It's Really the "Change" That Matters Most
I’ve recently begun doing a good chunk of online coaching, which gives me the great opportunity to work with a few more people than I can one-on-one over the course of the month and people from all over the world.
I love working with new people, so naturally I’m fascinated by the cultural differences I’ve noticed but more importantly the similarities I’ve seen working with people in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Asia.
It reminds me that there is still more the same than different when it come to helping people create the body they want.
Inevitably two truths have floated to the surface:
1) Everyone has a good sense of all the changes they ‘could’ make.
2) Creating a change is more important than what you change.
Let’s push #1 into the limelight for a second before I discuss the more important #2 (not the deuce kind either…).
Knowing what you could change to get the body you want is a nice thing, a good thing even.
It’s also a paradox of choice, meaning the more choices you have, the less likely you are to actually act on any of it.
So the article with 20 tips to lose weight from Oxygen magazine you just read?
You’re actually way more likely to read it and not act on any of it, than if it were just 3 tips.
More isn’t necessarily better.
Hey things look good on paper, even this article!
Often times when you’re in this situation you keep mulling over what change to make, paralyzed by some fear you might make the wrong choice, given there are so many options.
We like to call it this ‘paralysis-by-analysis’ in the biz, but that’s really just fun jargon…
In some cases you do make a choice, you create a change but that change is short-lived because you don’t give it long enough to take effect.
A week of cutting out carbs? Ya, sorry, not going to cut it long term…
You gotta make a decision and see it through!
Sometimes asking yourself to do something just for a week is a good way to ease yourself into something longer term, but unfortunately that’s not how most of us tend to act in the presence of abundant choice.
Immediately into a change, we start thinking about whether or not we made the wrong choice, and we tend to flip flop onto something else that was on our list of choices for change.
When you buy a car or a new TV and the next week second guess yourself, worrying that you made the wrong decision, they call it ‘buyer’s remorse;’ So let’s call this: ‘change remorse.’
You can see where I’m going with this right?
Most people cripple themselves with options but there is another drawback to creating too much change; It’s system overload.
You can’t start fasting, introducing three supplements, changing your training program up every week and expect to know what change is helping you get closer to your desired result, if you’re even moving in a positive direction at all.
Nearly every distance client I’ve taken on so far starts the process the same; They give me three or four things they want to work towards, and asks a couple of questions about three or four different methods they’ve read will help them achieve each one.
That’s <count it> nine to sixteen different things to try and focus on.
Take a moment to think about this for a second.
What actually matters most to you? Being ripped or gaining muscle? Losing some fat or losing weight? Performing well, or getting ripped?
There is a lot of inter-relatedness here, but where you put your focus really friggin’ matters.
You can’t do everything at once, so seriously take a moment and isolate the one thing that actually matters most to you, and will continue to matter the most to you next month, and the month after because that’s the kind of commitment it takes.
Then create a list of methods that you think might help you get there, particularly one that you are confident you can implement until next month and the month after.
Pick one and only one.
It should seem painfully easy to change.
Once you’ve isolated what you want to change, and the method you want to use, make that change and push all your other wonderful ideas to the side for now.
They’re on the back-burner waiting until such time that this method proves pretty conclusively to be ineffective for you, and that requires weeks, maybe months of effort and analysis.
Trying to create too much change all at once, remains the biggest misstep I continually see, so much so that it warrants revisiting today before I get to the meat of this blog post.
‘The’ One Tip To Really Change Your Body
Back to #2 (get your head out of the gutter…).
Making a change is the important thing, not necessarily what you change.
Don’t concern yourself so much over what the change itself is, or you risk the paradox above, worrying if you made the right change.
Don’t worry, you did! And even if you didn’t, believe you did!
Try this instead:
Make a single change – then review your progress MONTHLY.
If you’re tracking your weight daily, you’re bound to be disappointed, and arguably even weekly won’t give you a great overall viewpoint of how this change has impacted your objective long-term.
Sure you can monitor your weight and girth weekly, but don’t dismiss that change until you’ve given it at least a few weeks, ideally a month, if not longer to actually take effect.
A new training program won’t yield huge changes until about the 4 week mark or longer in many cases (12-16 weeks), sure you may notice some incremental improvement but the body almost never has a linear development.
You may have a great week 1, spurred on by your excitement to make a change, only to find yourself tired on week 2, notice you didn’t improve much that week, and then switch before you experience the supercompensation and much bigger change in week three or four or even five and six.
