Once in a while when I talk with someone who doesn’t appear to be healthy and fit, they’ll say something like: “You know, I only live once. We’re all going to die anyway so what’s the point of my weight loss efforts? Why not enjoy now?!”
There is a reason they are saying this, and it’s not as obvious as you might think. I’ll go into that next week.
Instead, let’s tackle head on the point of us only living once so what’s the point of our weight loss efforts…
I talk and write a lot about our short term/irrational mind versus our long term/rational mind. Our long term/rational mind is where our dreams and desires are. Our short term/irrational mind doesn’t care about the future. It wants pleasure…and it wants it NOW!
Our short term mind is constantly sabotaging us in the form of thoughts like, “You deserve this cookie, go for it. You only live once! (YOLO)” “Why bother exercising?” “Don’t you want to be happy now?” “You work so hard!”
Here’s the challenge we all wrestle with: Balancing living for tomorrow with living for today.
The reason why I’ve been able to stick with MBT since February of 2007 is because I truly believe in what we’re doing, and I know what we offer works better than anything else out there. My belief only grows stronger each and every day because of the results we get for our clients.
Persistence isn’t about doing the same things over and over. It’s about wanting the same thing over and over.
(I believe our short term/irrational mind is constantly trying to chip away at what we really want because it’s easier to maintain the status quo. In other words: We either go after what we want or we try to convince ourselves that we don’t really want it.)
And something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember – and something I’ll always want – is to live the happiest life I can, and to help others do the same.
One fact remains constant and it’s what drives me: When I eat healthfully and exercise, I feel better. In other words, happier, than when I don’t.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy cookies. I enjoy ice cream. I enjoy all sorts of indulgent food. And I indulge. (Never indulging isn’t the goal, nor is it sustainable. We teach our clients how to be fit and happy, not fit and miserable.)
But, I try to only indulge for the right reasons.
Which brings me to the question we (our short term / irrational mind) often ask ourselves, “Why am I not enjoying now?” in the face of temptation or any discomfort.
“YOLO!” (You Only Live Once!) “You work so hard!” “You deserve this!” “Just this one time!” These are types of things our short term / irrational mind loves to say.
Which circles us back to the…
Now versus later debate.
“Screw my Body Tutor, screw MBT, screw the Daily Feedback! I want to enjoy life now!”
That’s the devil on our shoulder talking to the Body Tutor. That’s our irrational, short term mind yelling at our rational, long term mind.
So try this thought on for size:
Why not enjoy life now, even if it means more health problems later?
Go for that cookie! Go for that ice cream! Go for the pizza! Whatever and whenever you want.
BUT! It seems to me, unless you are already doing heroin then you aren’t being true to your own philosophy. Why not enjoy a good high now? Who cares what happens later!?
Interestingly, all of us have always thought about later on, and not now.
Think about the first 20 or so years of our life. Everything we did in school was to set ourselves up for a better future.
The one downside of planning ahead is that we may enjoy today a tad less. (Wait…there’s always a twist!)
The upside is that our future might be a bit better! Maybe, A LOT better!
I’m not saying my thinking here is the best, but I think you get my point.
I don’t think it’s fair to call the “you only live once aka YOLO” approach any kind of philosophy unless you’re also quitting your job, doing heroin, living at your favorite restaurant, and only doing what feels the best every minute of your life.
Junkies have a philosophy. We have rationalizations.
Now there’s always a twist:
1. It turns out, we actually enjoy today more when we eat and exercise for the future. We’ve all had days when we do nothing but eat and watch TV – at least I have. I always feel better when I’m eating well and exercising. Always! I know you do too.
2. I’ve never done drugs. Had/have no desire. I’m not saying you should. It was just to make a point. Actually, as a public service announcement I’ll write it: don’t do drugs!
3. It turns out that when we live and plan for the future it’ll also make us happier today. Knowing we’re doing good for our future selves makes our current selves happier.
P.S. It’s amazing how powerful reframing something is. I see YOLO (You Only Live Once) as you You Oughta Look Out because you only live once!
P.P.S. I’ve thought and written a lot about the subject of happiness because I think that’s our end goal. You can read all of my posts on happiness on my other blog here.
Jenn, a client, wrote me this email:
“Adam, I’m really upset because I didn’t lose any weight last week. I know why I didn’t but it’s still very frustrating! Sometimes, I feel like what’s the point? Ugh it’s so frustrating! Any insight? I’m not quitting although I usually would at this point. Just so you know, this is the only program that has kept me going. (I know that’s the only way to get the results I want.)”
