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Thanks for joining us for episode 95 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show.
Today we are excited to be interviewing Kevin Michael Geary!
Kevin Michael Geary is the founder of Rebootedbody.com, an online platform dedicated to helping you get a body and life you love through real food, functional fitness, and behavior psychology. Kevin also hosts the Rebooted Body Podcast and has worked with thousands of men and women in over 35 countries around the world through his online academy.
There’s a lot of misinformation about diet and fitness, so it’s no wonder that many can’t stick to implementing the advice. But why is it that even when armed with the right information that makes intuitive sense, we still fall off the wagon?
Today Kevin delves into the psychological factors affecting our ability to develop consistency in diet and lifestyle habits.
Join us as Kevin describes the number one challenge people face that leads to inconsistency, the biggest mistake people make in their attempt toward achieving long term health, and why using the tactics of discipline and willpower are counterproductive.
Today’s conversation is sure to challenge you to redefine your relationship with food, movement, and healthy lifestyle to finally get you on the right path to achieving long term health.
Here are some of the questions we discussed with Kevin:
- Can you could give our listeners just a sense of who you are, what you’re all about, and kind of how you got into this?
- You said this phrase that “people have this dysfunctional relationship with food, body, and self.” Can explain a little bit more about what you mean by that exactly?
- Let’s talk about a functional relationship with food, body, and self. How do you work with your clients to get them to a place where they have these functional relationships?
- What are the most common human core cravings that you find are leading people toward destructive behavior that’s not putting them closer to their goals?
- What are the first few steps that somebody can take to help them have a more normal relationship with food?
- How can somebody determine immediate benefits of healthier options? What do you do to coach people on to, as you said, reprogram your brain?
- What would you do if you had a client who said that they hated to exercise?
- This episode is sponsored by Maty’s Healthy Products
- Find Kevin’s programs, podcast, articles, and more at rebootedbody.com
Kelsey: Hi everyone. Welcome to episode 95 of The Ancestral RDs Podcast. I’m Kelsey Kinney and with me as always is my cohost Laura Schoenfeld.
Laura: Hey everybody.
Kelsey: We are Registered Dieticians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me at KelseyKinney.com and Laura at LauraSchoenfeldRD.com.
We have a great guest on our show today who is going to share his insight into how to develop consistency in your diet and lifestyle habits that lead to long term health. We’re so glad he’s joining us and we think you’ll really enjoy this episode.
Laura: And if you’re enjoying the show, subscribe in iTunes so that you never miss an episode. While you’re in iTunes, leave us a positive review so that other people can discover the show as well.
Remember we want to answer your question on future shows. Head over to TheAncestralRDs.com to submit a health related question that we can answer or suggest a guest that you’d love for us to interview on an upcoming show.
Kelsey: Before we get into our interview, here’s a quick word from our sponsor:
Today’s podcast is sponsored by Maty’s Healthy Products. Maty’s started simply as a mom determined to help her daughter heal and turned into an amazing company that makes all natural and organic cough syrups, vapor rubs, and now even an acid indigestion relief product. Maty’s All Natural Acid Indigestion Relief works quickly to relieve heartburn and indigestion while promoting healthy stomach acid levels. It aids digestion and promotes your body’s natural healing abilities. Made with whole food ingredients you know and recognize like apple cider vinegar, ginger, honey, and turmeric, Maty’s All Natural Acid Indigestion Relief is safe and drug free. Maty’s natural and organic remedies have powerful healing properties to support your body and improve your health. Try them today by visiting Maty’sHealthyProducts.com. You can also find Maty’s at Walmart, CVS, Target, Rite Aid, and a grocery near you.
Kelsey: Today we have Kevin Michael Geary and he is the founder of Rebootedbody.com, an online platform dedicated to helping your get a body and life you love through real food, functional fitness, and behavior psychology. Kevin also hosts the Rebooted Body Podcast and has worked with thousands of men and women in over 35 countries around the world through his online academy.
Kevin: Thank you for having me, glad to be here.
Kelsey: I’m super excited to have you on the show today. We’re going to talk about some really interesting stuff. Before we jump into that, I think it would be great if you could give our listeners just a sense of who you are, what you’re all about, and kind of how you got into this stuff.
Kevin: For sure. I got into it back in 2009. I was 60-ish pounds overweight. I went in to to get a physical. My wife was like hey, I don’t think you’ve had a physical since I’ve met you, you might want to go get your health checked out. I was just not big on going to the doctor or anything like that. I went and they ended up telling me you’ve got high blood pressure and you’re borderline diabetic, you might want to do something about that. I was like alright, well what do I do?
Up until that point in 2009, it’s not like I wasn’t trying. I was trying to be healthy. I was a martial arts instructor. I was just following conventional advice and doing conventional dieting approaches. I was doing a lot of calorie restriction. I was doing a lot of excessive exercise.
What would happen is I would lose 10 or 15 pounds, and then I would completely fall off the wagon and gain 20 or 25 back over the course of months, and then finally get up some more motivation and do it all again. I tell people I dieted up to 220 pounds. Of course when you do that, you also end up with some poor health outcomes as well.
I asked the doctor, I was like what do I do? He was basically like eat less, move more. I was like alright, that’s what I’ve been doing. I left his office, I was like I’m not doing that. I’m not just going to bang my head against the wall.
I went kind of in search of somebody who was saying something different and I came across people talking about real food, and doing functional movement, and functional fitness instead of just excessive forms of exercise and the no pain, no gain approach, and some other things like getting better sleep, and maybe focusing on gut health, and what your hormones are doing.
