I used to love playing dominoes when I was a little kid.
Not so much the game, as much as setting up the dominoes meticulously, in anticipation of getting to knock over the first one and watching them all fall down perfectly….or, so I hoped.
Let’s envision what might happen to you when you get into great shape…
Your clothes fit great, your confidence is radiant, you’re more productive, you’re more energized, you’re happier, you feel empowered, you’re more balanced, you feel sexy, you feel vibrant, you can walk for long periods of time, you love the way you feel, you can walk up the stairs without having to stop, you sleep better, you smile when you look at yourself in the mirror, you’re happy to be in pictures, you’re able to run for a long period of time, you feel that you’re in control of yourself, you feel powerful, you feel strong, you feel like you’re living again as opposed to existing — each as a series of dominoes of different sizes and shapes.
It turns out that if we start with them all at once, we’ll fail.
And if we start with the BIG one, we’ll fail.
But if we line up all the dominoes one by one, we may just have enough energy to push over the first one.
That one, of course, adds momentum so that when we crash into the second one, that one goes too. All the way down…
That seems obvious right? Sure. Common sense but certainly not common practice.
Why is it so often ignored? Why do people always get stuck trying to do everything all at once.
We’re not going to run the 10k and we’re not going to love the way we look naked and we’re not going to love the way we look in a bathing suit and we’re not going to love the way we feel all at once.
Did we graduate high school in 10 days?
The most successful people I know don’t try to attack everything at once.
They pick out a few dominoes instead. And topple them. And they do it again. They do this so often they create momentum, and most importantly, a sense of inevitability.
Think about each meal, each workout, each extra three reps you do, each “no thank you!”, each drop of sweat, each extra five minutes of exercise, each time you choose to skip an indulgence, as a small domino…
Each one matters just as much as the next one.
We never succeed when we try to topple every domino over all at once.
Creating that momentum creates a sense of inevitability.
A sense of when…not if.
Meal by meal. Workout by workout. Day by day. Daily report by Daily report. THAT is how we make success inevitable.
Do you want to guarantee your weight loss success? Read this.
I want to share a valuable lesson with you today.
It can help you get over cravings. It can also help you stop thinking about something you don’t want to think about.
When I woke up this morning my throat was killing me. I tried not to think about it. The more I tried not to think about it, the more I wound up thinking about it. Ahhhh! : (
The game we’re about to play only has one rule: Don’t think about white polar bears. You can think about anything but white polar bears.
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath.
Ahhhh. (Seriously, when was the last time you stopped what you were doing and took a deep breath? It’s a nice feeling.)
Now banish any thoughts of animals from your head…
You just lost the game. (It’s okay. Everyone loses…at first.)
That’s what happens.
Try to avoid thinking about a white polar bear and that bear will come to mind every minute. In fact, whenever we try not to think about something — be it junk food or white polar bears — that will come to mind. It’s stuck in our loop of self-consciousness.
Our mind backfires. Our attempts at repressing the thought turn into a fixation.
Being aware of the fact that our mind does this is the first step.
So, after about 15 minutes of trying not to think about my throat this morning, I took some of my own advice. (Hey, I’m no monk! Everything I write is aspirational.)
Instead of trying not to think about the pain in my throat, I distracted myself with….writing THIS very email you’re reading right now.
It’s way more effective to distract ourselves with something else — rather than trying not to think of something.
Sounds so simple but it’s so powerful.
“Great, Adam! I’m so glad you were able to use this tactic to avoid your sore throat. But what does this have to do with anything re: food?!?!?!”
Well, this absolutely applies to food.
Let’s say you have a craving…
MOST people would try not to think about the craving. But the more they try not to think about it, the more they wind up thinking about it. Until they eventually just give in because they can’t take the internal chatter anymore.
Instead, we want to distract ourselves. And ideally, immerse ourselves in something else.
Then, we’re not even thinking about not thinking about the craving! (Ha. So meta!)
We’re just engaged in something else.
This works so well for anything we’re trying to not think about.
Whether it’s calling or texting a friend, reading a good article or book, doing work or something you’re passionate about, watching a funny TV show or clip on YouTube, listening to some music, playing with your kid(s)…whatever. We want to get lost in something else.
The key is deciding what you’ll distract and immerse yourself in before the cravings come on.
