Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reality Math: When Your Short-Term Goal Setting Does More Harm Than Good

For Ladies who struggle: consider that it's time for you to STOP setting goals!
You struggle ladies because you put your mind in the wrong mental space. You keep focusing on outcomes instead of learning how to healthily embrace a process. You diet to lose weight. You don’t ‘eat right to feel better.’ You work out to burn calories and control your weight. You don’t work out to connect with yourself in a physical way. You don’t work out to appreciate all that your body can do. You don’t work out to relieve stress – for so many of you work outs become another source of stress, because you “expect” something out of them in the end. You’ve lost the capacity to eat right and work out as vehicles of self-expression of your identity. And if you aren’t careful these things often become an identity. Is that who want to be – when someone asks you who you are – do you want the truthful answer to be “I am a chronic dieter?” If that is not who you are, and not what you want – why is it your actual behavior says otherwise? If this is you – then listen up.
Your focus on these short-term ‘goals’ is exhausting you mentally and emotionally and spiritually - and you don’t even consider this. What I try to teach you is let go of all that and you let go of all the pressure that comes along with this goal focus. What if instead of being “goal-focused” you choose instead to become "growth conscious”?

Look at these two columns below:

Goal Focus Growth Consciousness
Focusing on an end result or destination (like so many pounds from now) Focusing on the journey itself
Motivates you and others in the short term Matures you over the long term.
Cyclical and fluctuating Life-long resource to tap into
Challenges you in the now Changes you forever
Stops when the goal is reached, then you ask "now what?" Keeps you growing and glowing long after the process has come to fruition.
Relies on the limited fuel of willpower Relies on the endless resource of the power of will

Take a look at the above. 

Do you really want to spend your whole adult life cycling between short-term cosmetic goals and then asking yourself “now what” year after year? Or worse you end up with the same goals a year or two from now that you have already: That isn’t growth – it’s stagnation! Your life should be about how much higher and deeper you can grow yourself, not how far you can go with some short-term goal.

When it comes to your short-term goal, you need to ask yourself – Does this process grow me, or slow me? You need to remind yourself that there needs to be true meaning for you in any undertaking of which you partake. It will be difficult to remain engaged in anything for very long if you have not found a way to value and appreciate and embrace the process of it. As the old saying goes – “If your “why” is strong enough you will almost certainly be able to endure any “how” to get there.

The goal of any adult undertaking should be to take you one-step closer to self-mastery by getting to know yourself better and connect with yourself deeper. But the truth is that many of these short-term cosmetic goals you set for yourself – separate you from your authentic inner-self more and more. And before long, you forget who you even are anymore – or what you are about if you aren’t thinking about food and weight, diets and workouts. That isn’t an expanding life – it’s a more and more self-limiting and shrinking one. Is that what you want ladies?

Are you really willing to trade the rest of your life – for a life inside the thin-cage right now, or for the next little while? Again, ask yourself, “Does this goal slow me, or grow me?” when it comes to self-nurturing, self-respect, personal growth, and an enhanced sense of your own life and well-being. Is this goal of yours self-constructing, or self-destructing? Isn’t it time you at least asked yourself these questions?  

Aristotle said, “mastery of self is the highest achievement.” But the thing is once you master yourself, then all these other things you are trying to master – weight-control, diet-compliance, etc. all these things fall into place as part of self-mastery. 

If you are a person who struggles, it’s likely because you have this equation upside down. You continue to think and be misled by the fitness and diet industries that tell you that if you just master your diet and your body – then you will have self-mastery and contentment. But are you experiencing contentment in your physique-transformation attempts? Or are you experiencing stress, anxiety, and pressure? Again – does your goal slow you, or grow you?

Because the real truth ladies is that when you truly master yourself, all these things like cosmetic goals become non-issues. The Tao expression is that “the person who masters self – is the only master.” So while you continue to work on outside-in “goals” like diets, and/or weight loss – without ever addressing your mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness and nutrition, you may be heading in the opposite direction of your true intentions for a lasting experience of deeper balance and well-being. You need to stop long enough to look at the bigger picture in all of this. Stop looking at the size of your thighs – and start assessing the enormity of the “sighs” that go along with that! 

You can’t work on outer solutions to inner issues and expect to resolve much of anything for very long! Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to surrender these short-term goals in order to have something greater and more important.  