I started to implement that type of advice that I was coming across and I got faster success than at any point previously in life. I thought that okay, I found it, I found the answer and all of this makes total sense to me. Of course we should return to eating real food. Of course we should focus on improving our sleep, and prioritizing sleep, and getting rid of stress, and doing more functional fitness. It all made sense to me.
I was implementing it and everything was going really well. I got down to about 180-ish pounds, and I fell off the wagon again. At the time I thought alright, I must be the only person on earth who can have all of the right information about what to eat, and how to move, and how to live a healthy lifestyle, and still fail. I started kind of investigating why that was going on.
In the meantime though, because I was a martial arts instructor I had made a lot of great progress and the parents of the students were kind of asking me hey, what are you doing? I just started kind of giving them some tips and pointers on what I was doing and they started implementing stuff, they started getting good results. Kind of at the same time I was trying to get out of the martial arts business. I didn’t like where it was going and I didn’t like the person I was partnered with. He just wasn’t a great person. I was looking for kind of a way out.
Because these people kept coming to me and asking me for tips and help on what I was doing, I decided to arrange a little group thing, like let’s just all do it together. Actually at that point doing that group, organizing that group, we had 16 people. It was 8 couples of the parents of my students and we started implementing everything together. I noticed that they would follow kind of the same pattern that I did. They would implement the real food stuff, and the functional fitness stuff, and the sleep, and getting their stress down. They would find really great success for a while and then they would fall off the wagon. I started having conversations with them and started realizing that that’s so much like me. I’m not the only one.
And what we came down to, the conclusion was we kind of have this disordered relationship with food, and our body, and our self in general, how we talk to ourselves, how we think about ourselves and that is influencing our behavior, or now what I call a manipulating our behavior. I started putting all of my focus on that because I realized that is my number one problem.
It wasn’t until starting Rebooted Body later down the line in 2013, so many years later that I started to realize, and of course Rebooted Body was growing and started giving people evaluations on this kind of stuff, that all of people have this dysfunctional relationship with food, body, and self. I think it’s actually the number one challenge that men and women around the world are facing and it’s driving so much of the inconsistency that we see in the health and fitness industry.
Of course some of the inconsistency is driven by the fact that a lot of people are following bad advice. But the fact is that even the people following good advice are still struggling. If we can fix that, I think we can make huge shifts in the success rates that we’re seeing.
Kelsey: Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree. You said this phrase that “people have this dysfunctional relationship with food, body, and self.” Can explain a little bit more about what you mean by that exactly?
Kevin: Yeah. If you have a dysfunctional relationship with food, it means that food is more than just simple enjoyment and nutrition. It can be control, it can be a coping mechanism, a medication for stress for all sorts of things, what I call a symbolic substitute. Maybe there’s some unmet needs in your life. I talk about this concept called core human cravings, and if those core human cravings are going unfulfilled, it turns out that food, namely processed hyper palatable foods, not real food necessarily but the packaged food, high sugar foods, things like that do make a wonderful medication for those things. People with a dysfunctional relationship with food will turn to food in those high stress or emotional situations.
If you have a dysfunctional relationship with body, it means that you look at your body a certain way, usually in a destructive way, and that in turn manipulates your behavior, the choices you make, the way that you think, etc. And then yourself in general, like who am I? And shame, guilt, fear, these are emotions that are extremely prevalent in people with a dysfunctional relationship with self. And of course those things don’t go well with trying to live a healthy lifestyle, trying to care for yourself, trying to better yourself. It leads people down very destructive paths.
Kelsey: Yeah. Along with that, is there anything else that you…and we’ll dive into that in a little bit more detail soon…but anything else that you see commonly in the health and diet industry that is really just incongruous with what you feel makes the most difference for people and what actually makes them achieve their goals that they’re aiming for with success and without relapsing a lot and going in these cycles of gaining and losing weight all the time?
Kevin: The people who are successful, just to boil it down, the people who are successful…and when I talk about success, I don’t care at all about short term success. I tell people that I’m very clear on that. Succeeding for four months does not interest me whatsoever. I want to talk about succeeding for four years and then for forty years. That’s the underlying goal.
Kevin: The people who succeed lifelong have two things in common. They follow great advice, number one. And number two, they have a functional relationship with food, body, and self. If you have those two things, you’re going to win. If you don’t have one or the other, you’re going to lose. When I talk about lose, maybe you lose two years from now, maybe you lose five years from now. I don’t know. It’s different for every single person. Maybe you lose two months from now. It’s different for every single person, but that’s the reality that we face.
Kevin: Especially in the environment that we live in because honestly the environment that we live in is very hostile to living a healthy lifestyle. You have to be very proactive in what you’re doing. If you have any dysfunction in the relationship with food, body, and self whatsoever, it’s going to pull you off track because it’s too easy to get off track in the environment that we live in.
Kelsey: Yeah. Let’s talk about a functional relationship with food, body, and self. How do you work with your clients to get them to a place where they have these functional relationships?
Kevin: Of course it’s a long and complicated process. There’s some core principals though. The first one like I said is addressing core human cravings. I’m kind of on a missing to redefine the word cravings. I think the health and fitness industry has defined it in a very unfortunate way for people to where when somebody hears the word cravings, it’s like a fear based thing. Like, oh cravings are bad. I want to get rid of my cravings. I want to step on my cravings. Cravings are what have derailed me. Of course they’re talking about cravings for sugary foods, or salty foods, or what have you. Those are actually very superficial cravings.
