Holistic health coach and podcaster Kevin Geary is our special guest host in Episode 779 of “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show.”
Jimmy searched far and wide in his Rolodex of incredibly talented and extremely wise potential guest hosts before personally hand-selecting the people who would be filling in for him on this podcast while he is away writing his book Keto Clarity over the next few months. And today’s special guest host fits the bill as we welcome in Kevin Geary from “The Rebooted Body” and host of his own fabulous iTunes health show called “The Rebooted Body Podcast” (check out Kevin’s interview with Jimmy about Cholesterol Clarity a few months back in Episode 20).
Listen in today as Kevin gives some personal and professional insight into why people continually fail at reaching their health and fitness goals despite having the right information (that’s people like YOU!), the role psychology plays in this happening, what he see are the three major pillars of creating a genuine lifestyle change, the many myths that exists out there regarding the mental aspect of this, identifying and healing the 8 primary unhealthy eating triggers that continue to doom you, and how to best accomplish alignment in pursuit of your goals and the power of margin in getting there. Take it from Kevin who has personally been there with his own weight and health struggles and soak in the many years of trial and error wisdom he has gleaned. And a BIG THANK YOU to Kevin for providing a SPECIAL BONUS TRANSCRIPT at the end of the show notes in case you missed a single word of what he shared in today’s episode.
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SPECIAL BONUS TRANSCRIPT:
What is up “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” listeners?
My name is Kevin Geary and today I want to answer the question: why do people who have all of the right information still fail at fat loss, at fitness, at nutrition — at creating a lifestyle out of healthy living?
I am so excited to be here and I can’t wait to share this information with you.
But first, you need to know who I am, right? Why are you listening to me, especially since it’s very likely that you’ve never heard of me before?
I am the founder of rebootedbody.com, the host of The Rebooted Body Podcast which you can get on iTunes and Stitcher Radio, and I do my best work through my online program, called Total Body Reboot, which is a dynamic coaching program that combines an unconventional curriculum with high level coaching and a supportive community.
Now all of this started with my personal journey from 220 pounds to 160 pounds. From high blood pressure and pre-Diabetes to normal blood pressure and metabolic function. And during that journey, I learned one of the most valuable pieces of the success puzzle, which is part of what I’m going to share with you today. And it’s a key piece that not many other people are talking about.
Now, this is a huge, intricate topic. Today, you’re going to get the 101 version. And I want to quickly give a shout out to Jimmy and thank him so much for the opportunity to share some of my ideas with you. I hope you can sense my passion as well as my gratitude toward Jimmy.
So here’s the question — and it likely applies directly to you in some way. (If it doesn’t, then you’re far more advanced than most — or you’re in denial). The question is, “Why do people who have the right information still fail?”
So close your eyes and imagine you’re driving in your car right now (and if you really are driving your car right now, please don’t close your eyes). You pull up to an intersection and you stop. It’s just you on the road — no other cars. Now peer up at the street sign and read the names of the roads. This conversation with me today is taking place at the intersection of science and psychology. And I want you to visualize that intersection because most people never get there. You — today — right now — are at that intersection. Now open your eyes.
Most people have a broke ass GPS and they just keep driving down the science road, endlessly. And that brings us to our first secret: there are no destinations on the science road.
Think about it. How many thousands of research papers are there that contain critical information? How many hundreds of thousands of paleo and whole food blogs are there dispensing life-changing advice? How many hundreds or thousands of truth telling podcasts are there for you to choose from?
The information — the science — is freely available and easily accessible to anyone with an internet connection. And these blogs, these podcasts, these research papers — they have a massive audience of people who still can’t get it together. Who, no matter what they do, can’t succeed long-term.
We always hear people say, “I fell off the wagon” right? Or, “I made it so far and then I relapsed.” Or, “I do pretty well until the holidays, or until social situations, or entertainment events.” Look, if the science road had a meaningful destination, everyone would be there. We’d all be successful. But it doesn’t. And if you keep thinking it does, you’re in for a long trip to nowhere.
