6 min read

The 3 R's

Who can resist a title like that?


More specifically, as I’ve been on a tear lately for mindset weight loss strategies, here are three simple strategies you can use to take your fat loss experience up a notch.

It’s true, every now and then I like to bust out list posts.

Check out these “classics” (I say that in a very self-indulgent way…i.e. they are only classics to me…):

The Three Secrets to Weight Loss

Eleven Eating Behaviors You Should Know

Five Steps to Health and Fitness Mastery

The Three Secrets of Motivation

I’ve actually talked about the 3 R’s before, in an article from a couple years back, but the concept is important enough that I’m going to touch on it again, this time with more strategy.

The Three F’s

The sad state of affair, is that we actually believe we can use these three things to motivate ourselves or others into change.

I’ve learned the hard way that none of these work particularly well, and believe me when I first got started in this business I tried them all.




Force is almost synonymous with punishment, don’t eat what your trainer asks you, well what else can they do but punish you right?

This is the same short-sighted approach most coaches, particularly in athletics hold.

What do we put on cigarette boxes?

Surgeon General warnings or ugly photographs of damaged teeth/liver/heart/lungs?

Even though research tells us they don’t motivate people to quit smoking.

You’d think they would be fearful for their lives, everybody knows that smoking isn’t good for you, leads to premature death and a slew of health problems, yet people still smoke.

Likewise, everybody knows carrying too many extra pounds isn’t good for us, it leads to premature death, a slew of health problems and yet the overall population continues to get larger.

In the same way why try to create a fear for your life at being overweight?

The facts probably aren’t going to change your mind much either, I can throw stats at you all I want, but they only appeal to the numerical component of the brain — the brain communicates via imagery, which is far more potent a motivator in most people.

This part of the brain is a small component of the logical left-brain, and completely ignores most of your sensory input, and the emotional side of the brain.

What about force? Kids need discipline right, why wouldn’t that work for an adult aiming to create physical change?

Believe it or not, the brain responds more immediately to negative sensory input (fight or flight response) like that of force or punishment, but it adjusts more long term to positive intrinsic reward (self-satisfaction, self-gratification, or self-actualization…).

Hence all the wind-sprints you make your athletes do for losing a game, is probably only going to make them lose more, not win more.

The less developed brain of many kids is still learning how to adjust to various sensory inputs, which is why they push the boundaries on your patience.

However, the fully developed human brain doesn’t like to be forced into change, it resists force, as force removes autonomy, delays mastery, and contradicts purpose, all of which, are essential for intrinsic motivation.

Just ask anybody who works in an environment where change is forced upon them to do things, they don’t want to do.

Facts, force and fear just reset the human mind into a state of denial, the human protective mechanism.

Negative emotions are much stronger on the human psyche, so once the initial shock has worn off, denial protects us from further shock.

We find rationalization work-arounds for these situations, so we tell ourselves things like, ‘I’m only a little overweight’ or ‘I’ll quit smoking when I’m ready.’

Essentially we end up un-consciously learning to ignore the threat of fear, facts or force, in the long-term, and ALL OF US do this.

The Three R’s

If the three F’s don’t work for change, what does?

O.K. truthfully, these are not really secrets, just a better way to look at the process of change, especially for weight loss.

The following three concepts are taking from the book ‘Change or Die‘ by Alan Deutschman:




Any one on it’s own, probably isn’t enough, but the three of them developed in unison are huge for changing your weight.

The reason I believe Alan Deutschman’s perception is spot on for weight loss, is because these three aspects tie into far more of the brains skills (more than just the logical/reasoning side) to facilitate change than the more negatively positioned three F’s.

Relate ties into our social being.

Reframe ties into our sense of self (and imagery based brain communication).

Repeat ties into Deliberate Practice, an essential component of change.

If we look to smoking as a good example, what is the real reason we saw a decline in the number of smokers (at least in North America…)?

I’d venture to guess that is was a social change (relate…) more than anything else, for many years it was cool to smoke, everybody smoked, then a cultural shift happened, suddenly it’s no longer cool to smoke.

We’ve re-framed what ‘smoking’ means.

People who may have used to be smokers, suddenly reframe who they are now, as ‘non-smokers.’

This seems like a small distinction, but not in the eyes of change.

Later we practice skills that eliminate any other ‘triggers’ associated with smoking.

For instance, many smokers smoke under certain pretence, like when drinking coffee, or drinking alcohol or driving their cars.

Repetition of removing the trigger, or avoiding of the trigger, like you stop drinking coffee outside, or stop going out to bars where smoking was permitted while drinking, is like the icing on the cake.

How to Use the Three R’s for Weight Loss

First, find the right relationships and environment to facilitate your change.

Joining a gym is a good start, but not enough by itself, you need to find a gym you can relate to, not an empty void of endless machines with no soul.

Most gyms are soul-less, and I truly mean that, finding one that isn’t is like a finding a needle in a haystack, so you might have to work a little bit harder in shopping around (not to mention a lot of them don’t make it particularly easy on you either).

If you live in Vancouver, I have many suggestions, not including my own gym, I’ll even pitch that to you last.

The environment should foster your development too, training with people who simply encourage bad weight gain behaviors, probably won’t work any more than working out in a candy factory would.

Work with people who seem to ‘have it figured out‘ better than you do.

Trust me, we don’t think you’re <insert string of negative words here>.

Actually for the intermediate, taking a novice under your wing can be incredibly rewarding, it can also be the catalyst for taking your own skills to the next level.

Teaching others is the best way to learn in my opinion.

Then use deliberate practice to learn skills in repetition. Practice good exercise skills, cooking skills, nutrition skills (like how to eat), how to remove yourself from weight gain triggers (like buffets, desserts, etc…) and so on…

Gradually you will start to reframe your current outlook on yourself, replacing things like:

  • I’ve always been overweight
  • I’m big-boned
  • I hate healthy food
  • I can’t cook
  • I hate the gym
  • I’m uncoordinated
  • Etc…
With words like:
  • Wow staying at a healthy weight is easier than I thought
  • I see now that a large part of weight-loss or gain is behavior-driven
  • I have way more control over this than I ever thought
  • Cooking healthy, good-tasting food is easy
  • I love my gym, it’s like a haven from work and home
  • Cooking is a breeze, next task please!
  • I have the reflexes of a cat…
  • Etc…

Kaizen It

You may need all three to really make it stick, but you can do it, I have faith in you.

Relate, Reframe, Repeat…