I define or talk about core human cravings which are, let’s use an example, craving for relationship, or social acceptance, or autonomy, or mobility, and mobility in different terms. Maybe physical mobility but maybe economic mobility as well. Maybe mobility in the sense of am I free to travel and explore the world? Or am I cooped up in this one town that I hate?
People have these core human cravings. And again, thanks to modern society and the way that a lot of people are living life, they’re not getting these core human cravings fulfilled. That causes a deep level of emotional, mental, even physical stress. And of course that begs for some sort of medication or coping mechanism.
So right off the bat, if you have a client coming in and you know that this is a very prevalent thing, hey let’s do an assessment. Let’s see which of your core human cravings are going unfulfilled and then we can take steps to start fulfilling those core human cravings. You see a significant decline in stress and you see a significant increase in happiness and enjoyment.
Here’s the thing, when somebody likes the direction that their life is headed, they’re much more likely and much more interested in fueling their body well, in moving their body, and being consistent with movement practices, in other self-care habits that are very, very important towards reaching these other goals that they have such as health, weight loss, and all of that. But that’s just one of the areas that we look at. That’s one of the ones we look at very early on so we can get a clear picture of what’s going right in this person’s life? What’s going wrong in this person’s life?
I’m not a fan at all, a lot of people talk about stress in very general terms. Oh, I’m stressed, or you’re stressed, or we’re going to do stress reduction techniques. I don’t want to do stress maintenance. I want to get at the underlying trigger that’s causing the massive amount of stress in someone’s life and get rid of it so that they don’t have to manage it. They don’t have to use these tips and tricks that everybody wants to share. They can actually do the work to do the stressor and then of course enjoy the fruits of doing that.
Kelsey: Right. I think that makes a whole lot of sense when you’re working with people who have so many other things going on that maybe seem a little bit almost outside the scope of practice of someone like you or me where generally somebody is coming to us for health, diet, fitness, that kind of stuff. It may seem like it doesn’t affect those outcomes, maybe talking about social relationships or something like that. But certainly as both Laura and I have seen, and it sounds like you’ve seen, when you deal with those things that are adding this amount of kind of general stress, it becomes so much easier once you get rid of those to focus on things that are really fruitful for somebody and really are getting them closer to those goals.
I love that. I think it’s so important to pay attention to those things because if you don’t, it’s almost like the person is kind of overwhelmed to start with. So how can you possibly find almost these kind of ways for them to change their diet and their lifestyle when there’s so many other things going on that sort of overwhelm a person? Would you agree with that?
Kevin: That’s exactly it. We teach a concept called the stress tolerance threshold. Everybody has this level of stress that they can tolerate. We’re never going to get rid of all of somebody’s stressors and just life in general tends to be kind of stressful. But what we can do is we can get the stress down to a level where it’s not manipulating our behavior, our food choices, whether or not we exercise or not, whether or not we get enough of sleep, and so on.
The fact is that most people who are trying to get healthy, most people who are interested in changing their diet and changing their lifestyle have a level of stress way above that threshold that’s manageable and that’s going to manipulate their decisions. We have to get very specific on what those stressors are.
I had a client who…of course everybody wants to come to “Total Body Reboot,” one of our programs that actually gives the details of here’s the eating, here’s the fitness, etc. and lifestyle. They want to start implementing that. So she did of course, but she also did our other program called “Decode Your Cravings” which is the program that’s focused on developing this functional relationship with food, body, and self. It was in the “Decode Your Cravings” coaching calls where we really started to uncover a lot of the obstacles that she was running into in implementing the “Total Body Reboot” stuff.
One of them was a coworker that she worked with because we identified this pattern that every time she and this other coworker didn’t really get together, they didn’t really like working with each other, and she started to realize every time we butt heads at work, I go home and binge that night. That was the pattern. I started asking, I was like alright well what have you done to address this situation at work? And the answer was basically was like nothing, it just happens over, and over, and over again, and she wasn’t really assertive so she wasn’t really setting any boundaries or anything like that. We discussed some strategies for actually addressing the situation. She does that, they kind of mend the issue, and suddenly stress massively reduced, binging massively reduced because of that one trigger.
That directly translates to more success. But how many programs health and fitness wise are ever talking about stuff like that?
Kevin: That’s real world stuff that people are dealing with that’s causing the derailment, so we have to start addressing that.
Kelsey: Wow, this is awesome! We talked a little bit about some of those cravings, but I want to hear maybe what maybe the most common ones are so people can think about how those cravings in their life, how they can maybe fulfill those good kind of cravings that we need like social connection, those kinds of things. What are the most common ones that you find are leading people to do this kind of destructive behavior that’s not putting them closer to their goals?
Kevin: Here’s the ones that we focus on most: safety, mobility, movement. Mobility I talked about could economic mobility, or mobility moving around the world, traveling, things like that. Movement is actual physical movement. If you have an injury perhaps or you have a chronic illness and you can’t do…movement is just the human body has to move.
Kevin: If you’re not able to or there’s something blocking that from happening, that’s going to go unfulfilled. It’s going to cause a massive amount of stress. Then there’s love and relationships, social acceptance, purpose, health and vitality, self-actualization, and autonomy.
Love and relationships is a huge one. We know how high the divorce rate is. We know that people tend to keep toxic people around much longer than they should. Most of the people coming to the program when we do these assessments are struggling in the area of love and relationships. They’re not fulfilled in their close knit relationships necessarily. They don’t see their friends enough because of course everybody is busy and overscheduled, so they’ve never making times for friends. They’re so busy that they see their spouse a couple hours a day and that’s it so their unfulfilled in that area. Then they have some toxic people in their life they should’ve gotten rid or a long time ago who are adding massive amounts of stress. Or at least set boundaries and limits on these people so that they’re not influencing them as much. That’s a huge one.