So with that visualization we did a second ago, I parked you at the intersection where you need to make a critical turn. If you’ve been listening to Jimmy Moore for any length of time — you have more than enough science to make a ridiculous amount of progress. No more science — no more information — is necessary for you right now. So close your eyes and visualize your car turning down psychology avenue. This is the street that takes you to exactly where you want to go.
So first things first, and I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this — if you made the turn with me, that’s a sign that you’re willing to take action on what you already know. And that’s a good thing, because there’s a lot of people out there frozen in research mode who just keep reading and listening and never apply anything to their life.
Alright, so let’s get to the meat of this. And I’m going to talk to you as if you’re the one struggling right now. If you’re not struggling, this is still valuable to hear, but I’m talking to you so I don’t have to keep referring to “people” in general.
If you have the right information — and you’re listening to Jimmy so that’s probably the case — and you’re still struggling, it’s because of mental and emotional roadblocks and/or a failure to apply the information to your personal situation.
And that’s why we turned off science street and onto psychology street….
So there’s THREE key areas I want to cover today — and please keep in mind that this is just an introduction to this stuff.
The first part is dispelling the myths that impact our mindset, our outlook, and our expectations. I call these mental myths.
For instance, people tend to misunderstand the function of willpower. How many times have you said, “well, my willpower failed me.” I knew what to do, but I couldn’t follow through because my willpower wasn’t strong enough. Or you attribute willpower to an overall failure, such as believing, “well, my willpower held up for three weeks and then I fell off the wagon.”
This is a gross misunderstanding of how willpower works. The notion that you have this muscle called willpower that you can call on whenever you need it and the more you use it the stronger it gets — and so on and so forth — is seriously misguided. The truth is that willpower is more like a cup of tea: you can have a full cup, an empty cup, or any level in between.
The level of your cup is dependent on a ton of factors — things that can deplete it or help fill it back up.
Now even if you’re on board with that understanding, you have to go deeper. Here’s where it gets interesting. If you’re strongly drawn to the chips ahoy in the vending machine in your office, you would think that avoiding the vending machine would be the only thing that depletes your willpower cup. But that’s not actually how it works.
In fact, all mental processing throughout the day depletes your cup as does any event that presents a degree of stress. Now these things have an impact to varying degrees, but let’s say you wake up and have an amazing breakfast (willpower tends to be highest in the morning, by the way) and then hop in the car and drive to work. Like most mornings, you sit in rush hour traffic. This drives your stress up a bit because it annoys you, though you’re far less annoyed because you get to listen to the Livin La Vida Low Carb show. But nevertheless, you’re stressed. That stress depletes your willpower.
When you get to work and start doing a bunch of mental processing for a project you’re working on, that depletes it too. When your micromanaging boss looks over your shoulder and starts asking questions, that depletes it too.
So by lunch you’re a little bit fed up. You arrive at the elevator next to that stupid vending machine and the draw is sooo strong. But you call on that cup and you beat the urge — you jump in the elevator. Yet, at lunch with your coworkers it’s just too much to not spring for the convenience and deliciousness of a sandwich and chips. And what do you think? You think your willpower failed you.
The lesson I teach is a little bit different. Willpower is a useful tool, but it’s not a tool you can rely on. Because, as we know, it’s typically not available when you need it MOST.
Now if you know how to replenish your willpower cup it becomes even more useful. But I still don’t rely on it. I use it as a tool and then I have a plan B and a plan C for when I realize my willpower is too faulty to get the job done. An example of a plan B is to simply not be around what you want to avoid — this is the concept of Rebooting your home so that when your willpower fails, there’s no chips and candy or whatever you prefer to go all out on. Of course, there are other strategies that you can use to stay on track when willpower fails, but I have to move on…
Another myth is that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. And you even see a lot of programs out there based on this 21 day myth. And more often than not, what do you also hear? You hear that people are on their 3rd or 4th round of the 21 day program. Really? Really? False expectations cause failure.