Let’s help Jenn out…
First off, it’s interesting that Jenn views last week as a failure. Of course we’re not trying to just maintain, but not gaining weight during a crazy and stressful week — when most people would gain weight — is a win in my book.
She feels that her efforts aren’t paying off even though she wasn’t at home, wasn’t reporting, and was in an environment loaded with temptations.
Oh and she’s already lost 30 pounds.
The scale has a lot of power over us, unless we change the way we view it.
It seems like we have our own chicken or the egg debate here though.
What came first: The results or the effort?
Many of us are obsessed with only the results. We work our tails off only for results. We make healthy choices only for results. We exercise for an extra five minutes only for results. Everything we do is only for the results.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m VERY results oriented.
It’s fascinating. When the results don’t happen when we expect or want them to occur, the very first thing most people want to change is the amount of effort they put forth.
However, the amount of effort we put forth absolutely has a direct impact on the results we’ll see and feel.
When we see results, we become more motivated, and are willing to put forth more effort.
Does this mean we should follow an extreme diet that will give us results as quickly as possible?
No, I’ve tested this countless times. If the plan isn’t sustainable, eventually, we’ll just abandon it altogether. This is why people who lose weight with extreme diets almost always gain it all back, and then some. Not good.
The good stuff might take a little longer — but it sticks. How many people do you know who ate only grapefruits, or “cookies” or shakes to lose weight kept it off? The more rigid the plan is – the more likely we are to revert back to our old ways of eating.
It’s gotta be a way of life. I know you know this already.
Results then can either make or break the effort dial. If we see results, we’ll turn up the dial. If we don’t see results when we want to, the first thing we want to do is turn down the effort dial.
Here is what I can assure you of:
Your body and my body never lie. We can think we’re fooling ourselves. We can think we’re fooling our Body Tutor.
But like every basket counts toward the final score in a basketball game, whether it’s scored in the first 25 seconds of the game or the last 25 – every thing we eat counts — even if no one sees it. Our body never lies.
Individually, each meal and snack we eat might not seem like they matter much but collectively they matter IMMENSELY. This is about the accrued power of thousands of meals and hundreds of workouts.
The amount of effort we put forth really does matter.
Whether it’s exercising for an extra five minutes or pushing through an intense moment of discomfort when we have a craving — every feeling of fatigue, and every period of discomfort we push through, really and truly makes a difference.
Results will happen. It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.
Our body has no choice but to work its magic when we’re eating right and exercising *consistently*!
Let’s do a quick experiment.
Raise your hand in the air.
(C’mon. Just do it.)
Now raise it one inch higher.
We can always push ourselves a little more.
If we want results quicker, let’s turn up the effort dial. In 98% of the cases I’ve seen (out of thousands), that’s the case.
Very, very rarely is it about anything else.
We can’t control exactly how our body responds to certain things but we can control the amount of effort we put forth.
It’s impossible to lose weight week after week. Plateaus happen, our body adjusts, etc. (Side note: Unless we’re staying very consistent it’s not a plateau when we don’t lose weight.)
Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.
The question isn’t if we’ll have a week or two without weight loss. The real question is how are we going to respond once we do…
Are we going to turn up the effort dial or turn it down?
It’s much easier to get through these weeks, when we focus on how great we’re feeling. Why let a number dictate your mood? Besides, there are other ways to measure progress…
How our clothes look on us, how we look without clothes, how we’re able to move, etc. The scale is just one measure of progress.
Besides, if someone said we could have our dream body but weigh 500 pounds, we wouldn’t care. What we’re really after is how we feel and look. What we’re really after is fat loss…not necessarily weight loss.
What keeps me going, what keeps me believing in what we do so much, is this simple but very powerful fact:
No matter how much I enjoy eating indulgent, I have never felt better from eating poorly and not exercising than I have from eating great and exercising.
In other words, I feel better – heck I feel great – on the days that I eat great and exercise. So much better than I do on the days I don’t. That’s the REAL reward.
It’s the difference between a great day and a not so great day.
And if we truly focus on feeling as good as we can by our actions (eating right and exercising) – our body will work its magic the way we want it to, and weight loss becomes a wonderful side effect!
Let’s just stop playing the chicken or the egg game!
But certainly feel free to eat both of them.