As usual. some of you will get it. 

Some of you will not. 

Some of you won’t want to. 

Monday, June 02, 2014

Do you believe in magic? Your head says no, but your behavior says yes!

If you are like the millions of people who get involved with the fitness and diet industry every year, chances are over 90% that you buy some kind of supplement or online “system” to help you in your quest for a better body, weight-loss, improved health or whatever. 

But what are you really buying here? The answer may surprise you. 

On your end you are buying what we call a psychological "commitment-investment bias." This means that we “buy things” to psychologically underline our commitment to our goal. But on the industry side of the equation you are really buying hype and magic and promise. 

All those cheap plastic bottles with pills and capsules inside might as well be empty.
Everyone wants to believe that the supplements you take, come from doing your homework – and while others may be misinformed, you of course are not. This is wish-bias, wishful thinking at best. 

I’ll explain why below, but the truth is almost every consumer “member” of the diet and fitness industry sub-culture believes in "magic" at some level or another. And this is not unusual because this is what these industries sell to you, and what they want you to internalize, from a very young age – almost from the minute you enter these industries as a consumer.
But what is the actual truth? More importantly, does the truth even matter? Let me tell you this straight away: When it comes to online marketing nonsense, the "truth" is simply when absurdities and lies get repeated often enough consumers eventually believe them to be true. And once they have uninformed “followers” this effect gets magnified.  

But again – what is the real truth? 

The Industry, ‘Research,’ and Marketing

Let me tell you a secret about real industry expertise: Real expertise can never exist from the outside-looking in – no matter how much you study and learn: At some point to be an expert in any industry you have to have real-world-in-the-trenches-behind-the-scenes-experience: The real secret to becoming an expert in any industry is to become someone who is efficient at examining what that industry does – not what it claims to do.  

The goal of the fitness and diet industries are to sustain themselves, NOT to answer the overall question of the public good, but to keep the public consuming industry wares for as long as possible. And within this goal the Diet and Fitness Industry have a mutual interest in supporting each other to that cause.
These industries are about profit and sustainability, and the trickle-down effect this has, if you are a wannabe professional in the industry. As I’ve emphasized many times over, these industries are built on promises, not results. They sell the “sizzle” not the “steak.”
And what’s more is that this essential REALITY CHECK for consumers, that you need to understand and embrace and internalize is this: when the goal about the cycle of information presented to consumers is more about profit than real health, then everything about that information-cycle becomes distorted.

This includes everything from Crossfit to Intermittent Fasting to If It Fits Your Macros to Keto Diets, to Weight Watcher’s and beyond. It's all cycling information out of context, and it is a viable means for industry sustainability, even if built on paper legs.

So you think you’ve done your research by taking a supplement or following some kind of vogue popular today/gone tomorrow process. But doing your research ‘online’ is another misrepresentation of the information you are gathering. What is typical of the diet and fitness industry is that these industries feed press releases and research findings to a largely uncritical media circle emphasizing only the evidence that supports use of their own products – even if by association.
When I was an endorsed paid athlete for one popular supplement company, they petitioned something like 10 studies on their fat burner supplement. 7 of the 10 studies showed no effect at all – 2 studies were ineffective at any conclusion and the one study of ten that supported the ingredients “may” have an effect – this became the one and only study that made the media rounds of “clinically proven” effects – with no mention of these other studies at all. So when you do online research for a product or system, you can bet you are not getting the whole story.
These industries seek to further distort the relevance of their own products by spinning the marketing and advertising of occasional but unproven benefits and aggrandizing them into “one size fits all” prescriptions and promises for results. The evidence – questionable at best – ends up filtered and distorted and presented as being far more meaningful than it could ever be in real-world scenarios. And like what I have witnessed over and over again – any legitimate information and research that contradicts the supplement propaganda machine is downplayed, doubted, criticized or dismissed – that is, if you ever even get to hear about it at all as a consumer. So while you “think” you are doing your homework – you are really being directed right where they want you to be.
And of course the consistency of a message makes that message seem all the more legit. For instance – in these endless “rate the protein powders” or the “rate the fat burner” articles, the underlying message is that you “must of course” need a protein powder supplement or need a fat burner supplement, if you are “serious” that is – so you end up accepting a notion that simply is made up and untrue. And this is how these companies manipulate the market to ensure you remain a consumer – but a truly uninformed one without all the facts and real information. Ads appearing as editorials are well-known as advertorials -- they're bought and paid for by a supplement company and diet-industry interests. 

