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Enemies of Consistency: Overwhelm – How to Start Off on the Right Foot

One of the biggest culprits of causing overwhelm is simply starting from the wrong place, and assuming you are better at things than you are (which is a very common human condition by the way – it’s not just you). This leads to taking on more than you’re actually capable of changing in a long-term way.

Most diets and quick fixes focus on higher level strategies, while ignoring the underlying fundamentals that help create sustainable change (I’m thinking of things like carb or calorie cycling, or even individualizing macros).

When I’m working with clients I try to cut through the noise and simplify it right away. I do this by exploring their existing skills and habits with them, and putting their goals in the context of those skills.

It’s sort of like triage. I’m essentially checking their skills and goals against three different “levels” of complexity.

As I’m working through this process I follow a pretty basic rule: don’t level someone up until the fundamentals are consistent.

Big Hint #1: almost everyone, even serious amateur athletes, are a level 1 (myself included).

Here are some (not all) level 1 criteria I work through with clients. Feel free to use it for yourself. Do you struggle with:

– Food choices like eating too many processed foods, drinking too much alcohol or sugar-sweetened drinks, or not eating enough nutritious whole foods?
– Eating behaviors like eating too quickly while distracted, recognizing your hunger cues, or using food to manage your feelings?
– Exercise and activity, such as getting in enough regular exercise, or the flip-side, overtraining?
– Recovery, such as getting enough sleep, and incorporating recovery activities like yoga and massage?
– Life skills like basic food prep skills, shopping and reading labels, or avoiding impulse choices due to being “too busy” or “too rushed”?
– Mindset and psychology issues such as all-or-nothing thinking, a fixed mindset, or busyness and stress?
– Environment issues such as an environment that requires too much “willpower” and mental strength to stay on track, or an unsupportive social network (family, friends, coworkers, etc.)?

Those are all level 1 problems (and that’s just some of them). If you’re checking all the boxes here and are at least 75-80% consistent, then you may be ready to jump up a level, but even that may be temporary.

The complexity, extra work, and physical demands of higher levels often make it a shorter-term strategy geared around a specific event or competition.

In really general terms, I break it down like this:

Level 1: General health, wellness, and performance. The fundamentals that really drive health and wellbeing.
Level 2: High level recreational and amateur athletes who want to improve body composition and athletic performance beyond what level 1 approaches can do.
Level 3: Elite/professional athletes and physique competitors who really need to alter body composition in specific, and seasonal ways.

Like I said, 95% of people are level 1 and will be fine just staying there.

Big hint #2 – if you have at some point felt overwhelmed by the changes you’re trying to make, you’re probably trying to do too much, too soon. You’re reaching past where you’re at, and need to get back to the basics.

It’s not flashy. Starting small and moving slowly can even feel a bit boring at times, but…

The fundamentals drive the results and give you a place to fall back to when life gets crazy.

Admittedly “fundamentals” have never been a super sexy thing which is why they don’t get talked about much. No one likes practicing simple, practical skills. But I’ll tell you what, even NBA all-stars started out doing simple drills. They didn’t get there overnight…it took them years!

So here’s the deal (and the challenge). Take a solid 30-60 minutes and critically evaluate where you’re at. Level this up by bringing in a trusted friend or spouse who truly knows you well. What level are you at? What areas do you struggle with most?

Then, take a good look at what may be your biggest limiters may be and work towards finding a small, behavioral solution that you can start with and grow as you go.

Example: taking at least 20 minutes to eat slowly, and mindfully at one meal each day (so you can dial into your hunger cues and adjust your total caloric intake).

You can then work that up to two meals or more as you feel more confident and competent.

If you do this, I’d love to hear how you shake out in the comments below!

Interested in Learning More About Our Coaching?

We’ve got two great options for you. You can either jump right in with a free, 30-60 minute consultation, or try us out for two weeks at no cost (or obligation) to you. Either option is a great way to dive in, learn more, and see if our coaching is a good fit for you.

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Addition by Subtraction – My Year of Saying No

NO. Such a simple word, really. Just two letters long, yet it has been such a difficult word to master.

N. O.

Why is that so hard to say sometimes?

Some days I look at my two year old niece and am just astonished by how quickly she learned the word no. It’s incredible, really. She’s good at it – uses it without hesitation.


It’s simplicity is beautiful. She’s not trying to please anyone. She’s just stating how she feels and what she wants in that moment. Is it lacking a little tact? Yes, but that’s to be expected of a 2 year old.