“In baseball, my theory is to strive for consistency, not to worry about the numbers. If you dwell on statistics you get shortsighted, if you aim for consistency, the numbers will be there at the end.” – Tom Seaver
P.S. I understand how challenging it is to consistently put forth effort. Sometimes, we just don’t feel like it. This is exactly why most people start and stop all kinds of diets! It’s not easy. But it’s very doable if we have a system of support and accountability in place. (Yes, I know this sounds self-serving but it’s the truth.)
P.P.S. Sometimes, doing the “right thing” doesn’t always feel good in the moment. Happiness doesn’t always feel happy in the moment. The things that contribute to our long-term happiness and well-being, don’t always make us feel good in the short term.
P.P.P.S. Effort can be disguised as doing something our “old self” wouldn’t do. Usually take the elevator? Take the stairs. Usually drink soda with dinner? Drink water. Usually get a cookie with coffee in the afternoon? Have some fruit instead and/or go for a walk. Every bit of effort we put forth adds up. Effort when it comes to our fitness never, ever, fails.
In this article you’re going to learn:
The #1 reason why people are overweight
A powerful test to see whether you’re emotionally or physically hungry
Why focusing only on tactics when it comes to weight loss is as useless as a screen door on a submarine
Three powerful questions to ask yourself if you’re about to emotionally eat
The only way to overcome emotional eating
The #1 reason why people are overweight is because…drum roll please (video safe for work) …we’re eating when we’re emotionally hungry.* Not when we’re physically hungry.
*This is based on hundreds of new client questionnaires I’ve reviewed in the last 8 years since starting MyBodyTutor along with subsequent conversations.
Physical hunger is a gradual sensation that we feel in our stomach, and any food seems appealing. We usually feel good after eating.
Most people eat when they’re emotionally hungry though.
Emotional hunger comes on suddenly and we’ll crave specific foods. With emotional hunger we can have snack after snack and nothing hits the spot. We often feel guilty after emotional eating.
It’s because we’re not hungry for food. We’re hungry for something else.
It might be stress relief. It might be a distraction. It might be a quick escape. It might be a treat. It might be a feeling of control (in a counterintuitive way).
Keep in mind: It’s never about the food we’re craving. It’s about what the food allows us to avoid.
Here’s a simple but powerful way to determine if you’re physically or emotionally hungry.
THE BROCCOLI TEST
I call it The Broccoli Test (TBT).
Simply ask yourself this question:
Would I eat broccoli right now? If you answer “yes” then you are physically hungry. Go ahead and eat.
If you answer “no” then you’re emotionally hungry. You are not actually hungry for food. You are hungry for something else (stress relief, a distraction, a quick escape, etc.).
The idea is that when we’re physically hungry any food is appealing. If the thought of vegetables doesn’t sound appealing we’re not physically hungry.
The first step to overcoming emotional eating is being aware of it.
Now, what if you realize you’re emotionally hungry? That’s the next part.
Before we move forward, I want to share why the “advice”, “Just eat less and move more!” is as useless as a screen door on a submarine. The reason? It doesn’t address the psychology of weight loss.
Tactics without the right mindset and psychology, is like getting bariatric surgery without understanding why we’re overeating in the first place. If we don’t understand the root cause, we’re just delaying the inevitable: gaining the weight back.
Without a foundation, people’s efforts are a waste of time. This is why “diets” don’t work for the long term. They don’t change habits and behaviors. They don’t focus on the mindset.
Most people go on what I call a “food diet”. The only thing they change is the food they’re eating. If the only thing you’re changing is the food you’re eating, you’re not going to change for the long term.
Okay, back to it.
I’m a big fan of asking ourselves questions. Questions change our perspective. And that’s what it’s all about.
So, if you realize you’re about to emotionally eat, ask yourself:
1. What’s really bothering me? Or what am I really hungry for?
2. What can I do about it?
3. Why don’t I do anything about it? ——> This is the kicker.
When we’re emotionally eating we’re choosing to be powerless. (Yes, I know I sound like a corny motivational speaker but it’s the truth.) We’re choosing to be powerless by going into what I call a ‘food trance’. In that food trance, everything is great.
Our mind finally turns off. Whatever was bothering us is no longer on our mind. We’re only focused on the pleasure of the food we’re eating…
The second we’re done indulging – the moment! – the good feelings go away, and we’re left feeling guilty and regretful. (This is one of the reasons why junk food can be addicting. We want more and more of that pleasure aka dopamine.) Shortly thereafter, the very reason why we emotionally ate comes back into play.