Oww! My throat.
P.S. The only long term way to stop thinking about food is to change your relationship with food. That’s a big part of what we’ll help you do as a client. My program is 100% guaranteed to work or your money back. We’ll not only help you look and feel amazing but we’ll do it in a way that is truly sustainable. Learn more by clicking here.
A few weeks ago, right smack in the middle of the day, the opportunity to ride a Segway was presented to me. I had never ridden one before and I really wanted to do it. Unfortunately, my schedule was packed that afternoon and evening…
DAMN! What to do?
Well, I began adjusting my schedule so I could make it happen. However, I’d be squeezing it in between two things I couldn’t miss.
My friend suggested I do it the next day.
I was so caught up in the moment, that didn’t even occur to me. I was so pumped up! I had to ride the Segway that day. Not the following day. I wanted to ride it RIGHT THEN AND THERE!!!
Once I realized that I’d be cutting it very close with meetings, I decided the following morning would have to work.
I’m a big believer in scheduling events and creating things to look forward to. Anticipation is a HUGE key to happiness.
When it comes to happiness there are four stages: Anticipation, savoring the actual event or moment as we experience it, expressing our pleasure to ourselves or those with us, and reflecting on the fun and happy memory.
I think my favorite stage of happiness is…wait for it….hold on….give me a second…anticipation. (See what I did there?)
Anticipation can make our lives better. And sometimes, I enjoy the anticipation of an event more so than the actual event I’m anticipating. (And I’m okay with that!)
Whether it’s planning trips or figuring out fun plans for the week or weekend, setting things up for ourselves to look forward to will make us happier.
I try to create anticipation in my life as often as possible. (In fact, I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for a few weeks now. But I purposely waited.)
Question: If you had the chance to go to your favorite vacation spot this coming weekend or in four weeks, what would you choose?
I’d choose going away in four weeks. Why? This way, I get to look forward to the vacation for FOUR WHOLE weeks! It’s like a four week vacation plus the vacation itself.
Question: If you had the chance to go to your favorite restaurant today or in two weeks from now, what would you choose?
I’d choose going in two weeks from now. Why? Because I get to look forward to my favorite meal for two whole weeks!
Question: If you had the chance to indulge in your favorite food treat today or this weekend, what would you choose?
I’d choose this weekend. Why? Because I can anticipate how tasty it’ll be all week long!
When I finally went on the Segway that following day, I had an absolute blast. And the best part was that I got to look forward to it the whole day before. Sometimes, we gotta delay instant gratification for future happiness.
It turns out, the most simple way to make your favorite food or anything more enjoyable is to give yourself an opportunity to look forward to it.
Feel like eating your favorite food treat because it’s been a long day?
What if you decide that you’ll strategically allow yourself (I say strategically because this is a conscious choice, not an impulsive one) to indulge in a few days?
In fact, planning ahead when we’re going to eat our favorite treat is a very strategic move. It allows us to anticipate eating it and it also allows us to…pause before we indulge when there are unexpected treats. Plus, knowing that we’ll be indulging soon makes the temporary discomfort we face more tolerable.
The coolest part is that by then (let’s say the weekend) we’ll have so much momentum on our side, that we usually don’t even want to indulge. And what if we still really want to? That’s okay! At least it was a mindful choice that gave us an extra boost of happiness (having something to look forward to) and it gave us a compelling reason to not give in right away.
So next time you want to indulge why not “Segway It,” until later on.
In this journey of life, there aren’t many cut and dry markers like start and finish lines. However, there are a ton of marathons we choose to enter (whether we realize it or not).
For the sake of consistency, let’s define a marathon in life as a process.
The reason why getting the body we want is so hard is because: It’s a process. Not an event.
Dating is a process. Establishing trust is a process. And getting the body we want is a process.
Events, on the other hand, are easier to manage and get excited about because it’s a one time occurrence.
Processes, though, build results for the long haul.
[Side note: The easiest part about a process is starting. Anyone can start. The hardest part about a process is keeping on going. That's where the magic happens. Weight loss is a process.
Exercising is an event. I've found that the hardest part about an event is starting. Once you start, it's a lot easier to keep on going. The first five minutes of exercise is usually harder than the last five.]