I’ve seen it happen, time and time again – you gotta stick to your guns!
If I had a dime for every time people saw no initial changes, and suddenly bam big change in the third or fourth week of a physical transformation project, I’d be like a dime-illion-aire.
Many tell me I’m crazy along the way, until it happens to them…
Likewise, there are some people that see a ton of initial changes (usually water weight) and then see no changes, or even a relapse in weeks three and four. Uh oh…
But wait, if you kept at it, weeks five or six could have been miraculous.
You’re not always going to consistently get a little bit better every single day when you look at the numbers, so stop looking at them so frequently.
Don’t be inclined to switch up your strategy too soon, or you’re likely to find yourself in change remorse limbo from #1 above.
There is a limit…
Don’t me wrong, there is a flipside to this equation and some people are guilty of doing the same thing for way way too long.
You’re not going to make one change and see infinite progress, you’ll have to create another change eventually and tracking or measuring your progress is really the best way to know when you need to switch things up.
The meal plan you have and the training program you’re on, could be extremely good, designed by a renowned nutritionist or trainer.
However, it could also become the new norm for your body, so once you’ve adapted to a change and you notice a plateau, now it’s time to make that new change or try that method you put on the backburner.
I’ll be brutally honest, typically this happens at the 6-8 week mark for beginners, and the 4-6 week mark for the more trained and skilled folks.
If you’re doing the same program or eating the same food over and over again and wondering why you’re no longer getting the desired result – THIS IS WHY!
Often it can be a very simple change too, as a good example, let’s look at breakfast.
Even if that change may seem silly or poorly researched, it could be just what you need.
Many people hold the firm belief that eating breakfast is essential for weight loss.
And in a lot of research that theory holds a lot of water. There is a lot of decent data that indicates, people who eat breakfast eat less calories over the course of the day.
So that’s great to know, if you don’t eat breakfast, maybe eating it will help you lose some more weight.
Boom! You have a small change you can make and monitor progress on.
What do you do if you already eat breakfast?
How does the above information that eating breakfast seems to produce greater weight loss, translate into a new result for you as a consistent breakfast eater?
That knowledge doesn’t really help you.
What if I told you to try skipping breakfast?
Is it really so crazy though?
If your body has a gotten used to eating breakfast, it’s found equilibrium or homeostasis and it’s familiar territory; You’re not going to eat any fewer calories over the course of the day because your body is already used to doing what it’s always done.
Even if research shows a very positive benefit to eating breakfast, maybe making a change matters more than general scientific consensus?
A study done way back in 1992, actually completely supports what I’m saying and strongly suggests that creating a change — no matter how seemingly crazy it might be, even in the presence of well-researched implications like breakfast eating — is still more important than the diet plan or exercise regime you choose to change to.
It was a relatively simple study, they took two groups of people; Breakfast eaters and non-breakfast eaters and then broke them further into 2 more groups each.
They had a group of breakfast eaters, eat breakfast over the course of a weight loss program, and a group not-eat breakfast.
They had a group of non-breakfast eaters, continue not eating breakfast and another group to eat breakfast.
Then they put everyone through the same ‘weight-loss program.’
Well everyone lost some weight, but a really interesting trend emerged suggesting that making one small change can produce huge differences in results.
If you didn’t eat breakfast and suddenly ate breakfast, you lost about 28% more weight than people who continued to not eat breakfast.
If you ate breakfast and then suddenly stopped eating breakfast, then you lost about 44% more weight than the group that kept eating breakfast.
44% more weight lost just by skipping breakfast!
Not so crazy after-all right?
Granted this study has it’s limitations, so I’m not necessarily saying if you eat breakfast you should stop for a while (though that might not be a bad idea for a period of time), it’s to show you that often it’s the change itself and not what you changed that really matters.
Showing you that ‘change remorse’ is really more in your head than anything else.
So you might feel great initially going on a paleo diet, or a vegetarian diet, or a vegan diet, and start bragging to all your friends just how awesome your diet is.
Or you might start a new supplement ‘stack’ regime and start convincing friends based on your ‘gains.’
Maybe you’re a huge supporter of the Starting Strength program or P90x because of what it did for you, so you’re going back to do it a second and third time.
Before you start telling the story of your incredible success and how awesome said nutrition plan or workout program is, stop and reflect for a moment.
Was it the program, diet or supplement stack that really yielded my success?
Or was just changing something and getting out of my comfort zone really the real key?
Maybe the method doesn’t matter as much as creating the change.