The Fitness Industry Is a Giant Eating Disorder Machine (How to get results AND KEEP THEM)
As a online Vegan nutritionist, coach, trainer and marketer I am part of many forums and groups. I also get a lot of emails, messages and questions about Vegan nutrition.
I notice patterns. I am curious like that. I notice trends, I notice tendencies and inclincations in peoples thinking processed.
First off. Stop doing complicated shit. Most of your results will come from 2-3 key habits.
If you look at anyone kicking ass they will often tell you to SIMPLIFY.
Simplicity is the KEY. Humans have a tendency to want to short cut everything and with that comes complexity. Which then leads to lack of execution, confusion, analysis paralysis. Applying things that contradict or nullify other things.
Simply put, its just too much focus on micro-bullshit and not enough execution on the basics, consistently. Focus on the basics this week and if you don't even know what they are, ask someone who has achieved what you want and execute. Anyway -
A common concern/question/challenge I see within the fitness industry as a whole is this never-ending, incessant worry and fretting about:
- Macronutrients & Micronutrients
- Protein Intake / Carb Phobia / Fat phobia
- Stressing over rep ranges, optimal exercises to achieve XYZ
- Stressing over food in general
- Distorted body images
- Distorted minds
- Addictions in one area of life going through a metamorphasis to become a socially acceptable one we know as 'fitness'.
I know these things, because I myself have got caught up in it before. I spent a long time worrying about the minutia. The details. I thought it was normal! Only because everyone else seemed to be worrying about the same shit.
So it must be 'normal' right?
Funny thing was. When I went Vegan a few years back, up to that point I considered eating animals 'normal' too. Like waking up from the damn Matrix. Hell, I was a butcher in my former life. Beat that lol. But a weird thing happened when I went Vegan..
I began to question everything. Anything that was considered 'normal', I began to ask myself - "WHY is this even normal?", "What does normal even mean?". Ya see, its totally subjective, based on cultural conditioning, traditions and what is popular by the majority. So shinin awareness on animal consumption and how abnormal it actually is for me - it made me see everything differently.
I began to see all the dysfunction within the fitness industry:
- Coaches teaching clients AWFUL god damn strategies to get lean.
- Excessive cardio, brutal starvation diets.
- Super OCD fixations of foods they can and cannot have - even within veganism.
- The radical lengths people take to achieve a look.
- Photoshop, filters, picture manipulations and the hundreds
of selfies people take to try get the right one.
- A total fixation on WEIGHT loss on the scale and nothing else.
- A fixation with stomach measurements, your self worth should not be contingent on a set of measurements. You are much more than this.
- A fixation with bad pictures of themselves + CONSTANT comparison with others on social media
- So many short term fixes that just see people relapse over and over
- Eating patterns and plans that are actually binge eating in disguise
Jesus Christ I could go on all day. But you get the picture I hope. The fitness industry draws in people who aren't emotional stable to begin with and proliferates that instability. Yes in the past we have been guilty of this, but we didn't realize either. We just thought
- Get people in a program
- Get them a physical result
- Share that result to get more people on the program
- Rinse and repeat
It is what most people do and it is an awful process and a downward spiral for so many people. I am going to share with you why most programs SUCK, why you fail over and over and cannot keep th physical results - and what to do about it.
We deal with people from all walks of life. Many have had psychological trauma in their life - I enjoy people like this, because I too came from a destructive past. Riddled with mental illness - Bipolar Disorder, Severe anxiety and ADHD (a learning disability) so I get it.
Many of these people actually get WORSE with conventional approaches to dieting and fitness programs. Or if they get results they rebound big time, crashing and burning in grand fashion. Maybe this is you? How many different things have you tried? How many times have you began to get ahead, to then self-sabotage and implode?
It's a VERY common thing, so don't feel bad about it, but be SOLUTION orientated too, not problem focused.
Here are my biggest TIPS:
1) Set point Awareness -
Think of your set-point like a thermostat with a range of say 5 degrees. You have a bottom temperature (lets say 70F) and a top temperature of 75F. If you get to high (too much success, do well with fat loss, or gain momentum) set point kicks in, we binge, we go off the rails and calibrate back down to that 70-75F comfort zone.