Hopefully, whatever marathons we choose to pursue are worthwhile ones. And when we focus on the benefits, it’s easier to get through the inevitable discomfort we’ll face. (In my experience, although I’m admittedly biased, having daily support and accountability truly makes all the difference.)
But here’s the critical mistake so many people make: If you’re going to decide to start a marathon, decide up front that you will not quit when the going gets tough.
I have a friend who is a marriage counselor. She has a flawless track record.
Want to know how?
At the very beginning, before the first session, she asks her clients: “Are you considering divorce?”
If the answer is yes, she refuses to take them on.
Why? Because there really aren’t degrees of commitment. As soon as we consider giving up on anything, we are looking for reasons to support that decision.
If we, instead, commit to a project, or mission, or marriage or our goals then we look for reasons to stick with it.
And when it comes to our health and fitness the reasons to stick with it are literally endlesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.
P.S. As a product of divorced parents, I am in no way, shape or form advocating that parents should stick to their marriage, if it’s not working. I think the best thing parents can do for their children is be happy themselves (whether it’s together or not).
P.P.S. I’ll never forget this! A few years ago, a client told me about a diet she had tried. This is truly still unbelievable to me, and it still makes my blood boil…
Get this. Before she started the diet, she had to literally sign a contract committing to never indulging again. What?!?!
If being healthy and fit was as easy as signing a contract then everyone would be in amazing shape! That’s like saying “Just eat healthy and exercise!” Ohhhhhhh….that’s what we’re supposed to do? Compliance is the hard part. (Of course, we all know this.)
This isn’t about committing to never indulging again, obviously. That’s not sustainable. It’s about committing to being vulnerable (aka asking for help) when we feel that our commitment is wavering – as opposed to just saying, “Forget this. This is just too annoying!” or, “Life is just too crazy right now!” or, “I’ll focus on this when…” and finding reasons to support that decision.
P.P.P.S. Click here for a post I wrote about why sticking to a diet is so hard.
One of the reasons why we indulge and/or overeat is because we’re stressed. Stress can make us go against our best intentions.
When we fall into the habit of overeating and/or eating junk when we’re stressed, it gets easier to repeat that behavior.
When our brain is under stress there is a vicious cycle that gets created. In a study of chronically stressed rats the brains atrophied in the areas of decision making, while becoming overly developed in the area of habit formation.
This might explain why when we’re under stress we abandon all that we know we ‘should do’, and all that we consciously want to do, and fall back into old habits.
However, scientists note that behaviors can stick more quickly in stressed animals than in the controls.
Although stress is a killer and can lead to many diseases it’s also necessary for us to survive.
Fortunately (I think), we no longer stress about what our ancestors did. We stress about very different things.
And even if we’re stressed out because our boss is yelling, or a client is being impossible, or our kids are being disrespectful, or we have a million things to do at home and work, or there’s traffic and we’re running late —-> if we feel stressed, we’re stressed.
Perception is reality!
So, what do we do??
Well, there is a big opportunity for us to change…
IF (caps for emphasis) we plan ahead what we’ll do before we’re stressed.
If we do that, it’ll increase the likelihood that we’ll do it next time we’re stressed. Lucky for us (because we’re stressed) our new behavior will become a habit more quickly as well.
Our biggest opportunities for growth are always when we’re most uncomfortable.
Here are six ideas for you to use next time you’re stressed:
1. Listen to your favorite music.
2. Gather a few favorite emails or YouTube videos and read and/or watch the videos when you’re stressed. Be sure to save them all in one place so they’re easy to get to.
3. Get up. Take a big deep breath and go for a three minute walk.
4. Read a juicy gossip blog that might make you feel otherwise guilty for doing so. (We’ll feel way less guilty reading than eating!)
5. Look at pictures.
6. Text your tutor.
Pick one and try it next time you feel stressed.
Though it might be feel uncomfortable at first (doing anything different, especially when we’re stressed, will feel uncomfortable), if we do it the next time we’re stressed, it’ll be a tad easier to do it again…and again and again.
If we look at our next stressful situation as an opportunity to create new habits (and it truly is), it’ll feel less daunting and more empowering.
If you don’t like any of the ideas above it’s worth thinking of other ways we can calm ourselves down. The key, of course, is to think about what we’re going to do…before we get stressed.
And soon enough…when we feel stressed, we’ll reach for something else.