By Sam Yang - Get similar updates here
Through The Power Of Habit
I had a client named Ted. When he came in he told me he was out of shape and overweight because he's a gamer. I told him the reason he'll succeed IS because he's a gamer.
That may sound like a strange thing to say but, gamers are used to completing simple tasks which may or may not always be rewarded and you won't know until the end of the game what it all amounted to. They understand it's part of the game. Though the sedentary lifestyle of gaming left Ted unhealthy, it's the mental aspects gaming taught him that'll make him successful... if applied correctly.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
– Jim Rohn
Many people think of weight and fat loss as a race. This is completely inaccurate and is part of the reason so many fail. It's a game of strategy. If you can go backwards and forwards, gain or lose, and it's progressive, it's strategy based. It's like chess and if you rush a game of chess, you lose. You're not looking for speed, you're looking for efficiency and to use the chess analogy; an efficient game of chess can last hours or days.
Dramatic weight loss and doing it quickly by making a few big changes, that's sexy. A before and after in 2 weeks or 30 days is glamorous and exciting. A few pounds consistently every month, that's boring but damn difficult. Think of it like football, throwing only Hail Mary passes may get you some first downs, but will eventually lose you the game. Even if it's inches, go forward and try not to go backwards, that's the name of the game.
I had Ted promise me to do nothing dramatic, nothing drastic, just slow, tedious, and boring. This wasn't difficult as Ted is pretty mild mannered (so are most billionaires).
Our mantra was, "Don't try to be sexy Ted!"
|Kardashians sued for bogus diet pills.|
Whereas the rest of fitness was all about being sexy, all about shortcuts and cheats. A true gamer does not cheat. Ted looked down on cheaters. Perfect. Let's do it better than the rest of fitness. Besides if they worked, you wouldn't be here right now.
No cheats right Ted?
Cheats make for a crummy gamer and lack of good quality habits make for unsustainable results. It's also very expensive, constantly going from fitness gimmick to gimmick.
- Weight - 245lbs
- Body fat - 37%
- Skeletal muscle - 27%
- Could not hold a plank.
- Toe touch attempt - 20 inches away from toes.
- His shoulders, ankles, and hip lacked any mobility from his sedentary life.
- Airdyne bike test - .88 miles in 5 minutes.
- Wall squat - 30 seconds.
11 months later:
- Weight - 185lbs
- Body fat - 22%
- Muscle - 39%
- 2 minute plank.
- Toe touch attempt - 5 inches away from toes.
- Improvements to his shoulders, ankles, and hips - He can now box jump and kettlebell swing.
- Airdyne Bike Test - 2 miles in 5 minutes.
- Wall squat - 3 minutes.
How did we do it?
It was just an accumulation of habits. A new habit given out every two weeks. Small things that may not always have big pay offs but we're talking about inches and if it's that small, it's very likely to become permanent. We always want a checklist of one thing, when it gets integrated and there's no more things on the checklist, then we add another. Too often people start off with a health checklist of a hundred items. Recipe for failure. We want people to get used to succeeding not failing.
You can't change unless you become self aware. Many make unhealthy choices like an automaton. You can't out exercise and out diet poor choices.
- Habit - We took all the measurements. Every thirty days we would take measurements again, no excuses. Measuring would be a habit. Don't avoid measuring but don't do it daily. Every thirty days, release it from it's mental pedestal and do it routinely until it just becomes a boring habit. Much like brushing your teeth, another monotonous habit we do daily. It's better to be boring than stressed out. Make it less about obsession and more about data collecting.
- Habit - Don't commit to more workouts than you can handle. Don't focus on the amount of workouts. Focus on the change. When you value the workouts themselves, it puts change as second in priority. Sometimes the little talks we have can create more change than a vomit inducing workout. And a vomit inducing workout would be also hard to replicate at home. If you can't do it at home on your own, then it can't be a habit.
- Habit - Take a picture of everything you eat for two weeks. Even if it's coffee or one peanut. Don't make any dietary changes. Just take pictures prior to eating without judgment. We're creating the habit of mindfulness and pit stopping prior to eating. Later on when we need to make better eating choices, this pit stop will be invaluable. If you just start eating without thought, which many people do, then you'll never be able to apply everything you know because you won't ever have a chance to apply it.
