This dynamic wellness guide presents the definitive solution for taking control of diet and fitness, guaranteeing healthy changes for life. The detailed plan is broken down into four cycles, providing supportive guidance for gradually altering eating habits and eliminating harmful substances that promote weight gain. An active lifestyle is encouraged through realistic suggestions, until daily fitness becomes second nature. Formulating a patient and supportive approach to optimal health, this handbook promises a lifelong transformation, one proactive step at a time.
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Wes Cole's Healthy Habits
How to Change Your Diet and Exercise Habits for Lifelong Fitness
By Wes Cole
McBooks Press, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Wes Cole
All rights reserved.
— Getting Started
I've been on a constant diet for the last two decades. I've lost a total of 789 pounds. By all accounts, I should be hanging from a charm bracelet.
— Erma Bombeck
What does the word "diet" mean to you? Limitation? Frustration? Failure? It's interesting to me that we have transformed the meaning of this word into something that makes us cringe. The original definition of "diet" is "what is usually eaten," which can really mean anything. It has only been the recent fad-diet craze that's given the poor word a bad rap. Fad diets focus on making drastic behavioral changes at a pace most people can't maintain. Because of this, traits such as discipline, willpower, and mental toughness have been limelighted as the secret to health.
Well, I'm here to tell you that, while important, these traits have been blown way out of proportion. If you have failed before, it is not necessarily because you lack these things. It is likely because you have relied on them too much. Discipline and willpower are only temporary fixes for the traits you'll need for a lifetime. The real secret is to develop the habits that will help you reach your goals. Habits shape our lives and rule our decisions, from how we dress to what's for lunch.
The reason why some people have sugar-loaded donuts and cappuccinos for breakfast is simply because they have done so for a long time. They're used to it, and their bodies expect it every morning and so they do it — every morning — it's a habit. Buying a new health book, no matter how good it might be, and getting all pumped up to make a different decision to eat something healthier the very next day is fighting a powerful, almost unbeatable, force — the force of habit.
In all fairness, it's not that these quick-results diet programs don't work; many of them do. You could lose weight and even gain muscle if it were possible to follow these programs to the letter. But it's not, and that's one of the reasons we are all still overweight. This overnight weight-loss approach puts motivation and willpower as the primary ingredients for success, placing you in a habit-versus-willpower fight and setting you up to fail.
We are what we habitually do, and any half-hearted attempt leads only to failure. We must be smarter than this. Instead of fighting against the power of habits, you must learn how to harness their power and make them work for you, not against you. The secret lies in taking the appropriate steps to gradually reshape your habits so that your body has a dependency on healthy living, similar to the way many people have a dependency on unhealthy living. A healthy body will be a mere by-product of gaining control over your habits.
Sounds good, right?
So, here you go again. Once more you find yourself taking a leap of faith and trying to jump back into the frustrating and often confusing world of diet and exercise. I don't know what made you decide to pick this book up and take it home with you. Maybe it was the colorful and creative cover, or perhaps the catchy title, or the interesting little blurb on the back of the book. What I do know is that you're probably not getting your hopes up just yet. Like the rest of us, you're probably tired of the whole "Get fit" situation. Yet you continue, month after month, year after year. You get back up, dust yourself off, and do it all over again. Why? Because even though your better judgment tells you there's no such thing, deep down you're hoping for a miracle, something that you can finally say works! Now don't worry, I'm not going to turn into some pessimistic trainer and tell you, "Sorry, there is no miracle." I'm not going to say miracles don't happen because I believe that, for many, the Healthy Habit Plan is that miracle they've been looking for all this time — and the craziest thing about it is that it's always been there, inside each and every one of you. It needs only to be unlocked.
You don't have to be super motivated or disciplined for my program to work for you. You don't have to already be fit or possess some type of mind-boggling mental toughness. Those are traits necessary for an elite athlete or an Olympian, not someone who just wants to be healthy. Nor do you need an incredibly high IQ, or an advanced degree in nutrition or exercise science to enjoy the benefits of the information in this book. All I ask is that you close your eyes, just for a moment, and try your best to wipe your mind free of all those past negative diet or exercise experiences; and while you do this, I ask that you extend your hand, so to speak, and allow me to take you all the way back to the beginning when words such as vegetables and exercise didn't bring about feelings of failure. If you look back far enough in your life, there was probably a time when running around or exercising seemed fun to you. Maybe there's even a memory when biting into a fresh orange gave you as much pleasure as that ice cream sundae gives you now. I know it's there somewhere because we were all born with an instinct to do and eat healthy things. Sometimes we just lose touch, and my job is to help you gain back what you once had.
