Friday Opinion Post ~ My Internet Crushes

Sometimes there are women who I deem “sexy” or attractive because of their personality, other times, they’re attractive because of their sense of humor and other times they’re attractive because of how damn intelligent they are. Sometimes it’s a combination of all these things while being pretty damn easy on the eyes.

This post is about 4 women who I have “internet crushes” on and with whom everyone should know about. All I have to say is, “You can thank me later for introducing you to them. Now back off!”

1 – Sunny Choi

If there’s always been one thing on my list of things to do, has been to learn to play the piano. It’s my favorite instrument and although I will learn to play it one day, I can guarantee that I’ll never be able to do what this woman does with a piano (and there’s no way in hell I’ll look as amazing doing it).

Attached is my favorite one of her “interpretations” ~ Neyo’s Beautiful Monster:

 

2 – Allie Brosh from Hyperbole and a Half

This woman has brought tears to my eyes…from laughing so hard. I’m not sure how exactly I found her blog, but all I can say is I’m damn grateful I have.

I think everyone should read Sneaky Hate Spiral. Seriously, you’ll be much happier if you did. Here’s an excerpt:

Sneaky Hate Spiral

Most of the time, I’m pretty even-tempered. Aside from the odd nervous breakdown or caffeine-induced bliss-seizure, I have the emotional variation of sand. However, every once in a great while, I’ll lapse into what I like to call a “sneaky hate spiral.”

The buildup:

Sneaky hate spirals begin simply enough. In fact, that is one of the hallmarks of sneaky hate spirals – they are merely the confluence of many unremarkable annoyances.

Your day begins poorly.

Before you’ve had a chance to recover from your unpleasant awakening, you are pummeled by a series of unfortunate events. There are probably some loud and/or persistent sounds mixed in there, too.
Read the rest of Sneaky Hate Spiral
Here’s a video of Allie for you:

 

3 – Denise Minger from Raw Food SOS

I don’t even know where to start with how awesomely attractive this woman is. This is the woman who basically looked into all of Colin T. Campbell’s research from the China Study and then took a huge shit on it…or better yet, used his own research to show that his conclusions were just wrong and highly biased.

Beyond that, she also has shown how wheat consumption is much more highly linked to heart disease and obesity than meat.

If you decide to read her blog, please be prepared to come away smarter while simultaneously feeling like a slacker for not being as smart as you can be.

Read her original critique of the China Study here.

To keep with the theme, here’s a video of her – How to Win an Argument with a Vegetarian (pure awesomeness):

4 – Nia Shanks

Whenever I want to convince a woman I train that lifting heavy weights won’t get you “big” I just refer her to Nia Shanks website. Besides being a strong badass, she’s getting other women to join her in her badassery. In other words, be inspired and go lift heavy things.

 

I told you they’re awesome.

 

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Tuesday Psych Post ~ How to Use Visualization

You may have heard that in order to achieve a goal, you should have a clear picture in your mind of what you want to achieve, imagine yourself getting it and how great you’ll feel when you get it. Sounds like great advice on the surface and it’s been repeated so many times it’s almost gospel. What does the research say on this topic though? This article will explain what visualization is good for, what it’s not good for and if you’re going to use it, how to get the most benefit out of it.

What the Research Says about Visualization

“Researchers have speculated that those who fantasize about how wonderful life could be are ill prepared for the setbacks that frequently occur along the rocky road to success, or perhaps they enjoy indulging in escapism and so become reluctant to put in the effort required to achieve their goals.” ~ Richard Wiseman from his book 59 Seconds

If you want to become happier, one of the easiest ways to do so is to imagine your ideal day. A study by Laura King showed people who were asked to visualize their ideal but realistic day were much happier than those who hadn’t. In fact, being grateful or focusing on the happiest times of your life are surefire ways to increase your happiness.

Should you do this to achieve your weight loss goals?

What about achieving your goals of making more money or weight loss? Will visualizing make it more likely to hit your goals? Let’s look at three studies (*all links in this article are to the full pdf studies).

1 – From Thought to Action: Effects of Process vs Outcome-based Mental Simulation on Performance

In this classic study about the effects of visualization, Lien Pham and Shelly Taylor had 3 groups of students. One group visualized achieving a good grade and another simply was told to go about their day to day routine, but all had to monitor the time they spent studying and the researchers looked at their grades. The group of people who had spent just a couple of minutes a day visualizing how good it would be to get good grades, did the worst on the exams and spent a considerable amount less time studying than those told not to do anything. The third group, I will discuss later in the article.

2 – Revised: Expectation, fantasy, and weight loss: Is the impact of positive thinking always positive?

Gabriele Oettingen has done a lot of research about what makes us take action, how it’s correlated with our goals and how we envision ourselves achieving those goals. In this study of weight loss, she studied obese women who took part in a weight-loss program. The study showed that the expectation of going through the process of achieving a goal, and the fantasy of wanting to achieve that goal are separate entities. In English, this means that although desiring a goal will make you feel good, being “realistic” about what it takes to achieve the goal is much more important. In fact, this study showed that those who had negative fantasies were shown to achieve more weight loss.

