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May 20

From Binge Eating to Weight Loss

By Maryclaire Brescia | Uncategorised

As nutrition coaches, people come to us when they are stuck and not making progress. One particularly challenging and recurring example of this is people who struggle with binge eating and excess weight, both of which they would like to lose for good.  It's not hard to see that binge eating (consuming objectively large amounts of food in a single sitting while feeling out of control) is counterproductive to weight loss. What's harder to see is why someone in this situation actually shouldn't try to work on both goals at the same time.

Working on losing weight is counterproductive to binge eating recovery, however binge eating recovery is the single best step toward attaining a healthy weight.

Is that a mind-bender or what? Let's explore.

Friends and families of our clients who fit this profile often know them as the Super Healthy Eaters, who never seem to eat any sweets, or maybe they are the strict Paleo dieter in their circle of friends. They may have "always been on a diet." But behind closed doors, all the restriction drops away at some moments, and hundreds or thousands of calories are eaten in numbing desperation.

Sometimes no one knows; Sometimes everyone suspects but no one says anything. And sometimes other people do know and try to help, yet just don't know how.

Binge eating and restriction become a frustrating cycle that batters a person's body and self-esteem. It feels like a prison of shame, where every escape attempt ends up back in the same place.

One typical client, whom we'll call Beth (not her real name), despaired each time she looked in the mirror or tried on an outfit before work. The twenty-five extra pounds she saw in her reflection just didn’t belong on the person she wanted to be. She described how she imagined her friends and colleagues wondering about her. After all, she gets up at 5 am to workout intensely almost every single day, how come she isn’t absolutely ripped? She felt like the extra weight on her body told she must have a secret eating life. They must think she has no willpower, she worried. She was disgusted with herself.

She re-committed to sticking 100% to her very structured diet and vigorous exercise. She made rules for herself to make sure that she would stay in control and on plan. If only she could follow her diet to the letter, then this time she would be successful. Day after day she logged her calories and macronutrients. She skipped the takeout place, and eliminated all junk food. She didn't eat fruit (too much sugar) or nuts (too much fat). She stopped eating dairy and swore off gluten, too, because so many people said they were bad.

Then one day as she walked home after a particularly stressful day at work, she became embroiled in some familiar thoughts. Overwhelm and unhappiness swirled all around her. She just wanted to feel better; desperately needed to escape this moment. There must be a release valve. Why not just get stop by the convenience store....one time doesn’t matter. She could worry about it again tomorrow. Her palms started to sweat when she imagined the cold deliciousness of her favorite ice cream. Her heart raced.

Once the floodgates opened she found herself eating uncontrollably.

She went through the ice cream and cookies she brought home, then ravaged the pantry. Cereal, peanut butter, even crackers she didn't really like. She felt like she was in a daze, unaware of what she was doing, or like it wasn’t real. There was some relief that at least the tension about whether or not to binge was gone. The workday seemed far away, there was just food, food, and more food.

However, waking the next day it was all too clear how real it was. Packages and crumbs littered the counters, evidence was all around. She felt sick, bloated and demoralized as she cleaned.  She wondered how she could do this yet again when she promised herself that this time would be different. It felt like she would never get rid of this problem. It wasn’t even worth trying.

Beth’s story illustrates how strict dieting as a way to control binge eating can backfire, but it’s almost always the route people take when they are overweight and unhappy. After all, isn’t the entire world of magazines and the internet telling us, if we want to lose weight we need to eat less and move more? Then why isn’t working? If we want desperately to lose fat, how can we not try and eat less?

For someone with binge eating disorder or a habitual tendency to binge eat, cutting calories to encourage weight loss just stokes the fire of burning urges to binge. The stress of restraining and limiting food intake makes a person want to binge from a psychological trigger, while the state of drastic calorie deficit amplifies the physiological drive to eat uncontrollably.

Dieting is a one way street for someone who binge eats. Actually it’s more like a traffic circle, leading round and round, but never getting anywhere. Not to weight loss. Not to binge freedom, just endless circles of demoralization and shame.