"Why should I trust you completely?" you may be asking. I don't blame you for your hesitation. After all, asking everyone to close their eyes and allow themselves to be led down a different road often has people wondering, "Who's doing the guiding? And are they qualified?" Saying I'm qualified to change your life might seem like a bit of a stretch to you. In my career, I have found that the fitness industry has kept my ego in check many times. My first coach once told me, "Clients can always smell a rat." And perhaps that's where I excel. I ask you to trust me not by blind faith but by the sincerity of my voice, which I've always believed will come through. This is not the end-all, be-all of health and fitness, and I may not be the best trainer in the world, but this is my story of how I discovered a way to reach hundreds of people and to help them change their lives forever.
My name is Wes Cole, and I invite you on an exciting journey into a world where the battle of the bulge is won or lost in your head; a world where health nuts are not made, but reborn; a world where things like willpower and motivation take a backseat to what really matters: cultivating deeply ingrained habitual patterns that not only dictate your life but become a part of who you are. In this world you can learn to actually change the habits that derail your efforts, slowly guiding them toward health instead of misery. Move with me into an environment where people work out and eat right not because they should but because they want to, need to — a place where habitual health is real!
The Healthy Habit Plan Difference
My program can be considered a diet and fitness prequel, something that should be read before starting any health program. The cycles you will be learning about later in the book were designed as an excellent, standardized diet regimen, but the method can be applied to any approach you prefer. The Healthy Habit Plan isn't about bashing other diet or fitness philosophies. Whether you're a vegetarian or a self-described carnivore, you will find it fits into the grand scheme of the plan. If you prefer walking over weight training, it doesn't matter because ultimately, it won't affect your results. Love organic food? Great! Can't afford it? Well, that's okay, too, because you'll be just fine eating conventionally grown food. Think your body responded better to low carbohydrates than to low fat? Then that's fine. I won't debate with you on those choices because you know your body better than anyone.
Whether you're a Jazzerciser or a Jujitsu type of person, a boxer or a belly dancer, it doesn't matter because these are all just details, and oftentimes it's over-analyzing the details that will immobilize you. They call it "paralysis of analysis" when you have so much information thrown at you that you don't know what to do, so you freeze. "Eat low carb, but no, wait, low carb is bad so I should eat low fat ... but wait, it's all about going vegan ... oh, but maybe it's not about what I eat but when I eat." Then we get into the debate surrounding exercise, which is equally confusing. "It's all about cardio ... but no, it's about weight training because that increases your metabolism, right? What about running because that burns the most calories ... no, boot camp is the way to go now, right?" Thinking like this distracts you from what really matters.
So, what really matters? I'm glad you asked. You see, we live in an exceptional time. We now know more about the human body than ever before, and even though we all can get a little distracted by the mountains of inconclusive studies and claims, if we look hard enough, we find there is a lot of conclusive information out there, too. Details that are no longer theories but are very real facts. What the Healthy Habit Plan does more than anything is re-educate you from the ground up about how to pursue health — about your ideas of what health is and about having realistic expectations of yourself. I use scientific facts to address the real issues affecting your health. No pseudoscience, no theories, no maybes. My book lays down the facts about exercise and nutrition, brings you back to reality, and unclutters the mind from all the conflicting reports. This makes your fitness journey much more effective and enjoyable. I'm not saying that every health program you've been on before now was a joke. Most of them were probably good, but the Healthy Habit Plan contains the missing chapters that will allow you to follow the healthy lifestyle you prefer.
How to Use This Book
It is crucial that you don't skip any of the early chapters just so you can get to the cycles. Many of the techniques and philosophies used in the Healthy Habit Plan are based on scientific evidence. There is a method to all the madness, and I don't want you confused about the techniques in the middle because you skipped the beginning. You will just have to trust me here. After reading them in order, you will begin to understand why the book is laid out in this way. Each chapter and each cycle was designed to build on the knowledge of the previous one so that when you move through the cycles, you will be much more prepared and the journey will be as easy as possible.
Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters.
— Nathaniel Emmons
Your Five Biggest Questions Answered
Got questions? I have answers. The following questions are the most typical ones I receive from people who are hesitant to take that first step.