After a year, the women who had more positive fantasies (typical visualization and extreme willpower), weighed 26 pounds heavier than those that had negative fantasies (expecting to give into temptation).

3 – Picture Yourself at the Polls: Visual Perspective in Mental Imagery Affects Self-Perception and Behavior

This study used visualization to imagine the person going through the steps of voting from two different perspectives. The first group had to imagine the steps of voting from a first person’s perspective (“I will go vote”) compared to a third-person’s point of view (how someone else would see you vote). What this study showed is that those that saw themselves from a third person’s perspective went to vote at a rate of 29% more than those who saw themselves from a first person’s perspective.

Use Visualization to Your Advantage
Going back to the first study, about doing well on a test, the third group in the study was asked to imagine going through the process of studying. Instead of imagining themselves as getting A’s, they were imagining the steps they would go through in order to get better grades. This group did the best out of all 3 groups.

A study not previously talked about – Self-Regulation of Goal Setting – showed how to use visualization best. In this study, the researchers had people think about something they wanted to achieve, such as losing weight. Afterwards, they were told to spend a few moments fantasizing about reaching the goal and the top two benefits of achieving that goal. This isn’t the same as fantasizing about hitting a goal, but instead to actually have a checklist of how life would be better.

So after the researchers got the participants to take part in listing the top two benefits of achieving their goals, they then had them list out the top two obstacles standing in the way of achieving their goal.

By having the participants focus first on their main benefit followed immediately by what they would do if faced with their biggest hurdle, the researchers showed that they were able to get the better results than if they hadn’t gone through these steps or went through them separately.

Three Take Home Points

After it’s all said and done, the take home points are simple.

1 – Don’t fantasize about achieving a goal, but instead about the process of achieving that goal.

2 – In addition to that, imagine yourself going through that process from a third person’s perspective. In other words, see yourself as someone looking at you would, going through the process.

3 – Last but not least, think of the top two benefits of hitting your goals (not the negative consequences), while also imagining what you would have to do to overcome the most likely barriers. Going back and forth between these two things, the benefits and hurdles, you increase your odds of achieving your aim.

By doing these three steps you are much more likely to actually achieve your goals. In fact, after looking at the research again, the free reports that you receive when you sign-up include all of these steps in one place. You can go to the Free Reports page here.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, let me know by leaving a comment below.

Insulin, Glucose and Fat: An Analogy

“Carbs Are Evil!”

“If you don’t eat carbs, you won’t get fat!”

“All I did was avoid carbs and I lost weight.”

You may have heard one or all of these statements. The bottom line is that when it comes to carbs, it’s a bit more complicated than these simple statements. For the sake of simplicity though, I’ll list four rules that are true no matter who you are. After that I will discuss how glucose, insulin and fat are all related and give you some tips on figuring out if high glucose is an issue for you.

The follow up article will expand on these four main concepts:

1 – Everyone is different when it comes to their tolerance of carbs. Typically, the less bodyfat you have, the better your body can tolerate carbs.

2 – In general, the more bodyfat you have, the less carbs you need. This means if you’re overweight or obese, the easier it will be for you to lose fat and weight from limiting your carb intake.

3 – “Crappy” carbs suck! High fructose, highly processed, high sugar foods, white breads, pastas and other high glycemic carbs suck for fat loss. Period! If you want to eat in “moderation” and see fat loss, expect to see a “mediocre” body at best. In other words, the healthier your source of carbs, the healthier you will look and act (when combined with the first 11 rules of this list).

4 – Cycling your daily carb intake is a good idea. By doing so, you have a tool at your disposal that can be a great way to maintain the muscle you have, keep appropriate fat burning hormones humming along and allow your workouts to stay intense while continuing to see progress with fat loss. This means you can workout hard and recover around your workouts with carbs, but you don’t eat them when you don’t need the fuel.

With that out of the way, let’s discuss carbs, insulin and the way they interact to effect your body.

Insulin, Glucose and Fat: A Simple Car Story
Insulin is a hormone that’s released by your pancreas in order to help transport glucose into cells. Insulin acts primarily through Glut-4 receptors that act on both muscle and fat. The more the insulin acts on fat, the more that you store extra fat. The more that insulin acts on muscle, the more muscle glycogen you store and the bigger your muscles look.

If you got through that paragraph, I commend you. Let me give you an analogy to help you out if you didn’t though.

You can look at carbs as crude oil. Gasoline starts out as the crude oil and has to be refined in order to be able to be used by your car. Your body does the same thing and takes that “crude oil” (carbs in the form of fruits, pasta, breads, cookies, etc) and converts it to glucose using different digestive enzymes. Although gasoline is good for fueling your car, it’s also a toxic substance. In much the same way that glucose is good at fueling your body, it’s also a toxic substance if left in your blood. In order to ensure that the gas doesn’t influence you negatively, there’s a whole slew of systems in place that allow you to simply pump the gas into your car. In much the same way, there’s a number of processes that are in place that allow you to simply eat carbs and use it as fuel.