If you do have initial success with reducing calories, even lose a few pounds, you feel excited! But often that confidence causes trouble. Perhaps you try to let yourself celebrate with a little treat… and it leads to a wipeout that erases any progress you made in weight loss and leaves you feeling hopeless (yet viciously motivated to get back on that diet and do it right this time.) Overeating followed by strong feelings of remorse as well as undereating can set you up for a vicious cycle. You might hear other people talk about hungry and satisfied feelings, but feel like yous must be busted. You never feel like that, you just want unending quantities of food, so how would you ever lose weight unless you stay controlled?

As glum as this scenario is, there is a different, more effective way to approach the problem. Instead of trying to accomplish two things at once: stopping bingeing and losing weight, we get great results because we separate the journey. The first step is to stop binge eating without attempting weight loss. Aiming for calorie balance gives someone the best possible set up to combat binge eating and win for a change. Life is hard enough, isn’t it, without adding a calorie deficit to the mix? We all have pressures and stresses, emotional sore spots and people who grate on us. Family issues, work concerns, identity, sex, finances…. There are plenty of emotional challenges which pose binge eating triggers, we believe you can cross intense hunger off the list for the first chapter. There’s plenty of other tough stuff to learn to work through in the initial phase.

First, the goal is to stop bingeing.​

For this portion we follow the recommendations of the most widely studied and most successful treatment available based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. We also include elements of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to provide a framework for resilience in the face of difficult emotions. Equipped with tools and strategies to use for emotional management, the binge becomes an outdated coping mechanism. One that gets less and less use, and eventually gathers dust.

The key components are to establish a pattern of regular eating and to practice detaching from urges to binge. Many people who binge eat are erratic eaters. They may skip breakfast or skip meals post binge. Or perhaps they are trying to accomplish a low calorie diet. This feast or famine eating can add to the physiological pressure to binge. To counteract this we recommend a regular eating schedule of 5-6 meals per day. These meals act like stepping stones to get you through the day binge-free. In this way you are only a couple of hours at most from your next meal. This gives our bodies time to grow accustomed to an even, predictable feeding pattern, and to allow our natural hunger and satiety cues time to normalize.

Then, a period of time needs to pass for things to settle. Since they’re new, the cognitive tools and self-regulation strategies need to be practiced, so they become easier to remember and grab at the right moment. After several weeks, of regularly spaced, normally-sized meals, the digestive tract and central nervous system have changed in a positive way. Frequent binge eating leads to distorted reward signaling in the brain, abnormal motility in the digestive tract (causing digestive symptoms such as pain, bloating, constipation), and a dulled or absent perception of hunger, satisfaction or fullness. Thankfully each of these will improve during the recovery process, it just takes some time of normal, regular eating.

Once the frequency of binge episodes have markedly subsided and stabilized, and the hunger and satisfaction signals have begun to emerge, it’s finally time when weight loss is possible. It’s difficult to be patient enough to get to this point, but the investment in mental and physical wellness allows a person to finally, FINALLY, escape that prison. If someone still wants to lose weight, in the third phase we gradually introduce weight loss habits using the successful Lean Habits system.

As for the best weight loss approaches, we recommend that anyone make changes that are sustainable and not exceedingly uncomfortable, we not fans of the rapid or drastic for anyone. But for someone with a history of binge eating, sustainability and reasonableness is even more crucial, because the old coping mechanism of the binge might be gathering dust, but it’s still there. Overwhelm, extreme physical discomfort or emotional pain can increase the urge to relapse. So it important to protect yourself from unnecessary strain (like a 7 day juice fast) and treat yourself lovingly. You have time to lose any excess weight, there is no urgency, and managing your environment to eliminate avoidable triggers is wise. Your health and happiness are worth it, and by reaching this point you will have accomplished something extraordinary. It’s well justified to treat yourself like a pretty amazing person, who has come through a hard road but stood strong and changed their life for the better.

May 07

How To Stop Wrecking Your Diet Every Evening

By Georgie Fear | Uncategorised

For a lot of people, from the instant the alarm sounds in the morning, we’re on a schedule.

We have to be in the shower by a certain time, out the door at a certain time, get to our desk at a certain time, and that’s just the beginning.

Opening our calendars we peer at the day ahead and it looks like…. more things on a schedule. Meetings, phone calls, picking up kids and even stuff we might want to do like get to a hairstylist all happen in their respective time slots.