The other huge one is autonomy and that’s generally related to the scheduling issue that I just talked about. People feel like they don’t have any control over their life because their life is scheduled by other people like their spouse, their kids, their work. That’s another one, so many people are at jobs that they dislike.
What I like the best about getting specific on this stuff and doing these assessments is that when you talk to somebody on the phone and you say hey, rate your stress level from 1 to 10. And they’re like hmm, okay, well I’m like a 3 or a 4. And then you do the assessment, and it’s just like boom, unfulfillment, unfulfillment, unfulfillment, unfulfillment.
Kevin: And then they’re eyes get big and they’re like wow, okay, I had no idea. This looks like a disaster. I had no idea my stress was this high. That’s where you start to really get at the root of stuff and you can then make change because you got specific.
Laura: I wonder how many people actually think their experience of those lack areas is actually normal. They think it’s normal to not have any control over my schedule, or it’s normal to never see my friends. It’s almost like you’re pointing it out to them that’s it’s not normal and then they’re realizing how stressful it is.
Kevin: They totally do. And they also rate stress a lot lower than it is and they block out a lot of the areas that are unfulfilled precisely because they have access to medication. If you took their medication away, they’d be extremely unhappy, they’d be extremely uncomfortable. But because they’re medicating with food every night or every so often, it helps them cope with it and they can continue to brush it off. Because they haven’t really gotten into doing the work yet, they don’t realize how much the stress is actually impacting them. That’s another big area of it as well.
Laura: How do you feel like that applies to people who actually have more kind of that orthorexic relationship with food and their body? Either they’re over restrictive with their food, or they’re over exercising, or kind of like they’re unhappy with relationships so they feel like they have to use their diet or their exercise program to bring them a good relationship. Do you ever have clients like that?
Kevin: For sure. It’s both sides of the same coin. Whether you are engaging in very destructive eating and lifestyle habits, or you’re engaging in what appear on the outside to be very healthy things but you’re doing them to an extreme, it’s all for the same purpose. In terms of that, it can be a control thing. Like okay, guess what? I have no control over parts of my life, or that’s how I feel. The one thing I can control 100% is my food and my fitness. And I can do that and I can look like this is a socially acceptable thing, but in reality, it’s very unhealthy and it’s very excessive. But it’s still for the same purposes. They get the same reaction out of it. They get a medication type feeling, a control type feeling.
It’s like food for them is glue. It holds their life together when everything around them feels like it’s falling apart, they’ve got this one thing, this food and this fitness thing, plus in terms of excessive exercise a lot of times, there’s a huge endorphin release that comes with that. That is medication. Endorphins are medication. Somebody’s excessively exercising, a lot of times they’re doing it for that feeling that they get. That is their medication.
Kelsey: Interesting. Would you say that if somebody doesn’t address these cravings, is it almost impossible for them to be successful long term with diet and exercise in a healthy way?
Kevin: If they have a dysfunctional relationship with food. Here’s the thing, not everybody has a dysfunctional relationship with food. The people I work with do. They recognize that, they come to me, we do the work.
Let’s take people who don’t have a dysfunctional relationship with food, but their core cravings are going unfulfilled. If you take a look at their life, and this is why I tell people never compare themselves to others because when they do an assessment like the core cravings assessment and they say, okay I see that I’m going unfulfilled in these areas, but I know Jill and she’s going unfulfilled in these areas too, but she’s really healthy with her food. She doesn’t binge and all of this. But if you assessed Jill’s life, you’d find out but she has three glasses of wine at night, or she’s medicating with shopping, or she’s medicating with some other area. Just because she hasn’t chosen food doesn’t mean she’s got it all together. Does that make sense?
Kelsey: Right, yeah. It’s like some other area of their life is being affected in a negative way.
Kevin: Yeah, they’re medicating in some other way. The people I work with just medicate with food.
Kevin: But that doesn’t mean that just because someone doesn’t medicate with food that they’ve got it all together. There’s many, many, many different things that people medicate with.
You have to kind of realize the fact that alright, if you’re medicating with food, the reason why that can be very destructive is because of the negative health outcomes, and the negative body image outcomes, and so on, and so forth. There’s unique things tied to medicating with food, but there’s’ other forms of medication have their own unique outcomes as well.
That’s the big one is don’t compare yourself to other people because you have no idea what’s going on in their life. You have no idea what their particular medication may be.
Kelsey: Yeah. That just makes life so hard too when you just compare yourself to everybody else. It’s never a good thing. I personally have never seen great outcomes with that in somebody that I’m working with. I think that is something that is almost part of the problem too. If you’re somebody who needs to compare yourself to other people to feel successful, that you need to do what everybody else is doing to feel like you have your life in control, I would say that’s probably part of the problem. Do you think so?
Kevin: Yeah, for sure. The comparison game absolutely has to end, for sure.
Kelsey: Yeah. Alright, awesome. These cravings, this dysfunctional relationship with food, body, and self, it all seems to come down to allowing somebody to effectively be successful for the long term. That’s definitely part of why people become inconsistent with these goals. Maybe they can lose weight for three months and they’re doing great. But something happens at that three month mark, they go back to that dysfunctional relationship and this whole thing just cycles over, and over, and over again.