When all the systems are running smoothly you have nothing to worry about. Thus far the equation equals:
Crude Oil = Carbs
Gas (usable) = Glucose
Gasoline = Toxic
Glucose in your blood = Toxic

In order to handle the gas that’s toxic, there’s a pump that helps you to put your gas in the car and use it as fuel. To continue with the analogy, insulin is the pump that pumps glucose into the cells where you either use it for energy or store it as glycogen or fat. The bottom line is that insulin’s main purpose is to get glucose out of the blood. When you pump gas, you pump it into your gas tank. From your gas tank, your car then uses that gas, which is taken from the gas tank. Glut-4 receptors are your gas tank. Glut-4 receptors are what receives the insulin in order to take the glucose and transport it to places in your cell that can use that glucose. Therefore, to continue with the equation:

Gas Pump = Insulin
Gas Tank = Glut-4 Receptors

Now say, you have a new electric/gasoline hybrid car. This new car then has two places where you can plug or pump energy into the car. In much the same way, Glut-4 receptors are like that car’s receptors for receiving fuel – they have two places that stimulate insulin into the cell. The regular gas tank is like the regular Glut-4 receptor. The “special” electric plug-in part of the car is the Exercise-induced Glut-4 receptor. These exercise-induced Glut-4 receptors are only activated when you exercise. Therefore:

Gas Tank = Glut-4 Receptors
Electrical Plug-in Receptor = Exercise Induced Glut-4 Receptor

When everything is working well, this system works amazing. You eat carbs (crude oil), which gets broken down into glucose or fructose (gasoline). This is toxic to your blood and so in a smart way your body releases insulin (gas pump) and pumps glucose (gas) into the cells via glut-4 receptors (gas tank). In order to help you when you need extra fuel (when you’re working out), your body has added exercise-induced glut-4 receptors which act like outlets that allow your body to use extra fuel when you need it most. By doing so, your body needs less insulin (less gas pumps because you have more outlets) in order to use the glucose in your blood.

This is what happens when you have a new car and everything is working well.

Your Car Gets “Older”
Now imagine, you have an old car and as your car has aged, you’ve been going to cheap gas stations, year after year, since you’ve owned the car. You know that your car runs better on the higher priced gas, but you don’t feel like spending the extra money. The problem is as you keep using these cheap brands of gas, it starts to ruin your engine with fillers and rusting (your mitochondria get damaged or oxidation increases – the topic of another article).

Your engine doesn’t run as smoothly over time. This is what happens to your body with fast-acting carbs. Your one and only body is being beaten up by the “cheap carbs” that allow you to “enjoy” the food now, although you know your body runs better with the “better” carbs. Over time, this system starts to break down and you don’t adequately use the energy you take in as well. Your body doesn’t run as “smoothly” as it once did.

Let’s also say that you have the new electric/gas hybrid car but never use the electrical part of the car. Instead of using the “more efficient,” but just as good form of fuel – the electrical part of your car – you let it sit there. This is what happens when you don’t exercise. You let that equally good and more efficient Exercise-Induced Glut-4 receptor just sit there and don’t utilize it’s potential.

Now, as time goes on, your car’s gas gauge breaks. It can no longer adequately tell you if you have enough gas. When you go to use the gas pump, you start to pump the gas and it starts to spill out of the gas tank. Your gas tank overflows and you spill the gas everywhere. This isn’t good because gas outside of the pump and gas tank is a toxic and dangerous chemical. This is what happens when you start to have blood sugar problems. Your Glut-4 receptors can’t handle the amount of insulin that’s being pumped out and stops taking the glucose in. Glucose then stays in the blood longer and at higher levels, which is toxic to your body. The equation now looks like this:

Electrical part of your car = Exercise Induced Glut-4 receptors = Better Fuel Efficiency
Gas Gauge = Amount of Insulin to Release
Broken Gas Gauge = Too much Insulin Being Released
Over-flowing of Gas = Too much Glucose in Your Blood

Now say you love this car and no matter what’s wrong with it you absolutely refuse to part with it. You will NEVER get rid of this car no matter what. This is your body. No matter what, you will NEVER get rid of it.

Some people won’t notice that the gauge is broken, or maybe it works about half the time, and will develop full blown diabetes. On a side note, Type II Diabetes is the most controllable chronic “disease” there is. The solution, eat far fewer carbs, eat more protein and healthy fats and workout consistently – preferably with weights.

Seeing that it’s a problem and not wanting to have gas spill out every time, you take your car to a mechanic and the mechanic says that it will work fine if you just push the car for 2-10 minutes every day allowing the gauge to work before you start the car. He says if you do that and stop using cheap gas, you will be fine. This is like every fitness professional that says just work out (push the car), eat better (stop using cheap gas) and you’ll be fine. The equation is now:

Push the car to fix the gas gauge = Exercise to correct blood sugar issues
Stop Using Cheap Gas = Stop eating highly processed carbs

Instead of listening to the mechanic, you think this guy is crazy, go to another better educated mechanic and say, “Just fix the problem now.” So instead of fixing the gauge, this mechanic puts in a gas gauge that only moves from the half-way mark to the full sign.

This way, you will still be able to put gas in the car without your gas tank overflowing. This is what happens when you go to a doctor and he prescribes insulin. It doesn’t fix the problem but simply masks the issue so that you can still use the fuel your body takes in. At least temporarily.