Into the evening hours, tasks continue. You might be picking up or dropping off kids, figuring out the grocery situation, or seeing if we can get a workout in. ​The dog needs a walk, and that stack of mail that came today needs to be looked through.

While this organization of our day can go along way to helping us be productive, many people look forward to the end of their day when there is nothing on the agenda. Usually, dinner is the last “event”, and after that it’s just, free time. It’s no coincidence that dinner (and the time between dinner and bedtime) is the meal where many people find they tend to eat the most.

Unlike breakfast and lunch, which can seem like relatively straightforward pauses in the day for nourishment, dinner has this whole aura of concluding our workday, and we don’t just gather ‘round the table for food, but also for relaxation, ceremony, family, and a feeling of comfort. We let our guards down at dinner. It’s the meal we tend to linger around after, rather than darting off. And it’s often the meal where taking second helpings or grazing on leftovers during cleanup transitions our calorie intake from a goal-focused day to a weight-gain day.

A simple tip I am going to share with you can help you save the relaxing, enjoyable aspects of dinner and continue it into your evening, while helping you avoid excess food in the process. I mentioned earlier how we tend to be scheduled during the day, up until dinner time, and thereafter it’s just “free time”. And the last thing you might expect is that I’m going to suggest you actually put something in that time spot. But, that IS what I’m going to suggest.

It's called Planning The Next Thing, and it can help you stop a nightly pattern of oops-I-undid-it-again. ​You know, after you successfully create a calorie deficit 21 hours out of the day but reverse it in the last 3.

Before you freak out that I’m taking away the only precious downtime in your day - rest assured that I’m not going to try to twist your arm into doing some more work, folding laundry or filing receipts when you really want to be playing a game on your phone or relaxing on the couch.

I’m not talking about scheduling anything productive, I’m talking about simply planning one thing to do immediately after dinner, and hopefully, you’ll select something you will really look forward to.

The idea is that you aren’t going to be “done relaxing” after the meal, so you don’t have to eat extra just to prolong the enjoyment. You’re going to transition from the enjoyable eating chapter to the other enjoyable thing you have planned. No loss! Having a dinner+activity plan also helps prevent lingering or grazing from not really knowing what to do (so I’ll have some of these crackers while I think about it…” Don’t be intimidated, because the activity planning part might be the easiest thing you ever did. It can be the same every night. It might be “Go upstairs and read”. Or “Sit on the couch, turn on tv”, or “See who is on “Facebook Messenger”. It doesn’t have to be active, intellectually stimulating or productive. Really. That’s not the point.

Even if this is something you already do each night, it can actually change your outlook to start thinking of it as your after dinner enjoyment activity. If the thought comes in “hm, maybe I want seconds”... you can respond with, “I’ll go start that movie, and if I REALLY want more food, I can always come back.” Or, if you’re thinking how yummy the food is, and that you don’t want the meal to end, you can remind yourself that you have more enjoyment coming after the meal, you don’t need to “Get it all in now” (because chili is not the last form of pleasure in your day.)

It’s all part of creating an abundance mindset, where food is one of life’s richest joys, but just one of many.

We aren’t going to run short of any of them. In this space, we are calm, we are at our most giving and least reactive, and we can best sense how much we truly need to eat. So go ahead, plan on relaxing after dinner, look forward to it as a purposeful activity, and use it to step away from the table.

Apr 26

New Podcast Alert! Ending Problematic, Stressful Eating

By Georgie Fear | Uncategorised

Maria of No Control Z and I recorded a podcast recently which might just be my favorite episode, ever! Maybe it's because she had prearranged such insightful questions, or because she's naturally amazing to make conversation with, or perhaps because she and I both have been down the road of troubled eating. Anyhow, I bet you'll like it and we got SO many great topics in there I can't believe it all fit in less than an hour?!

​Click here to listen!

Here's what you can get in this free episode:

3:01 — WHY YOU BINGE EAT, EVEN THOUGH YOU WANT TO STOP AND LOSE WEIGHT

5:26 — THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EMOTIONAL EATING AND BINGE EATING

7:20 — ARE BINGE EATING AND EMOTIONAL EATING SOLVED IN DIFFERENT WAYS?

