Have you ever wondered how naturally thin and fit people think about exercise and nutrition?
This newsletter will enlighten you exactly how they think about it. Why is this valuable? Because the first step to changing your own nutrition and exercise patterns is to bring your unconscious thoughts and attitudes to conscious awareness.
The person who struggles with his/her weight sees exercise as a necessary evil. It’s about “punching the clock”, getting the job done so that you can get on to better, more exciting parts of your day.
If you’re a naturally fit person, you look forward to exercise. It’s your time to recharge. You might even schedule your work and meetings around your exercise. If this person has a scheduling conflict, he thinks “work is getting in the way of my exercise.” Whereas the person who struggles might think “exercise is getting in the way of my work… so I won’t exercise.”
This brings me to my next point. The person who struggles looks for every reason to quit. You had to stay behind 5 minutes at work, so instead of doing a 60-minute workout, you’re down to a 55-minute workout? The struggling person would just skip the workout. It’s a 60-minute workout or no workout. The naturally fit person, on the other hand looks for ways to fit exercise into her day despite difficult time constraints.
If the struggling person isn’t feeling well, he thinks “I don’t feel well, so I won’t exercise today.” When the naturally thin person isn’t feeling well, he thinks “I don’t feel well. I’ll go exercise (modify my workout, of course), and I’ll feel better.”
If the struggling person is injured, she thinks “my right shoulder is injured. I’ll wait until it’s healed before starting to exercise.” If the naturally fit person is injured, she thinks “my right shoulder is injured. But I can still work other muscles, and there are certain exercises that don’t bother my right shoulder, so I’ll do those.”
The naturally fit person thinks of exercise as integral a part of his schedule as brushing his teeth. No matter how busy you are, you always brush your teeth (I hope). The same goes for exercise. No matter how busy the person is, exercise is non-negotiable. It’s just there, like brushing your teeth.
The struggling person thinks “what’s the least amount of exercise I can do?” The naturally fit person thinks “what’s the optimal (not maximal) amount of exercise I should do?”
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the naturally fit person likes exercise for its own sake. Sure, this person usually has a goal to work towards, but he likes the process as much as the outcome. The struggling person hates every single moment of the process, and wants the outcome. And usually by the time his outcome is reached, the struggling person will think “great, I’ve reached my goal, now I can stop exercising.”
There are also some critical differences in how the two types of people perceive nutrition.
The struggling person has many reasons for eating: hunger, happiness, sadness, boredom, the simple presence of food in an accessible location and many others.
The naturally fit person has only one reason to eat: she’s hungry. How or what she’s feeling emotionally has no effect on what goes in her mouth.
When on vacation, the struggling person thinks “I’m on vacation, so none of what I do here counts. Besides, I’m on vacation so infrequently that I must try some of this food.” By contrast, the naturally fit person eats more or less the same things on vacation as at home. Sure, this person will want to try some new dishes, but the majority of what’s eaten on vacation is the same as what’s at home (might be prepared differently, but the ingredients are the same).
The struggling person will crave very specific foods. She will crave chocolate or chips or cheese or alcohol. The naturally fit person will crave food. The difference is that the struggling person is craving specific nutrients that he’s not getting in food, and that’s why the cravings are so specific. The naturally fit person will crave food in general because the only time he gets cravings is when he’s truly hungry.
The struggling person ignores the body’s natural signals that she’s full. Being raised to “finish everything on your plate”, she obliges, even though she’s already full before finishing everything. The naturally thin person is very much in tune with her body’s “full” signal, and stops eating when she senses that signal.
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