The research is pretty clear: The average time to form a new habit is 66 days and it takes some people much much longer depending on how they approach habit formation, among other factors.
So that’s just another example of a myth that sets you up for failure psychologically. Another one — telling people your goals. That’s a HUGE mistake. Psychologists have found that telling people your goals makes you far less likely to accomplish them. Yet most programs tell you to go find someone to hold you accountable and tell them what you want to accomplish and yada yada. Don’t do it, big mistake.
So that’s the first category. And I could go on for days in that category, but you get the idea.
The next category is what I call unhealthy eating triggers. And there’s some overlap here with the myths we just talked about and with the next category.
So what are unhealthy eating triggers? These are physical, mental, and emotional triggers inside your body that ask you to fail. They linger and linger and linger and just continue to try to pull you backwards until they’re identified and dealt with. One of my favorite quotes is, “nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” And that’s exactly what these triggers do inside us.
So where do these triggers come from? They come from life. They come from your childhood. They come from your relationships. They come from things you experienced or witnessed. They come from the media. I’ll give you a few specific examples as I cover each one of these.
So there are eight main triggers that I’ve identified. There are more, but these are the top eight.
#1: Nutritional Poverty
This is a physical trigger — remember I said some are physical, some are mental, some are emotional — that is pervasive among people that believe calories are all that matter. Or I see it a lot also in low carb people who don’t pay attention to the nutritional value of the foods they eat.
When you pay attention to quantity over quality, you exponentially increase your chances of being micronutrient-deficient and macronutrient-deranged. Now if you’re low carb, you’re probably not having trouble with macronutrients, but you can easily have issues with micronutrient deficiency.
Well, I think we all understand that when your body isn’t getting the nutrition it needs, it makes you hungry. Now this isn’t hunger in your stomach, necessarily. It’s hunger at the cellular level. It’s hunger that creates or exacerbates other triggers. It’s a type of hunger that begs you to stop what you’re doing and eat anything else in the desperate hope that you’ll end up eating something nutritious.
This type of hunger typically takes a lot longer to develop in people who are low carb because the rest of their body feels sated. But it will come after you unless you focus on nutrient density.
#2: Macronutrient Mania
Now if you’re low-carb, this likely isn’t a problem. But one of the main goals of a healthy lifestyle — and Jimmy talks about this all of the time — is hormone regulation. The body is a complex system that’s regulated by multiple hormones and those hormones all interact with each other. Food has a huge impact on hormone function. If you eat the wrong things, you literally break your body’s ability to function properly.
And again, any time you’re breaking your body in some way, it’s going to create side effects. And in this case, the side effects act as triggers. You see this in people with insulin resistance — it doesn’t matter how good their willpower is or how dedicated they are — they’re body screams at them to eat more sugar and the obesity cycle continues. And people like this believe the willpower myth (which is actually so important that it’s a trigger of its own), they’ll think they’re simply not strong enough when the truth is that they’re suffering from a very powerful physiological trigger. And you need to be in the right mindset with the right coaching to overcome that.
#3: Sugar Stressing
If there’s one thing I get asked all of the time, it’s “how do I beat sugar addiction and cravings.” This is one of the most pervasive triggers and conquering it for REAL and for GOOD requires a very specific approach.
For one — and I know this is controversial — but the best way to conquer sugar addiction is to go cold turkey. Now let me add a caveat: if you go cold turkey and you don’t have the right mindset, the right tools, and the right expectations, you will absolutely fail.
This is where we could tie in another myth: the idea that if you quit something cold turkey, the further away you get from using that thing, be it alcohol, cigarrettes, or sugar — the more the temptation to act is depressed. That’s quite wrong. If that were the truth, addiction wouldn’t be a widespread problem.
The truth is that your brain engages in what are called extinction bursts, these are the brains last ditch attempts and getting you to return to the dependence that it was comfortable with. This is a programmed response in human beings and most people don’t know it exists. So if you’re going to successfully go cold turkey, you have to understand how to deal with extinction bursts, among other hurdles. That’s why coaching is so important.