After some time you decide you don’t like driving with only a half a tank of gas, because you have to stop and fill up more often. This is what happens to your body when you keep fueling your body with cheap carbs – you’re always hungry and are constantly craving carbs.

Instead of stopping more often, you come up with an ingenious idea – you’ll just store more gas in your trunk. So what you do is build an extra space where you can hold gasoline in your trunk. This gasoline is harder for your car to use, but you feel that it’s worth it. In this analogy, your original gas tank is muscle. This extra gas storage place is fat (Junk in the trunk anyone?).

After a while, your original gas tank gets even more clogged, so you make your storage space in your trunk bigger. Eventually, you no longer fill up the original gas tank, but only the one in your trunk.

This is what happens when you start to gain fat and stop using muscle. Your fat becomes the preferred storage space for your gas (glucose) and your muscle sees less and less of it.

Over time, your “extra” gas tank expands to your back seat. Eventually you take your car to the mechanic and tell him to extend the car just to hold the extra gas. He warns you that if this happens, it’s going to be a big job and is hard to get rid of. You tell him, you don’t care – you want to keep using cheap gas and you don’t want to push your car. So with this the equations equal:

Original 1/2 used Gas Tank (Where fuel/carbs were originally stored) = Muscle Tissue
New Trunk Storage “Gas Tank” = Your Body Fat
Expanded Car = More of Your Body Fat

And that’s what your body does over time with fast-acting carbs (think cakes, cookies, breads, pastas, bagels) and no exercise.

Instead of your muscles using and storing the “gas” or carbs, you start to store the “gas” in different places. In this case, your “trunk”. Since you’re not using your muscles, you start to store that extra gas or carbs in the fat cells you currently have. The fat just acts as storage space. Eventually though your body can’t just hold any more “gas” in the size car you have – your body has to create extra fat cells.

This is what happens, slowly and imperceptibly, year after year by eating an over-abundance of carbs and in particular crappy carbs (cheap gas). One day your gas gauge breaks and instead of following the original solution – push the car and use clean gas (exercise and eat right), you continue with a broken gas gauge.

Now that you’ve expanded your car, you decide you don’t like the way it looks any longer. Since you vowed to never get rid of your car, you decide to put some new paint on it (get a haircut or a “make-over”). The problem is, you still don’t like the way that expansion on the car looks. You decide to go back to the mechanic and get rid of that extra storage space.

When you go to the mechanic, he tells you this:
1 – He can’t simply take off the extra part of the car, because it’s now integrated into the car’s wiring and gas system. If you want to use less gas, you’re going to have to start using the electrical part of the car (Exercise-Induced Glut-4 Receptors). In other words, the only way to get your body primed to get rid of the extra storage is by utilizing your blood sugar better by activating the exercise-induced Glut-4 receptors.

2 – The original problem is that the gas gauge is still broken. If you want it to work correctly, and therefore, fix most of the problems you’re having, you’re going to have to:
A – Stop beating the car up with cheap gas. You’re going to have to fuel it correctly. This means only high-premium unleaded gas. In much the same way, if you want the original problem of poor blood sugar to be corrected, you’re going to have to feed it correctly. You’re going to have to eat only natural, whole foods that give your body the nutrients it needs.

B – You’re really going to have to start pushing the car. This is despite that now it’s going to be harder because the car is bigger. In other words, your body is still either releasing too much insulin or not using it efficiently and the best way to get it under control is to exercise.

So the final equation, if you want to lose fat and are having “gas storage” issues is:
Use the Electrical part of the Car = Exercise and use the Exercise-induced Glut-4 receptors
Fix the gas gauge = Control Insulin
Stop using Cheap Gas = Eat Healthy in the form of more natural, whole foods
Start Pushing the Car = Exercise

This is the solution to blood sugar issues, insulin issues, about 75% of the population’s cause of excess body fat and a slew of other health issues that stem from these problems. This slew of other health issues includes heart disease, macular degeneration, fatty liver disease/cirrhosis, mitochondrial cancer, premature aging and cancer. In fact, since insulin is a growth hormone and cancer is an over-growth of cells, it’s a deadly combination.

Now that I’ve explained how your car “breaks down,” how do you know if your gas gauge is broken to begin with? Go to your “mechanic” (aka, doctor) and get these tests done:

1 – Fasting Blood Sugar – This should be your Primary test. If you’re only going to run one test, for blood sugar, this is the one. This test is done after 12 hours of no food and helps to show what your body is doing to break down glycogen over night.

Fasting Insulin – If you’re insulin resistance, do these two tests together and you will be able to tell a lot about the proportion of blood sugar to insulin. There isn’t a normal number for Fasting Insulin and therefore the ratio is more indicative. For example, you shouldn’t be making a lot of glucose at night, which means your insulin should be low.

The “norms” for Fasting Blood Sugar is 99mg/dL. “Normal” though is too high by at least 20%. Optimal is 70 mg/dL.

If it’s lower than that your brain won’t function too well.

If you have “normal” blood sugar, aka, if you’re number is 99 and is within the “normal” range, but optimal is 70, your risk of a heart attack goes up by 30%. The ratio of risk to increase in mg/dL is 1 to 1. Every increase in blood sugar increases your risk of a heart attack by 1%.

