Change Only 1 Habit and Lose Weight
Twice per year, my team of coaches and I take on groups of male and female coaching clients. From training, to nutrition, to supplementation - it's all covered - as our clients go through a complete, life-changing body transformation. And, at the end of it all, $250,000 in prize money is awarded to the clients who achieve the very best results.
As we've been running this program for 6 years now, and coached over 20,000 people, we've learned a lot of important lessons about how real, life-long body transformations are actually achieved. Sure, some of the lessons are pretty straight-forward. However, several of them are surprising and counterintuitive.
So, as you go through this article, keep an open mind. Read each lesson all the way through, and ask yourself honestly: "how many of these am I actually doing?" If you really want to transform your body, then at the end, I suggest you pick one lesson and start using it right away.
1. Measure What You Want to Improve.
We keep data on everything clients want to improve. Want to lose weight? Step on the scale. Want to be more precise and lose fat? Get out the calipers (device to measure body fat percentage) and measure body fat. Want to fit into your skinny clothes? Try them on once in a while. Want to feel better? Then every few weeks, actually ask yourself how you're feeling, write it down, and review it every few months. Basic stuff, right? Not so fast.
I work with professional athletes and teams, I consult with major gym chains on their personal training practices, I work one-on-one with clients from all walks of life from all over the world. And believe me: practically no one does this.
In fact, sometimes I feel like myself and my coaches are the only ones who really do this stuff in a purposeful way, and the reason is because it works. There's an old saying you'd be wise to follow: "What gets measured gets done."
2. Take Photos.
Admit it: you care -- at least a little, and maybe a lot -- about how you look. And that's okay! In fact, it's healthy and normal. Who doesn't want to look great?
So, for the same reason you'd measure weight loss if you want to lose weight, take photos if you want to look better. In our coaching program, it's built into the experience; every few weeks, you step in front of the camera and snap a few photos.
Of course, you should understand that it's also normal to be a little uneasy about taking photos of yourself at first. Just know that it's a very important step toward self-awareness, without which you simply cannot change. It's also the best way to document your hard work, and possibly the most motivating thing you will ever do for yourself.
Not sure how to take your "Before" and "After" and progress photos? Check this article.
3. Do Something Every Day.
One of my colleagues once put it best: "if something is important, do it every day; if it's not important, don't do it at all". Bingo.
Change happens only when you slowly tear down old habits and build new ones in their place. That has to be daily, in my experience. In fact, that's one of the reasons exercise alone doesn't work -- doing something 3 or 4 times a week isn't enough to build a new habit. That's also why personal training isn't very effective (unless it combines nutrition and daily habit building.)
So I recommend doing something every day. Exercise, read a lesson, practice a habit, get together with fit friends, etc. Truly, if you want to get in the best shape of your life, be sure you practice daily engagement.
4. Make It Easy.
To do something every day, you have to make that "something" easy enough that you're 100 percent confident you could do it every day for 30 days. That often means scaling your ambitious plans way back.
Unfortunately, most people bite off way more than they can chew. They commit to working out an hour a day, eating four healthy meals, cutting out chocolate, running a marathon, cooking more, waking up earlier -- nothing less than a complete overhaul of their lives. All or nothing. However, this strategy rarely works.
What does work is choosing smaller daily tasks and building on them over time. Maybe it's one healthy meal this month and two next month. Maybe it's a 10-minute walk this month and a 20-minute walk next month.
Now, I already know what you're thinking: "Don't be ridiculous, that's not going to do anything." Well, that's just your ego talking. People don't want to look foolish or admit that something so easy might be all they can muster right now. And all I can say is: stop that. That kind of thinking keeps people stuck exactly where they are.
Truly, I despise "all or nothing" thinking. Instead, at Precision Nutrition we have our clients commit to "always something" -- no matter how small at first. Because that's the only way people get into awesome shape and stay that way for life.
5. Practice Only One Habit at a Time.
We have our clients work on just ONE habit at a time. Often they find this frustrating at first, because they expect to be able to do everything, right away. But that's just ego-driven impatience, and unfortunately change doesn't work that way.
Numerous studies show that people are typically quite successful when they limit their change to one behavior at a time, for say 3-4 weeks before introducing a new one. BUT: introduce even 2 new behaviors at once, and the failure rate is nearly 100 percent.
