Dunford and as the owner of Infinite Fitness my main goal in life is to spread good advice in the health industry and help people live healthier, longer, more fulfilling lives.