HAWTHORNE: The missing piece of the weight loss puzzle?

Personal trainer Sean Hawthorne asks, if we know what to do, then why don’t we do it?

In my last article I talked about the missing piece of the weight loss puzzle – the skills of behaviour change. Now, maybe missing is the wrong word, let’s just say – in my experience as a coach and gym owner – it’s often undervalued and overlooked.

With changes to our health, our fitness, or our waistline, there are really two questions: Can I do it? And… Do I want to? It comes down to ability and motivation, so a person could hire a coach – or do some research – and improve their skills and abilities with regards to exercise and nutrition, but without understanding and appreciating that change management is also a skill, the odds of achieving the goal plummet.

So, let’s start with the components of behaviour change and how we can apply it to the desire to transform our health and fitness. The technical term for behaviour change is self-regulation and Dr. Roy Baumeister, a Social Psychologist at the University of Florida, one of the foremost experts on behaviour change (and the researcher responsible for the concept of willpower as a muscle) lists the ingredients of self-regulation as:

Standards

In order to change we need a clearly defined standard, something to align with. Standards can be cultural, political, philosophical or even spiritual. Belching by the campfire is perfectly fine (even a little competitive with my family), but not so acceptable during a classroom lecture, or a sermon in church.

Monitoring

This is measurement. Tracking and measuring the thing we’re looking to change. With exercise, let’s say you’ve decided to walk or run, it could be time, distance, or speed, (the distance over time) If you want to change something you need an initial measure and some feedback to make sure that actions you take are having the desired effect.

Self-Regulatory Strength

Better known as willpower, this is the strength we exhibit in resisting actual temptation and sticking to our plans for change. It’s the power to pass-up something that we want, but that we understand might not be in our best interests. It may, or may not be like a muscle, but there are definitely strategies to boost it when we need it.

Motivation

This is the need to take action. It’s the internal (or external) driver for taking whatever actions we take. When it comes to food, hunger is our motivation to eat, it’s unfortunate that it isn’t always the primary reason… This is where we can really apply our strategies and techniques to stay on task.

The idea of ingredients in a recipe is a really good one!

As I mentioned in the last article, we’re all different in our reasons for wanting to change our nutrition, our exercise, or both.

  • It might be aesthetics, reducing bodyfat, or increasing muscle mass
  • It might be performance, running longer or faster,
  • Or maybe it’s function, reducing pain from injury or disease.

Whatever the reason is, it’s uniquely yours, and like a recipe each of these components needs to be considered, in varying degrees, when you decide that it’s time for a change. Any change! Turning back to the cooking analogy, if you understand salt, spice, fat and heat… you can cook pretty much anything.

It might be aesthetics, reducing bodyfat, or increasing muscle mass

It might be performance, running longer or faster,

Or maybe it’s function, reducing pain from injury or disease.

Whatever the reason is, it’s uniquely yours, and like a recipe each of these components needs to be considered, in varying degrees, when you decide that it’s time for a change. Any change! Turning back to the cooking analogy, if you understand salt, spice, fat and heat… you can cook pretty much anything.

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I’m working out at 6:00 am, sweating on the treadmill, when two men come in the gym who I don’t recognize. They tell me they’re with the WWE and they’d like to workout before they hop on a flight to their next show. My response: Sure…I suppose. The fellow is very polite, asks me if they need to sign anything…I said, “later, I’m late so, I gotta finish my cardio before my next client” I show them the change room and back to the treadmill. . I finish and set them up with a couple of cool exercises that smack the whole body and legs without loading up the spine, and away they go. A WWE superstar and a soon to be WWE superstar, respectful and very hardworking it was an interesting start to my day!. Good luck with the next show! . . #onelife #kelowna #wwenxt #wwe #wrestling #personaltrainer #kelownapersonalrtrainer #athlete #dorianmak #finnbalor

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Let’s look at weight loss, or more specifically improvements to body-composition and how the first ingredient of behaviour change, standards, can apply. We’re going to look at setting a goal (which is part of the idea of a standard) and ensuring that we make that goal, salient (especially meaningful) by applying personal standards to it. There’s a lot more to setting goals that work, and I’ll address that in the future, but for now, let’s see how we can take a little self-awareness and work it into our plan for change.

I love cardiovascular exercise. It’s good for your brain and your body, from both a health and an aesthetics perspective. Now, improving your body composition can be a challenge given the power of the relationship with the foods we eat, but if you’re sedentary, improving your health can be as easy as regularly going for a long, brisk walk. Providing your physically capable, this is a great place to start, but some people just don’t like it. (Yet…)

One of my friends, and a long term client, really didn’t like walking for exercise, but she loved dogs. She regularly volunteered at the local SPCA where she would walk the dogs waiting for adoption. We had talked about how to incorporate specific behaviours that would help with weight maintenance, longevity and mood, and getting outside and walking definitely met those criteria. There’s a greenway walking trail near our local SPCA and so she was able to get outdoors in nature, be of service to her four-legged friends, and get some extra cardio.

With a little analysis and strategy she was able to take that healthy vital behaviour of a brisk nature walk and transform it from a low-motivational chore into an activity that she really wanted to do. Now that we’ve got a bit of base to work from, each week I’ll take one of those ingredients of self-regulation, explore it in a little more detail, and then give an example of how it can be applied to your plans for change.

ABOUT SEAN HAWTHORNE:

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Rehabilitation is icky. (That’s not a technical term 😉) It’s hard on your psyche, I went from casually curling 70 pound dumbbells to failing with 5 lbs. It hurts, holding that little green band in a supinated position is extremely uncomfortable. And it’s slow (might be my maturity level), it’s taken several months to be able to externally rotate that little green band as poorly as it looks. . . But, what else am I going to do? Quit lifting weights? Never throw a football to my son again? Switch to button up shirts? No. As an existentialist I’m all about quality and not quantity. It’s worth the effort. Netflix and chill is not a sport. If you’re injured or have chronic pain, don’t settle, find some professional advice and get to work. . . If you read this far and you’re curious, I crashed on my dirt bike and tore my shoulder to shit. External rotation and humeral stability are severely compromised. I started with strength and stability (static) and have progressed to eccentric with very limited ranges of motion through the concentric contraction, it’s been 13 months since the accident. . . #kelowna #onelife #change #weightloss #fitness #change #exercise #practice #rehabilitation #coach #coaching #diet #nutrition #motivation #influence #performance #success #awesome #captainawesome #mentalfitness #deliberatepractice #kaizen #happy

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Sean Hawthorne is the owner and operator of OneLife Health and Wellness, Kelowna’s first and longest running private, personal training facility. While working in Dubai, UAE as a Contracts and Project Manager, Sean decided to leave his successful career in Civil Engineering Technology and pursue his passion for health, fitness and helping others achieve their goals. He returned to Canada in 2001, taking formal education in Exercise Science and starting his career in the field of health and fitness. Working in collaboration with their clients, Sean and his team of health and fitness professionals strive to continually improve their skills and to help everyone reach their goals.

Contact Sean:

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