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August 11, 2014

6 Ways to Achieve Real, Lasting Results: “To-Do’s” vs. “How-To’s”

I’ve noticed something over the last few years in the fitness and nutrition industry–we are all constantly collecting more and more and mooooore “to-do’s.”

We ask our friends, “Did you hear about that oil swishing thing??” or we ask our personal trainer, “I should be doing more yoga, right?” or we ask our friend who’s into nutrition, “Do you recommend apple cider vinegar? Or, lemon water? How much and how many times a day?” or “What hundred supplements should I be taking?” or “What’s the best thing to have for breakfast? Or should I try intermittent fasting?” or “How many grams of fat should I get every day and what sources are best? Coconut? Avocado? Olive oil?” and “Did you see those raspberry ketone thingys on Dr. Oz. Should I try those?” AAAAAAH, WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING???

I don’t know about you, but man, I AM OVERWHELMED with the number of to-do’s! So much so that if I were to believe every little piece of media coverage or every single expert out there, I WOULD BE PARALYZED WITH INFORMATION.

And, dare I say that some of us are? Paralyzed with information?

So really … I don’t blame you that you have trouble staying on any regimen for any amount of time. I don’t blame you that you are getting a new meal plan every 12 weeks from a new guru. I don’t blame you that you’ve read every single new diet book that comes out. And I don’t blame you that you are still not getting results.

How could you, when you are trying to cram A THOUSAND THINGS YOU SHOULD BE DOING into your brain?

These are To-Do’s. And I think we have plenty of them! ;)

I think the misconception here is that we think getting a lean physique is about having all the right information. We are constantly searching for more info, because what if there’s something better out there and we just don’t know about it yet? Or what if we have the wrong information? We feel like there’s a chance we could gain 50 lbs if we end up doing “the wrong thing.” Or what if there’s a better way??

Guess what? There actually probably *is* a better way, buuuuuuuut that really does. not. matter. when we can’t effectively implement anything we learn because we have no sustainable How-To’s.

To-Do’s mean nothing without How-To’s. We can have the best, most effective fat loss meal plan on earth but if we can’t do it, it doesn’t matter.

And remember, your ability to actually do a program consistently doesn’t have much to do with your intentions or your desire to get lean or whether or not you are “strict enough.” It has everything to do with the AMOUNT OF THINGS you are trying to implement at once, and what strategies you are using.

Implementation strategies are How-To’s and we don’t spend enough time working them. Besides, the people who get lean and sustainably stay there are those who are the most consistent with the FEW THINGS that matter the most.

How-To’s are how we IMPLEMENT consistently with the things that matter:

1) Be discerning with your focus and prioritize the FEW things that move the dial.

Remember, not all nutritional decisions carry the same weight in terms of outcomes. In other words, going to the gym every day vs. swishing with coconut oil don’t have the same IMPACT. You are far, faaaaaar better off hitting the gym most days.

I will tell you, the women who are living a healthy, fat loss lifestyle are not trying to cut corners using the latest and greatest fads and trends. They are instead doing the basics, consistently. They take their finite focus and put it on the actions that move the dial the most: protein at every meal, veggies throughout the day, getting to the gym most days, prioritizing sleep and managing their stress. They are not using up their brain power trying to remember the million supplements they have to take or stressing about how much sodium are in eggs. They are not worried about whether to buy oat bran or oatmeal. They are simply taking care of the big rocks consistently.

For me, I focus on only doing my 3 Daily Nutritional Commitments, every day. They take care of 80% of my eating strategy for the day and leave me feeling more satisfied so that I can’t get into too much trouble with that last 20%.

2) Spend your mental energy on the big rocks & stop sweating the small stuff.

Last week, I was in the NC mountains at a spa resort enjoying a mini-vaca, and I was sitting out at the pool next to a couple of women who were involved in a multi-level marketing company that sells protein powder and other supplements. They asked me what I did for a living and then went on to pitch me to sign on with their company to sell these supplements. I politely declined, but they asked if I was familiar with their brand and what did I think? I said I was familiar and had even used the products before, and that I felt the greatest values of their protein powder was the autoship feature so people were able to save time and have an convenient option for meals, and that the protein tasted good and mixed well, so people would be more likely to use it. Did I think it had special magical properties that made it that much better than other proteins? No. Still, they went on to try and convince me that because THE COWS that gave the MILK that created the WHEY came from this specific spot in Australia and New Zealand that somehow the protein was superior. Okay great, but still, DOES THE AVERAGE PERSON GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THIS? Or more importantly, does this specific feature or selling point make enough of a difference that it’s a dial mover for most people? I don’t think so. This stuff is small rocks.

Even organic versus not. Some things being organic makes a difference like berries, coffee, etc but MOST things will not. I would recommend someone eat conventional broccoli every day over an organic cookie.

Look at everything you are trying to implement with a discerning eye. Which things are big-movers and which are honestly not all that impactful?

3) Take the long view: how-to’s have to do with perspective.