Over time this is how something as utterly ridiculous as "Biosig" is able to flourish and be taken seriously – when the actual premise of it, is laughable and outlandish to real researchers.
The saddest fact of the way marketers use research findings these days in the area of nutrition and fitness is the reality that science gathers so-called knowledge faster than communities and sub-culture purists gather wisdom

Research studies that conflict with each other abound – so once again you are left to your own “wish-bias” to believe what you want to believe and discard the rest. For instance, in this last week alone – in the media cycle online and on television – there were two distinct reductionist research findings. 

One study concluded that “a lot” of coffee reduced the risk of Type 2 diabetes. The next study a few days later concluded that “diet soda is better for you than water.” 

This is the media: it's all just small and short sound bites. This of course serves the coffee industry, and serves the diet-soda industry. Now, I am a person who drinks both, so I could have easily pounced on these studies and promoted them everywhere. But something about both of these studies, leaves me skeptical as a real researcher, even though I “psychologically benefit” from hearing about both of these studies. The lesson here is that there are the “subtle forms of industry magic” working on you every single day!

Scientific reductionism always keeps you from seeing the whole picture

This whole industry is built and sustained on scientific reductionism. This is simply fancy language that means looking at smaller and smaller parts of a whole in order to understand that whole. But a whole lot is missed in this approach and its paradigm blindness. 

Imagine being a car mechanic who is only ever taught about “brakes.” To that person – no matter what is going on with your faulty engine – to this kind of mechanic, with his limited view and education - he is going to “reduce” anything and everything wrong with your car, as being a problem with your brakes – because it’s all he has been trained to see. “Science-reliance” experts in the Fitness and Diet Industry rely on this faulty reductionist logic as well. And I think you can see the problems in this kind of one-way logic that eliminates understanding the “whole” of something by reducing all of it to separate parts.

But another truth and industry reality check is this one, if we are being honest here:

The reductionist approach to diet knowledge and supplementation is simply not producing real-world health, real-world wellness, real-world balance, nor is it eradicating the endless confusion among consumers about what is true and what is not. 

Looking at smaller and tinier parts of a system without considering the overall “whole” of that system – in this case the human body, and the mental and emotional factors that influence the body – more and more this approach is proving to be problematic, incomplete and more often than not – just flat-out wrong. 

It may make for sexy research and aid those who chase it and repeat it, in order to sound in the know – but it doesn’t do much to advance the real and true knowledge base seeking concrete solutions to health and well-being.
In terms of understanding and dealing with the “complexity of wholes” you MUST consider the body not as a bunch of separate parts operating separately from one another – but think of the body as it actually is: an integrated and harmonious system in which ALL elements interact with, and influence each other. To that end, the real fact is that there is nothing “natural” or wholistic/holistic about consuming nutrients that have been isolated and separated from their whole-food counterpart.  

Nutrients rarely act alone in the body – and once asked to do so through supplementation they never act properly, or as designed. 

(Sorry Biosig – but you are full of crap, and you know it)

Magic vs Reality: The Continuum

Be honest now and really think of a continuum of potential solutions to any problems you have within your own fitness and diet goals – with “magic” solutions on one side and realistic solutions on the other: Where do cleanses and Biosig and magic protein powders, and Jillian’s magic fat burner supplements and all the rest, fit. Now where in this continuum does true expertise and Coaching apply?

Magic ------------------> Realistic 
(instant, easy, foolproof) ---------> (takes time, requires effort, is complex)

And yes of course the magic solution is always much more appealing than a real solution that takes time, expertise, and requires consistency of application of sustained effort, and is, moreover, complex and more difficult to get right and sustain. 

Notice how almost all advertising, within and beyond the diet and fitness industries, are always favoring the slant on the magic over the realistic – on the promise of “proven results.” 

Ever watch the late night/early morning infomercials with everything from skin care to weight-loss to getting rich? 

The truth is the closer the product is to the magic side of the equation on the magic vs. reality continuum, the easier it is to sell to consumers and the more appealing it is for consumers to buy.
The long-held truth about marketing ‘promises’ to consumers is to appeal to the consumer “wish bias” and leave reality out of it as much as possible.

