Archive for September, 2012

Distance from the consequences

I don’t know were my food comes from other than the store, and before that a factory or a farm. Some of the food I eat is pretty good quality, some of it is nominal and the rest of it is “food like products”. From a geographic point of view, there is a lot of distance from the consequence from how my food comes to become food.

I don’t know the impact of how my words land on others. Occasionally they’ll do what I want them to do, but a lot of the time the impact is unknown and seemingly random. From an emotional point of view, there is a lot of distance from the consequences how my words effect others.

I don’t know the impact of my destructive actions on my future. Smoking causes cancer, too much stress will diminish immune functioning and too much sugar can cause obesity, but there is a long time between the action and the disease, so the things do not seem related. From a temporal point of view, there is a lot of distance from the consequence.

Living in the here and now, it can be a real challenge to predict or see the outcome of action. Logically there is a story to tell - that this will lead to that - but emotionally that story doesn’t feel like anything - cancer, disease and obesity are words more than experiences; in-spite of my experiences with cancer and obesity, they don’t have an experiential meaning to me as I have been an observer of their ravages. There is a great distance from the consequence.

This is the biggest road block faced by most trainers and coaches and one has creativity and laser focused communication as the only real workarounds. It is also the reason why an alarmingly small number of people ever make the life transformations that they are capable of; which is sad because many people suffer needlessly for most of their adult lives with issues that would be addressed with simple behavioral changes.

It’s also why pointing out the consequences of reduced blood circulation (skin and hair problems for women, erectile issues for men, and cognitive impairments for both) often goes a lot further than discussing cancer, diabetes, or heart disease risks. Most people have some notion of what difficulties in these areas are like, or can at least consider the impact of blood circulation issues.

Training Is Action, All Types Of Action

Often forgotten or repressed is the fact that body composition changes are the result of 1000’s of small actions over a sustained period of time. Oftentimes, people simply regard their time in the gym or exercising as their training and neglect the rest of the important steps.

Food consumption is training - eating 5-8 good quality meals per day can be a challenge, more of a challenge than an intense 45 minute workout. But eating frequently is critical in creating new eating behaviors, regulating blood sugar and optimizing metabolic functioning.

Food preparation is training - making 5-8 good quality meals per day can be a challenge. But since food supplies the building blocks needed to remake our bodies, preparing meals of a high quality is essentially MORE important than the workouts we do to break down the tissues that serve as the catalyst for adaptation.

Getting sufficient rest and recovery is training - being asleep before 11 pm has been shown to be extremely important in regulating anabolic hormones and the hours of rest between 11pm and 3am are some of the most critical times for recovery as they represent the best opportunity for falling into the deepest stages of sleep. The body does not recover when it is moving, so lying down and being still (as we are when we are asleep) is important for making the most out of the time spent training.

Reducing stress is training. Cortisol is released in response to stress. It is a catabolic hormone breaking down protein to create sugar to fuel fight or flight responses. ANY stress can cause the release of cortisol so it is important to reduce the stress response and limit the amount of stress that we experience.

Looking after your tissues is training. Rigorous exercise causes muscles to tighten-up, which can place increased stress / pulling on joints that can lead to pain. Maintaining flexibility requires dedicated time to stretch / foam roll.

The notion that 4 hours of physical exercise is sufficient to create a body transformation is not accurate. It is a great start, and they create a critical foundation from which to base all other self improvement actions, but they represent about 50% of the effort that is required.

“Playing Full Out” - 10 Signs That You Are

A few weeks ago I attended a Toronto Power Group Meeting. It was both the first session of the season and my first session. The host got the things started by setting some ground rules for success and to help us get the most out of the time there; and our time on the planet.

One of the things he recommended is “play full out” which is effectively giving 100% of our passion, intensity and energy to the task at hand. It’s what athletes and most highly successful people do. It doesn’t ensure success, but it goes a long way at guaranteeing you don’t regret or ask the question “what if?” later in life.