- Habit - For two weeks pay attention to the triggers that create cravings. What sets you off? Lack of sleep? Skipping breakfast? Stress? Peer pressure? Carbs?
- Habit - Twenty minutes of sunshine a day. Be outside, doesn't matter if you're walking. Improve vitamin D, but also improve mood, eyesight, and get rid of the feeling of claustrophobia. Step out of the indoor cocoon for twenty minutes a day.
- Habit - Track sleep for two weeks. Proper sleep is key to good health. There are several trackers like the Sleep Cycle app or The Fitbit. Once you know what your sleep is like, you can do things to try to improve it.
- Habit - Foam roll every day for 2-3 minutes. Make your body supple, the more supple your body is the more pleasant movement is. The more pleasant movement is, the more likely you'll move.
- Habit - Walk around your neighborhood twice a week. Uphills preferably.
- Habit - Drink more water and start adding lemon slices to water.
- Habit - Take colder showers. Same principle as lemon and drinking water. We're trying to lower inflammation.
- Habit - Eat slower, fifteen minutes or longer. Pick foods that take longer to chew. By this time Ted was already creating his own habits as well, momentum has been created. It's a lot easier if he assigns it himself. If I keep assigning it, it starts to feel like work. If he naturally does it, it becomes... well you know, habit.
- Habit - Eat within a twelve hour window. Start and finish all your eating within twelve hours.
- Habit - Don't eat until you're full. Like the twelve hour window, give yourself room and time to digest.
- Habit - Eat a small breakfast daily.
- Habit - Eat a small dinner. Make lunch the biggest meal.
- Habit - Make breakfast protein and healthy fats heavy.
- Habit - Take a fish oil supplement. Lowering inflammation once again.
- Habit - Workout twice a week on your own.
- Habit - Get a physical or get bloodwork done. Always be on top of your health and make it a habit. Do it every six months, if not at least once a year.
- Habit - Check tolerance for certain foods for thirty days. See what foods are on your no no list, occasional list, and can eat guilt free list. This gives you a lot of mental room. Cheating makes people feel guilty, knowing there are certain foods you enjoy you can eat occasionally or whenever because you have no reaction to it is very freeing. Reaction meaning stomach ache, feeling sluggish, nausea, acne, poor sleep, constipation, weight gain, etc.
Skynet is now online
The Terminator: The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.
Sarah Connor: Skynet fights back.
– Terminator 2: Judgement Day
My job is to really get my clients to stop doing things to make themselves unhealthy. Taught enough habits, Ted was fighting off temptations on his own. My goal isn't to train clients forever, just long enough until they're self-aware.
Martial artists aren't dedicated because training is always fun, often times it's boring. They also aren't looking to buy or shortcut their way to a black belt. They do it because it's a habit.
By this time Ted was already reading labels on his own, buying organic, grassfed, or pasture raised foods, and he began cooking. I didn't really need to give him any more habits as he was now self assigning habits, he was fully sentient (like Skynet!) and only needed occasional guidance.
He's now a full-time student and he's managing fine on his own and last time we spoke (literally yesterday) he was down to 19% body fat and lost even more weight.
Do you want sexy and exciting or do you want effective and lasting? Try going the boring path of weight loss. It'll pay big dividends.
Boring investors are rich investors. Gamblers end up broke, but they get all the attention when they win (and we never hear about the time they finally do end up broke). That's pretty similar to fitness, we hear about the one in a million stories but don't hear about when they gained all the weight back. How many friends do you know who post online about the quick weight loss they've had? After a while though they seem the same size if not bigger. Do they ever tell you about the time they gained it back or gained it back plus interest?
Boring is the new sexy
|Steve Jobs. Literally same shirt and pants his whole life.|
Boring people who write everything down, create systems, are organized, love numbers, have routines, create daily habits and practice them. They change the world!
Or you can go back to this...
Sam Yang from an early age has been obsessed with connecting the dots between martial arts and efficiency, health, mindset, business, science, and habits to improve optimal well-being. For more info, join his newsletter. You can also connect to All Out Effort on Facebook and Twitter.