Your approach is, just to kind of recap here, is to figure out what is dysfunctional, make that functional again, and then give people the information about food, diet, and lifestyle, that right information piece of this that you were talking about before to allow them to have that correct information now that they have the ability to put that into practice, right?
Kevin: Yeah. Doing the work looks a lot less like alright we’re not just going to assess what cravings are going unfulfilled and work on fulfilling those. That’s just one part of it, right? There are other parts. There are what I call bio-psycho-social manipulators. These are other stressors that we get very specific on. There’s about 45 of them that are very, very common. We do an assessment on those as well. But again, that is stress related.
Outside of the getting very clear and specific on stress, we talk about the how somebody is eating, the connection with food, the actual process of eating. People like to use the term intuitive eating. I don’t really like that term because it’s not really well defined. But there is an importance in being connected, there is an importance in being aware and in the present moment when you’re eating because a lot of people are eating in a very, very distracted state. That’s part of the process of medication. You don’t want to be present when you have a lot of pain and you have a lot of stress. You try to distract. They distract during eating, they distract at many times of their life just using the cell phone all day, or binge watching Netflix, and so on, and so forth. Those are different areas that we have to talk about.
We also talk about what’s called internal personas. This is very helpful for people because this puts definitive kind of naming system to the state of being triggered. Somebody will say, alright, I realize I was triggered and that’s why I binge. It’s like, alright, but what does being triggered mean? We have to teach and understand that everybody has an authentic self and this is like your CEO version of you. It makes really great decisions, its thinks things through, it’s very rational, it’s very reasonable. But you also have these other internal personas surrounding that that a lot of times when there’s stress, high stress states, or specific things happen in your life, those internal personas try to kind of step up and take the wheel from the CEO.
This could be like a perfectionist. You’ve heard somebody say I’m a perfectionist, or I’m a people pleaser, or I’m compulsive, or I’m this, or I’m that. That’s actually not the reality. That’s kind of selling yourself short. You have a perfectionist part of you. You have a people pleaser part of you. And when that part is triggered, that’s the behavior that will manifest. But it doesn’t have to. You can realize, okay hold on, the thinking that’s going through my head right now, the self-talk that’s going through my head right now, the beliefs that are coming up in my head right now, those are being driven by my perfectionist. Or those are being driven by my people pleaser or my compulsive part of me. You can realize that, take a step back, see what it’s trying to tell you, let the CEO come back in, kind of address the situation and make a much more productive outcome. Instead of acting in a trigger state, you’re acting in a much more rational state.
That’s actually a process that you can teach people how to do. There’s many, many, many different options or internal personas that are possibilities. Helping people identify which ones show up for them on a routine basis, because every single person is different. What we found is that it’s typically like five or six different internal personas that just show up on a regular basis over, and over, and over again in people’s lives. They figure out which ones those are for them, they learn about them, they understand them better, and then they can learn to recognize them and then put that CEO back in the driver’s seat so they’re not displaying triggered behavior all of the time. They’re displaying more purposeful behavior.
Kelsey: Okay. We’re talking about a lot of different things here in terms of how to make somebody more consistent with their eating and their lifestyle to get them closer to a functional relationship with food, body, and self.
I know this is a complicated process and there’s a lot that goes into the type of coaching that you do, but I’m wondering if for the sake of this podcast if there’s a way that we can kind of simplify and maybe give somebody who’s listening today a couple first steps. What should they focus on first if they’re finding that maybe they’re binging or they’re restricting as a means to kind of gain control in their life and they don’t want to do that anymore? What are the first few steps that somebody can take to help them have a more normal relationship with food?
Kevin: Okay. That’s a great question. Let’s do two things right off the bat. There’s one that’s a classic mistake that most people don’t know is a mistake because they’ve actually been trained to do it by the health and fitness industry. The first thing is to stop making health and weight loss related goals. That has to happen. I’m going to explain why. It’s because the brain is biologically programmed for immediate gratification. If we have the option of getting something very good right now or delaying gratification, the brain wants you to just take what’s good right now, what’s right in front of you. Going back to what I said about the environment that we happen to live in, it’s very easy to be unhealthy. It’s very hostile to people who want to be healthy unless you learn to navigate the environment.
When somebody is stressed and they are faced with going to fast food and then they have this thought in their head, well my trainer, my coach or whatever, they told me to eat this instead and blah, blah, blah. They’re having this conversation in their head. They know that what do they get from fast food immediately? They get the convenience of it, they get the taste of it, it’s very hyper palatable, that’s very appealing. They get the medication component of it because that type of food is a medicating food type. For a lot of these people who grew up on fast food, it’s a comfort food. There’s a nostalgia factor involved there as well.
Those are all the immediate benefits that somebody gets from doing fast food, making that choice versus the real food option of going home, cooking something, eating a nutritious meal. They’ve never been trained to focus on the immediate benefits they get from that. All that’s tied to that is weight loss and health.
Kevin: Things that happen at some arbitrary point in the future. They’re never going to consistently make that decision, ever, ever, ever especially if they have a dysfunctional relationship with food, body, and self. They’re always going to trend toward the immediate gratification thing.
The first step is ditch all of your long term goals because anytime you set a goal that’s far of in the future that may never happen…because you also has to look at the historical record. What does your brain know about you and you’re past behavior?
For my clients, I talk to them on the phone all the time, one of the first questions I ask them is when did you start focusing on health? When did you start dieting? When did you start trying to change your body? And they give me answers like 9, 11, 14. These people are 45, 55, so decades of struggle, decades of failure.
