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5 Lessons to Teach Yourself

Often times I talk about things to help you learn about what to do to transform your body. There are some things though that are more important what I can teach you, and that you have to learn for yourself, by yourself.

What do I think is the most important thing you can do in order to transform your body? Is it how many calories you should eat, or how to workout? I think those things can be important and for some people, they would be, but I think there is something more important.

To me, most important thing anyone can do to transform their body is to Know and Accept Yourself. That sounds super hippie-ish, but it’s also true.

Seriously, I cannot stress how important knowing and accepting yourself is, when it comes to transforming your body.

Knowledge will put you on the right path, but here are 5 things you really need to figure out for yourself, if you really want to succeed. I’ll start with the easiest changes and work up to the most important ones.

Five Lessons to Teach Yourself

1. Do you do better with low carbs or lower fat?  Protein should always be relatively high.

To lose fat, I do better with high protein and higher fat (in terms of percentages of overall calories and not necessarily “more fat”).  For a happier life, including a better sex life, I do better with higher carbs, high protein, more veggies, and less fat.  It’s one of the reasons why I dislike dieting, because although I look better, other parts of my life aren’t as much fun.  

The question then is, what do you want and what’s the best way for you to do it?  This is definitely something you should experiment with.  Give each one (lower carbs, higher fat, and lower fat, higher carbs) 6 months to see how you feel and what the results were.

2. Do you do better with gradual changes or an all-or-nothing approach?

Everyone thinks they do better with the all-or-nothing approach, when in reality, they are good with ONE aspect of all-or-nothing, and the rest of their lives they are amazing at gradual changes.

Yet everyone likes the dramatic change, and so they think they have to do that with every aspect of their lives, but it’s not true.  You don’t have to be “dramatic” to make changes that are worth your effort.   For example…

  • Getting more sleep 
    Can you go to bed 5-minutes earlier every night, or wake up 5-minutes later every morning until you average 7+ hours of sleep per night?  Or are you now the master of your time in a way that you never were before and now can get an extra 2 hours of sleep per night?
  • Eating more protein
    Can you add more protein to breakfast for the next two weeks, until you get 30-40 grams and then start working on lunch for two weeks, etc?  Or will you meal prep every single week, from here to perpetuity, so that you get that much protein at each meal?  Most people do better with the slow approach. 
  • Working out more often
    If you’re working out once per week, can you do two times per week?  And then after a season (yes, I’m giving you 3 whole months to add an extra day per week), can you add a 3rd day?  Or are you going to go from 1 to 3 to 4 days per week, instantly?  There is no right or wrong way, but it is something to consider.
  • Drinking alcohol
    If you have 2 drinks per night, can you cut it down to 1?  Or will you go cold turkey?  Just know that no amount of alcohol is “good for your goals.”  Sure, you can have alcohol, but own up to it and stop deluding yourself into believing that it’s “helping you,” in any way, shape, or form.
  • Controlling portion sizes
    Are you going to simply control portion sizes, or are you going to start weighing and measuring all of your food?

Remember change doesn’t have to be dramatic.  It can be, but it can also be that you started working on one thing which spread to other aspects of your life.  The key is to know when to use the gradual changes (most of the time), and when to use the big dramatic change (sparingly, and when you’re ready to change how you see yourself).

3. How long do you want the changes to last?

Many people never ask themselves that question.  They all “think” they want the changes to last forever, and then go do things they KNOW are NOT sustainable.  For example, they’ll do some crazy keto, intermittent fasting, bland ass diet, they KNOW they can’t sustain.

And what do they do after that fails? Do they recognize that what they were doing was NOT sustainable?  NO!  They blame themselves for NOT having self-control, which is utterly ridiculous, AND/OR they hold that unsustainable habit as the gold-standard, which blows my mind.  

For example, the amount of times I’ve heard, from someone who wants to lose 30 pounds, “I do well with no carbs.  About 7 years ago, I lost 30 pounds after not eating any carbs.”

I can’t emphasize this enough…NO, you DON’T do well with no carbs, if you GAINED IT ALL BACK.

If your goal was to lose weight for a wedding, knowing that you would gain it all back, then sure, you can say that diet worked.

But if the goal was to lose the weight, and never gain it back, then no, you can’t say that it worked.  Life and your body, are the proof.  It’s just that simple.  That one time thing should not be the gold standard.  So stop making it the gold standard.  You probably do better with less carbs, overall, but definitely not ‘no carbs’. 