Put your ego aside, and change your expectation: people can only change one behavior at a time. So pick one -- anything positive will do -- and give yourself permission to leave everything else in your life as-is, at least for now.
There will be plenty of time for the rest, trust me. People overestimate how hard change will be, and underestimate how long it will take. Stick to one habit at a time, and you'll get there.
6. No "Wondering & Worrying" Questions.
Ah, another tough lesson to learn. Change is an uncomfortable process, always.
You leave what you know (your habits, your lifestyle, your environment) and by trying something new, you take a tentative step into an unknown and uncertain place. So, the first thing clients do is try to resolve that tension — they try to make it "certain" again — by asking all kinds of frenzied questions and working themselves into a panic:
- "What about this supplement, or that?"
- "What about when (unforeseeable future event) happens -- what do I do then?"
- "What about (rare, irrelevant and highly unlikely situation) -- what do I do then?"
- "What do you think about this theory / guru / article I read / study that was published?"
We call these "wondering & worrying" questions, and in our coaching program, we have a strict ban on them, because although they're well-intentioned, they don't reduce anxiety at all.
In fact, they do the exact opposite, whipping people into a froth of nail-biting and distracting them from the only two questions that matter: What should I do today? How do I do that? Those are the only two kinds of questions that lead to calm, focused action. They're all we allow our clients to ask, and they're all you should be asking too.
So next time you find yourself asking a question about fitness, take a second and think, "Am I focused on what to do right now? Or is this just wondering and worrying?"
7. Get a Little Help from Your Friends.
I call this "social support" -- and it makes all the difference in the world. Who you have in your social circle -- and what they do, and how they think -- will have an almost magnetic pull on who you are.
In fact, there is interesting research showing that obesity spreads almost like a virus. The people in your life will forever be pulling you, even unconsciously, toward being just like them. As another of my colleagues likes to say, "You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with."
That's why we coach people in groups, with a social component to it: you can interact daily with people who are just like you, chasing the same goals as you. No matter where you are in the world, no matter where you're starting from, you will find people in the group just like you who understand where you're coming from.
That reassurance, and even the mere realization that you aren't alone in this, exerts a new sort of magnetic pull -- this time, though, the pull is toward the life you want and not the one you're leaving behind.
So, take the opportunity to join groups or befriend new people who are doing what you want to do: maybe yoga or spin class, a friendly team sport league, even reconnect with a fit friend you maybe haven't talked to in a while. Anything.
Because if you don't do this, beware of the subtle but powerful pull that may take you back to where you were when you started.
8. Be Accountable to Someone.
As much as you need to be picked up when you're down, as much as you need to be helped and supported from time to time, as much as you need some positivity in your life... you also need someone to kick your butt back into gear when you're slacking - someone to help you snap out of the simple laziness that we all fall into from time to time.
That's why I always recommend a coach whose job it is to stay on top of you as much as it is to support you. If you miss a day, okay, fine; miss two, and you need someone letting you know that's not acceptable.
Well, there you have it, those were eight lessons you can use right now to change your body, and ultimately your life -- courtesy of my coaching clients and what I've learned coaching hundreds of people over the last few years.
Pick one, and put it to use today, because that's what it really takes to change.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
If you’d like to learn more about losing fat, improving your health, and feeling better, here's something you need to see.
I’ve created two free 5-day video courses that show you how to get control of your eating and your health. To get started, simply click one of the links below:
In these free courses you'll discover:
- The 5 things you need to know about nutrition.
- Exactly what foods to eat to lose fat — at every meal.
- The best way to exercise to lose fat.
- Exactly how much time you need to exercise.
- How to make delicious meals with a few simple ingredients.
- Why you don’t need supplements to lose fat.
- Which four supplements work the best, if you choose to use them.
- The one thing that separates those who lose fat and those who fail every time.
Until next time,
- John Berardi
Dr John Berardi is the director of the world’s largest body transformation project. In the last 5 years, his team has helped over 20,000 clients lose more than 300,000 pounds of body fat. (That’s more total weight loss than all seasons of the Biggest Loser combined). For more on his one-of-a-kind program – Lean Eating Coaching – click here.