Final Reality Checks – Deal with it!

No one wants to hear that the change you seek is unattainable and that maybe your expectations are unrealistic – and no one wants to hear the change you seek requires a complete change in lifestyle. Most people want to hear, what you want to hear and you will disregard the rest. This is how you get caught up in lame schemes like Biosig, Isagenix, Paleo Diet, Body by V, Dr. Sebagh magic youth skin-care etc.

The other element of marketing magic instead of reality is to keep people thinking in short-term time cycles. This way those of you who “honeymoon” with a solution you’ve bought into (like the ones mentioned above) – You go out and tell friends etc as well, before the excitement of the investment wears off and buyer’s remorse of purchasing another useless solution, sets in.
The REAL truth is that changing your lifestyle can be very hard: swallowing pills and potions is not.

Changing your lifestyle requires commitment to the long-term, not doing a 9 day Isogenic cleanse in the short-term, which is infomercial-idiocy. Dr. Oz-like magic solutions do not require long-term thinking, just magical thinking.
Changing a lifestyle means soliciting real help to get over the many hurdles and obstacles all along the way: magic solution are just a simple Yellow Brick Road to Oz.

Changing your lifestyle requires changing how you think and feel about things - differently than you do already: magic solutions, on the other hand, leave out of the equation things such as the complexity of your own energy of thought and emotion, and where you may be sabotaging yourself.

Changing your lifestyle can often mean changing who you are or who you’ve come to be, or how you’ve come to be, and that can be very emotionally intimidating and overwhelming. And you may need help to get passed all this. Magic solutions just bypass all the “complexity” and get you to focus on the fantasy of results with minimum to no effort or change – just spend your money.
Changing your life, changing your lifestyle, requires real-world commitment and responsibility with a long-term vision for these two things as becoming part of your character. This requires ‘willingness beyond willpower.' (Write that down 10 X over.) It requires being open to new experiences and it requires openness to some rough back and forth patches all along the process.

Magic solutions know that reality checks scare people, so instead they just tell people what they want to hear.

Real-world solutions require developing new habits and skills, mentally, emotionally, and physically to support the new lifestyle change. But the magic solution is better-suited to our modern, rushed and frantic fantasy of childish “want it now, have it now” desires. The magic focus is never on the long-haul and all the changes required along the way. That reality equation simply doesn’t sell.
But, of all of the above, which of the two options, which end of the magic vs. reality continuum, requires expertise, coaching and support? (There's a reason why my coaching page talks about mindset and psychology so much. That stuff isn't just an "add-on" to the nutrition and diet plans--it's the fuel that makes the nutrition and workout plans actually go.)

Which of the two options is more likely to lead to real and sustainable lifestyle change and goal-acquisition?
So, do you believe in magic? Your head says no, but your behavior says yes.

Some of you will get it – some of you will not – some of you won’t want to!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

More Paleo Diet Nonsense: How It Ignores the Reality of Metabolism

In what is becoming the theatre of the absurd the fitness and diet Industries continue to devolve into a lot of nonsense and dangerous practices (or just futile ones backed up by junk science and uninformed “opinion”). I have already written about the nonsense of CrossFit and the Paleo-Diet – and it’s no surprise to me these two are now married in practice in a number of circles. 

(I also need to talk about he nonsense of "biosignature," and I may do that in a 2-3 part article series. It seems that to put the word “practitioner” beside a title like “Biosig” is to try to give it legitimacy – but I can tell you this stuff is just more nonsense, and caters to the mindsets of people in this industry who want to play doctor but who have ZERO understanding of the scientific method. Biosig is simply ridiculous. Again: I’ll get to that in the future as I am currently gathering my notes on it.)  

And yet, I'm still getting questions regarding the nonsense that is the Paleo Diet. The whole idea of the Paleo Diet is misguided and lacks context. This is what happens when you look at parts and not wholes of any given scenario. To suggest that Paleolithic man was leaner because of the kind of food he consumed is not only a lie, it’s completely nearsited and myopic in scope. 

In this article I want to just present you with some of the “metabolic realities” of Paleolithic humans which would more closely illustrate why they were lower in weight and body fat distribution. Little to none of these facts have anything to do with what Paleolithic humans ate; it has more to do with how they lived and the myriad of metabolic demands on their physiological constitution--demands that no longer exist for modern humans.
Metabolic Realities and Relative Calories Deficits 

Paleolithic humans did not exist in an era where food supply was abundant and easy to procure. The caloric costs for Paleolithic humans to procure and prepare food were immense. There were no storage facilities for food and the tools used to eat were not of the variety of knives, forks and spoons we have today.

