It’s the time of year when we create our new year’s resolutions. Yet most people will not even be able to recall what their resolution was in a few weeks’ time.
If you’re dealing with any form of chronic disease, whether obesity, autoimmunity, heart disease, diabetes, depression/anxiety, pain, or other, I’m telling you now that you can take control, that your own body is not sabotaging you, that there is a way to address the core cause, that you can do it so rapidly you’ll be shocked, and your only regret will be that you didn’t do it sooner. But to do that you need to be able to confront some hard truths.
Below is my holiday gift to you: a box of 10 ‘tough love’ nuggets to help you get there in 2019.
1. Recognize learned helplessness.
Learned helplessness is a biggie for people living with chronic disease because our society and our healthcare system are set up to breed it. Learned helplessness sets in when despite following the ‘proper’ channels and going to the doctor and taking your drugs and doing as you’re told, you don’t get better and in fact things just keep getting worse. Eventually you ‘learn’ that you’re helpless.
The way to escape this Kafkaesque mouse-maze is to get the right help. You cannot expect to beat the system by continuing to play by its rules. Literally 100% of people who talk to me for the first time about their chronic conditions tell me they “know what to do” they just fail to do it for very long. They think their problem is that they can’t stay motivated. Meanwhile they are suffering horribly because they do NOT know what to do. Instead they cling to false beliefs reinforced by short-term successes that only ever lead to long-term failure. Consider that maybe – just maybe – everything you’ve been told and that you’ve come to believe about health and wellness is a big fat lie and then you will be getting somewhere.
Over 75% of people today die of a chronic disease after decades of rotting by inches. You cannot outsource your health to this system and expect a different outcome. Take personal responsibility for your health by asking for the right help. This is why I work as a health coach. In fact, the big caveat to all of these here tough nuggets is that you have to avoid the ocean of charlatans out there and hire the right help because following conventional wisdom will leave you screwed from the start.
Trying to do everything on your own doesn’t make you a hero. It makes you irresponsible
2. Stop trying to do everything yourself.
Further to nugget #1, consider the saying, “If you chase two rabbits, you catch none.” How many rabbits are you chasing? Do you have time to become a trained expert in all of the problems you are trying to fix in 2019?
What are the consequences if you fall short of your goals? Who is counting on you? How would things be different if you had the right help?
Trying to do everything on your own doesn’t make you some sort of hero. It makes you irresponsible.
3. Take responsibility.
Your personal health really is a matter of personal responsibility. Own it. This takes some practice and awareness. We all struggle with ambivalence – we all have two voices in our head: the voice that tells us why we should make a healthy change and the voice that tells us why we should not. Excuses are the second voice. Ambivalence is the reason that when someone confronts us with advice, our first reaction is to argue the other side – we make excuses.
Excuses often stem from a ‘victim’ mentality. Examine the stories you tell yourself carefully. What is the story you tell yourself about your health? Are you the victim in the story? Consider that the story doesn’t have an ending yet.
The most common reaction to ambivalence is to do nothing. Would it surprise you if I said that if you do nothing that nothing will change?
4. Embrace “newness.”
Newness brings uncertainty, which scares us. You might not know everything about what your new healthy way of life will look like. The certain part is this: if you get the right help, your life will be better.
After all, the goal you seek is new too. If you want the same old same old, then just keep doing the same old things.
5. Embrace negative emotions.
Many people are held back from making change by ignoring and suppressing their negative emotions. It’s tempting to sweep them under the rug. But negative emotions are adaptive – they exist to help you. Fear tells us to avoid a threat. Anger tells us to right a wrong. Loneliness tells us to connect. This is not to say that negative emotons are always correct – they have to be examined in the light of intellect.
Our society currently imposes an absolute cult of positivity. Just scroll through social media and you’ll see endless posts implying that negative feelings are not acceptable and that you have to think positive thoughts at all times.
I challenge you to call BS on that pathological nonsense. Confront negative emotions head-on: Are they rational? Do they have a rational response? What are the problems that your negative emotions point you to? This is important. Write them down. Confront them. Be brave.