2 – Hemoglobin A1C (HA1C) – When you have high blood sugar, the sugar attaches to hemoglobin instead of oxygen and this process is called glycation. This test gives you a 3 month average of your blood sugar (glycation occurs everywhere and is especially relevant for the brain’s diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s). Normal for this test is 5.7 – if it’s over that, you already have signs of insulin resistance.

3 – Glucose Tolerance Test – For this test, they give you a high load of pure sugar (high glucose load) and then measure what happens to your blood sugar over the next 3 hours. You will get different results from Fasting Blood Sugar and you should do both tests. This test determines how high your blood sugar goes and how effective insulin is in clearing that sugar from your blood. The “normal” glucose tolerance test goes up to 140, when it really should be 110. Another 30 point difference and now the odds of a heart attack are 2 to 1. That means that there’s an increased risk of a heart attack of 60% from the “normal” number and the “optimal” number. This test can tell you a lot about how your body handles blood sugar.

With all of that said, this has been a mammoth of an article. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.

Growth vs. Fixed Mindset and Exercise

If someone were to ask you your opinion on what makes or breaks a person’s success, there might be tens of hundreds of answers you might give. The reasons you give could range from having a good genes to their dogged persisted in the face of adversity. You could say they were action-oriented or they were in the right place at the right time. Others might respond by citing a good education, good teachers or that they were born into a rich family. All of these things would be in some way, shape or form could be correct. Now if that same person asked you what you think the most important aspect of that success was, that would be tougher to answer.

Just Pondering What the Most Important Key for Success Is

To narrow it down and to try and make a case that one aspect is more important than any other would be a hard case to make. In fact, all of the factors listed above are important and come into play at one time or another.

The Most Important Belief
From a belief perspective though, there is one belief that is definitively more important than almost any other belief. The reason why this belief is so important is because it effects so many other psychological factors.

This belief belies the inherent nature of self-efficacy (the belief that you can achieve something you want), which builds self-esteem. To me, it is inherently linked to internal motivation. Our internal motivations are what drives us and leads to a person’s sense of “purpose” and hence persistence on a given task. This belief is also linked to learned helplessness or a lack of self-efficacy. It gives a person a sense of hope, of control, of acceptance and forgiveness. With those aspects in place you have the ability to change not only a person’s habit, but also their identity. With this belief in place, their identity isn’t locked, their future isn’t sealed and they can once again dream of something better – of achieving more than they ever thought possible.

One of the most common misconceptions is that it’s lack of good habits or lack of time that cause someone to not workout, although logically they know that they should. What it comes down to, for most people who chose not to workout although they should, is that it’s not a part of “Who they are.” It’s not a part of their identity and to identify with those “gym people” is just something that they can’t even conceive of. “Who they are” is broken into their beliefs and habits as outlined in this post. The bottom line is that without the ability to change one’s identity, any other method of change is an uphill battle.

For example, if someone wants to be rich and identifies as a poor man, then that individual will consistently undermine his most determined efforts. Some say this is a matter of self-esteem and self-worth, but I think it goes deeper than that. Self-esteem and self-worth are secondary to identity. If someone believes themselves to be unworthy (and hence has low self-esteem in that aspect) as a student, worker, or as a “fitness person” but knows that, this “unworthiness” is temporary, is just the beginning of bigger and greater things in the arena of their choosing, then they have a Growth mindset and will most likely change those feelings of “unworthiness.”

If, on the other hand, that person sees themselves as unworthy as a student, worker or a “fitness person” and knows that “some people are made for those types of things,” then they will never adapt fitness or hard work towards success in the endeavor of their choosing. These people can be said to have a Fixed mindset.

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset
It is this difference of beliefs, of the Fixed vs. Growth mindset, first introduced by Carol Dweck with her studies on school age children, which is the most important belief an individual has in their lives. Most of us haven’t consciously chosen one mindset over another, but instead picked up certain small beliefs that have led to this crucial one.

If when you were growing up, people praised you for “being so smart” as opposed to “being such a hard-working student” then more than likely, you believe that intelligence is innate and either you are born with it (smart) or you earn it (hard-working student). The difference between that Fixed vs Growth mindset is the difference between giving up when you are faced with a challenge (out of fear of being stupid) and between persisting until you have earned it (because you know hard work can solve the problem).

So how does this effect a person’s identity when it comes to fitness? Well, if you think about it, what area of life isn’t effected by this mindset? Look at love. If you have the growth mindset, then you believe that Love is something you work towards, something you work at. You work at making yourself better and your partner happy. If on the other hand, you have the fixed mindset, then you are apt to believe that love is something that “just is,” something that you feel and either it’s there or it’s not. And sure, those “feelings” of love may be evident at the beginning of a relationship, but what happens after the rush of new love wears off and you get into an argument with that person? Does it mean that you have to work on it (Growth) or does it mean that your love is gone (Fixed)?