10:27 — WHY YOU FEEL LIKE 2 DIFFERENT PEOPLE

12:10 — HOW TO GAIN CONTROL IN THE MOMENT OF A BINGE, IN 10 SECONDS

17:22 — HOW MUCH DOES BODY IMAGE PLAY IN BINGE EATING AND OVEREATING?

18:43 — YOU MAY HAVE BINGED IN THE PAST, BUT IT IS NOT YOUR IDENTITY

20:19 — BINGE EATING IS AN ATEMPT TO FEEL BETTER (which is normal, and human)

21:16 — IS IT POSSIBLE FOR EVERYONE TO BE LEAN?

23:40 — “You can’t go cold turkey with food”. ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO FEEL LIKE THEY ARE ADDICTED TO FOOD AND CANNOT STOP

26:35 — HOW TO CREATE A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT (why there is no need to “invite struggle” into your home)

29:57 — “I just don’t have the willpower”. IS THIS REALLY ABOUT WILLPOWER?

34:36 — HOW TO DEAL WITH YOUR KRYPTONITE FOODS (breaking the pattern and creating boundaries)

36:07 — WHAT TO DO IF YOU FEEL LIKE A FAILURE AND ARE DISGUSTED AT YOURSELF

40:25 — ONE ACTION STEP YOU CAN TAKE RIGHT NOW IF YOU ARE CONSISTENTLY OVEREATING AND BINGE EATING

43:34 — LOSING THE LAST FEW POUNDS (question from Susan)

48:09 — HOW TO KEEP UP THE MOTIVATION ONCE YOU HAVE STARTED ON THE ROAD TO HEALTHY WEIGHT LOSS.

Did you like it? Let me know by sharing it (just click one of the buttons below)! Want more? Check out my other interviews here.

Mar 10

What If Losing Weight in 2017 Doesn’t Make You Feel Any Happier or Better About Yourself

By Josh Hillis | Uncategorised

I’m going to offer a radical perspective. It’s an alternate perspective from how most people are wired. I’m not saying it’s the ultimate truth. It’s not the truth, but it can be a really useful and effective perspective in your weight loss journey.

The radical, alternate perspective: Losing weight won’t make you happier. Losing weight won’t make you feel better about yourself.

I was listening to a podcast with Joanne Dahl, PhD, talking about how looking at neurology, we know humans have 5 times more negative thoughts than they do positive thoughts. That means you’re probably going to have some negative thoughts about yourself, from time to time, for the rest of your life.

Most of the really good personal trainers I know really doubt their abilities a lot of the time. I’ve met people who’ve gotten PhDs try to escape feeling like they aren’t good enough, and still feel like they aren’t good enough. For those curious, it’s called “imposter syndrome,” and most people who aren’t sociopaths feel it at least part of the time.

I’ve had clients who got down to 16% (amazingly lean) or 14% body fat (which is pretty much as lean as a woman can get), with other gym members asking if they were cover models for fitness magazines, and who still didn’t feel good about themselves. I hate to even use numbers in this discussion, but I wanted to illustrate that someone can get to as lean as a person can get, and still not feel good about her body most of the time.

So, if a trainer can get as much education as is possible, and still not feel educated enough, and a human can get as lean as possible, and not feel lean enough, what are we left with?

That humans are wired to have negative thoughts sometimes.

And that’s ok.

There’s A Better Option

I like to get my clients results, because that’s what they are paying me for. That being said, I’d also like them to feel proud of what they are doing.

And that’s the closest thing I can find to a secret: What they are doing.

I don’t want people to pursue feeling better, or happier, or have more self-esteem, or any of that crap.

I want to help my clients take actions that they can be proud of. I want them to take actions that are in line with their personal values, and what matters to them. I want them to take actions that they feel like are good for them in the long term. I want to focus on what they do.

Happiness is like the weather, sometimes it comes and sometimes it goes. But no good comes of chasing it. Likewise, sometimes people feel good about themselves, other times they feel bad about themselves, we aren’t going to chase that either. Instead, we’re going to work on taking actions they can be proud of.

You Got Me Feeling Emotions

(Sorry, couldn’t stop the Mariah Carey reference!)