6. Get uncomfortable.
Avoiding discomfort is completely natural and is in fact wired right into us. You aren’t weak. You’re programmed to keep warm, to rest whenever possible, to eat the yummiest food available, etc etc, because that is what kept us alive in our evolutionary past. We are mismatched with our modern world of constant safety, security, and abundance.
So, we have to consciously force ourselves out of our comfort zone. Getting started is usually the biggest obstacle. Pro tip: One trick I like is the 5-minute rule. When you don’t want to do something, tell yourself you’ll only do the thing for 5 minutes. Usually once you start, you’ll be happy to keep going.
7. To fix Your behaviour, fix your biology.
Most people think they need to change their behaviour (i.e., their choices) to fix their health (their biology). But here’s a critical fact: changing your biology changes your behaviour. It’s much easier to be strong and resilient in your behaviour and your choices when you are not depressed, dependent, poisoned, and stressed at the cellular level.
For example: When you fix your appetite so you no longer get cravings, it’s suddenly much easier to pass up appetite-dysregulating foods. When your brain has had a chance to heal, it’s much easier to avoid eating as a coping mechanism for mood. When your metabolism no longer demands sugar, sugar loses its appeal. When your metabolism has healed, your body naturally wants to move. When you’ve fixed your hormones and can properly sleep, you wake without the alarm and fall alseep at the right time. The list is endless. Fixing your biology fixes your behaviour.
8. Realize that your problems are inter-related – and so are the solutions.
Thinking about all of your problems at the onset of a new year can feel overwhelming. But fixing your health has a holistic effect on your whole life. Physically, you will think, function, and perform better in all areas of your life. Behaviourally, taking control of your health builds self-efficacy across all domains. Your health is your foundation. Hire the right help and fix your health. Now, watch how your health successes begin spilling over into other areas of your life.
Motivation is a fickle, unfaithful trickster that will whisper devotion in your ear and then abandon you right when you need it most
9. F*ck motivation.
If you pin your hopes to motivation, you’re doomed to fail before you begin. Motivation is a fickle, unfaithful trickster that will whisper devotion in your ear and then abandon you right when you need it most.
Motivation is not constant. It comes and goes. It has highs and lows. Relying on it can keep you from succeeding – and waiting for it can keep you from even starting.
The right health coach will show you how to set yourself up with a framework that supports you and keeps you safe no matter where your motivation goes.
Because it will go. You know this. This ain’t your first rodeo, is it?
I want to get rid of you and I want to get rid of you quickly
10. Stop half-assing it.
It’s not enough to get the right info. You have to put it in place too. And then you have go balls-in.
Going part-way or half way, or gawd-forbid, taking “baby steps” will keep you metabolically dependent on your old habits and set you up for failure (and a lot of added expense). Many health coaches love a ‘small-steps’ approach because it gets them clients for life – because their clients never reach their goals.
I take a different approach. See #7. I show people how to fix their biology. Your success starts with your metabolism. Half-changes will not get you there. They’ll just leave you in a state of metabolic torture and they’ll also cost you a fortune in groceries (healthy eating is only expensive when you buy both the M&Ms and the grass-fed beef), not to mention the never-ending string of fixes you’ll invest in while never actually getting there.
I don’t want to keep clients, I want to graduate clients. Sorry, but I want to get rid of you and I want to get rid of you quickly. I don’t want you to be dependent and struggling. I want you to be the self-sufficient leader in your own health and to have all the right knowledge and skills to live long and healthy and drop dead with a smile on your face at a ripe old age.
Charlatans love diet-culture mantras like: “It took you a long time to gain the weight so it will take you a long time to take it off,” or “Everything in moderation,” or “Real change happens gradually, one step at a time.” Lies. All lies. Change your biology and your body will take you to a new place and you’d better hang on because it is a wild ride.
Happy new year!
With love from Coach Lisa
Want to talk about it? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org