“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”
~ Charles Darwin
The Telos Lifestyle Revolution is split into three parts, Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions, and each part has three exercises. The exercises are not physical exercises, require nothing more than maybe a pen and some paper, and only take a couple of minutes per day to complete.
The Research (In-Depth )
Each exercise affects in different ways the four elements of the Procrastination Equation, which will be referred to from this point onwards as the Motivation Equation: Expectation, Value, Impulsiveness and Delay.
The Motivation Equation
Created by Professor Piers Steel, the Motivation Equation measures the level of motivation you have to maintain a particular habit or reach a defined goal. As the balance of the Motivation Equation tips in your favour, your motivation to lose weight and keep it off becomes stronger and stronger until living a healthy lifestyle becomes effortless and second nature.
Expectancy x Value / Impulsiveness x Delay = Motivation
If there is not enough Expectancy that something can and will happen, or if you have not placed enough Value on it being important to you, then you are not likely to want to continue doing what you need to do to maintain a habit and achieve your goals. Likewise, if you do not manage your Impulsiveness, you will become distracted, and the further your goal is set in the future, the greater the chance you will Delay doing the work required to achieve it.
However, the Motivation Equation only measures motivation, it does not directly affect it. To directly affect the Motivation Equation you need to change your thoughts, emotions*, and actions.
*For simplicity, and because most people don’t distinguish between them, emotions, feelings, and moods will simply be referred to as emotions in this guide.
“Learn continually – there’s always “one more thing” to learn!”
~ Steve Jobs
Thoughts, Emotions, Actions
Your thoughts, emotions, and habitual actions will define who you are as a person and the quality of life that you lead. When not managed to your advantage, and if you lose control, they can lead to a lifestyle cycle of bad choices that lead to bad habits and in time unwanted addictions. If you are overweight, it is probably because you have a series of unhealthy thoughts, emotions, and repeated actions in your life that keep you stuck in an unhealthy lifestyle cycle.
The examples below are similar to some of my own thoughts, emotions, and actions that have caused me to struggle with my weight in the past. I’m sure you will recognise some and I’m sure you will be able to add some of your own examples too.
“I think about something that makes me feel upset or unhappy and before I know it I want to eat or drink something that makes me feel better and comforts me. Then I want to sit down and watch T.V. so I can shut it all out of my mind. In the back of my mind, it niggles me that I should be doing some exercise instead of watching T.V. and eating bad food. I then feel guilty so I think I may as well have a drink of wine and drown it out. I then start to feel elated from the alcohol and decide it’s a better idea to start the diet again tomorrow. I then convince myself I may as well eat what I want tonight as a last indulgent binge and so open another packet of potato chips.”
“I go to the store to buy groceries and the smell of fresh bread is wafting around the aisles and it makes my stomach rumble. I can feel a tingling in my head and I start to feel hungry. Before I know it, I buy cookies and other processed, sugary food. I tell myself, “I’m hungry, I’ll just have a couple. I’ll just walk more to burn it off or eat less for dinner, and if it’s being sold by a store it can’t be that bad for my health, can it?” As I rush home to cook dinner, I open the packet of cookies just to have a little taste and to stop my stomach rumbling. My mind has already convinced me why these actions are OK and as if by magic I’ve deleted any healthy lifestyle thoughts from my conscience whilst I plan the cookies, milk and other goodies I am going to eat while I read my book on the sofa.”
Listed below are some other examples of thoughts, emotions, and actions that you may recognise.
These are some thoughts you may have had related to dieting and food:
- Everybody else is doing it
- I’ll start a diet soon
- I’m not that unhealthy
- When can I eat next?
- Why can’t I lose weight?
- I really want to eat that but I know I shouldn’t
- How many calories have I eaten?
- Do I have enough food at home?