Equally if we get too off track and really let go and the thermostat gets below 70F the pain becomes bad enough it forces us to massive action. It's why people go through pain and suffering before they take action. Your set-point is keeping you hostage. That set point is your unconscious and conscious beliefs about what you have been taught, what you feel is normal and achieveable for you. It is all the programming you operate on. The excuses, the crutches, the stories. In a strange way set point is an evolutiinary mechanism to keep us safe.
But in today's modern world it holds many of us prisoner. If you find you constantly self-sabotage, break down, wait till you reach suffering before you act - it is your set point in action. Set point is a complex thing and there are triggers and aspects to it that I can't go into depth in, for this blog - but lt's just say when any of us do a fitness program and get results only to crash and burn. It is because we address the symptoms, we changed the diet/exercise short term - but didn't address the deeper set point issues. A great book that touches on set point concepts in various forms is
"The War Of Art" - by Steven Pressfield. Get it!
2) Hunger cues -
I talk about this in more detail regarding biofeedback, cravings and digestion in "Low Carb? High Carb? Low Fat High Fat - My god what should I do? (Vegan Macro Problems)".
There are two ends of the spectrum with this.
On one end there are people who think you should NEVER feel hunger. That you would always be in a complete state of satisfaction and life just doesn't work this way. When was anything of signficance ever acheived by always being in a state of comfort? It just doesn't happen. It is important to differentiate between truly legitimate hunger (which MOST people never experience) and habitual or emotional hunger. A good book I reccomend is "End Emotional Eating" - This book goes over the various forms of hunger, what they mean and how you can begin working on mastering this. People at this end of the spectrum often relapse, binge eat and do copious amounts of programs that get short term results, but always end up where they began.
The belief and need to always use food as a form of comfort and and emotional void filler, see's good people slip backwards. Address the mindset, the causes, the situations that make this happen is so important. You can have the best plan in the world, but if you cannot execute it consistently - it is meaningless.
On the other end of the spectrum you have fitness junkies who are so rigid and anal retentive with food choices, macros, weighing food and so on. They close their life off from expansion and connection. Many of the people that others idolize in the fitness industry are like this. You only see the pictures and video - you see what they want you to se. You don't see all the dysfunctional eating and addiction behind what it took to achieve that look.
The truth. Real change - often lies somewhere in the middle. In a place where you acknowlegde and reframe some degree of hunger as a good thing. A spiritual practice of making yourself more whole and not being so OCD and rigid that you spend your life worrying about grams of protein, fats, and carbs - when in reality, life is way too short and precious to spend too much time stressing over that shit. It really is.
3) Support network -
I know this seems simple and it's repeated again and again. But it is WHY our programs like FAT APOCALYPSE cost what they do. Because we understand th investment people need to put into their accountability. In the age of the internet where everything is a google-search away. It isn't information we lack. It is EXECUTION. We just suck at following through - Ah, that old "set point" concept again.
Most million and billion dollar businesses hire outside consultants to come in, with fresh eyes and trouble shoot their barriers. Often its not the systems or products that suck. It is follow through. It is just doing the damn work, when that 'instant gratification monkey' in our brain is tell us to cut corners, to reward ourselves now, to eat now, to skip the workout etc. We do a TON of mindset work in our coaching group with our programs. All our approachs are psychology based and focused and we know that when people collectively work to raise each others 'set points', iron out the kinks in their habits, routines and thought patterns - results happen and they LAST too.
Support and accountability is hands down the MOST important thing when it comes to long term success. If you avoid that to cut costs it WILL come back and bite you in the ass.
4) Micro habits -
I am all about reverse engineering the goal. What I mean by this is look at what you want to achieve and then break that larger task down into 'micro-habits' that:
i) Speed up the process.
ii) Eliminate procrastination.
iii) Give you systems now that allow you to stick to a plan later.
We use the smart phone app "HabitShare" to build out good habits for clients and integrate them into their routines.
