Week 6 Lesson
[learn_more caption=”Habits and Willpower(click the arrow for more details)”]
It’s more than what you eat
By this point in the program, you should have a good idea about what types of foods our body needs more of and what types of foods our bodies needs less of. In addition, you have learned about timing of food and some strategies on how to incorporate them into your nutrition. We’ve also touched on the topic of exercise, sleep and stress.
Does this mean you are now eating like a champion and have perfect health? Well, hopefully you are a little closer, but you’re probably not 100% there yet. In fact, you might even be feeling a little bit frustrated with yourself and your ‘lack of willpower’.
It is funny, in my nutrition courses, they taught us about food and how our body processes it and all the biochemical reactions that take place when we eat food. They were very clear on what food is good for our bodies, what food is bad and why.
But they never taught me why my body could not make the right choices or why it was always a struggle to eat the way I ‘should’. This is something I had to learn on my own out in the real world through trial and error on and a lot of independent peripheral study.
What I’ve learned is that there are biological reasons for body fat. It does serve a function.
As humans, fat serves many purposes in our bodies. It is used for energy reserves, keeps us warm, helps vitamin absorption, holds harmful toxins, and much more. In nature, we may tend to gain weight as winter approaches and lighten up in the summer. This happens naturally by what food is available to us in our own unique environment at certain times of the year. Nature has an amazing way of taking care of our physical needs.
If you think about it – animals are not fat in the wild. You never see a fat deer or a fat tiger. Fat is not our natural state. With two-thirds of our population overweight or obese, you have to ask yourself…why? Why are our natural signals crossed? Why don’t we just naturally lean down like we would in nature?
Why we cannot eat the way we should
The bottom line is that our bodies are driving us to eat the way we do for a reason…using extra body fat to protect us – from our environment, toxins, stress, toxic relationships and those things we’ve talked about in previous lessons.
Proper nutrition and exercise are key, but until you address why your body is forcing you to make more poor choices (and less good ones), you will always be fighting an uphill battle.
What I have found working with many different people (different ages, different body types) is that there are many reasons why we do not always make the best choices when it comes to food.
Here are some of the most common:
Nutritionally Starved – A lot of us are over-fed and under-nourished. When we eat calories that do not provide nutrition, our body is forced to continue to ask for more food until it receives the nutrition it needs. The more you move your nutrition away from processed foods and towards organic whole foods, the less starved your body will be and (over time) it will not need to continually be asking for more food to satisfy its nutritional needs.
With all the green smoothies and whole foods you’ve been incorporating so far in this program, this should all be falling into line by this time. If you’re not quite there, just keep working on it because it’s the first step and it’s the one that is easiest to address. Remember, it’s not as much about taking certain foods away, but making sure you are adding more nutrient-dense foods into your diet.
Stress – Our bodies are designed to protect us. In times of famine, our bodies will naturally store fat. If you are fighting for your life, your body will want to be lean. If you are sick, it wants to heal you. All your body wants to do is protect you.
The problem is that our bodies have not caught up to our modern day stresses. We have work, financial obligations, family, relationships, school, church, sports, volunteer work, and the list goes on. We are busy people and in our body that is translated as stress. Our body is just doing what it thinks is best for our well being as best it knows how.
But our busy schedules are not the only stress, there is also our environment. There are toxins in our food, in our water, in our air, in our homes. All around us, we are being bombarded with toxins.
Each of us has different levels and types of stress in our lives and it all plays a role in how our body chooses to protect us.
Emotional Stress – is also a common one. This can be something that happened to us as a small child, teenager, or young adult. It can be a unhealthy relationship. It can be a lack of feeling loved. There are numerous emotional stresses that can cause our bodies to choose to protect us.
Emotional stresses can also create bad food habits. Example: maybe when we have a bad day, we have a bowl of ice cream or chocolate or a beer (insert your favorite vice here). We turn to this food because it makes us feel better (at least we think it does). In doing so, we are creating an emotional habit around a certain food that has negative health effects on our body.
Hopefully you are beginning to experiment with some of the stress reduction techniques we covered in our last lesson. The more we practice letting go of stress, the more our bodies can release our stress response and start operating in a more natural way – one that is designed to heal and to gravitate toward healthy choices and feeling good.