In short, for Paleolithic humans to survive, an enormous amount of daily calories expenditure had to be invested in securing a food supply in an ongoing way. Paleolithic humans were ALWAYS in a caloric deficit because of the amount of calories it necessitated to procure and prepare food. Reality number one is that Paleolithic humans were not leaner because of what they ate, but because of the enormous calories costs of finding food and preparing it and repeating this process over and over again.
Paleolithic humans did not ever have the zero-calorie cost of switching from a gas pedal to a brake pedal to go to their favorite local food supply store to stock up on their food supply needs. Hence, there were tremendous metabolic costs for Paleolithic humans to even eat to survive. This insured that they were almost always in a caloric deficit, no matter how much food may be present at any given time.  

Other Metabolic Realities 

One of the many other metabolic costs for humans is regulating body temperature. Once again, Paleolithic humans didn’t have a thermostat -- or even a house for that matter -- where they could keep a body comfortable and at a constant temperature. Whether cold or hot, regulating body temperature is yet another metabolic expense that Paleolithic humans would have to endure that modern humans do not. This constant metabolic expense in combination with the enormous metabolic costs associated with procuring food would have also added to the reality that Paleolithic humans were in a constant calories deficit.

Hyper-palatable Foods 

Paleolithic humans were not privy to modern conveniences or modern food creations either. Paleolithic humans would have had a completely different cerebral response to eating than does modern man’s brain. Forget that Paleolithic man didn’t have spices and sauces and various cooking methods – they also didn’t have flavorings and colorings to make food look and taste more appealing. The added sweetness and saltiness along with other modern food variations, were unknown to Paleolithic humans. It is very unlikely the reward centers of their brains would have been lit up around the presence of food such as is the case for modern man.
Paleolithic human brains would have had no recall for a drug-like response from food. They would not have known the taste of ice-cream or peanut butter or potato chips. These modern foods light up the reward centers of the brain in unnatural ways that lead us all to be more food conscious and aware – in a different way than a Paleo human ever would have been – beyond merely fending off starvation.
Moreover, Paleolithic humans could not “drink” their calories. No diet sodas, or chocolate milk, or Gatorade to drink calories to meet and assuage metabolic need. To think any of this is unrelated to the lower body weights and lower body fat levels of Paleolithic humans is beyond myopic--it’s moronic.

Once again, to create an “eat this not that” lie of Paleo dieting only serves the diet industry and little else. 

As I write this I just got email junk notification of a new “Paleo Protein Powder” to prove my point. What a croc. Paleolithic human beings were not leaner because of what kinds of foods they ate. They were leaner because of the metabolic demands on how they lived. If they even had access to a type of food that say for instance – closely resembled modern birthday cake – the Paleolithic human would still have been leaner and smaller because of the metabolic and physiological demands of the lifestyle under which they lived out their lives. To even infer that humans of this era were leaner because of the kind of food they ate, is just more reductionist nonsense that fails to include all the elements involved in explaining the difference in body-types between two epochs of history. And it’s not just misleading to do so, it’s a lie.

Moreover, to not even begin to deal with the difference of living a life around constant food abundance and around constant food stimuli and knowing the taste and desire for hyper-palatable foods vs. living in a world without any of these realities also fails to tell the whole of the real story. The Paleo Diet is just another diet-industry rip off that tries to reduce anything and everything to an “eat this, not that” mentality.

And in the North American Diet Mentality, this notion has NEVER worked long-term. Good for an industry built entirely on expecting constant failure and also based on lies – but not so good for those of you seeking real answers to real “weighty” issues related to modern problems of weight-control, nutrition, and food issues.

The whole “hyper-palatable" food issue and its consequences is discussed in my book Beyond Metabolism: Understanding Your Modern Diet Dilemma. The whole faulty premise of the North American Diet-Mentality LIE to “eat this, not that” is discussed in my book The Anti-Diet Approach to Weight-Loss and Weight-Control.  

Clearly the Nonsense that is the Paleo Diet is limited in both scope and truth.

Some of you will get it – some of you will not