Want, should, can't & won't.
"I want to lose weight"
"I want a 6-pack",
"I want to be able to do a handstand".
"I should hit 10000 steps a day",
"I should go to the gym",
"I should be intermittent fasting".
"I can't do X because of... age, hormones, work, kids, laziness, motivation, cost, time, genetics..."
"I won't fail as this time it is different..."
I have heard every combination of want's, should's, cant's and wont's from 300+ clients I have worked with over the last 6 years and in 99% of cases the want's, should's, cant's and wont's are not their own.
The want's, should's, cant's and wont's are a repetition of what society deems acceptable in that moment.
Real, lasting chage comes from a much deeper place, one where we have to be open knowing that we are not fully in control.
It is clear there is no one best diet and this is challenging to accept. If we cant create black or white, a camp to sit in, or a label to apply, we ignore the advice and revert to form trying the latest and greatest diet as "thats what everybody else is doing" and "the science is 'different' this time".
We are product of our genes, our environment and our choices. Each play a pivotal role in who we are, how we look and how likely we are to be successful in any health change.
This is where the first major issue lies in health change.
Nothing is fixed, but you want them to be. You want things to go back to normal... whats normal, who's normal, is this normal of the past where things were simpler or the normal of the past where you were more open to change?
Too often we focus on all the things that are going wrong, we focus on the reasons why things will not work, we focus on finding any supporting evidence to why things are a certain way and why you are powerless to make any change.
We like drama, we like our lifestyle, we like to compare how hard our lives our compared to others who have it easy, we like to create a narrative around why we are unable to change, why it hasn't happened in the past and why there is no point trying again.
Please snap out of this.
For change to take place we need a tigger, we need a reason stronger than the excuses/stories/reasons/.... Obvious ones are the death of family member or close friend, a close shave with illness or injury, children or a change in environment.
Too often these come too late.
On the flip side we see an abundance of tiggers: I can start on Monday, I can start tomorrow, I can start in the New Year, the issue here is we have so many options, we fail to make them stick and we fail to commit.
What positively triggers you?
Knowledge is useful. Think back to times in your life where you have changed your mind. I would bet there had been new knowledge presented from a reliable source, perhaps more than once and delivered in a way that connects to you. I bet you had time to reflect without pressure and expectation.
Have you ever considered how you change your mind?
For some, hearing something once from a trusted source is enough, others it's repetition from multiple sources.
Open yourself to new information with the understanding of what works for you, be cautious of accepting the latest and the greatest... new is not always better yet not accepting any change is guaranteed to result in mental stress when your world collapses around you.Change is normal.
Blind to our own biases.
We believe we are different to everyone else, and you are correct, genetic make up and history is unique to you, but your thinking and decision making limitations share many characteristics with others.
So you may believe that you are the exception to why lifestyle change wont work... but so does everyone else, we are all subject to numerous bias...
Some of my favourites bias:
Fundamental attribution error: You judge others on their character, but yourself on the situation.
Anchoring: The first thing you judge influences your judgement of all that follows.
Backfire effect: When your core beliefs are challenged, it can cause you to believe even more strongly.
Confirmation bias: You favour things that confirm your existing beliefs.
Availability heuristic: Your judgements are influenced by what springs most easily to mind.
In-group bias: You unfairly favour those who belong to your group.
Halo effect: How much you like someone, or how attractive they are, influences your other judgements of them
You are biased...accept this.
Macro v Micro
We believe everyone else has it easier than us, but everyone else also believes you have it easier than them. The issue is in the details, we spend our lives in our own head, weighing up every situation, reflecting on hidden meanings and looking for reasons to justify our stance - we work on micro..
An outsider looking in sees you. They do not see the baggage, the thoughts and fears, just you and the actions you take. Their opinion is based on far less information points which makes it far easier for them to make decisions, (why we are better at supporting others than ourselves).- they work on macro.
In short we tend to overcomplicate most things.
When it comes to lifestyle nutrition, fitness and health at Habitual we categorise the complexity of support/intervention required into three levels.
Level 3 - Elite performance, weight class dependent such as boxing, body sculpting or fighting.
level 2 - Sport, performance,
Level 1 - Healthy lifestyle to maintain or adjust weight.
Often we think we are level 3 or 2 as our overactive mind creates difficulties and exceptions which are not there. In reality most of us are level 1 and can make significant simple adaptations to our lifestyle to get great results.
There is a principle which states 20% of what we do will bring about 80% of the results. This is a pretty stable principle shown across many work and lifestyle areas - yet we like to overcomplicate and concentrate on the 80% for marginal gains
Authentic lifestyle change
What you think you want is most likely not what you need - you are influenced by external factors and the real reason for wanting health change is going to be far deeper than losing weight as you think that it will make you happy or getting a 6-pack because that will solve your relationship issues - it rarely does.
You need to be ready and willing to change - your real reason for change may need deeper introspection and most people are not ready or willing to go there. Change is messy, it's not straight forward, or a simple a+b =c equations it needs to be something you are willing to engage in for the long term rather than seek a quick fix.
The simplest way is often the best way - but we rarely believe this, wether this is due to the biases you are not seeing, the drama you enjoy having in your life, the knowledge you are not accepting, the focus you have misplaced or the support you are not open to receive. Making consistently better choices is the simplest and most effective advice you can put into practice.
We need support - We all have blindspots and only others will be able to point these out to you. If you are not able to accept you are an unfinished process this is a huge limitation to hearing from others.
It needs to be fun - change from a place of love, self acceptance and fun rather than hate, self loathing and hardship. If this is our LIFE we must enjoy the process.
Unsolicited advice you can ignore
- Make better consistent choices
- Reduce and replace rather than refrain
- No one counts calories for an enjoyable lifestyle choice.
- Plan to plan or prepare to fail or stick to #1 above.
- Trust a source for info if you don't want to do the hard work
- if your getting hung up on which type of asparagus has the higher nutrient content you are missing out on LIFE
Slow steady change, creates better outcomes, is more fun, is more likely to stick and become habitual
There will be a part of you reading this that will not agree with anything that has been said.
Until you can let go of what you think you know and accept that you are able to change, there is not much that will work for you no matter how much you look for it.
You may agree in principle but can’t quite bring yourself to move forward, it may be a blindspot or trigger or fear.
This is why health coaching exists not to tell you what you should or should not be doing but to support you in making decisions, to reflect a mirror so as to see your own blind spots or support you in letting go of the micro when it's holding you back.
Experiment, be curious, be courageous and keep making health a habit through continuous growth.
If you would like to discus a change you are seeking and see if Habitual could be the right fit for you, please get in touch.