What about fitness? If you think intelligence is innate and you “don’t feel comfortable” working out, then that means you are less likely to go to a gym and actually find out what to do. The reason for this is that the Fixed mindset inhibits you to enter into situations where you will be seen as “stupid.” Whereas, if you believe that you may make mistakes at the beginning of learning a new routine and consider those mistakes as a part of the learning process, you have a stronger belief that if you persist in working the program, ask enough questions and stick to it, no matter what, you will almost always succeed (Growth Mindset). You may not hit your goal by a specified time, especially if that time frame is unrealistic, but you will hit your goal. So the question comes down to this:

Can people change from one mindset to another?
The research says, Absolutely. One study done by Carol Dweck helped students learn that the brain acts like a muscle, in the sense that it grows and develops with “exercise” or practice. That like exercise, if they work at learning something, they can make the brain “stronger” or in this case, smarter. By doing so, these students who believed previously that they were either “smart or dumb,” and who because of that belief were some of the worse students, started to work harder, persisted longer on solving problems and improved their grades. Those who weren’t taught that the brain was like a muscle and could be developed, had their grades continue to drop.

This is a lesson that we all should be taught – that with hard work and persistence most of us will see success in any endeavor that we take on. That we have the power to change and that power of change is fuelled by good old hard work. That although there are “naturally gifted individuals,” most success comes from the consistent work put into an effort and not simply relying on talents alone.

At the same time, we should also be taught to learn to accept failure as something natural when first learning something new. It’s not that we are failures or “stupid” because we don’t (and won’t) pick everything up as quickly as others – it’s that we just haven’t “built those muscles” yet.

By learning these lessons, we are learning that we are not destined to be pawns of our past. As Dweck told the students, “nobody laughs at babies and says how dumb they are because they can’t talk.”

There is a myth, that once we reach a certain age, we are limited by “who we are” at that age. Some people think that that age occurs around puberty, others think it’s set in stone at the age of 18. In fact, those that know the body and the mind, know that it is continually being reshaped by our actions NOW.

At every moment, every action and every thought is shaping who you are and who you will become. At any moment, we can decide to start to make those changes in our lives. As such, we have great power to mold both our bodies and our minds past any “biological marker.” A great read on the changes the brain can make as we get older, and how it can overcome incredible odds at any age, is The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge.

With that said, you can get started today on your own journey of “Growth” and allow yourself to no longer be hindered and held back by false beliefs about what you can and can not do.

How to Change Your Mindset
Start today by becoming aware of the beliefs of how you identify yourself. This is achieved in three steps:
1 – Write down the different roles you take on. This can be anything from mother, daughter, whatever your job title is, student (and we’re always students no matter when you graduated), whatever your hobby is, “fitness enthusiast” or “person that doesn’t exercise.”

2 – Figure out whether or not you can see yourself growing in those roles or instead believe that you are “stuck” and there’s nothing you can do about it. In other words, do you believe that you can grow in these roles or that “you are just the way you are?” Do you believe intelligence is innate or something that is achieved through hard work? Do you believe that some people are born with good genetics to lose weight and you weren’t? Do you believe that you either have a good memory or you don’t?

3 – Once you identify those limits, those blocks on allowing yourself to grow, set about changing them. This happens by re-evaluating the beliefs you hold about that particular role. For example, there are a number of beliefs that hold people back from exercising that range from “never seeing results from exercise” to “working out is hard.” In the Free Reports page, I list 25 beliefs along with ways to reframe those beliefs.

So although there are limits to everyone’s ability to change (I may be able to run faster compared to my previous best, but I’m probably not going to beat Usian Bolt in a race…in fact, I know I won’t), that doesn’t mean that we are close to achieving our individual potential. In the end, that’s the only thing that matters – is achieving our individual potential. As Carol Dweck writes in her book Mindset, “Just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training.”

Failure is Not Final
In their book, Switch, Chip and Dan Heath discuss how one company (IDEO) studied the Growth vs Fixed mindset. This is what they share about what IDEO learned from their studying:

“They are creating the expectation of failure. They are telling team members not to trust that initial flush of good feeling at the beginning of the project, because what comes next is hardship and toil and frustration. Yet, strangely enough, when they deliver this warning, it comes across as optimistic.

That’s the paradox of the growth mindset. Although it seems to draw attention to failure, and in fact encourages us to seek out failure, it is unflaggingly optimistic. We will struggle, we will fail, we will be knocked down—but throughout, we’ll get better and we’ll succeed in the end.

The growth mindset, then, is a buffer against defeatism. It reframes failure as a natural part of the change process. And that’s critical, because people will persevere only if they perceive falling down as learning rather than as failing.”

And that my friends is what you must do. This is the most important belief. If you can embrace failure, embrace change and continue to Persevere and “Grow” you will start down the path of success…and in no other way shall you arrive at lasting success. It is not forged by shortcuts, quick fixes or impatience. Lasting success is achieved only by growing, becoming more and doing the work necessary to overcome the adversities that life will inevitably throw at you. Get Started Today!

The Final Word on Making a Change!

Individual and Personal Change is one of the most interesting things that you can delve into. I’ve spent more time looking at why and how people change more so than any other aspect in my entire life.

How do people change? Sometimes it’s good timing and a coincidence that shifts a person’s habit. They move and with that new environement start new actions, which lead to new habits.

Why do people change? Sometimes people change because they’ve thought out an elaborate plan and act on it. Other times, people just start taking new actions. Either way, these questions form the foundation of a number of different topics.