Your brain knows that historical record. When you set an arbitrary goal at some point in the future, I’m going to lose 30 pounds by blah, blah, blah, or I’m going to lower my blood pressure, etc., etc., your brain doesn’t believe you. It knows that historical record. It knows that’s never happened before. If it has, it knows that you fell off the wagon and things went back to the way they were, and that’s all it’s going to think about. When you set those long term goals, it does not believe you. It’s also going to trend you towards things that provide immediate gratification.
Kevin: You have to ditch those long term goals altogether and then you have to start reprograming your brain and focusing on what are the immediate benefits. There are real immediate benefits that people get from eating real food, from doing functional forms of movement.
Again, going back to another component which is you have to like the movement that you chose to do. You have to enjoy it. If you are forcing yourself to do it, if you don’t like P90x and you put in P90x because that’s what your trainer told you to do, or your coach told you to do, or your friend told you to do and you don’t really like it, you are not going to be consistent in that habit.
Kevin: You can’t will yourself to success. You cannot discipline yourself to success. If you have to use willpower and you have to use discipline, you’re doing it wrong. You’re not going to win long term. You have to enjoy the food, which it’s very easy to enjoy real food, and you have to enjoy the movement, and you have to enjoy these other lifestyle components. And you have to get very clear and specific on the immediate benefits that you get from doing those things so what when you’re faced with a choice, it’s comparing immediate benefits of A with immediate benefits of B. Because if you compare immediate benefits of A (fast food) with some arbitrary, long term, probably will never happen benefits of B, we can see why the A wins every single time.
We have to start rearranging from the very beginning somebody’s goals, the reasons that they have for doing this stuff, and the why’s behind it and understanding the immediate benefits that they get. That’s mistake number one.
Kelsey: Question about that before we move on, which is can we talk for a second about the immediate benefits of a healthier type behavior? You brought up that example of fast food versus a healthy real food meal that you’ve cooked at home. How can somebody determine those immediate benefits of that healthier option? What do you kind of coach people on to as you said, reprogram your brain?
Kevin: They’ll actually tell you. When you switch somebody to real food from the Standard American Diet, they will tell you what they feel. They will tell you what they experience and differences. They will tell you about more mental clarity. They will tell you about not feeling run down all the time. They’ll tell you about more energy. Instead of focusing on weight loss, we focus on the immediate benefits that people experience. I’m not a fan what a lot of coaches and trainers do. Here’s what you’re going to experience, like telling the person. No, let’s wait to see what they experience themselves that they tell us because that’s what we’re going to use to focus on that.
There’s a bigger picture here because all of it should tie together. All the pieces of the puzzle should fit. I think it starts with movement. It starts with figuring out the types of movement that you really enjoy. I call this DWYLT, do what you love today. That should be the foundation of your movement practice are physical activities that you love, that inspire you, that you don’t need willpower, you don’t need discipline.
I’ll give you an example, two of mine. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is one of them, and tennis is another one. I have many, but those are two that we can focus on now. The question is do I ever need willpower or discipline to go play tennis or to go do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? The answer is no. Now, do I do either of those activities for long term arbitrary benefits like weight loss, or weight maintenance, or health? No. I do them because I love the activity itself. And those activities, so talking about fitting pieces of the puzzle together, those activities fulfill core human cravings. When I go play tennis and I go do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, that’s with other people. I’m forming comradery, I’m forming community, I’m fulfilling that community or that social acceptance core craving, and the relationship core craving, and the movement core craving, right?
Kelsey: Mm hmm.
Kevin: I’m having fun while I’m there in the activity. I also have a craving personally, not everybody does, but I have a craving for competition. I am competitive. I like competitive things. I need an outlet for that. Those things provide an outlet for that. I’m filling a lot of core cravings while I’m also getting really good physical movement in.
And then guess what? When I think about fast food versus real food, it’s very easy for me to choose real food because I know, guess what? When I fuel my body with real food, I perform so much better doing tennis and doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and I feel better afterwards, and I recover faster, and I don’t get nearly as many injuries, and so on.
All of the things fit together. I eat real food to fuel the activities that I love. And that in turn, all of that together helps fulfill some of the core human cravings that I have. They’re all piggybacking on each other. None of it is for weight loss, none of it is for health. Those things are consequences of behaviors. Those things are consequences of the way you design your immediate environment and your lifestyle, and that’s how it should be. They shouldn’t be goals. They should be consequences. Focus on the actual behaviors that are going to lead you there and what you get out of those behaviors, and you’ll get there. You don’t need to set weight loss goals. You don’t need to set health goals.
The thing is psychology wise, if you still set weight loss goals, and you still set health goals, that will actually sabotage the process because you get into a situation where if it’s the only reason…not the only reason…if it’s a reason why you’re doing tennis is because of weight loss, or because of blood pressure, or because of something else and you start to measure that and you start to specifically measure it perhaps in ways that aren’t very productive like using a scale, there’s much better ways to measure body composition change, like legit body composition change, legit change in weight because we’re not really concerned with losing muscle mass, that wouldn’t’ be a great thing. We probably want to lose body fat instead. But a scale really doesn’t make that distinction. So you get on a scale and people have these numbers in their head and they have now a rate at which they want to lose weight in their head, and they easily get disappointed. They thought they were going to lose 5 pounds, the scale says they lost 2 ½ and now they’re thinking why should I even be playing tennis?