What does playing full out looking?

Barbara Stanny has posted 10 Signs You’re Playing Full Out and it captures a lot of the behaviors, and how it looks and feels.

  1. I know what I want and am committed to getting it. (And if I don’t know, I devote time and energy to figuring it out).
  2. I am so focused on my vision that I don’t get distracted or scattered  by irrelevant, draining, or conflicting tasks.
  3. I am willing to experience whatever it takes—defeat, embarrassment, even humiliation—to achieve what I want.
  4. I am constantly doing things I’ve never done before and/or don’t want to do.
  5. I make at least one unreasonable (i.e. scary) request a week.
  6. I don’t say ‘yes’ when I really want to say ‘no,’ even if it means rocking the boat or upsetting another.
  7. I regularly seek out support, and refuse to spend time with or discuss my dream with naysayers (even if they’re related)
  8. Every time I’m afraid to do something, I force myself to do it anyway. (And I  catch myself when I try to justify not doing it.)
  9. I am rigorous about the thoughts that I think and the words that I use, making sure they’re positive, supportive, and appreciative (of myself and others).
  10. I take time to relax and pamper myself so I don’t burn out.

It’s an interesting list and definitely worth considering. In most cases, the only thing that is stopping us is our own mind and the lack of possibility it allows us to see.

Keystone Habits - Becoming A Dieter Through Exercise

Over the years an unusual pattern / occurrence has come to light with most of my body transformation clients - if they exercise more than 3 times per week their diets improve, they stop smoking and they reduce their consumption of alcohol.

The inverse is not true though, those who fix their diets, quit smoking or reduce drinking do not spontaneously start exercising.

This is significant because when it comes to improving the quality of life, correcting nutritional habits is a bigger player than exercise. If you want to reduce body fat, which is associated with reduced risks of most illnesses, diet is a lot more effective at achieving this than exercise. Many forms of cancer are associated with poor dietary choices and the debilitating effects of diabetes can be severely reduced by cessation of sugar in all forms.

However, bang for your buck, working out 4 times a week will contribute more to improving your health and health related behaviors than just trying to fix you diet IN SPITE of the fact that fixing your diet is actually what will help you the most.

Exercise is special because it is a keystone habit - a keystone is the center stone in an arch, the final stone to be placed and the one that holds the entire arch together. Exercise serves this function when it comes to living a healthy and the highest quality life possible. It teaches the body / brain that actions matter and this creates the momentum needed to start caring about the consequences of other actions. Those who exercise more, eat better, drink more water, sleep better, smoke and drink less, have better sex, make better decisions and save more money.

Quitting smoking, improving ones diet, or reducing alcohol consumption, while all critical in improving the quality of life, do not play a keystone function with behavior. As such, they rely on will power to maintain and tend not be to self-sustainable over the first few weeks or months. Relapse tends of occur when routines are disrupted or when one is challenged outside of their normal day-to-day levels. Further more, cessation of anything that replies on willpower alone to achieve tends to be associated with higher levels of stress which themselves increase the risk of failure.

Improving your life without starting an exercise routine is possible, but it is much more challenging and relies on the creation of new habits that are rewarding in the long run but represent short term sacrifices. This is unlike exercise because exercise is rewarding almost immediately, and in the long term benefits are undeniable.

To this end, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense for someone who is over the age of 35 to try and address their weight concerns through diet alone. In fact, the best thing they can do to improve their diet is to exercise more. Frankly, the best thing they can do to improve any aspect of their life is to exercise more.

It doesn’t take much. 4 hours of moderately intense exercise each week will quickly begin to reverse some of the signs of aging on the body and begin to motivate your brain to correct other habits that are not working for you.

Get out there and start moving more! Join a gym, start play a sport you love, take-up cycling. It doesn’t matter what you do so long as you get moving. Do it for a few weeks and be pleased to notice the positive changes in other areas of your life.