Said another way, I’m not going to go to work on your emotions. And, being a personal trainer, that makes my life a lot simpler.

People get caught up in emotional eating because they eat to avoid feeling bad. I recommend just feeling bad. People drink to avoid feeling bad. Again, I recommend just feeling bad. “Bad” is something humans feel sometimes.

If you look at nature, there is always a mixture of both sides:

feeling good/feeling bad

relaxed/stressed

engaged/bored

day/night

happy/sad

summer/winter

confident/underconfident

blue sky/rain storm

But most people try to avoid feeling bad. As if feeling bad is soemthing that should never happen. Most people do this cycle: Feel bad -> emotional eat -> feel bad -> emotional eat -> feel bad -> emotional eat -> feel bad -> emotional eat. It’s a downward spiral.

I’m not concerned with what’s going on inside, because I know that inside feelings and thoughts are like the weather. In personal training we aren’t going to “fix” your internal weather (if anyone anywhere can). Instead, we’re concerned with if you are taking actions that are in line with your personal values. I’m concerned if you are taking actions you’re proud of.

I recommend: Feel bad -> Take an action that you will be proud of -> feel bad -> take an action you will be proud of -> feel bad -> take an action you will be proud of.

Not even all of the time. Heck, if we do that part of the time or most of the time, that’s usually enough for most people to hit their goals.

Now, a person might think, “Hey, if I take actions I’m proud of, I’ll probably feel good!” And you might. But we don’t actually care about that. We just care about you taking actions that you could be proud of. Then you feel however you feel.

Again, we’re just going to assume that part of the human condition is going to include feeling bad.

Another acceptance and commitment therapy researcher, Russ Harris, PhD, wrote a book called “Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong.” He’s said that the truth of human life is that there is no “might,” that the title really should have been “Things WILL Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong.” Bad stuff happens, even to good people.

We’re looking at not trying to control what happens to us (we can’t) and not trying to control how we feel (we mostly can’t), but instead control what we actually can control: The actions we take.

Habit Based Weight Loss

What’s cool about this perspective, is that we just accept that it’s normal for humans to feel bad sometimes.

That’s ok. We just work on the actions (those are your food habits) that you’ll be proud of doing. We work on actions that are connected to things that are important to you.

For people who are concerned about producing results, don’t worry, taking action is the only path to results anyway. Taking actions. Taking actions. Taking actions.

So we’re just going to work on you taking actions that you can be proud of. And, we’re going to work on taking actions with a consistency you can be proud of.

And that’s where it comes full circle: They people who’ve lost weight who say it “changed their lives” are missing the point — what changed their lives was taking actions they could be proud of, and being consistent in a way they could be proud of.

It was a day in, day out, taking actions
in alignment with their values
that changed their lives.

And it’s the same for you — It’s the actions that make a difference for your life.

If we can’t control being happy or sad, we instead pursue a life lived in actions that have meaning for us, doing things that matter to us, and doing things that fit with our personal values.

Living Your Values is Totally Scaleable

Let’s say you choose that your health and fitness matter to you, and that consistency and longevity matter to you. You can take actions that align with that today.

You can do a workout that builds your fitness, that’s a workout you know you can do consistently, and working on things that matter to you long term. You could do that immediately, today.

And then, what that workout looks like 10 years from will be different. But that workout today and that workout 10 years from now are both in alignment with your values.

A huge mistake people make is thinking that they have to do the workout for 10 years from now, today. And they try and force it. They try to cram, and cheat, and skip ahead. And that always sucks. Maybe they even get hurt. Or maybe it’s miserable and they feel like a failure.

The lie people tell themselves is that skipping ahead is in line with their values. But it isn’t. No ones values include forcing it, cheating, and trying to skip ahead. Your values are what’s important to you and healthy for you in the long term.

People’s values usually have things like doing the work, being consistent, being someone they can be proud of. But you can’t skip ahead. You just have to take an action that you can be proud of taking today. And you can be smart about taking that action, and be proud of being smart about it. Be proud of taking an action that aligns with your values, whatever that looks like today.

It’s Work

Wait, figuring out my values is hard!

I know right?!?!

