Recently I was telling a client about a presentation I gave about developing a mindset for health. “What are some of the suggestions” he asked. “Well I had 8 points”, I replied – about to launch into them. “What’s your top 3?” he asked before I could rhyme off the first point.
I was stumped…
You see my client is a very cerebral man. He one of the chairmen of a large organization with many branches with numerous projects in each of them. He is also a dedicated family man. Needless to say he has to deal with giant swaths of information/commitments on a day-to-day basis and hence requires the Coles notes version. He mentioned that when he gives presentations, TV interviews or needs to break down complicated tasks, he breaks his thoughts into 3 salient points. While he leads a very busy life, he’s not unlike most people when it comes to processing information.
I actually couldn’t tell him on the spot which of my 3 points were the most important, but I promised him I would pare it down within a day. After much consideration, here are the 3 most important aspects of mindset and fat loss, they would be as follows;
Ok I cheated a bit here and lumped 2 things together. Although I would argue they go hand in hand.
First step is self-forgiveness. Self-forgiveness is the lifeblood of self-love and a necessary part of growth and acceptance.
Forgive slip-ups but reflect on how you can do better. Self-evaluate daily.
Life is full of curveballs, struggles, trials and other imperfections. Your number 1 predictor of long term success is managing the dips – busting through the times where you are pulled off track, de-motivated and otherwise pressed for time. You ARE going to screw up.
The first step is to do everything you can to avoid beating yourself up over a slip-up. The best advice I’ve heard in this regard is how would you advise a friend? Oftentimes we are gentle when talking to a good friend who messed up. Treat yourself with the same grace.
The same side of the self-reflection coin is self-reflection: You stumbled and we’ve established that you are going to forgive yourself. Now let’s reflect; why did it happen? What precipitated the lapse? How can you avert this situation the next time. Know that perpetual lapses will prevent true progress and growth so doing this work in this regard is important. It’s vital that your self reflection is one of honesty. Scrutinize – but do so with kindness.
The next step is to plan for an immediate return. Keep small lapses small lapses and avoid the “screw it” mentality by mailing it in for the rest of the day/week/month… it’s amazing how a day can turn into a week very easily.
2. Implementation intentions
This is a fancy-shmancy term for “a plan”. Implementation intentions are one of the most useful daily tools you can have in your arsenal of habits. This entails mapping out in your mind how you will make the day healthy. Think about this the night before and as soon as you wake up.
This strategy is particularly useful when there is an event/holiday or any social situation where there will be access to highly palatable food.
Wake up every morning thinking “what can I do today to be healthy” – plot out the specifics. Figure out the what, when and where of your healthy eating and training sessions. Put your intentions into your calendar. Have a window of 2 hours after work? Grocery shop and workout. Have a plan of when you’ll hit the gym and what you will shop for/make for dinner.
Implementation intentions are particularly important when you know there will be an occasion conducive to overdoing it. In this case have an “if/then” plan. ie. IF they serve dessert THEN I will say “no thank you” and walk away from the dessert tray.
3. Optimize your environment:
It’s important to understand that our minds/hearts AND environments have to be aligned for our goal pursuits to work. Setting your environment up for success is CRUCIAL to realizing your potential. When setting up your life for success, look at 4 different dimensions;
1. Home: Keep fresh produce eye level, healthy snacks front and center, clear containers and staple appliances where you can see them. Keep any foods counter to your goals wayyyy back in your cupboards. Also keep exercise wear/shoes in full sight/in a gym bag by your door/in your car.
2. Workplace: If there’s a kitchen, pack a lunch with leftovers. Keep a water bottle at your desk and stay clear of the donut/candy stash that pervades some offices. Set your situation up so that you can walk frequently (when possible) and have a few healthy snacks on hand.
3. Car: Keep a couple of portable, non-perishable higher protein snacks around (mini cans of tuna, nuts, seeds, beef/salmon jerky, roasted chickpeas). Also have napkins, wet wipes and plastic cutlery.
4. Travel: Whether travelling for work or vacation, try and keep certain healthy habits locked into place. Hit grocery stores and stock up on healthy fare. Try and get an accomodation with a kitchen or at least a fridge. Bring exercise tubing and try and seek out a gym facility and walk a lot.
Work on structuring your environment to make things easier to live a healthy lifestyle.
While transformation takes time and much re-wiring, I truly believe that practicing the above will yield some incredible results on their own. Focus all of your emotional energy on consistently implementing the “big 3” and the rest is details.