You Are A Tourist - Favorite Cool Down Song

You Are A Tourist by Death Cab for Cutie remains my favorite cool down song.

I’ve never been certain what it means and that doesn’t matter because I’m growing more confident that I don’t know what anything means.

For as long as I have had the ability to move along, I’ve just moved along. I don’t really see myself anywhere, my internal voice is enthusiastic about getting me going and there have been only a few moments when I actually left like I belonged where I was.

Since the beginning of March I have spend a lot of time examining my life and have a lot more clarity about it, about what I like, what I don’t like and what I’m willing to do to create the life that I want and deserve.

I am a tourist in almost everything I do. My dad hoped that I would find something that I would be able to stick at but he also knew that I am a lot like him and that digging in and setting-up life may not be what I do.

(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)

When there’s a burning in your heart
An endless fury in your heart
Build it bigger than the sun
Let it grow
Let it grow
And there’s a burning in your heart
Don’t be alarmed(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)

When there’s a doubt in your mind
‘Cause you think it all the time
Framin’ rights into wrongs
Move along
Move along
When there’s a doubt within your mind

When there’s a burning in your heart
And you think it’ll burst apart
Oh, there’s nothing to fear
Save the tears
Save the tears When there’s a burning in your heart

and if you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born
Then, it’s time to go
And you find your destination with so many different places to call home
‘Cause when you find yourself a villain,
In the story you have written
It’s plain to see
That sometimes the best intentions
Are in need of redemption
Would you agree
If so, please show me
(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)

When there’s a burning in your heart,
When there’s a burning in your heart, (This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
When there’s a burning in your heart, (This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
When there’s a burning in your heart, (This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
(This… Fire… Grows… Higher…)
When there’s a burning in your heart.

Goal setting - Go To An Expert

Setting a goal is easy. Come up with something you want, set a date for when you will have it and then create a plan of the things you will need to do in order to achieve it. Do this and you will have done more than most people will do when it comes to changing their future.

But it doesn’t mean that you’ll achieve your goal, and it doesn’t mean that you will do anything different.There are a number of reasons why most people do not achieve their goals and a very good reason why some people ALWAYS achieve them. If you are looking to achieve something you have never achieved before, there is a chance that you are going to need a lot of help in making it a reality. This is common and it is the very reason why most people will never transform their life.

First off, those who always achieve their goals are good at it because they have practiced it. Many of them were taught how to do it - either through coaching or because of circumstance. Having a parent or role model show you how to behave in order to attain something new can be critical in learning how to make goals a reality.

Having to achieve something is another great way to learn how to achieve it; this tends to be a lot less effective and a lot more stressful but it can be a sure fire way to create the winning mind set needed to achieve almost anything. E.g. a lot of people mature very quickly once they have children or move out of their parents house.

Moving forward, those who constantly achieve goals have a clearer understanding of the world so they create goals that are inline with how their world operates. There is a congruency to what they are hoping to achieve so everything naturally lines-up. They identify themselves as someone who can and deserves to achieve the goal, they believe that they can act in the goal achieving way so therefore just need to put in the hard work.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about and seem to be having a tough time achieving your goals, it is likely time to enroll someone more qualified to help get things lined up.

The 6 layers of effective goal setting:

When setting goals, you need to have 6 things all line-up in order to ensure that the goal can happen with the only need being lots of hard work.

  1. At the lowest level is your environment. This deals with the where and the when of your goal. It’s a time frame component and it primes the brain for something in the future. E.g. in Mississauga on July 1, 2013
  2. Next is behavior. What is going to be the thing that is happening. E.g. I am weighing 25 pounds less.
  3. Strategy is next and deals with how this goal is going to be achieved. E.g. By having eaten good quality whole food and exercising 5 hours per week.
  4. Belief is above it and addresses the why of the goal. E.g. I have done this because I am a successful person.
  5. Identity is next, and concerns itself with who the goal setter is. E.g. Someone who is unstoppable.
  6. Finally, is community or spirituality - who else will be impacted by your having achieved your goal? It’s a reason bigger than ones self. E.g. Others are inspired by me for having achieved this goal, my children respect their bodies more and they are seeing appropriate exercise and eating behaviors coming from their father.