Over the years, despite all I’ve read about the traditional psychological theories on change, is that when it’s all said and done change comes down 11 Major Elements.

Within those 11 Elements are 5 “Right Brain/Emotional” and mainly subconscious aspects which if you can envision a pyramid make the bottom 5 layers or the foundation of the Pyramid. The other 5 Elements are “Left Brain/Logical,” more conscious aspects which encompass the top 5 layers of the pyramid. The 11th Element is your overall neurological/brain functioning.

I’ve dubbed these 11 Elements, the Pyramid of Change. Here’s an extremely crude look at it.

Pyramid of Change

 

Despite it’s crude look, this pyramid basically holds nearly any and all aspects that would come into play if you were to try and make a change.

If you look at change, you can use any and all aspects of this pyramid to create a change.

For example, from the bottom up, you have the most propensity to make a long-lasting change. If you change your beliefs, you have a strong ability to change your conditionings. Change your conditionings and associations and your environment doesn’t keep you trapped and you are more likely to move up the pyramid and change the people you spend your time with. Change your beliefs and associations and you have the ability to start to accept your self. Accept yourself and you may start to actually act on those desires that you’ve had for years but haven’t acted on. By acting on your desires, you start to match your values with your true desires.

By valuing new and “authentic” things about yourself, you start to change your focus. By changing your focus and with a renewed desire, you start to seek out the best information to get you to where you want to go. With that, you decide that no matter what happens you will do what it takes (take a mindset of persistence) and take the requisite actions.

Although, I think changing from the bottom up will leave you with your most authentic self, will leave you striving for those things that are true to your inner-most self, you can also see changes from the top down.

For example, if you start to take new actions, you can effect change and gain momentum, therefore, effecting persistence. With that persistence, you can then move down and seek out the best ways to achieve a goal. With those correct techniques in place, you can then change your focus. Your change in focus affects your attitude about the situation, which then goes on to effect your priorities or what you “Value.” If you change what you “Value” then you inherently change your desires. With a strong enough desire, you can start to add to your Identity. If you change or add to your Identity and what you identify with, you will almost certainly change either the environment that you are in and the people that you seek out and associate with.

Change that and you have the ability to start and change past conditionings and associations. With those changes, you have the ability to expand your thought process and what you believe.

The problem I have with starting from the top down is that you leave too much of it to external and variable factors that may or may not be true to what you actually desire (Knowing what we truly want though is a whole different topic – Cognitive Dissonance anyone?).

With that said, you can also start within any layer of the pyramid. The problem with starting in the middle, and really with most regular “self-help” books is that they ONLY focus on that one aspect. And if that ONE thing is what is hindering you, then you have the ability to see positive changes. If it’s not though, you think that you’re a “failure” for not seeing positive changes, when in fact it’s insufficient data for you to change.

The only other aspect of all this change is how well your brain functions. For example, if you drink a lot of alcohol, then you may have effected how your brain functions.

Another example, and one that might hit more at home for you, is if you have a “sweet tooth” and take acetamiinophen (Tylenol) regularly. The sugar, especially if mixed in with other flavorings can disrupt normal brain functioning, skew your neurotransmitters so you make less dopamine, shift your hormonal functioning and lead to vitamin and mineral deficincies which can causes anxiety and mood disorders. The acetaminophen will reduce your body’s glutathione levels which is your body’s main anti-oxidant and helps to fight against toxins, inflammation and free radicals.

These common foods and medicine will change your brain’s ability to function correctly, may effect your energy levels and ability to deal with stress.

Without a correctly functioning brain, you will be fighting an uphill battle no matter any other action patterns you take on. Therefore a correctly functioning brain effects everything from action and persistence to your beliefs and conditionings.

With that said, the next time you try to take on a change, look at the pyramid and see what steps you need to take. Notice your weak points and start with changing those things first. When you do, you’ll see the ripple effect of that change process and how it effects everything in your life, from top to bottom.

You can read more on the 11 Aspects of any long-term change by going to the following posts. I would suggest you start with your “weak” point and move from there. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below:

1 – Beliefs: What Are Your Beliefs About Exercise? – Part 2
What Are Your Beliefs About Exercise? – Part 1

2 – Conditionings/Associations: How To Change Your Beliefs/Conditionings Towards Exercise

3 – Controlling Your Environment/Changing the way you interact with people: Gaining and Keeping Motivation, part 2 for controlling your environment and Be a Little Different than the “Norm” for understanding what you should be thinking when others have a point of view on the changes you’re making

4 – Identity: How to Decide to Workout

5 – Desire: Rule #1 – Stop Being so Logical

6 – Values: You Must Own It, part 6

7 – Focus in the Moment: Do You Lack Self-Control?

8 – Correct Planning: Having Problems Sticking to a New Habit?

9 – Persistence: One Step at a Time and a video in What are You Going to do when you Fall?

10 – Taking Action: Stop Wondering – Start Understanding

11 – Having a Correctly Functioning Brain*: How to Get Your Energy Levels Right, and The Best Supplements to Take

*I’m currently reading the UltraMind Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman and will have a post up about the “correctly functioning brain” within the next couple of weeks.

Again, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment below.

