Is our 21st century society a good fit for our ancient physiology? Many fitness professionals, eaters, and scientists are considering the question, including us.
That’s why, last month, we accepted an invitation to present at PaleoFX, an ancestral health event bringing together everyone from doctors and university professors to chefs and “natural exercise” advocates; all there to talk about what it means to eat, move, and live in in “Paleo”-friendly ways.
Now, let’s be clear. At PN, we don’t necessarily identify with the more dogmatic “Paleo” factions, which is one reason we like to use the terms “primal” or “ancestral” instead of “Paleo”. (For more on our thoughts on the topic, click here).
However, we do think everyone can learn from the primal or ancestral health movement. Heck, we even incorporate many elements of this approach in our Lean Eating Coaching Program, the world’s largest body transformation project.
That’s why we chose to present. We wanted to share what we’ve learned from our 8,000-plus clients. And show how understanding the reality of change can help us incorporate the best elements of life-changing, research-driven nutrition coaching for everyone… without getting bogged down in details or dogma.
If you’re interested in learning how we — as coaches — can adapt the ideas of healthy living (including ancestral health) in a way that supports a client’s own ability to change, this is a must-see video series.
But even if you’re not a coach, you’ll gain some important insights on how the change process really works, and how you can use it to set yourself up for success.
In Part 2, we looked at four key strategies from the book Switch, each designed to facilitate the change process by using the metaphor of a person riding an elephant. Here they are again:
- Strategy #1: speaking to the rider
Giving the rational brain some direction but not overwhelming it with choices/decisions;
- Strategy #2: guiding the elephant
Gently directing the emotional and relational brain regions;
- Strategy #3: shaping the path
Adjusting the environment and surroundings; and
- Strategy #4: shrinking the change
Going in small steps, one by one.
In today’s video we put these strategies into action using our two client examples from Part 1.
Client 1: Maria
You’ll remember from Part 1 that Maria is our busy working mom with a small child and older parent. She works full time and juggles child and elder care. She also lives in a community where very few people exercise and processed food is most readily available.
What strategies can we use to help her adapt to a new (even ancestral-style) health approach?
- We can shrink the change by showing her how to cook meals that are fast, convenient, and culturally appropriate.
- We can shape the path by creating networks and communities where she and her peers can learn, make healthy decisions, and get outside, together.
- We can speak her language — literally, she’s Hispanic — and try to make health information accessible and easily understandable within the context of her language and community.
- We can guide the elephant by getting her — and her family, friends, and community — involved in healthy activities.
By doing these things, Maria’s ability to follow a specific set of exercise or nutritional recommendations will be bolstered immeasurably. As you can see, encouraging someone to follow recommendations can only come after you’ve helped them create the right environment for success.
Client 2: Dave
We also met Dave in Part 1. He’s a stressed-out office worker who relies on several “bad” habits to cope with his intense schedule and competing demands.
What strategies can we use to help him adapt to a new (even ancestral-style) health approach?
- We can understand that Dave’s rider is overwhelmed… so we won’t speak to him. We’ll just give him a break.
- We can guide the elephant by recognizing that Dave’s 3 pm caffeine habit has several purposes: it perks him up and helps him deal with low energy levels; it’s a ritual that distracts and comforts him, etc. So we can find solutions that do similar things.
- We can shape the path and shrink the change by giving Dave very small steps to do, one habit at a time. Eventually, our steps take him away from the soda machine and towards the great outdoors.
Summary and take-away
That does it for this 3-part video series.
For now, here are today’s take-aways:
- If we want to make healthy living (and ancestral health) a viable project for everyone we need to address people’s real-life barriers to change — whether that’s time, energy, resources, readiness, or a variety of very legitimate reasons for not changing.
- We need to meet people where they are — not where we want them to be, or where we think they should be.
- We need to understand what holds people back from change and work with – not against – them.
- And we need to understand how change really happens.
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