Emotionally eating only suppresses feelings. It doesn’t change them. It’s like an annoying door to door salesmen…if we don’t answer the door, they’ll keep knocking.
We might as well answer it sooner rather than later. Until we answer the door we’ll just keep suppressing emotions.
In other words, we want to be powerful. (Yes, I know. More corny motivational talk stuff.)
It’s the truth, though. If we deal with what’s bothering us, the cravings and urges will go away.
The key is getting specific about what’s bothering us. For example, rather than saying to others or ourselves, “I’m so stressed,” try this:
“I’m so stressed because X.” Or, “I’m so stressed because Y.” The more we can pinpoint what’s bothering us and actually take action on what’s bothering us, the less cravings and urges we’ll have.
In other words: Facing our stuff. Rather than stuffing our face.
This is the only way to get over emotional eating because we’re getting to the root cause of the emotions. This is one of the many frameworks we teach our clients, and it’s one of the reasons why the MBT program gets our clients such amazing results, guaranteed or your money back.
Who wants to eat their favorite meals all of the time without the consequences of eating your favorite meals all of the time?
Today, I want to share a tactic I call…”Pickles and Onions”.
I’ve been doing this for years and it works (and tastes) like magic.
My favorite food is hamburgers. Give me a hamburger with some crunchy pickles and raw onion, and I’ll be pretty, pretty, pretty happy. (At least, while I’m eating it.) (Though a burger itself is totally MBT approved.)
I don’t need a fancy meal.
I love chicken Parmesan. Delizioso!
I also love fajitas. Nothing like pico de gallo and some fresh guacamole.
It doesn’t stop there…
I’ve been known to occasionally enjoy a tuna fish sandwich with some potato chips.
You might also find me eating ice cream in front of the TV catching up on some shows.
1. I’ve realized that one my favorite things about eating a hamburger is the pickles and raw onion that usually comes with it. Mmmm.
Solution: I eat chicken with raw onion and pickles and it’s almost as good. Sometimes, I’ll just have pickles. Craving solved…90% of the time. Sure, sometimes I really want a burger, and I have one.
Solution #2: There’s actually nothing wrong with having a burger. It’s the bun and fries we (usually) eat with it that get in the way of our goals. So, I’ll often have a burger sans bun + veggies and/or greens. It hits the spot 99% of the time.
2. You know what my favorite part of eating chicken cutlets is? The marinara sauce.
Solution: I make or get grilled chicken with marinara sauce. Voila! I get my fix.
One of my go to meals for dinner is grilled chicken and lots of broccoli with some whole wheat pasta all mixed together with marinara sauce. Yum.
Sure, I have the real thing every now and then. But it always feels better to eat healthfully, and that’s what this is all about. Feeling as good we can!
3. Lately, I’ve been on a Mexican kick. Fajitas are so tasty.
But I realized a big part of it was the guacamole and pico de gallo.
Solution: Sometimes, I’ll eat guacamole and pico de gallo plain. And it hits the spot. Or, I’ll put it on something like fish or chicken. Or, I’ll do lettuce + chicken + pico de gallo + guacamole. So good!
Or, instead of tortilla chips (tortilla chips + guacamole is one of my favorite snacks), I’ll use carrots instead of the chips, and enjoy it with the guacamole. Still so good!
4. A big part of eating ice cream is the cold sensation. It’s soothing.
Solution: Ever try frozen fruit? You can get bags of frozen strawberries or blueberries at the grocery store, and it’s delicious. I’m telling you this works.
5. Sandwiches and chips go hand and hand just like reaching goals and accountability does.
Solution: A big part of the appeal of chips is the C-R-U-N-C-H. Instead, I cut up veggies like carrots, raw peppers, etc. It helps a lot. Chips also tend to be salty. Pickles help here as well. They’re crunchy + salty.
Next time we’re really craving a meal, let’s try to figure out what it is we’re really craving…
Maybe it’s just part of the food — i.e. pickles or guacamole?
Maybe we’re just after a certain sensation — i.e. frozen fruit?
Maybe we just want some C-R-U-N-C-H in our life — i.e. veggies?
What are you favorite meals?
What are your favorite PARTS of your favorite meals? Worth thinking about.
Why would anyone fear losing weight? We all want to be healthy and fit. We all want to look and feel amazing. It makes no sense…until it makes complete sense.
This is a juicy post. If you have trouble sticking with a diet and exercise plan, I’m confident this will give you some “aha!” moments. Being that it’s juicy, I ask that you read it when you have some uninterrupted free time. Let’s get to it.