Kevin: They’re not focused on what’s important! They’re focused on a stupid number and it starts to sabotage the entire process. What I tell my clients, you can allow those long term goals to grab your attention. Just get rid of them. You’re going to get them as a consequence of doing the process that I’m laying out for you.
Laura: Kevin, what would you do if you had a client who said that they hated to exercise?
Kevin: Usually it’s a programming thing, cultural programming, or family programming, or programming just based on media. Because if you look around, what is exercise to most people? Exercise has become no pain/no gain, beat yourself up.
When I tell people go play tennis, they’re like wait, hold on, what? It’s like they need permission to go to something fun that’s physically active. That’s really, really unfortunate because they think well if I’m not beating myself up, I’m not making progress. And if I’m not drenched in sweat, I’m not making progress. And if I don’t have a trainer screaming in my face, I’m not making progress. That’s all nonsense programming.
If we start to look at people’s relationship with exercise, what they think about exercise, the beliefs they have about exercise, we start to realize of course, I wouldn’t want to do that either the way that you think about exercise. We have to start changing how people relate…and I don’t even call it exercise really. Exercise is not important. Movement is important. Let’s start there. Let’s start defining types of movement that you actually enjoy. Let’s forget about what you think about exercise and let’s start focusing on just movement practices that you enjoy.
Then we run into the obstacle of but I don’t enjoy any types of physical movement. Okay, this is usually a comfort zone issue. You start to talk to the people about well what have you thought about perhaps trying at some point in your life? Okay, well I thought about yoga. Okay, why haven’t you done yoga yet? Well because I feel awkward. I’ll go to the class, and everybody would be looking at me, and I don’t know anything about yoga. This is a comfort zone issue. This is somebody had an idea of perhaps trying something and has talked themselves out of it a dozen times, so now we have to address that issue.
You start to get them comfortable with the idea of going in, and they do a yoga class, and now suddenly yoga is on their DWYLT list, their do what you love today list. Then we start identifying other things that they might enjoy and can try. We start redefining this person’s relationship with movement and exercise and before long they have an entire process, 3, 4, 5 different activities that they rotate between that they love to do.
That’s the other thing about DWYLT which is really powerful is it’s not schedule based, it’s not Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and then Tuesday, Thursday, and these are my rest days. It’s nothing like what they’ve experienced in the past. It’s get up, drink some water, stretch, think about what movement practice today calls to you most. What do you most motivated to do today? Is it take a long walk and do nothing else? Go do that. Is it tennis? Go do that? Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? Go do that. Is it swimming? Go do that. There’s a myriad of different options that people can choose from.
It’s just about listening to their body and listening to their head as well, what do I want to do today? What am I called to do? When you do this, willpower never needed, discipline never needed, completely change your relationship with exercise and movement, and you get the health benefits as the consequences of this.
Kelsey: Okay, awesome. Step number one at least kind of how I’m hearing it is more like reprogram your thoughts about goals, about what you need to do to accomplish the health consequences that you are looking for. Essentially ditch those long term goals, come up with what you see as benefits of in the short term for doing the types of behaviors that will lead to long term health and success in completing those behaviors on a daily or regular basis, right?
Kevin: Yes. When I say why are you doing this? Why are you doing X? Why are you doing Y? Why are you doing Z? If the first thing out of the person’s mouth is because I want some benefit in the future, they’re going to lose. When the answer has something to do with right now, I know they’re going to win.
Kelsey: Got it, okay. Once somebody does that, figures all that out, they’ve got their behaviors, they know the short term benefits, what’s the next step?
Kevin: The next step is to start to implement. You can do this one of two ways. We have two programs like I said, one is “Total Body Reboot.” That focuses on food, fitness, lifestyle. The other is “Decode Your Cravings.” That focuses on the relationship with food, body, and self. You can work on both of those areas at the same time. You can work on them separately. You can work on “Decode Your Cravings First, the psychology side of things and then you can add in the details later.
What that would look like is laying a solid foundation knowing that alright, I don’t want to implement the details until I have a foundation that’s going to make those details stick. But some people don’t think like that. They think the opposite way. I want to implement the details because that makes sense to me first. And then if I start to stumble, if start to become inconsistent, I know that that other program is there waiting for me and at that point I’ll address the psychology side of things. You can do it either way. I don’t really care. Or you can do both at the same time. It just depends on the person’s personality really on what they want to start with.
Your audience, if there’s people out there with a dysfunctional relationship with food, body, and self, they’ve been listening to you, they’re probably implementing really good advice. If they’re still inconsistent, really the only thing left is to address the psychology side of things.
Kevin: Address the dysfunctional relationship with food, body, and self. That’s the second side of the coin and they’re going to start to find massive success in what you’ve already told them to do. They’re going find consistency in that.
Kelsey: Right. Yeah, and I think that’s a problem that a lot of people have is they feel like they have the right information, but they’re stumbling. They’re doing things for a while and then getting off track. Yeah, I think that psychology piece of it is really important for probably a lot of you out there who are listening today because like Kevin just said, you’ve probably been listening to us and people like Kevin for a long time and you do implement this stuff at least for a little while, but then something happens for whatever reason, and now we’re learning that that is mostly likely psychology based, you don’t continue with it. I love that idea of if you feel like have the information, but you’re not implementing it consistently, then that’s a clue that it’s time to start focusing on the psychology aspect.