If I just gave you a meal plan, or some ridiculous rules about foods that are evil, it would be a lot simpler.

I know it takes work to think about what matters to you (your values) and what’s good for you in the long run (your values) and the kind of person you want to be (also, your values). But that’s the kind of work that matters.

Take some time, go for a walk, do some journaling. Brainstorm. Write down a million things, then rank them. Edit. Narrow it down to what’s most important. Work on this a little bit every week or every month.

Then, you have a filter to look at which actions to take. You either have actions that move towards what matters to you…

…or you have actions that take you away from thoughts and feelings that are uncomfortable.

And you can sort those actions.

You can notice which ones are which: Which actions are aligned with your values… and which actions are about avoiding thoughts and emotions.

And you can take the actions that connect to what matters to you. You can live a life based on what you say is important.

None of This is The Truth, It’s An Optional Perspective

It’s just a perspective.

It’s a perspective that’s heavily influenced by looking into Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Georgie found a randomized controlled trial with ACT where the people got really solid weight loss results, so I started looking in to ACT and the research associated with it. Some of the basic tenants of ACT inspired this post.

What’s great about everything I found is that it’s actually really accessible: Figure out your values, and go to work on actions that align with those. It’s a great framework for working on food and weight loss. It’s a great framework for any kind of habit coaching.

Positive psychologists Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi, PhD, and Martin Seligman, PhD, have both talked about worrying and negativity being the brains default position, but that you can take actions that are positive, engaging, and bring meaning to your life.

I hope, in reading this article, you get some flexibility in how you relate to negative thoughts about yourself and your body.

Just know that you’re having thoughts, and that human beings have negative thoughts.

  • You don’t need to give thoughts and feelings any more weight, you don’t need to feed them.
  • You also don’t need to run away from thoughts or feelings.
  • You aren’t broken, you don’t need fixing, you’re just human, just like everyone else. Like everyone else you have thoughts and feelings.

You can have negative thoughts sometimes, just like all the other humans, and still take actions that are good for you in the long run, aligned with your values, and are the actions you can be proud of taking.

Josh Hillis

P.S. For the personal trainers who read this blog, this is another cool example of how we actually don’t have to sort out people’s psychological issues. All we have to do is ask them about what matters to them, (their values) and then develop a plan together where the actions align with their values. And the actions can ramp up over time. All we need to do is be really interested in what matters to them, and coach actions. You might want to check out:

P.P.S. For normal folks reading this who might want to dig deeper, a couple books you might check out are:

I just started reading both of them, so I’m recommending them on the strength of hearing Russ Harris talk about diffusion, and JoAnne Dahl talk about values. Hearing them talk about this stuff was mind-blowing, so I’m sure their respective books are awesome.

P.P.P.S If you’re into research on weight loss and acceptance and commitment therapy, here some randomized controlled trials:

Forman, E. M., Butryn, M. L., Manasse, S. M., Crosby, R. D., Goldstein, S. P., Wyckoff, E. P. & Thomas, J. G. (2016). Acceptance-based versus standard behavioral treatment for obesity: Results from the mind your health randomized controlled trial. Obesity, 24, 2050–2056. doi:10.1002/oby.21601

Nourian, L., & Aghaei, A. (2015). Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on the body mass index in women afflicted with obesity. Iranian Journal of Psychiatric Nursing, 3, 11-20.

Katterman, S. N., Goldstein, S. P., Butryn, M. L., Forman, E. M., & Lowe, M. R. (2014). Efficacy of an acceptance-based behavioral intervention for weight gain prevention in young adult women. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 3, 45-50.

P.P.P.P.S. There’s way more to this, but we’re at 2000 words already. Other pieces definitely coming down the pike include mindfulness and food, and some tools to approach those thoughts and feelings that get in the way of taking actions that are aligned with your stated values.

Mar 09

Is Your Weight Loss Plan Making You an A-Hole?

By Josh Hillis | Uncategorised

A Good Metaphor for a Weight Loss Plan is A College Graduation Plan

If it takes 120 credits to graduate, and you take 15 credits per semester, you graduate in 8 semesters, or 4 years. Sometimes you can’t get classes or whatever, and it takes 5 years.