No is a powerful word, capable of shaping the very direction of your life, yet saying no can be such a chore. It comes loaded with a certain amount of fear that no two letter word should possess – fears of offending or disappointing others, of missing an opportunity, or of being improperly judged as being selfish or self-centered.

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Supertip #1: How to Nail Your Daily Hydration

Proper, consistent hydration is crucial to successful weight loss and performing at your best. Today’s video covers a quick tip to help you make sure you nail it on the daily. For those of you who would rather read, here is the run down:

1) Grab your go-to water bottle. Anything works. Carry it with you as often as possible. This helps remove any hurdles, both mental and physical that may be holding you back.

2) Measure. If you don’t already know how much it holds, measure it using a pyrex container or anything else that is graduated in ounces.

3) Do some math. Take your daily intake goal (lets say it’s 80 ounces) and divide your the volume of your container into that amount (let’s assume 20 ounces for a result of 4).

4) Grab some rubber bands (4 in this example) and stick them at the bottom of the bottle. Whenever you finish a bottle, move a band up to indicate your progress. These rubber bands will serve both as a visual and physical reminder of your progress throughout the day.

5) Establish a time each day to check in on progress. I usually do this around midday and try to be half way to my goal. If I’m not, I take action right away to get back on track. Don’t wait to take action.

Need help figuring out how much you should be drinking on a daily basis?

Rules of thumb are okay, but to really dial it in to your body type, activity level and environment, reach out to us and we can assist you in setting the right goals for your hydration.

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Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

The Thanks Giving Habit


As the holiday season kicks off with Thanksgiving tomorrow, many of our lives are about to get a whole lot crazier as we juggle all sorts of obligations and traveling. 2015 will be here before we know it! In the midst of the coming whirlwind of activity, I encourage you to try out the habit of pausing throughout the day. It will change you if you let it.

Tomorrow, when you wake up, pause for a few moments. Push away any negative thoughts, worries or checklists for just a minute or two and really ask yourself what you’re thankful for. What makes your life awesome? Write it down.

Later, as you are about to tackle your big Thanksgiving meal(s), pause. Tune in to how your body feels. Slow down and thoroughly enjoy what you are eating. Pay attention to how full you are feeling. I bet you you’ll eat less if you really take time to savor all the incredible dishes in front of you.

As you get ready to drift off to sleep, pause one more time. Reflect on the day and all the good that it held. Cherish these memories. They are precious.

Why pause? When life gets hectic, it provides just enough time to bring yourself back into the moment and reframe what is in front of you. It can be so easy to get caught up in a to-do list, what lies in the future or on a string of worries. When you’re on autopilot like this your entire perspective can shift without much conscious thought.

In fact, I found myself in just this situation this morning when my body decided it was time to be awake well before my alarm. Before I knew it my brain took off like a rocket on a multitude of thoughts about the day and the future. I caught myself in a very negative frame of mind before I put my boots on the ground. No good!

Thankfully, in situations like this you can fight back and improve the quality of your thoughts and, in turn your quality of living. All you need to get started is to pause and be grateful. Reframe yourself in the moment and get back to the day in a much more positive light. It can be hard to make the shift at times, but stick it out. There is so much good in this life if you take the time to look for it.

So friends, with that, I want to start off the holiday season here by saying that I am so very thankful for who you are, imperfections and all. You make the world a better place by being here and giving your best to this one precious life you have. I have learned and grown so much from getting to know you. Thank you!

If you care to read more about adopting the habit of gratitude, I encourage you to check out these two excellent articles from Leo Babauta at Zenhabits.

The Thinking Habit That Changed My Life

Why Living a Life of Gratitude Can Make You Happy

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Bust a Move or Busted Movement: Why You Should Treat Movement as a Skill

Hey! Coach Shawn here. I’ve been meaning to have a serious talk with you. Lately you’ve been missing a lot of practices (I mean A LOT). That’s no good. I mean how do you expect to perform well without practicing? Seriously? I mean, yes, you’re talented and all, but you’re going to make a lot of mistakes if you keep this up…You’ve got a lot of work to catch up on.

What on earth am I talking about?

Practicing and developing good movement patterns, of course. It’s important stuff! Moving well is a skill, that when incorporated into your daily routine can make you feel better, increase athletic performance and help you to avoid a whole truck load of injuries. Unfortunately thinking about and bettering how you move often falls pretty low on the priority list, if it’s even there to begin with.