- I should eat healthy food
- That diet looks worth a try
- I really want to stop eating so much
- I hate myself for eating so much
- I’ll start the diet tomorrow
You will probably have plenty of convincing reasons that you tell yourself in order to continue with your current lifestyle:
- I don’t know how to lose weight
- I’ll start my diet again tomorrow so I’ll have another packet of crisps now
- Everybody else does it
- In for a penny, in for a pound
- I’ll finish off what’s in the cupboard and fridge first
- My diet is ruined now anyway
- I love bread too much to give it up
- It’s because of my period
- I deserve it
- A little bit of extra fat is healthy
- I’m on vacation
- I don’t have time to prepare healthy food
- I don’t have the money to eat well
- I don’t have the motivation
- I Just don’t feel like it
- I’m still healthier than so-and-so
- I deserve this
- I’m stressed out
- I don’t care anyway
- Nobody else will care
- It says it’s healthy on the packet
- It’s low fat food
- Being overweight can be healthy
You won’t be able to list many more than ten reasons to change your current lifestyle and the ones you do list will probably be very vague:
- So I look good
- To maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Improve my health
- I’m doing it for my family
- So the number on the scales goes down
- So my clothes fit
- So I can attract a loving partner
You will have strong emotional connections related to food that trigger you to eat:
- I feel hungry
- It gives me a sense of relief
- Someone upset me and I want to eat to get back at them
- I feel overwhelmed and the food takes my mind off it
- I eat food to dull my feelings of stress or anxiety
- I eat when I feel depressed and it comforts me
- I eat when I feel tense or panicky and food numbs the feeling
- I eat because I feel lonely
- I eat when I am bored
- I get a feeling of excitement when I buy food
- I feel excited when I think about eating
- I love the feeling of taking the first bite of food
- I love the feeling and texture in my mouth
- I enjoy the feeling of my stomach being full
- I enjoy the feeling of warmth and comfort it gives me
- I get a feeling of euphoria like being high when I eat
You will have negative emotions related to eating that triggers further eating:
- I hate myself for eating
- I despise myself for my lack of willpower
- I get angry with myself when I fail
- I feel guilty
- I feel scared
- I feel clammy and nervous
You will have habitual actions that encourage you to maintain your current unhealthy lifestyle:
- Alternative stores to buy your favourite food should it be out of stock
- A list of take-away telephone numbers you can phone
- A hidden supply of food and drink at home or in your office drawer
- Strategies to avoid family and friends who might ask questions
- Your favourite recipes committed to memory or stored on your phone
- Mentally agreeing to start a diet in the future to justify what you eat today
You will have habits that encourage you to stay locked into your current lifestyle:
- Watching TV
- Drinking alcohol
- Buying treats for your children
- The office birthday cake
- The charity bake sale
- Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day, New Year’s day, Mother’s Day
- Going to the shops
- Friday after work finishes
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”
~ Chuang Tzu
The Transtheoretical Model of Behavioural Change
The Transtheoretical Model of Behavioural Change has a proven 60-75% success rate of helping people find the motivation they need to give up life challenging habits, such as smoking, taking drugs and overeating, and replace them with healthy, beneficial habits. Impressive statistics, especially considering the doctors never ask the participants involved to stop smoking, taking drugs, or go on a diet.
Developed in the 1980’s by Professor James Prochaska and Professor Carlos Diclemente, it has since gone on to become one of the most cited theories in psychology. They posit that if you have been trying to make a change in your life, like start a new habit, or reach a goal, and have either not started, or frequently start and then stop again, you are stuck in or cycling through its six Stages:
- Precontemplation (Not Ready)
People are not intending to take action in the foreseeable future, and can be unaware that their behaviour is problematic
- Contemplation (Getting Ready)
People are beginning to recognize that their behaviour is problematic, and start to look at the pros and cons of their continued actions
- Preparation (Ready)
People are intending to take action in the immediate future, and may begin taking small steps toward behaviour change
- Action (Habit in action)
People have made specific overt modifications in modifying their problem behaviour or in acquiring new healthy behaviours
- Maintenance (Continuing Habit)
People have been able to sustain action for at least six months and are working to prevent relapse
- Termination (Way of life)
Individuals have zero temptation and they are sure they will not return to their old unhealthy habit as a way of coping
- Relapse (Given up habit)
You have given up and moved from Action or Maintenance to an earlier stage, probably Contemplation
This guide incorporates two fundamental elements of the Transtheoretical Model of Behavioural Change: Exercise 2. Reasons to Succeed and Exercise 3. Smash the Excuses.
“It’s not motivation you lack; it’s just that you have the wrong priorities.”
Based on the work and research of:
Professor Marshall Goldsmith – Active Questions
Professor Marshall Goldsmith’s professional acknowledgements are many and include, the Harvard Business Review and Best Practices Institute, World’s #1 Leadership Thinker, Global Gurus, INC and Fast Company magazines, World’s #1 Executive Coach. He is also the author or editor of 35 books, which have sold over two million copies, been translated into 30 languages and has become bestsellers in 12 countries.
Piers Steel is a professor in the field of Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources and is the Distinguished Research Chair in Advanced Business Leadership at the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business. He is a recognised authority on the science of motivation and known internationally for his research on procrastination.
Dr Richard Bandler is best known as the co-creator (with John Grinder) of Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), a methodology to understand and change human behavior-patterns. He has also developed various other human change technologies, such as Design Human Engineering (DHE) and Neuro Hypnotic Repatterning (NHR).
Profesors James Prochaska – Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change
James O. Prochaska is a Professor of Psychology and director of the Cancer Prevention Research Center at the University of Rhode Island and author or co-author of over 250 publications on the dynamics of behavioural change and co creator of the Transtheoretical Model of Behavioural Change.
Professor Carlos DiClimente – Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change
Carlo C. DiClemente, PhD, ABPP, was awarded a Presidential Citation in recognition of his scientific and clinical contributions to understanding motivation and behaviour change and developing an integrative transtheoretical model that has advanced the treatment and prevention of addictive health behaviours.
Gabriele Oettingen is a Professor of Psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg. Her research focuses on how people think about the future, and how this affects cognition, emotion, and behaviour. Her research aims to contribute to the literature on lifestyle change, education, and business.