#4: Mindless Madness
Knowing what to eat is important, but knowing how to eat is just as much so. The fact is that most people have poor eating habits when it comes to when they eat, where they eat, and what they do while the eat. These poor habits act as triggers that create various roadblocks to a healthy lifestyle.
So the opposite of mindless eating is mindful eating. Here’s why this is a trigger: I teach an intuitive approach to eating. No counting, no weighing, no tracking, etc. — eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.
The only way to do that is to engage in mindful eating. When you’re distracted by things like driving while eating, watching television, talking on the phone, attending an event or social gathering, etc. you miss important satiety cues and you miss emotional triggers.
Mindlessness makes you oblivious: to how you feel, to how much you’re consuming, to everything. And certain situations promote mindlessness, which begins to act as a trigger for abandoning your goals.
#5: Feeding Emotions
“Food as glue” is the term I use to describe emotional eating. Food often gives us a feeling of control and the sense that we can use it to glue our lives back together when things get tough.
And if you think about it, it feels this way to us because food offers a level of control we can’t get anywhere else. Everything in life is a give or take, except food. We can almost always dictate the who, why, when, where, what, and how of food. It’s really difficult to say that for anything else.
But it’s not real control though, and it’s not really gluing anything together: it’s all an illusion. And it’s a very very strong trigger. This is one that takes a ton of work to overcome, but when you do the work, you return true control to YOU and you gain the ability to feed your physical self versus your emotional self.
#6: Pattern Paralysis
Many unhealthy eating triggers are simply patterns and habits that we’ve been following our entire lives. These habits are hard to break (especially if you believe the 21 day myth and the willpower myth).
So if we look at me personally, I suffered from two big pattern paralysis triggers: eating in front of the television (which also ties in to mindless madness) and eating dessert after every meal. That was something that I felt was programmed into me because my childhood promoted that — we had dessert after almost every meal as a family.
I’ll give you another example, this one happens all of the time and this one exacerbates feeding emotions and sugar stressing: Have you ever seen a child start crying, perhaps they’re frustrated or they fell and hurt themselves and the parent offers them a cookie, or a cracker, or some treat to distract them. What’s happening here? Well first, when you distract children from their emotions they learn that you’re supposed to suppress your true feelings. The second thing they learn is that cookies are a great treatment for pain. Well fast forward to adulthood and you have an individual who doesn’t eat because they’re hungry, but who eats because they’re stressed, because life is hard, because they sat in rush hour, because they have a micromanaging boss — the eat every time they feel pain.
This is a pattern that they learned in childhood that has now morphed into trigger #5, feeding emotions. And if this is one of your main triggers, then it can easily lead to suffering from trigger #3, sugar stressing. So that’s, in a nutshell, where triggers from come, how they develop, and how they play on each other.
Another pattern paralysis example that I use often is Happy Hour. I’ll let you think about that one a little bit on your own — but just notice how it’s a habit that people get together and drink and eat crap food even if they don’t suffer from other triggers, that one gets them simply because it’s a pattern they’ve learned from society.
#7: Ego Depletion
This is basically the willpower myth — the technical term is ego depletion. And the more you believe in the willpower myth, the less work you tend to do solving other triggers because you’re too busy placing blame on your lack of self-control to see that a lot of this goes far far far beyond the realm of simple self control. And that makes this a trigger itself.
#8: Regressive Rewarding
Have you ever made wonderful progress on something and then totally sabotaged yourself? I have. And many of my clients have reported the same thing. I call this regressive rewarding because it often manifests as rewarding ourselves for doing such a great job. That rewarding pulls us into complete self-sabotage and has the power to derail our journey completely.
This one is pretty straightforward but I want you to think about how this also might tie in to another key aspect of childhood, which is the rampant use of food as a bribery tool. I shiver when I hear a mom or dad say, “If you do this, I’ll give you ice cream.”