Lost in the Shuffle

For the vast majority of us, our day begins simply. The alarm goes off. Maybe you hit snooze. Maybe you don’t. Eventually you roll those good ol’ legs of yours to the edge of the bed, plant your feet on the ground and get on with waking up and getting ready for the day. From here, the routine varies from person to person but generally includes things like general hygiene, getting dressed, eating breakfast, taking care of the kids. Maybe you squeeze in a workout before heading out the door, maybe not. After than most of us are off to work, where, unfortunately, a good majority spend eight or more hours sitting down.

What I’m getting at is this: it’s easy to get caught up in the shuffle of life and all its lovely details. What gets lost in this hustle and bustle, though, is a legitimate awareness of the fact that our body is highly adaptable and will adjust to the movements and postures we adopt most.

Think about it. In all honesty how much do you really stop to consider your posture, how your muscles feel, and how you are moving throughout the day?

For many, the results of less daily movement and sitting so much are frightening: lack of ankle mobility (both dorsiflexion and plantar-flexion), weak hips, poor hip flexion and extension, knee problems, back problems, shoulder problems – you name it. A lot of problems can be tracked back to how we have allowed our muscles to adapt, oftentimes beginning all the way back to about first grade when we started sitting a whole lot more.

Continue reading “Bust a Move or Busted Movement: Why You Should Treat Movement as a Skill”

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Guilt is a Terrible Thing

Overcoming Guilt and Becoming Awesome

Overcoming Guilt and Becoming Awesome

Guilt Painted on Trashcans

Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation with a friend and caught yourself thinking “man, I really should do that” when the topic shifts to something that is typically guilt-inducing like putting money in your retirement accounts or eating better? Think back to one of those moments with me for a second and tell me this: did you actually end up doing anything with that thought? Did your behavior in that area actually change?

Let’s be Real. Guilt Stinks, Period.

I don’t know about you, but for me, feelings of guilt can become serious mental roadblocks if allowed. Typically I’ll come to that “I really should do X, Y or Z” moment, feel terrible for a second, but then I’ll move on to the next thing. Classical avoidance (ugh – anyone else feel guilty just thinking about it?). I really should take that moment to make a small plan for some behavior change, BUT I hardly ever do…

Sadly, it’s something many of us struggle with.

Here is what is really bad about guilt: you think that it would motivate change. It doesn’t. It inhibits it. It holds us back from accomplishing so many things, health-related or not.

Now, go back to that feeling we pulled up a moment ago. How did it feel? Like another thing on your plate? An extra load to bear so to speak? Maybe even a little bit heavy and defeating? Not a fun feeling to experience when it all boils down, right?

It gets worse. Guilt can lead to some really untrue self-talk like “I could do X, but I’m just too lazy” or “I’m just way too busy” (more on that one in a bit). That self-talk in turn shapes how we view ourself – our self-concept. Often what you think to yourself becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you continually bash yourself, and tell yourself that you’re too lazy to do something you’ll most likely end up being lazy and not doing that thing. Funny how that works, huh!

So how do you take an inhibitory feeling like guilt and turn it in your favor?

1) Sit back and acknowledge the feeling. When you feel guilt (or any emotion for that matter), much like in meditation, try to view the emotion from an outside, and non-judgmental perspective. Say to yourself, “oh man, there it is again, that guilty feeling. No harm in that, but why am I feeling that?” BUT, don’t stop there. Examine it, much the way a scientist would in an experiment. Start asking some more questions.

2) Ask why until you get to the root of the problem. Let’s use an example to bring this one to light. Let’s say you stumble across a delicious looking recipe online and think to yourself, “I really should try to cook more.”

Why haven’t you cooked more already? This is the turning point. You might try to come back with “I’m just too lazy so it never happens” or some other reason, but really ask yourself why. 

Oh! What’s that? You bought that “Cooking for Newbies” book and meant to get started by reading it. But why didn’t you get started?

And then it comes to you. You put it in a box when you moved to your new place and now it’s buried and hard to get to. Got it!

3) Write it down. Once you are here, at this point of realization, just write it down. Just in the small action of writing it down you are more likely to take action and change your behavior.