Without fail, whenever I meet someone and I tell them what I do, the conversation turns to all of the diets they’ve done in the past, including the one they’re currently on.
We all know people like this…
One month they’re eating ONLY xyz. “Nope, I can’t eat any of that. It’s not a part of my plan!” The next month, they’re eating only what they were just avoiding the month before. The next month, they’re only eating grapefruits.
“This is working so well! I lost 2 pounds in the first 2 days! Can you believe this?!?!”
The next month, “The best part about this is that I can eat as much fat as I want AND lose weight?!” as they’re chomping down on a triple bacon cheeseburger.
The next month, “Ya know, I’ve decided I’m going to become a vegetarian. I’m never going to eat meat again!”
The next month…
You get the point.
We all know these people…
…they go from one shiny new fad diet to the next without ever sticking with ANYTHING.
Because 90% of our success (or lack of it) comes down to our psychology. It comes down to our mindset.
No diet that is solely based on the food we eat (which is pretty much every diet out there) will ever solve why we gained weight in the first place.
Food won’t fix our emotional, stress and habitual eating. It won’t fix our compulsive and binge eating.
Food won’t get to the root cause. It won’t address the psychological and mental barriers we might face.
Food certainly won’t change our behaviors and habits. And it won’t change the way we think and react to food.
The best tactics, strategies and frameworks won’t matter if a part of us fears weight loss success. In other words, the best diet and exercise plan won’t matter, if a part of us is scared to succeed. Being overweight and out of shape IS the solution.
“But Adam, that makes no sense. Of courseeee people want to lose weight and be successful!”
Not so fast.
Let’s say in this case, success means using food only as fuel. <—- Good!
Instead of using it as a way to soothe, reward ourselves and suppress feelings. <—- Not what we’re after.
Well, there’s a few reasons why we wouldn’t want to be successful then.
If we’re successful that means:
1. We don’t have food as a way to temporarily escape or quiet our mind at work or home.
2. We might get attention from strangers and loved ones.
3. We’ll have to deal with our feelings such as self-doubt (because we’re actually dealing with our problems/challenges/etc., as opposed to covering them up with food).
4. We’ll have to start acting like the person we want to be instead of wishing and hoping we become that person. What do I mean? We’ll have to live up to what we’re capable of. Because we won’t have the “One day I will…” dream deluding us any longer – while we’re eating ice cream on the couch.
5. We’ll have to find other ways to make ourselves happy besides using food.
These are very real psychological roadblocks.
Here are some from recent conversations I had with clients:
“I get way too much attention when I’m really fit. I’m scared I’m going to cheat on my husband.”
“My mom and I are the same size. She buys a ton of extra clothes. I don’t want to give that up. It’s like a bonding thing for us.”
“I’m scared of dating. I know if I lose the weight, I’ll have no excuse.”
“My husband is scared that if I lose the weight I’m going to leave him. He likes things the way they are.”
“You know, a part of me knows I’m not realizing my full potential. That unrealized potential feels daunting. And it’s so painful. So a part of me would rather be overweight and deal with that, than my unrealized potential.”
Hmmm. It’s pretty clear why many of us don’t succeed, right?
There are endless reasons. I’ve heard them all.
Until we identify and deal with our mental roadblocks, we’ll never succeed. How can we succeed when a part of us doesn’t want to? When a part of is scared to accomplish the very thing we set out to do?
Of course a big part of us does want to succeed. But a part of us doesn’t. That causes inner conflict. And when there’s inner conflict we do the easiest thing of all: take the path of least resistance. What does that look like? As soon as it starts to get uncomfortable, and we feel some emotions, we quit. Then we eventually get sick of ourselves and start another diet and continue the vicious cycle.
We’ll go from one diet to another thinking we’re “lazy” and “unmotivated” and lack “willpower”.
This is when the salesman chimes in, “It’s not your fault!” Uchhh.
But you know what? In this case, it’s not.
Did you know 10% of all bestselling books are diet books? If the books worked, there would be no reason to write them anymore.
Us MBT-ers are smarter than that. We know focusing on tactic after tactic, without the critical mental side of weight loss, is as useless as a screen door on a submarine.
Sometimes, it’s not so obvious what our mental roadblocks are and it takes a little digging. Sometimes it is. But, knowing what they are makes all the difference.
I can help you. This is why we get the results we do.
My question to you: What are your psychological roadblocks?
Message me here and let me know. I’m here to help.