Thoughts Are Things

Tony sent me a text the other day, it was a quote from a text book he is studying, and it basically stated that words are things and as such, they have can have an impact on others. He and I have been having an ongoing conversation about healing and the contribution that other people make. In the recovery setting, words can make a huge difference in one direction or the other.

At the very minimum, 25% of people will so some improvement simply because of some interaction with a healer. Be it the placebo effect, bedside manner, or the simple caring offered by a health care provider, just telling someone that they are going to improve is enough for a quarter of them to improve. Real pathologies are likely not going to just spontaneously correct themselves but a lot of the things that do get people down can be addressed simply by believing they are going to get better. NOTE – it is always best to get checked out by a professional if you are sick or suspect that you are as positive thinking is NOT a substitute for medical intervention.

It works by using cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT helps people get better because thoughts impact feelings and feelings impact actions. If we’re able to change the thoughts, the actions we take will change. It is very simple and has been proven to be effective at treating a variety of psychological disorders in otherwise healthy people.

What gets me excited when I think about all of this is the realization that thought are thing in both a metaphorical sense and in a physical sense – thoughts are made-up of nerve impulse and therefore have a mass. Given that they have a mass, having a repeated thought is going to have a cumulative effect on an individual. Over time, the mass moving in a particular way is going to change the course of all the matter that surrounds it.

The brain adapts to repeated thoughts by increasing the amount of neural branching in the area that is responsible for the thoughts and the subsequent feeling and actions. This makes all of these things more likely in the future and effectively conditions the thought to become the baseline.

For things that make our lives better, this occurrence is exactly what we would hope for, but for things that make our lives more challenging, it isn’t what we want and it makes changing behavior a lot more challenging that creating brand new behaviors; the old pattern will remain hardwired in the brain for years and can be triggered easily.

But given that thoughts are things and that we have conscious control of them, enough consistent effort will change the course of matter and establish a new baseline. For me, this is a much more appealing way to look at life. It gives us the power because we can control the flow of matter, we just need to choose.

How I Have Been Wrong

There is this thing people do that used to annoy me but that I now use as a vetting tool and that is a persons ability to admit that they were wrong. Regardless of their motivation, if someone isn’t able to say that they were wrong they are not a scientist, so their inflated opinion of what they know is tainted by an unmentioned emotional need and biased by something that isn’t an objective truth or reality.

I have been wrong a lot, even if it was well intentioned and based on everything that I knew at the time. And it is important to be wrong and to admit it because only the divine and the foolish do not change.

Here is a list of some of the ways that I have been wrong and changed over the last 15 years in the realm of the fitness industry:

Believing that nutrition is more important than food. This mistake, like a number of the ones I have made while in the fitness industry, was based on the need to make statements that sounded correct, were thought provoking, and that were sticky. But it is nonsense. Human beings NEED to eat food to get nutrients, they cannot thrive consuming the nutrients alone. Whole food is a natural concoction of 1000’s of chemicals that work in a synergistic way inside the body. When these chemicals are taken in one at a time, they have a different impact on the body and there is no certainty that this is going to be a health promoting.

Believing that the program is more important than consistency. I used to believe a lot of the hype and I would dispense this advice as though it was scientific fact. The fact that my clients were getting good results I interpreted as proof that the programing was effective. But over time I started to notice that the clients of some other trainers who programed using the same methods were not experiencing the same results. Furthermore, I noticed that clients who were using extraordinarily simple programs were experiencing great results. What I had missed was the fact that doing small things consistently will generate better results than a perfectly crafted program that is done occasionally.

Believing that by creating an emotional response a transformation has occurred. This one is false, completely false. While there may be times when an emotional response indicates a readiness for change or that a person has started their transformation, setting out to make a client cry is not helpful and will usually permanently damage the relationship. This is not to say that there is no useful information revealed when a client has a spontaneous and organic emotional response, there is just very little useful information to be gained by setting out to create an emotional response. It’s a sales tool that is used to breakdown defenses so someone can sell their services. It’s unforgivable and anyone who sets out to do it is trying to help their own bottom line and doesn’t care about the well-being of the person they are trying to take money from.