**Side note: now, I know, if you’re in the middle of a conversation with a friend these first three steps can be more difficult. If you catch yourself in that situation, try to make a good mental note for later, or go out on a limb and mention it to your friend. He could be a good sounding board for the whole process. And then it would be totally less weird to just whip out a pen and paper and start writing something down in the middle of conversation.**

4) Come back later. This one will seem a little counterintuitive, but once you have sifted through all the whys and written some things down, set it aside and come back to it. While I wish it weren’t the case, we have a very finite amount of willpower and mental energy that we need to manage wisely. Just getting yourself through the process of slowing down and asking yourself the hard why question is enough for starters.

5) Make it manageable. While it might not seem like much, when you come back to your note ready for action, take a few seconds to break it down. Keep cutting the initial task “in half” until the first step is small enough to be super actionable. Even simpler examples like the cooking book in the buried box can become much more actionable just by breaking it into small pieces such as:

What first? Okay – walk to the basement where all the leftover moving boxes are stored.

Next – Move the boxes in front of and on top of the “extra books” box without making a huge mess. I’ll organize the moved boxes into two piles so it stays tidy.

Then – Get your book out of the buried box.

Finally – Put stuff back and start reading.

It’s a simple example, but you get the point. If an action seems overwhelming it’s very easy to dismiss that task and tuck away that overwhelming feeling for later. Then, when something triggers some guilt later, we have some misattribution of emotion going on because not only do we feel bad about not doing whatever it is we “should” be doing, but we also have these underlying feelings of being overwhelmed by the task that creep back into our consciousness, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. Getting to your book under that HUGE pile of boxes feels like a much bigger and heavier task to our limited will-power if we don’t break it down, so often times we just skip it and move on.

6) Get out of your own way. Finally, don’t be your worst enemy. Too often we get in our own ways, often without realizing it. Much like packing your gym clothes the night before so you can just get up and go in the morning, try and have the book readily accessible and visible so you have lots of visual reminders through the day. But don’t stop there, make the choice to make time for it in your day. Write it in your calendar and make it non-negotiable.

7) Establish an abundance mindset. This is a small mental technique that can make life a whole lot more easier and fun. Let’s use dieting as an example. A scarcity mindset would be what you find for those who are on strict diets with no cheat days. They are always thinking “I can’t have deep fried chocolate covered bacon for a long, LONG time” and they will probably be counting the days for the diet to be over.Scarcity mindsets shift our focus to the negative which is a hard place to stay and achieve success.

The abundance mindset flips that on its head. An example of achieving an abundant mindset is establishing 1-2 cheat or “re-feed” days in your diet plan in which you are allowed to have whatever food(s) you swore off of for the majority of the diet. Instead of thinking about what you can’t have and counting the days until the diet is over so you can eat your bacon, you will be looking forward to that 1-2 days each week where you can splurge a little bit. Your focus will stay in the positive and more importantly, the whole behavior change will become much more manageable and sustainable. Winning!

One last thing…

Okay, last thing that goes back to a couple things I’ve said along the way so far. I want you to remember something, my friends:

Being busy is a choice.

It is so common to be “crazy busy” and be proud of it. Busyness, believe it or not, is not a virtue regardless of how much our culture wants you to think so. Entertain me for a minute. If you find yourself using the line “I’m just too busy to do X.” please do me the favor of stopping for a second and rewording it to be “I’m choosing to not make X a priority and am making other tasks or people a priority in it’s place.” That’s the utter reality. Changing our language reminds us that how we use our time is ultimately a choice. We often make time for what we want to make time for, just like we tend to have money for the things we like to spend money on. In the vast majority of cases it’s a choice. You have say in what happens in your life – take ownership of it and be awesome.

Carry on my friends. And remember:

Guilt is a Terrible Thing


Don’t Go it Alone

Want help overcoming the mental roadblocks keeping you from reaching your goals? Contact us today to partner with a coach and get started down the path to becoming awesome.

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Cook Your Food. It Will Change Your Life.

Cook Your Food. It Will Change Your Life.

Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. Or KISS. Such a fun acronym. I remember learning it from my middle school basketball coach. It didn’t mean much back in the heart of my awkward teenage years, but it has certainly taken on far more meaning through the years. When it comes to answering nutrition questions, I often like to start with the very simple: eat real food* and cook it yourself. It’s not exactly revolutionary advice. It’s definitely not very sexy but I bet you it will change your life if you let it. Here’s why:

Continue reading “Cook Your Food. It Will Change Your Life.”

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