A good example of this is, getting up and getting to the gym EARLY. See most people sleep in, they 'don't have time' in the morning, which I might add - is complete and utter bullshit. "No time", "not enough money" etc are all cover up excuses for deeper issues. It's not those things - your priorities suck and aren't congruent with what you know you need to achieve.
If you want to get up early and train this is how you reverse engineer that into micro-habits.
Step 1 - Get to bed earlier to get up earlier. Every 2 days taper your alarm back by 15mins, over the course of 2 weeks you will be down almost 2 hours. Your night time routine is key and I won't go into too much detail in terms of sleep quality to achieve this. But eating too close to bed, too much artificial light at night, caffeine or just liquids you drink can all impact sleep so this is something to work on.
Step 2 - Use the night before to invest in your success. I fill the kettle. I make sure my gym bag is packed, my gym clothes are washed and dried and ready to go. I have a coffee cup sitting on the bench. I do all I can to eliminate hurdles and time wasted screwing around. It's why a lot of highly successful people wear the same kind/color of clothing each day. They eliminate as many pointless choices and decision from their life - to focus on things that matter to them. This aspect of micro-habit building in step 2 is KEY.
Step 3 - Keep refining and adding in micro-habits. As you do this you may find there are other things you can do ahead of time to set yourself to win. Like meal prep, regular grocery shopping, having a workout partner you are accountable too and so on. I notice people who do no meal prep and/or don't grocery shop as part of a intentional routine always flip flop with their diet, health and goals. Get intentional! And don't go grocery shopping hungry. Have a LIST, stick to the list and leave.
5) Daily Mindset work -
Lastly be a student every day damn. I link books and blogs and videos in these blogs. But do you actually read them and learn? If not - you aren't doing the mindset work and personal development to get you ahead. You are cutting corners in hope that you can fluke your way to results.
It just ain't gonna happen!
Every wondered why so many lottery winners end up broke again? Because their old mindset, habits and beliefs took hold and no amount of money can change that. Likewise with diet and food - no amount of caloir counting, macro obsessions, cardio, double up workouts, daily weigh-ins, fat burning pills and starvation diets are going to give you long lasting results till you finally change your mental state.
This takes real work, if it were easy - everyone would be doing it. So accept it takes work, practice and consistency.
"I want to look like this person, what do I have to do?"
Some amazing books I listen to from AUDIBLE I found helped me a lot with my own mindset and belief systems around what I could achieve were:
1 - The Untethered Soul
2 - Letting Go: The pathway to surrender
3 - Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life
4 - Excuses begone
5 - Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind
6 - The Power Of Vulnerability
(My current/most recent audible list!)
All these books have diverse messages, but they all helped me immensely to see flaws in my old thinking, to help me learn to detach more and more from outcomes. The quote "Attachment is the form of all suffering" rings so true here. Any time we suffer it is because we have an ego/emotional attachment to something.
That art of letting go is a huge aspect of my life now and it is a life long process, but a beautiful one too. Why have I gone off on such an epic tangent when it comes to the fitness industry? Like, how the hell does all this stuff have anything to do with fitness?
The truth is. It has everything to do with it.
Anyone who has transformed and not just kept the physical results, but kept growing - did so because their state of mind evolved as they did. It's super common in our coaching group for people to actually have deeper issues arise with spouses and family they share. Why? Because at one point in time all the things holding them back was normal. The junk food, the laziness, the sedentary life. The alcohol or drugs. It was normal at one point and so too was the set-point of all those people around you.
As you grow and evolve, if the set point of others remains the same - it brings conflict to the surface. All the things that held you back for so long, you were often blind too, now become painfully apparent. It's like an itch you cannot ignore.
Growth can be a painful process at times. I liken to a snake shedding it's skin. At one point that old skin served a purpose. It gave us an identity, boundaries, comfort.. But when it comes time to grow, we MUST shed that skin to ever change anything.
- That often means walking away from old 'friends'.
- The loss of relationships.