Believing that EVERYONE should workout and become more healthy. Morally I struggled with this one for a while. I believe that everyone is entitled to live an amazing life, rich in health and vitality BUT they must choose to live this life. Any coercion or pressure that forces them to choose it will usually result in more suffering as they fail to achieve success and feel worse than they would have had they not tried. I am always enthusiastic and possibility driven with anyone who is suffering the effects of poor health choices, but I’m only at their service when they choose to transform their life. Everyone CAN be more healthy but people shouldn’t be pressured into it.

Believing that what gurus said was more useful than what I knew. Within the fitness industry the gurus have a field day selling their wisdom to anyone who is looking for a shortcut. These people in turn make money dispensing this wisdom to the people they convinced would benefit from it. The problem with believing the gurus is that they rarely have any scientific basis for supporting their claims, and given that they have a financial motive for stating anything, there is a conflict of interest that motivates them to lie. Their well of wisdom in poisoned and unless science supports their claims, you shouldn’t buy into them. After 15 years in the industry, the formula for success is very simple, consistent intense work through a full range of motion, moderate amounts of good quality food (mostly vegetables), adequate rest and recovery, and a positive outlook on life in general. This isn’t flashy and it won’t make me millions of dollars, but it works for everyone and it is based on science.

Tell Us How Much – We KNOW the Context

ust received an email from a mailing list that I joined telling me all about this great opportunity that is going to close on Friday. Thing is, I need to act soon because there are only 60 spots left and it would be a shame if I was to miss out on it. I got a very similar email from them a few months ago about the same program so I’m confident that if I miss this chance another one will come along before the end of spring. Opportunity sometimes keeps knocking.

My challenge with the email and the mailing list in general is that they never say that price of anything; it might be available on the information video clip they link to, but I haven’t watched them because I don’t feel like watching them. There is also an email address that I can send any questions to, but I don’t feel like doing that either.

When I worked for Canada’s big chain gym, they forbid us from giving out prices over the phone. If someone called, our job was to book them in for an appointment to tour the facility because a membership coordinator (sales person) would be able to create the proper context for the price. We were trained on how to paint context and everything we did was based on statistics. It was better to not book someone in for an appointment while not giving out the price than to give out the price over the phone.

And I think this practice is pretty stupid; not just for big chain fitness clubs but for anyone who believes that they’ll be able to create a context by which the price isn’t actually what the price is.

In this day and age, if you are concerned about price, you’re probably going to buy based on price vs. any other variable. It doesn’t matter who is sitting across from me, if they work for a company, they have a conflict of interest that is going to have them act in a way that serves this interest BEFORE my needs. This happens not because they are bad people but because most human beings cannot act in any way contrary to their best interests.

Take the big gym for example, their biggest selling features are that they are the largest in the country and that their group exercise programs are well standardized – you can workout at any club and will get effectively the same class experience from any of their particular classes. The price of the club doesn’t really matter because almost every club in the country costs about the same price. The equipment is basically the same, the weights weigh the same, they play the same music, they are clean, they have parking lots, sell water and other drinks, and they offer child minding and personal training at additional fees. The big companies are corporation, they pay their staff poorly and they are profit centered. This being said, the reason they want you in front of them is because they want to sell you a membership for their club and their sales tactics cannot be employed over the phone.

The same thing applies to the coaching course I just received an email for, the personal training company I used to work for, the sports conditioning centers I used to work for, and the self-help organization I participated in a few years ago. They exist to make money so getting you to sit down and talk to one of their representatives is critical for them to create the context that gets someone to buy a service. Some of what they will say is accurate – in most cases, some professional coaching will end up being safer and faster than doing something uncoached, and there is greater accountability when someone else is helping you stay on track.

BUT the price is the price and the context is that they are trying to sell you something. If your program costs $1497 put that on the literature. Doing that will actual mean people like me will be more likely to buy. Put another way, if you don’t put it on the literature you aren’t going to sell to me because I’m not calling. And I’m not calling because your context is obvious, and you have no problem wasting my time.

Fitness Professionals – What They Should Be Doing

Entropy is defined as a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder.

A humans life is the perfect example of entropy. We are born with 100% of our potential available to be actualized; all that we can do and everything we can achieve exists only during the first few years of life. Our bodies and brains are primed to be shaped by the environment, to learn how to exist within it in a symbiotic, fulfilling and life-sustaining way. This period of time is not impacted by our intellect as we do not have a high level of consciousness.

Our perfectly developed bodies move naturally, through a full range of motion, uninhibited by overuse, dysfunction or injury.