If, on the other hand, lets say you really want to graduate. You’re like so motivated. Plus, you haven’t gone to college in a while, so you figure you need to make up for it. So you take 120 credits in one semester. You get burnt out, you fail everything. You’re so demoralized you don’t even really try for another year or two. That would be how you do college like an a-hole.

Most people approach college the first way: 15 credits per semester. This appeals to your values, like: Moderation, patience, consistency, intentionality, and planning. It’s the consistency of doing the 15 credit work, day in and day out, that gets you to graduation. Plus, the practice of moderation, patience, consistency, intentionality, and planning, makes you a better version of yourself.

Most people approach weight loss the second way: 120 credits per semester (aka, like an a-hole). They try to do literally everything at once. The fail, because it’s impossible not to fail this way. It’s too much for any human. They destroy themselves, fail, and then they don’t learn from the silliness of how much they took on… because next time they do the same thing again. Even worse, because they are practicing taking on too much, short-sightedness, impatience, and perfectionism, they’re making themselves worse versions of themselves. They’re rapidly becoming a-holes.

It’s About Hitting Your Goals

Looking at the college example, it’s pretty easy to see that the patient, consistent, reasonable, planned way is the only way to graduate.

It really, really, really is the same with weight loss. Your 15 credits per semester might be working on 2 or 3 food skills over a few months. By really integrating these food skills into your life, you change the kinds of results that are possible for you with fitness and leanness forever.

Most clients it doesn’t take four years, like college. But if it did take four years, that would still be faster than what most people do — because most people fail so fast, so often, they never come anywhere near hitting their goals.

It isn’t just the better way, it’s the only way to lose weight.

The No-Nonsense Way to Become Your Best Version of Yourself

Step One: Identify your values

Pick 1-3 values that are important to you. Most people get more with less; Think about one value or two values that really mean a lot to you. That laser focus will make things simple and obvious. Most people have trouble, initially, with figuring out what their values are. That’s ok. Just spend some time reflecting on it, each week, for the rest of your life. It’s ok if you pick something, and then refine it over a few years.

Step Two: Apply your value(s) to an area of your life, like fitness

You will probably find that there are areas of your life that you practice this value already. You may totally rock that value with finance, but not with fitness. Or you rock it with other people, but not with yourself. You’ll notice that some areas are different than others.

That inconsistency is an inconsistency of self. Don’t worry, we all have those. Actually, we’re mostly blind to them, because we just don’t spend any time thinking about it.

My mentor Dan John has always told me: “Be one person, all of the time. Surround yourself with people who are one person, all of the time.”

Step Three: Shrink inconsistencies and gaps

You’ll pretty immediately see where you have gaps or inconsistencies between your stated values and what you practice in real life, with your fitness. That’s great! That’s a place to go to work. That’s an area you can grow.

All there is to do is ask yourself “What would be a better expression of __________ value with my fitness?” Just try something new. Again, it doesn’t have to be the end-all, be-all expression of that value in your fitness, it just needs to be one step better than you’ve done before.

For example, if you’ve repeatedly done extreme diets and cleanses where you crash and burn after a month, but you value reasonableness and consistency. A skill based approach to nutrition would obviously be the ultimate expression of reasonableness and consistency. You don’t need to do all of the skills at once, youonly need to do one skill for now. Later, you can add another one.

It’s ok for it to be progressive. You don’t need to completely close each gap in one step — likely that’s been what’s failed for you in the past. All you need to do is take small steps, continually, that are in alignment with your stated value(s).

Rinse and Repeat

It really is as simple as: State your values, apply stated values to an area of your life, and then shrink the gaps and inconsistencies in your actions.

Every time you repeat that process, you bring your actions more in line with your stated values. And that’s pretty much the ultimate in personal growth: Living your values.

by Josh Hillis
Chief People Officer, One by One Nutrition
Author, Fat Loss Happens on Monday

P.S. This was inspired by a webinar Steven Ledbetter did with Michael Littig about universal stories and horizontal vs. vertical traditions. It got my head spinning about horizontal vs. vertical growth could look like in fitness and weight loss.

P.P.S. We, at One by One Nutrition, have an awesome coaching program, if you want some coaching and accountability in applying your values to your food and fitness.