Food Addictions – There are some foods that we eat that can be considered addicting. If you remember from Lesson 1 – sugar is one of those items. Most simple carbohydrates and processed foods (which usually include sugar and simple carbohydrates) can also be addicting. The more we eat these foods, the more we need of them in order to be satisfied. In addition, these foods alter our biochemistry and force us to eat more than our bodies actually need.
The good news is, this is the easiest one to fix. Once you flush your system of these addictive foods, you will become less and less chemically addicted, which is the first step. Then you just have to deal with the cravings or habits left behind in your brain.
This brings us to the next area of focus.
Call them cravings or call them habits. These are the things that have to be addressed in order to naturally make better choices. Once you are chemically free of the addition of certain foods, you still have to deal with the permanent associations with certain foods that have been created and reinforced in our brains.
At the primal level, a human’s goal is to avoid pain and seek pleasure (with the least amount of effort). Whenever we eat something for the first time, we are making a decision in our brain about whether this brings us pain or pleasure. Once these associations are encoded in our brain, science is now showing they are hard (if not impossible) to break.
What we have to do is to create more powerful habits around the existing ones.
How to make permanent change
As you can see, there are plenty of forces working against us in our quest to make better food choices. So, there’s no need to beat yourself up. Instead, start to understand how your body works and start working with your body instead of against it.
Lasting, permanent change comes not only from learning what food to eat, but from really understanding the power of habits:
- Becoming aware of and understanding our old (unhealthy) habits
- Creating and reinforcing new healthy habits
- Making these new habits something we do not have to think about, so they are automatic and no longer require willpower
We have already started working on this process in this program. Here is what we have started working on so far:
The Nutrition – The very first step is hopefully something you have already done by this point. That is – flushing your body of the bad things. You should be making progress toward eating an organic whole foods nutrient dense diet, with minimal sugar, oils, processed foods, plenty of water and sleep. This will make sure your body is getting what it needs and that your cravings are not just your body begging you for nutrients. In addition, you should now be very in-tune with your body – knowing when it feels good and when it does not feel good.
Education – You have to get educated on food and how if affects every aspect of your health and weight. This may take some time, but you should spend some time each week learning. This is exactly what the weekly videos and the videos on the fun page have been about, to help pass along what we have learned to you, in a short, easy and fun way. The more tidbits of nutrition education you have, the easier it will be to make better choices in your life.
you cannot rely on willpower (in the long-term) to make healthy choices.
We only have so much willpower and by the end of our busy day, it is in limited supply. If your strategy relies heavily on willpower, you will struggle to make good choices over the long haul.
The next steps will be to Reprogram old habits, Create new healthy habits, and Continue to Learn (eliminate the need for willpower).
These sound like a lot of work, but they are really simple to do. It is just about paying attention. Check out each of the focuses below for details and tips on how to get these done.
Only need to think about 3 things this week:
[learn_more caption=”1) Listen To Your Body (Reprogramming old habits) (click the arrow for more details)”]
Listen to the signals your body is sending you each time you eat.
Now that your body is flushed of the bad things, you should be more in-tune with how your body feels. At this point, you will still have those cravings and this is okay. It is actually necessary in order to reprogram them. Also, at this point, there still should be some willpower involved in eating healthy. That is okay and is perfectly normal. You are ready to create, what I feel is one of the more important habits and that is the reprogramming habit.
We’ve talked about this before, but it’s a critical component in reprogramming your habits.
Here is how you do this.
Every time you eat something, ask your body this question:
How did that food make me feel?”
Again, this will take effort to do at first, but over time you will be doing this automatically and subconsciously. It will be a habit and that is what you want.
Now, in the beginning when you eat something “bad” (let’s say chocolate cake), your brain will be telling you this is the best thing ever! That is just the old programmed reward talking. What you want to listen to is your body, because it will be telling you a different story. It will take some time, but what will happen is, there will be one day that you will opt to not eat the chocolate cake. Not because of willpower, but because you now associate that cake with an uncomfortable feeling in your body, rather than a good one. Depending on what you are reprogramming, it could take days, weeks, months or years to complete the reprogramming. But, it will happen.
I use to pig out on Halloween candy. It took me about 3 years to reprogram myself away from that habit. But Halloween only came around one time per year, so it was really not as bad as it sounds. I was eating really healthy, so when Halloween came, I let myself eat candy. When I checked in with my body later, it told me loud and clear that I did not feel good. In fact, I felt lousy. The next year, when Halloween came around, I ate candy, but more cautiously. And, sure enough, even though I only ate a few pieces, I still felt lousy. By year three, I didn’t even want any candy. It had nothing to do with willpower. It was simply my body driving me to make a different choice. It was easy to leave that candy behind.