It does happen and it's a painful, but important reality to acknowledge too. We all have a choice. Suffering and relapse is a choice no matter how out of our control it feels. It's hard feeling like shit all the time. It's also hard changing your life - CHOOSE YOUR HARD.
Take-Home Points (The fundamentals come down to 2-3 core basics, but I expanded them a bit for you, so you have some tangible action steps)
1 - Find a program or coach that focuses on mindset and personal developement, like us!
2 - Stop fixating solely on progress markers like: Weight loss and body fat %. Even stop fixating on inches lost. They can be good forms of measurement but they are never the goal. You feeling alive, vibrant, healthy, strong and confident is often the goal - the numbers don't mean shit.
3 - Long term low calorie diets sucks and do not work, they are a tool but not the long term solution.
4 - Cheat meals/Refeeds/Free meals can be a tool but most people use as binge eating in disguise, see it for what it is.
5 - Workout and eat well beacause you love yourself, not because you hate yourself or need to punish yourself.
6 - Drop the excuses, the reasons, the stories - they serve a purpose. That is to hold you in your current state. In order to change - you have to let go of those stories.
7 - Physical changes lasts if you work on your mental state too, if you don't you will relapse over and over till you finally work on the internal stuff.
8 - Your optimal vegan diet requires you to explore and experiment. No one, no matter how much of an 'expert' they are will ever be able to give you a definitive answer on what food choices or macros are ideal for you - till you begin and test it all.
9 - Stop idolizing people on social media solely based on physical attributes. Many of the people who are in peak shape go to extreme lengths to get here - you don't see that. You are busy comparing your 'out takes', with their highlight reel. It doesn't serve you at all.
10 - Drop the fickle goals and get something with substance. If your vision board is full of people you want to look like, glitz and glamour and popular culture you are chasing superficial shit and you will never feel true happiess. Get some substance to WHY you do this. You have to find DEEP drivers beyond a look, or a body fat % or material crap.
11 - Having ab's or muscles will NOT bring you peace or happiness or even confidence, that stuff comes from within. Believe me as someone who is in shape - if I hadn't worked on my internal self too, I would be a superficial trainwreck like many people in the fitness industry.
12 - Results take hard work. The fitness industry creates this illusion its going to be easy. If it was easy everyone would be in shape. It takes work, but it is worth it.
13 - Be patient, being impatient like a spoilt child is NOT going to serve your highest self.
14 - How you act and how you think in times when things get tough and in the absence of results, is everything. It is easy to do well when shit is going smoothly and weight is falling off. It's hard doing the right things when it comes slow. Those times define you.
15 - Observe your set points. If it means walking away from bad relationships and things dragging you back down to set point, you have to do better. It's a choice not a genetic trait.
16 - Don't try to look like someone else. You will never look JUST like another person, you will always be disapointed, chasing a mirage. Aim to look the best YOU can, be the best version of YOU, that is what you need to aspire towards.
17 - Be hard on yourself and call yourself out on weak-minded crap that isn't serving you. Excuses around binge eating. Not setting up good micro-habits. Surrounding yourself with stupid people. Not learning every day to grow your mind. Step it up!
18 - Learn to be kind to yourself. Paradoxicaly we need to be tough. But we also need to find love and be love - SO important. The more you focus on your strengths, focus on celebrating achievements, focus on growth adn gratitude the less room there is for negative, destructive patterns.
19 - See a good counsellor. I did this for years at the beginning on my own journey and it was a game changer. Your fitness coach can offer support but you need to get a specialist in this area too. Spend the money it is a great investment.
20 - Just because someone looks good does not mean they are happy, healthy or accomplished. It can be an illusion and you have to recognize this in your own thinking.
21 - Be an expert in yourself. Experiment. Don't get swamped down with data and analysis, just f*cking begin. See 'failure' as a teacher, a stepping stone toward growth and surround yourself with people who think this way and encourage this!
22 - See #1 again. Get a coach and program that isn't just focused on calories or workouts. It's multi-faceted and ties into mindset. It's what we do guys, reach out and ask for help.
Remember NOT doing this is hard. Doing it is hard. CHOOSE YOUR HARD.