This contains a lot more information than the traditional “needs, goal and time frame” model  but the level of granularity does illustrate a number of key underlying variables that will mean either success or stagnation. If someone doesn’t isn’t progressing towards the behavior (of weighing 25lbs less) it is likely because they don’t have the strategies. If they develop the strategies, they should begin to progress. If they have the strategies, but are not progressing, it could be because they don’t have the belief.

Effective goal setting has all of these items in alignment and the person putting the hard work into the endeavor. Doing this will make the impossible possible and spark new progress into unfamiliar avenues.

NLP - Feel The Processes Working

On our first date, Heather listened intently and then challenged me when I said that I manipulate clients at my job - as a performance coach, it’s my job to see, hear and do the things that they may not want to see, hear or do in order to become something that say that they want to become.

Her challenge was to see how I respond to the same thing that I put my clients through. It was unexpected and unnerving because first dates tend to be light-hearted, surface skimming affairs that leave the two people with an answer to the questions “will I spend time with this person again?” As first dates go, this one wasn’t going like any that I had been on before.

Heathers questions were direct, hard hitting and required an intense type of intersection that I usually save for my clients who need to have their world view challenged in order to jump start a transformation. “Why do you think your future relationships will be any different from your past relationships?” was one question that came pretty close to flooring me. During the conversation that was my answer, I became aware of that sick feeling I get when someone is manipulating me; it’s a feeling of excitement or anxiety, and is indicative of a level of arousal on some level. I wasn’t 100% aware of it at the time, but Heather would lean in, make a comment that required some thinking and then lean back. While she did this, I would lean back to receive the comment and then lean in to answer.

This went on for an intense few minutes before I got up and went to the wash room. I splashed water on my face, grounded my self and returned to the table.

“So did you think of something to say?”

“I don’t know if my future will be better than the past, I don’t have a plan other than not doing the same things I did in the past, so different may end up being better.”

There was a change in the conversation immediately after this comment. Heather’s body language loosened and she seemed to be more at ease. The topic of NLP came up and she mentioned that she had taken a course.

“Oh my god, you were fu(king with me” was my impulsive replay. And her smirk said “yeah.” “You said that you controlled people so I needed to see how you could handle it yourself.”

“How did I do?”

“Fine, you squirmed a lot, but you didn’t fold. You stayed engaged and basically went with it.”

“Thanks,” is said, kind of smiling and doing everything I could to not give off that what she had done and just said actually lifted me up. Not surprisingly, I ended-up signing up for the same course she took.

Now, as first dates go, I don’t plan on having another. There was something almost aggressive about the conversation. Not disrespectful, but confrontational; not between her and me but between me and me. I get why she is a successful leader at work and helps people achieve more of their potential, often more than what they believe they can achieve.

But something started happening to my awareness of myself that seems to have opened the flood gate of possibilities. There is no mistaking it, Heather engaged me using some of the NLP techniques she learned. There wasn’t any manipulation involved, but her choice of language altered the way I process things. It had a profound impact on the content of the scripts I use to manage my involvement in the world and these change reality, dramatically.

The NLPWorks course is outstanding, bringing to conscious light many of the things that I was doing but without any knowledge. It is reassuring to have a road map that outlines my behavior so I can repeat it in a predictable way. The processes are powerful and through practicing them with the other participants they have brought needed resources to certain challenging situations.

One thing that has changed in how I describe what I do. Gone from my description is the term “manipulation,” replaced with the phase “I show, tell and get people to feel the truth in order for them to achieve their goals.”

I remain very curious to see how NLP will continue to impact my world, my functioning and my life.