Aside from the fact that rewards and punishments are highly ineffective leadership tools for children, rewarding with food teaches kids — who obviously grow into adults — that food is a great tool. I had a client recently who told me, “well I let myself have a treat every day I workout. You know, you do a good job and you get a treat.” — Sounds exactly like mainstream parenting to me. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
So there’s a lot of stuff for you to think about with regard to unhealthy eating triggers and how important understanding the mental side of all of this is. But I’m not finished. There’s one more key area of mindset that you need to tackle.
This last area is what I refer to as “alignment.” And this is the true lifestyle psychology aspect of all of this, which — as you’ll see — also ties back into excuses like, “well I lost motivation” or, “I didn’t have enough willpower” or, “I got busy…”
That’s another great lesson — remember, people have the right information and still fail because information is like 10% of the puzzle. So I’ll say the other 30% of failure comes from the mental myths we talked about. Another 30% comes from the triggers. And the last 30% comes from misalignment.
Now, there’s a lot of working parts within the concept of alignment. I’m going to give you three of the biggest.
The first one is the “big why.” And the big why is critical to creating motivation that doesn’t falter no matter what happens. If you want to avoid saying, “well, you know, I lost motivation” then you need to have a big why.
I use my own example. When I first started my journey my why was very simple — I wanted to look better. I hated how I looked and just wanted to look better. That failed. Then I had a little bit bigger why as I planned to get married. That one was pretty strong, until I actually got married and my why went away and I threw in the towel. So that was another big failure.
Then a couple years later my doctor told me I had high blood pressure and was borderline diabetic. Well damn, that sounds like a REALLY good reason to get fit and healthy. So I started again. And I experienced a huge setback after making a lot of progress — the mental myths and the triggers pulled me off course. That’s where I learned how important psychology is in all of this. So I got back on course — still feeding off my big why, I beat the mental myths, I beat the triggers, and all of that combined is what led to success.
And I noticed that in 2012 when my daughter was born, my big why got even bigger — it got enormous. At this point, I’m unstoppable. Do you see how that works? When your why is big enough, nothing can stop you because you will fight your ass off for that big why. People with big whys don’t just “lose motivation.” People with big whys don’t just “get busy and get distracted.” People with big whys kick ass and take names.
So the first part of alignment is determining your big whys. You have to dig really really deep. The superficial stuff will absolutely NOT sustain you. Setting a goal to lose ten pounds by Summer isn’t a big why. You’ll never create a lifestyle out of that. It won’t put you on a path to health and vibrance. And when the road gets tough, you’re highly likely to jump ship.
Now don’t get me wrong, you can have smaller whys and smaller goals like that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But they can’t be the core reason you’re doing all of this work. They’re just not a strong foundation for meaningful, sustainable change. There has to be something more.
Another key aspect of alignment is margin. What is margin? Margin is blank space. It’s emptiness. And it’s one of the most powerful aspects of both success and happiness.
Let’s use the finances section as an example. Most people are debt, they have a rent or mortgage payment that’s a significant chunk of their income. They have a car payment. They like to buy things. They live from one paycheck to the next. No margin.
Imagine yourself in this situation (or maybe you are in that situation right now). What does this amount to? It amounts to stress — lots of it. It amounts to having no financial mobility. If one thing goes wrong, the whole shebang comes crashing down. If an opportunity surfaces that you’d like to take advantage of, you’re stuck and unable to act.
After a while you start deciding that you “can’t afford” to eat healthy. Or if something bigger goes wrong, everything about your lifestyle transformation goes out the window because there’s a new massive fire you have to put out in your life.
Now what if you had some margin in your finances? What if you had no debt? What if you simply created a 20% cushion in your budget between spending and income? Less stress, more mobility, and more possibility.
Now think about this — I’m a holistic health coach. I teach people how to lose fat and improve their health markers. So why am I talking about finances? Why do I talk about relationships? Why do I talk about scheduling and organization?
Because finances, relationships, scheduling and organization are all parts of a healthy lifestyle that have a direct impact on whether or not you’ll reach your goals and sustain them year after year.