We are in a state of maximum order and this state can be maintained easily with deliberate action of thought and movement. Entropy, while unavoidable, can be postponed if the individual does the things that sustain order.

Very few people do these things. Most tend to float through life passively, doing what is easy, what feels good and what takes them off course, guided by impulse and repulsion into an unplanned future. Their body and brain become broken-down systems advancing ever faster to the final state of chaos (death).

The essential role of fitness professionals is to help the individual delay entropy. At the root of their practice is the wisdom that people are born perfect and learn to behave in ways that expedite ‎the consequences of increasing disorder. They know, or should know, that they facilitate the clients realignment but that they are not a critical or unique catalyst; their intervention is to shape the actions of the client but the client is in control of everything.

It has been my experience that most of the people who are involved in the fitness industry do not understand or accept their role. ‎It is humbling maybe for an expert to see themselves as a servant to those who do not possess their knowledge but humility is a key characteristic for anyone who is attempting to alter the course of someones life without creating a relationship of dependency.

And these may be the biggest problems with the fitness industry; the egos of those experts and their perceived need to create long term clients.

User Guide for the Mind – unconscious/conscious mind

The body – your actions – takes commands from the brain. It will do everything that it is told to do. It’s the work horse that takes the brains wishes and tries to make them the reality.

This is a simple concept and it has massive ramifications when trying to improve your life.

The brain works on two levels. There is the conscious level – thoughts that we are aware of or actively controlling – and there is everything else that the brain does that we have no awareness of. Any time we are not using our conscious mind or directing attention towards something, the unconscious mind has full control over our body. Most of our actions are generated unconsciously and they reflect the will of a part of our brain that we have no awareness of.

This is a more complicated concept with massive ramifications with maintaining an unsatisfying life.

The issue is that what UM deals almost exclusively with things that have happened in the past.

It is going to process the daily information assimilating it and looking for patterns and threats. The goal is survival so creating a world view that is consistent and based on what has already happened makes complete sense because if one is still alive what they did before worked. But we aren’t in the wild anymore so we can be a lot more open to the experience and information we allow our brain to process.

Look at it this way, it’s what the brain does anyway so put it to work and create positive change.

You don’t want to prime it with things that aren’t working or things that you know are not right and won’t work for you. But doing this is going to take conscious effort and directed attention because the UM deals with things that have happened in the past and created behaviors that are based on the survival lessons learned. Given that the body takes most of its actions from the UM, these actions tend not to serve a creative or forward-looking function. If you need to change your life, you need to change the type of information that is being feed into your brain. After a period of time, the UM will begin to seek out this type of information and start to generate actions that reflect a positive change.

It doesn’t take very long for goal directed actions to begin to shape the way you view the world and overtime it can become self-reinforcing. But it does take sustained and active attention on the things that will bring you what you are looking for.

Prime the UM with new experiences and new information. Actively seek out the things that you want. Be or act and have the experiences that you want to have.

About Science and Research In The Field of Fitness

Interesting read by Helen Kollias via Dr. John Berardi’s web site.

It is mostly about the relationship between eating breakfast and changing levels of body fat. But it is so much more!

The thrust of the article is that researchers have a conflict of interest and will observe what they want to observe, report what they want to report, leave-out what they want to leave-out and put forward conclusions that reflect their bias. Regarding eating breakfast and reducing body fat levels – the findings have more to do with overall behavior and very little to do with breakfast alone; if someone begins to eat a good quality breakfast, they tend to change other behaviors so they become more inline with how they start their day.

A few weeks ago they posted an article about nutrient timing and how workout shakes make no direct long term difference to the results people get. Supplements can, however, play a role in changing behavior (in much the same way starting to eat a good quality breakfast can/does). Anyone who makes a claim that a supplement will do anything more than good quality food can is either deliberately lying, blinded by a conflict of interest or clueless. The role of supplements is to supplement a good diet so their use in some instances is helpful but never a substitute to one.

If you are, however, looking for a shortcut to better health and willfully accept someones recommendation that buying supplements from them will provide you with this shortcut be aware of two things:first, you are making them money, which is their role in the interaction and two, in the long run the shortcut is actually to eat moderate amounts of good quality food, mostly vegetables, get moderate amounts of safe exercise, keep life in perspective and get sufficient amounts of rest / recovery.

While the truth isn’t sexy, it is the truth REGARDLESS of how biased the loudest point of view may be.