The 4 Best Non-Cardio “Cardio” Exercises

Last Monday I listed my four favorite Non-Cardio “Cardio” movements and explained why I like them. Here’s the video with those 4 movements.

Exercise #1 – Step-up with Shoulder Press followed with a Reverse Lunge (Video time between 0:00 – 2:25) ~ Complete 10 reps on each leg.

To make this exercise more difficult you would step up onto a bench or have a lot more risers under that step. It was impossible to film it that way as the ceiling is too low where I was filming. 10 Reps on each side.

Exercise #2 – Kettlebell Swing (Video time between 2:27 – 4:00) ~ Complete a minimum of 20 reps

Exercise #3 – Kettlebell Clean with Front Squat (Video time between 4:03 – 5:45) ~ Complete 10 reps

Exercise #4 – Kettlebell Piston Rows (Video time between 5:48 – 7:27) ~ Complete As Many Reps as Possible while maintaining good form.

You can do these exercises in a Circuit Style, meaning one right after the other.

Instead of combining all four, what I like to do is break up the first two and second two exercises on separate days.

A sample program would consist of these after a main movement.

For example:
Day 1 – Combine the first movement (Step up/Shoulder Press/Reverse Lunge) and second movement (KB Swings) for a circuit, completing 3 rounds with 60 seconds rest in between rounds.

Day 2 – Combine the third exercise (KB Clean and Front Squat) and fourth exercise (KB Piston Rows) for a circuit, completing 3 rounds with 60 seconds rest in between rounds.

These won’t be the only exercises you do that day, but they can be used either right after a main movement (think Deadlifts or Squats) or for a finisher for the day.

If you have any questions about any of the exercises, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Tuesday Psych Post ~ Be a Little Different than the “Norm”

The following link will take you to my article on EliteFTS.com titled, Be a Little Different than the Norm.

A Little Different Can be Good

Too often, I hear people saying that working out is so “hard,” and dieting is so “hard.” For me, what’s the alternative? Low energy, feeling like crap, being sick, having health issues ranging from cardiovascular disease to increased risk of cancer to simple insomnia and sleep apnea.

If eating more nutritious foods is the solution, or at least partial solution to all of those disparate issues, than it becomes very “easy” to eat healthy foods and workout consistently. Many people don’t necessarily understand that distinction. That it’s not a sacrifice when you eat healthy and workout, but a privilege. You are in the process of creating something – a healthy vital body. This is one thing in which NO ONE else can do, but you. Your doctor can’t, your children can’t, your friends or family. Only you can create your health and body. Many people waste that privilege thinking it to be “torture.”

The following article discusses the mindset that one should have when creating a body that they can be proud of. Here’s a small excerpt:

It’s in that moment of awareness—of being able to differentiate between what’s important and what isn’t—that separates those who succeed from those who don’t. Many people will pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to keep from feeling insignificant. They’ll drive cars that are out of their price range and pay for bags that could feed a hundred starving kids in Africa for a month, but they won’t take care of the one thing that, if done correctly, will give them the true feeling they’re looking for—their bodies.

They try to gain self-worth through things instead of earning that self-worth through actions and integrity. What they don’t understand is you don’t gain self-worth by having things but by doing meaningful work.

Continue with the rest of the article by clicking on

this link

.

Quick Step #17 – One Step at a Time

Progression and consistency are the two keys to winning with body transformation.
Those two keys are really what will help you with a any other physical goal that you may have also.

When you first start out, you look at someone with a great physique and wonder how they got that way. If it truly is a great physique, I’ll tell you how. They worked at it, step by step, one step at a time.

They most likely didn’t start out counting calories or carbs or protein. Instead, they started by going to the gym.

After going to the gym for a while, they may have started to take a post-workout shake. After that, they started to clean up their diets – except for the weekend. Then they may have started to read food labels on packages.

Further down the road, they decided to stop eating processed food. After that, they found better exercise methods that they know personally work for them. Then they started counting their protein grams per day. Then they started to take the basic supplements, like a multi-vitamin, fish oil and a greens drink, along with their protein shake.

Afterwards, since they’re counting their protein grams, they start to count their carb amounts.

After that, they finally start to figure out how many calories a day they need and base that on their requirements and they experiment to see what works best for them.

After that, they might then start carb cycling. After carb cycling, they try out intermittent fasting.

The bottom line is that at the end of the day, they didn’t jump into all these methods on the first day.

They instead, started where they were and just continued to progress while being consistent with their earlier steps.

This is the way great physiques are built. This is the way for success in any endeavor. Step by step, with progression and consistency.

So when I list my Ultimate Physique Rules, realize that you may not start out with the “best methods” for reaching your ultimate physique – but at least take the next step. If you don’t want to eat only whole, natural foods, then at least cut out sugar 6 days a week. Just that step alone will be a first great step and will start to lead you closer to your goal.

If you’re not going to count calories, don’t – but at least figure out how much protein you’re consuming per day and try to hit that amount.

If you’re not going to strength train at least 3-4 days per week, I only have one piece of advice – Start! It doesn’t have to be perfect, but take the first step in working out with weights.

As I said in the first sentence, the key to body transformation is progression and consistency. Continually progress and over time, you will be well on your way to a complete body transformation.

Get Started Now!