Triggers: Creating Behaviour Change That Lasts

This book by Marshall Goldsmith has been on my library queue for awhile and so it was a delight to find it ready and waiting to devour. This guy’s one of the most respected executive coaches for CEOs and thought leaders, which makes his premise of  “Becoming the Person You Want to Be” a bit less unbelievable. Unfortunately… life got in the way and the ebook expired. So, here’s a glimpse at the beginning of this really interesting just no longer available to me book:

The first step is accepting that lasting meaningful change is hard. The next is overcoming our limiting beliefs by realizing: doing requires more than knowing; resisting temptation requires more than willpower (which fades); consistency over procrastination is key no matter how “special” today may be; you will always be better and worse off than someone else; everyone needs help and structure; and expect distractions, challenges, and no permanent state. And finally, there’s no guarantee efforts will be fairly rewarded – but, success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.

Our environment can either trigger desired or undesired behaviour through the loop: trigger, impulse, awareness, choice, behaviour, and reward. To take advantage, pay attention to feedback in order to use anticipation, avoidance, and adjustment.

Ask yourself what you need to create (self-discipline), preserve, eliminate (self-control), and accept in order to become the person you want to be. Ask active questions emphasizing personal responsibility, i.e. Did I do my best… to set clear goals today? To make progress? To find meaning? To be happy? To build positive relationships? To be fully engaged?

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Whole30 – It Starts With Food (Book Summary)

Healthy mind and body are my priorities, but sometimes it feels like one can get sacrificed for the other. Enter Whole30: the idea is to eat whole foods and avoid the eating that can make you unhealthy, body AND mind. Or, in their words, improve your “relationship with food.”

I’ve mostly avoided sugar for 4 weeks (exceptions being one restaurant meal and a few servings of dairy) and I wouldn’t say my life has changed, but my cravings are definitely more manageable, I haven’t had a breakout the whole time, and I haven’t had a migraine in that time either (just the regular constant headache). So I’m kinda already on the bandwagon, but the Whole30 deal is no compromises for 30 days straight, meaning no experimenting with dairy and no nightly ounce of dark chocolate until AFTER the 30 days. It’s like a reset button that allows you to tell the difference when you try adding foods like dairy and chocolate back in.

One thing the authors concede in It Starts With Food is that there’s still a lot the scientific community doesn’t know about food so there’s a lot of contradicting “evidence” out there. That’s why they balance science with clinical experience, adding in self-experimentation to the program. I’m going to focus more on the practical direction here, but a lot of reason behind Whole30 are well explained in It Starts With Food. The gist IMHO: food that is designed to stimulate pleasure centres with huge hits of sweetness, fat, and salt, meanwhile void of nutrition, is a recipe for overeating and undernutrition. And the more we make eating this food a habit, particularly in response to emotions, the harder it is to overcome. Gut and hormone imbalance makes it even harder.

So what are considered healthy foods? Meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats like avocado, macadamia nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, olive oil, coconut oil/meat/milk, and ghee. Walnuts and pumpkin seeds should actually be limited because of their polyunsaturated fats.

A note about fruits: they are nutritious, but not as nutritious as vegetables and their fructose (sugar) is sent straight to the liver like alcohol and contributes to metabolic syndrome – so keep fruit to a few (~2) servings per day. Great fruit choices are berries and plums. Also beware the sweetness of fruit may trigger an unhealthy psychological response for people still struggling with sugar addiction. Replacing candy with fruit won’t help you break free from that unhelpful habit.

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Sugar-free – Week 3 – Iron Will

Last Saturday night, I was at a BQQ serving hot dogs. I felt like a jerk saying I didn’t want the hot dogs, but I didn’t want to waste an indulgence on something I didn’t really want. In fact, I didn’t want an indulgence at all. So, I went off to get something healthier, but the steak salad I got from a nice restaurant was likely cooked in vegetable oil (not to mention the deep fried onions), the steak was obviously not grass-fed, and the salad dressing certainly contained sugar. I did control the things I could: I didn’t have my usual fruit and nuts dessert and left the BBQ around 10 to keep my sleep schedule relatively healthy.

I feel like I did everything right for a few days this week but I guess one day at a time doesn’t necessarily show immediately. On Monday, I had a bunch of Brazil nuts to compensate for the lunch and cupcakes and cake I had to turn down all day. Brazil nuts, it turns out, are pretty deadly for me. Instead of cupcakes at the party, I had a good conversation with someone who’s also had chronic low iron (my ferritin is 9 and has only been in the healthy range on one test over the last decade). All my headaches and fatigue and cognitive fuzz she attributed to my iron deficiency because as soon as she got iron injections, she got past all that. She’s also gluten-free to absorb the iron better. I’m excited about the potential of injections because supplements can take years to fix the symptoms… but I also hate needles so I’m a bit hesitant. Maybe I’ll up my food (lean ground beef coconut wraps with strawberry dessert being my favourite) and EasyIron supplement attack then get tested in 6-8 weeks before I ask my doctor for that because she’s very mainstream and doubtful of issues I bring up with her like hormonal imbalance.

This whole week was pretty tough. I’m stressed again about doing things wrong or late or being asked questions I don’t know the answers to yet. I still occasionally indulge in strawberries and nuts. I’m not quite sure how to tackle this problem. Do I try cutting these foods out entirely? Limiting to exactly 1-2 servings per day? Allowing myself to eat the foods I crave as long as they’re unprocessed healthy foods?