The key here is just to create this habit. Once it is created, it runs without you even having to think about it. That is eventually how you want all your healthy habits to be.
The ultimate goal is to create the habit of listening to your body’s feedback. Over time, the bad habits will start resolving themselves.
- Pay attention to: energy levels, sleepiness, sluggishness, aches, pains, headaches, laziness, happiness levels, fullness … all these things are little clues your body is giving you.
- Your body is always giving you feedback, pay attention to the good feedback and the bad.
- Remember, eating ice cream (just as an example) may give you some initial short-term “good” feeling. This is just in the brain. Your body will be sending different signals that you will notice 20-30 minutes after you eat the ice cream. I promise you this, your body does not like ice cream (your brain might), but not your body. Just start noticing that.
- If you drink a green smoothie or eat fresh, raw veggies, pay attention to how that makes you feel.
[learn_more caption=”2) Create new healthy habits (Programming in new habits) (click the arrow for more details)”]
Start creating new healthy habits
Identify a list of things you know are healthy and that you would like to incorporate into your daily routine without having the think about them. Once you have the list, then prioritize them, most important on top.
Take the top healthy habit on your list and make sure you do that one thing every day for 30 days in a row. The first 30 days will require your willpower to make sure you do it. But what you should find is that at the end of the 30 days, it should take less and less willpower to make sure you do that healthy habit.
At this point, if you feel you will continue this habit, then move to the next. If not, then use your willpower to repeat the habit until it is something you do not think about. It is just part of your life.
Who cares how long it takes? The key is to make it a habit and then move to the next. Over time, layering healthy habit on top of healthy habit, you will begin to see big changes in your body and your life.
- You have already started some great new habits in this program. Continue on until they are a part of your daily routine.
- Here are some that come to mind:
- Reduce “added sugar” to as close to 0 grams as possible
- Have a strong breakfast
- Drink 1-2 green smoothies per day
- Cook your dinner (and as many meals as you can) from whole foods
- Drink 8 cups of water per day
- Get plenty of sleep
- Practice stress reduction techniques
[learn_more caption=”3) Keep Learning (Eliminate reliance on willpower) (click the arrow for more details)”]
Keep watching the videos and learning about food and your health. You cannot leave it up to anyone else.
Education is key to creating a healthy and fit body. You cannot just take our word for it. You need to understand why you need to eat a certain way. You need to understand the problems with fructose, processed foods, GMO foods, pesticides, medications, stress, lack of sleep…as it relates to your health.
If you are just doing this because TK and Karen say so, then that will not stick for the long-term.
All of the educational videos have been selected for a very specific reason. We wanted to share experts that are trying to spread a message that will help you become healthy and fit. The more you hear bits and pieces of this information, the more it will sink in. We have learned and applied a lot of what these experts talk about in our own life and have seen significant results and so can you. But you cannot just take our word for it.
Once you own that information in the core of your being, then it will become effortless to make good food and lifestyle choices.
you cannot rely on willpower (in the long-term) to make healthy choices.
If your strategy relies heavily on willpower, you will always struggle to make good choices over the long haul. Eliminating the old bad habits, creating new habits and filling your brain with supporting information will support you in eliminating your reliance on your willpower to make healthy choices in your life.
- Make sure to watch all the videos on the FUN page.
- Make sure to watch all the extra credit videos, too.
- From the videos we have shared, find an expert(s) that resonates with your beliefs and follow them. Buy their book, watch more lectures by them, follow them on Facebook.
- Follow us on Facebook. We will keep you up-to-date with important tidbits as we come across them.
The Power of Habit
New York Times investigative reporter and bestselling author of The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
The pleasure trap: Douglas Lisle
Find out why is it so hard for humans to make the right choices?
Chocolate, Cheese, Meat and Sugar – Physically Addictive
Neal Barnard MD discusses the science behind food additions. Willpower is not to blame: chocolate, cheese, meat, and sugar release opiate-like substances. Dr. Barnard also discusses how industry, aided by government, exploits these natural cravings, pushing us to eat more and more unhealthy foods.