Do you know how many people tell me they can’t afford to eat healthy? Do you know how many people tell me that the people in their life dragging them below the surface of the water and drowning them relationally? Do you know how many people tell me they don’t have time to be healthy?
That’s because most people don’t have margin in their life. They’re not missing facts, they’re missing margin. Holism is everything. It’s not the whole body, it’s the whole life.
The way I have people identify important areas for margin is I have them perform a lifestyle audit. Basically, you run through key areas of your life — there’s 8 of them — and take simple steps to build in more margin. You can think of this like insurance — you’re insuring against future failure by removing the roadblocks before you even get started.
Does your career take too much attention from other important areas of your life? How can you recapture 20%+ of that attention?
If you’re lacking financial margin, can you set a goal of getting 10-20% more from your salary?
Are your spaces cluttered or organized? Organization enhances margin elsewhere.
Are your needs met? What’s missing? Needs not being met is the antithesis of margin.
Do you have enough space? If your family doesn’t have enough space, how can you improve that situation?
Debt is anti-margin: You could tackle debt with baby steps.
Do you have an emergency fund? That’s margin at its finest!
Do you budget? Can you cut 20% from your budget to create automatic margin? Or back to career, can you get that raise (and then not turn around and spend it away)?
Addressing health improves margin in other areas of your life.
Have you had your biomarkers checked? Perhaps there’s some biomarkers you could improve to create more tangible margin in your health.
Are there people in your life who are draining margin from other areas?
Are you a people pleaser who can’t create margin in your structure, career, hobbies, or environment because you’re too busy meeting the needs of others?
Healthy boundaries help create margin.
Are you actively reading and learning? How many non-fiction books do you read per month? Functional knowledge improves margin.
How often do you learn a new skill? Becoming more valuable improves career margin.
Developing better relational skills improves margin in many other areas of life.
Fun and Hobbies
How much time do you spend on things you love? This creates automatic margin in your stress level.
What is your art? How often do you do your art? Creating margin in other areas of your life helps you do your art more often, filling your happiness cup.
Do you have a hobby that’s reached an unhealthy level and is robbing you of margin in other areas? Can you work on scaling that back?
Do you often say, “I’m too busy.” Your schedule is part of your structure. Are you over-scheduled? One of the best ways to create margin in your schedule is to learn how to say no.
Are you unorganized? Like physical disorganization, mental disorganization creates a messiness in life that increases stress and decreases margin in other areas. How can you get more organized?
Those are just some ideas to get you started.
This is a lot of the work that I do. 10% is teaching people what to eat and what not to eat and how to exercise, then 30% is helping them navigate the mental myths, 30% is helping them overcome the triggers, and 30% is helping them achieve better alignment.
Now, I want to leave you with a handy ACRONYM that I use to stay on course with all of this stuff. The ACRONYM is SELDA.
Stop… Listening to the myths. Listening to your negative self talk. Listening to the naysayers. Eating foods that break your body. Doing exercise that tears your body down.
Eat… real food. Enough food. Eat to nourish your body. Eat to nourish your soul.
Learn… to eat intuitively, not obsessively. How to make the best choices in any situation. How to go with the flow. How to stop worrying about being perfect. How to have boundaries in life and especially in your relationships.
Deal… with unhealthy eating triggers. with mental roadblocks and obstacles. with stress. Tackle the stuff in your life that people tend to avoid!
Audit… your life. your finances. your relationships. your job. your schedule. Create margin in every area of your life so you have room to take control and be successful. It’s important that you continue to audit all of the time. Auditing is an ongoing process.
So that wraps up my guest appearance today. Again, I want to thank Jimmy for giving me this opportunity. If the stuff I talked about today jives with you then I’d love to speak with you. I do reply to all emails that come from people on my VIP email list — so if you want to get on that list and get the conversation started — or you simply want to squeeze more information out of me — head over to rebootedbody.com/newsletter/ — and you can do that on a phone or tablet as well for those of you listening on the go. Again, rebootedbody.com/newsletter — talk to you soon.