Kevin: Yes. Or there’s another type of person probably in your audience who is consistent with implementing the advice that you’ve already given them. However, they feel like it’s a chore. They feel like it takes willpower, it takes discipline. And some people do have a lot of discipline and some people do have a lot of willpower. They have enough of those two things to make what you’re telling them happen consistently, but it’s not super enjoyable. It’s not super fun and it takes a lot of focus, and it takes a lot of time, and it takes a lot of obsession really. If they want to free themselves from the need to use willpower and discipline to do what you’ve told them to do, that would be another reason why they would want to address that side of things.
Kelsey: Got it. Awesome. Anything else you want to add for anybody who’s listening out there who is inconsistent with this stuff before we wrap up today? Because I want to make sure that if somebody is listening to this that they feel like they at least have the beginning steps to start with this stuff. And then of course, if they need more help, they can consult with somebody, they can do a program like yours. But anything else you that would add to help somebody today be more consistent with what they’re aiming to do?
Kevin: For sure. I gave you the first piece. We spent a lot of time talking about that first mistake. I never got to the second one. The second thing that I would ask people to do is sit down and do some journaling. What I would ask you to do inside the journal getting very specific is start thinking about the stress that you’re under, the areas of your life where you don’t feel fulfilled, where you don’t exactly feel happy, and be very, very honest with yourself. This is an exercise that is not a ten minute exercise. This is something that I would ask you to do probably over the course of three or four days where you keep returning to the same journal entry over and over again re-reading and then adding to it because every single day you’re going to remember or experience different parts. And it has to be covering the whole range of your life whether it’s how many kids I have, and what is my relationship with my children? And then I go to work and this happens, and I never got to do this thing that I always dreamed of doing and I feel confined, and I feel this, and I feel that. And just get as much detail out onto the paper as you possibly can. That’s going to give you probably the clearest picture that you’ve had in a while of the actual stress that you’re under as a human being and how that’s possibly impacting your happiness, your fulfillment.
Again, it’s very important that people love the direction that their life is headed. If your life is headed in the wrong direction or a destructive direction even, there’s no way, there’s no way you’re going to want to consistently fuel your body with real food. You’re just playing pretend at doing that. And again, you’re probably playing pretend because you want to influence some long term outcome because that’s what you’ve been told all of this is for. No, no no, no. Let’s get our life in a very productive direction, a direction that we’re happy about and use that momentum to want to fuel these other areas.
Everything becomes about the now. Everything becomes about immediate benefits. Like I explained earlier, all of the pieces start working together. It’s no longer a scattered puzzle. I’m doing that because of this, I’m doing that because of this, and someone told me so, and yada, yada. It’s all for a very specific integrated purpose.
Kelsey: Got it. Journal about what things that you are maybe unhappy with or feel unfulfilled about. Would you include as part of that journaling exercise to have somebody kind of think how they would turn that around as well? Or is that sort of where coaching comes in?
Kevin: They can do that as part of the journaling. Start to write down what you feel your relationship with exercise is right now and look at that. When you define your relationship with exercise, then ask yourself the question is that something I want to have a relationship with? Because we know, like I said, that movement is a core human craving. Your body has to move. If you have this destructive view of what movement is because you’ve been programmed by the help of the fitness industry to think that the only legit movement is exercise, and exercise is always beat yourself up, no pain/no gain, do stuff you don’t like doing, then of course you’re not going to move consistently. You’re not going to fulfill that core human craving.
Start to unpack that, start to unravel that. Not just here’s what I think about exercise, but where did those thoughts come from? Who told me that? Who’s been telling me that? Is it the media? Is it I’ve been reading too many Cosmo magazines? What is it? And start to get just very clear and as many details as possible. I tell people all the time, you cannot have too many details.
Kelsey: Yeah, I agree. I always tell people when they come to work with me as they’re filling out their intake form that too much detail is impossible. I think that is very useful because people feel like they need to just sort of summarize everything and that’s not where the real work comes in. I feel like as soon as you start to open those doors and let people talk about anything and everything going on in their life that may be affecting what’s happening in their diet and lifestyle, you get to more of the root cause of things.
Kevin: For sure. I tell people all the time that you can do some of this on your own, but the reason you would want a coach to do this with you is because you’re too close to the problem. You’re too close to all of these factors, and you don’t really see the big picture, and you don’t really know where all of the pieces fit together, or how they’re supposed to fit together. And there’s a process to doing this that we’re proving now works.
If you just want the process and you want help doing it, it’s really frustrating and lonely to try to do this stuff on your own. How are you going to? You haven’t worked with thousands of people on this stuff, right? You’re trying to blindly discover the way. Why not just invest in having a coach lead you through the process? It’s much more fulfilling, it’s much easier, it’s much faster. There’s a lot of benefits to doing it that way.
Kelsey: Yeah. Laura and I have talked about having coaches on our own and how that’s even helped somebody like us who has experience in coaching but maybe not in what we’re getting coached about. There’s definitely a place where expertise become really, really important and saves you a lot of time and energy of course. Especially if you’re already stressed out, it can certainly simplify your life a little bit.
Kevin, tell us where people can find you.
Kevin: Everything can be found at Rebootedbody.com. If you want podcasts, or the academy, or just a whole bunch of articles, and videos, and stuff like that, good information, it’s all there, Rebootedbody.com
Kelsey: Excellent. If you guys need more help with the psychology side of things or if you want the diet and lifestyle piece of it as well, Kevin sounds like he has got an awesome little website over there, so check it out. And thank you so much, Kevin, for being with us today. I think this stuff is incredibly important. It’s something that’s not talked about enough and it really impedes people’s success rates. We want people to be successful long term and we want them to be healthy, and happy, and live a life that they really feel proud of and that they’re excited about every day, so thank you.
Kevin: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.