4. What’s YOUR baseline?

Here is my baseline of eating:
Breakfast – 3 eggs on Suzie’s Thin Rice Cakes, a package of blueberries, and a 1.5% fat Wallaby’s Greek Yogurt

Snack – Smoothie:2 piece of celery, 3 pieces of Lacinato Kale, 1 teaspoon of glycine, 1 scoop of plant fusion protein powder, 2 tablespoons of PB2, water.

Lunch – Oxtail or chicken breast with white rice and yucca.

Snack – Protein bar

Dinner – 8 ounces of grass-fed beef, 1 serving of tomato sauce, sautéed vegetables, on about 5 Suzie’s thin rice cakes.  Some other in-season fruit.

One snack and one meal have carbs.  The rest are higher protein and fat.  I could literally eat this, day-in and day-out for months on end, and if I did, I would lose fat, have enough energy throughout the day, and be relatively healthy.

What do I mean by baseline?  
I mean, this is your default.  This is what you revert to when you’re tired, when you’ve gotten off track, when you’re stressed.

The better you can make your baseline, and the easier it is for you to maintain, the easier it will be to see results AND enjoy life.

I don’t eat like this all the time and I don’t have to.  This means that if I want queso fundido, or pizza, or more alcohol, or anything else, I have it.  And then I go back to my baseline.

I also have a baseline for my workout routines.  If everything else in my life is falling to shit, I know what I need to accomplish with my workouts.  6 exercises, that can be split into 2 workouts.  And with those 2 workouts that are no longer than 30 minutes each, I can maintain for years on end.

If I have more time, energy, and “mental resources,” then I can use them towards working out harder.

Everyone should have a baseline.  You should have a baseline, but here’s the thing…Creating a baseline takes A LOT of time.

This baseline has to be your default, your new normal, and that means, not only do you actually have to set up the habits, you also have to maintain it for about 6 months before you start fucking with it.  Most people don’t do that, and that’s why when they initially change, they might yo-yo after the fact.  A lot of my work with clients is to simply create a better baseline, but that takes time.

After you have an actual baseline, then go on vacation and enjoy yourself.  Have a giant meal at Thanksgiving.  Over-indulge on your birthday, if you want.  Do whatever else you want, but only AFTER you have your baseline habits and you immediately get back to it, after you’ve strayed from the path.

5. What will be YOUR thing and Your Ritual? 

If there is one thing I’ve seen time and time again when someone makes a dramatic transformation is, they have “A Thing.”

Your “thing” might be that you have a chip on your shoulder.  This is a “thing” that tends to be futile as the person makes the transformation, but aren’t any happier afterwards (this isn’t always true though).

You might be doing it to set a good example for your kids.  You want to show your kids how to eat and be healthy, because kids, follow examples and not necessarily what you say.

You might be doing it, because you’ve never pushed yourself to see what you’re capable of.

You might be doing it, because you’re mad at yourself for letting yourself go (back to the chip on your shoulder).

You might be doing it, because you got picked on with how you look (chip on your shoulder).

You might be doing it because you want to see how much you can lift, or to complete a marathon (to see what you’re capable of).

The bottom line is that everyone I’ve seen succeed, has had their OWN thing.

And then they had a “ritual” of that thing.

Maybe they prepped all their meals.  
Or they worked out, every day, no matter what. 
Or they became more active then they ever thought and averaged 15k steps, every single day.
Or they tracked every calorie, every single day.

So they had a “thing” and then they had a “ritual” of how they intended to achieve that “thing.”

So the question is, what’s your “thing?”  And what will your “ritual” be?

Summing Up

At the end of the day, these “soft, malleable aspects” of changing, tend to be just as important as the actual what to do.  I’ve written about the what to do many times.  But if you can figure these smaller things, you’ll be in a much more powerful place to not only make the changes you want, but to sustain them.

Remember though, that all of this takes TIME, and that requires patience.  The best time to start is now.  Seriously.  Pick one of the 5 things above and start experimenting tomorrow.  See the results objectively.  Did your experiment work or not?  If not, why?  If it did, why?  Give each experiment at least a couple months (unless I specified otherwise above), and watch as everything becomes a bit easier and you learn to enjoy the process a bit more.