1. What if I fail again? I'm afraid to even start.
I understand this question. You may have failed many times before on other diets or health programs, but the Healthy Habit Plan has a very different approach. When I designed the Healthy Habit Plan, I had in mind the many people out there with very ingrained, unhealthy habits. Most other programs were designed for that small percentage of people who are able to develop new habits very quickly. Don't be upset if you're not one of them. A whopping 95% of people fail on their diets and health programs. You're not alone.
Unlike all the other approaches, we are going to move very slowly. The Healthy Habit Plan does not expect you to be a superman or superwoman. It was designed for people like you who have lost faith in the health industry and are unsure which way to turn. I don't expect you to have a tremendous amount of confidence at first. Confidence is something that will be developed along the way to achieving habitual health.
2. How is the Healthy Habit Plan approach different from other programs and books? What will keep me from quitting halfway through like I've done with all the rest?
Other health programs might be different from one another in content, but most are still very similar in their approach. They expect you to totally change your lifestyle, usually in about one day's time: weight lifting four days a week, on the treadmill another two days, and strange, new health food to top it off. You'll run across health experts who have the ability to inspire you easily and very effectively get you into action. Unfortunately, this is where they leave you. They don't teach you how to sustain your newfound motivation. So you strive toward your health goal with wild abandon before you realize just how powerful your established habits are.
This is not how the Healthy Habit Plan works. We attack one bad habit at a time so as not to overwhelm you with counting calories, carbohydrates, and fat grams all at once. The reason that health food might taste bad or boring to you right now is because you haven't yet developed the habit to enjoy these foods. By making small changes over many weeks, you will slowly introduce your body to healthy food and, eventually, you will crave brown rice and fish in the way you now crave hamburgers.
3. How can I succeed if I get no support from my family, spouse, and friends to live a healthy lifestyle?
Unfortunately, this is a common concern. People can be so uncomfortable with change that they don't even like to see it in others. Encourage them to join you, but if they don't, take the steps to find support elsewhere. In Appendix I of this book I recommend diet and support groups you can join. There are hundreds of such groups on the Internet, and there are dozens of online forums for personalized and specific support.
I list many tips in Appendix II to help you and your family prepare for your program, including asking family members to keep their unhealthy snacks in their private spaces, not in the kitchen.
Additionally, I am a big believer in group training and have found that small, independently owned aerobic studios and fitness gyms are the best at accepting and encouraging newcomers. Still feeling discouraged and uncertain? Sometimes you just have to put your foot down and stand up for what you feel is important. Focus on the people around you who aren't steering you away from your goal.
4. What if I just don't care about my health that much? I don't care if I die early.
I firmly believe that no progress can be made unless you truly want it for yourself. Here is some food for thought, however: while you may not care about your life, someone else probably does. Imagine the feelings of loss your wife, husband, children, parents, or friends will experience if you die early. You should also consider that people who abuse their bodies almost never die gracefully. Kidney failure, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are all very painful diseases that can be directly related to living an unhealthy lifestyle. As you've likely heard or read before, there are things before death that are far worse than death itself!
5. How can I get the quickest results? Your program seems very slow.
One thing I have learned is that very few people are able to stay on a typical health program long enough to replace old habits with new. You must understand that consistency is a critical ingredient. In fact, it is often more important than the program itself. I have been intensely researching healthy habits for years, and one thing I know, without a doubt, is that habits — even bad ones — are never developed in just a few days. Therefore, it will take you longer than a few days to alter them.
Turn weakness into strength; the real secret to the Healthy Habit Plan is its slow approach. Since its introduction, people have called me saying that they have developed healthy habits within two weeks; others have called complaining about how long it took them to truly alter one particularly bad habit.
We're all different, but there is no way around the fact that altering habits is typically a much slower process than just a weight-loss or a muscle-building system. If you add up all the time you have spent trying and failing the many quick-results programs, you may realize that if you had been on the Healthy Habit Plan that whole time, you would have reached your goal and established positive habits to boot.
Excerpted from Wes Cole's Healthy Habits by Wes Cole. Copyright © 2012 Wes Cole. Excerpted by permission of McBooks Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part One — What Are Healthy Habits?,
1. Getting Started,
2. Going the Distance,
3. Facts or Myths?,
4. Tips to Keep You on Track,
5. The Nuts & Bolts,
Part Two — The Four Cycles,
6. Cycle One,
7. Cycle Two,
8. Cycle Three,
9. Cycle Four,
10. Wrapping Up,
Finding the Right Health Club or Support Group,
For Friends and Family: How to Support a Loved One on the Journey to Health,