Perspective is that thing that we kind of hate because it makes the process less sexy, slower and it sometimes feels like it’s letting us off the hook. Perspective is the ability to take the long view and understand that body transformation and building new nutritional habits does not happen overnight. Perspective is throwing yourself a bone and quitting the all-or-nothing dieting approach. Perspective is giving yourself the benefit of the doubt and trusting that you are doing your best, no matter what. Perspective is realizing that you are human and not Superwoman. And no one is doing everything perfectly. And the longer you hold yourself to some crazy ideal of what you *should* be, the longer you will continue to struggle.

Ironically, perspective is the difference between someone who is constantly struggling and searching and flailing, and someone who simply lives a healthy lifestyle consistently and effortlessly. People who take the long view are in it for the long haul. It’s that simple.

4) Charge your willpower batteries.

For many years, my worth revolved around being able to go, go, go and be the hardest working person on earth (or at least in my circle). I LOVED when I got pity: “Oh, poor Jill! She works constantly! She’s at the gym AT FIVE AM! And doesn’t leave until 9pm!” <–I lived for this! It was how I felt valuable and productive. Unfortunately, I was running on fumes and operated with a victim mindset 100% of the time. I thrived on it! Misery was my best friend.

But around 2007, Jade was listening to ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ by Tim Ferriss on a road trip, so I listened too, and it was like a lightbulb went off. All at once I realized I was miserable, I was ineffective, unproductive and frankly all I had to show for it was being broke and tired. So I started slowly implementing changes to my schedule and started grad school so I forced myself to open up my schedule a bit for studying and recharge time and a year later when I read ‘The Power of Full Engagement’ by Tony Schwart, I started actually prioritizing downtime and battery recharge time, instead of seeing it as “weak” and “a waste.” In fact, the more “me time” and downtime I started taking, the more focused I was when I came back to my work. The less volume of exercise I did, the more intense my workouts were when I did them. I was recharging my physical, mental and emotional batteries through relaxation! It was scary and uncomfortable at first–but once I started seeing how much more effective I was and how much more focused I was as a result, it became an easy switch.

Now, I try for a 2:1 work to rest ratio. I schedule 2-3 “block times” in my day for hardcore focused work, and the rest of the time I read, leisure walk, sit out in the sun, work out, write for fun, eat huge salads, etc :) Even start with 20 minutes each day and see how you do!

It’s possible to achieve MORE by doing LESS.

5) Stop looking for new shit.


If I asked you to take out a piece of paper and write down what you think an ideal healthy/fat loss menu looks like, could you do it? Of course you could. You already know what you should be eating. Fat loss nutrition is not rocket science. It’s simple. Writing a meal plan is not a skill. It’s easy. And anyone who tells you that have “the best meal plan” is an egomaniac, because honestly, there’s nothing magic about chicken and broccoli. So stop buying new meal plans. Stop trying to follow every nutrition rule on earth. Stop accumulating to-do’s. Stop reading more blogs (ha!) and looking for newer, better information. There is none. There are nuances. There are details. There are different approaches that work better or worse for different people. BUT 90% OF THE STUFF OUT THERE WORKS FOR 90% OF PEOPLE. So you can waste time trying to tease out that last 10% to the detriment of your consistent implementation, or you can do what you know.

Just you’ve heard something before doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Resist the urge to throw something out because it’s “nothing new.” The old stuff works just fine if you do it.

6) Don’t try to fit yourself into a box.

No one can possibly know you as well as you know yourself. So really, the answer is not “out there” with some coach or expert or guru or book or program. The answer to what will work for you is found BY YOU through doing the work to figure that out.

Start with balancing your HEC. HEC stands for hunger, energy and cravings. This is a game-changing tool from Metabolic Effect that helps us assess our biofeedback. It’s simple: you eat something, and then watch later in the day how your HEC responds. Are you more hungry or less? Have more cravings or less? Is energy balanced or not? This is where doing the dirty work takes place. You have to figure out what foods work best for you, and which ones don’t. In other words, which foods balance HEC (so that you will naturally feel more satisfied and satiated) and which ones do not.

I’ll give you an example: nuts. Some people do great on nuts. They have a handful and it tides them over for a few hours and they feel great. For other people, a handful of nuts turns into a thousand handfuls! Your job is to figure out which person you are … with every food! :)

Realize that this is where the meat of finding your fat loss formula happens. And it’s not an easy fix, but it’s a long-term one. People who implement “how-to’s” consistently work to understand their own body. They tune out all the noise and look, feel and listen inward. This is about knowing you. Understanding your metabolism, your personal preferences (what’s your schedule like? Are you killing yourself to eat 6 times a day? Then stop it and figure out another, more sustainable approach) and psychological sensitivities (if you don’t like eating breakfast, then don’t! Figure out another way).

People who live a sustainably lean lifestyle don’t obsess over the details. The home in on the things that make the biggest difference, and they do that handful of things every day. Leanness is not about having “the best information,” its about implementing consistently with a couple things that move the dial.

I’d love to hear where you’re at with this! Are you scrambling to do every little thing perfectly, or do you get discerning with your effort and let the rest go? Drop me a comment on the JillFit Facebook page! Ox, Jill

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