Fitness and Wellness Class: Don’t Eat THAT! How Words Shape the Way We Eat

National Academy of Sports Medicine
National Academy of Sports Medicine
| Stay Updated with NASM!
What if we started our fitness classes by telling participants what they shouldn’t be doing… or, all the things they are doing wrong? Do you think they would be motivated?
As fitness professionals we’re in the business of trying to make people feel good, so let’s focus on the “good” in nutrition!
In this episode, host Melanie Douglass teaches you how to rephrase and optimize your words when it comes to food, diet, and nutrition in order to be a positive, inspirational influence for your clients. We’ll review common nutrition issues and positive ways to tackle those issues.
Earn credits for listening to this podcast. Join NASM Connected and take the quiz for this session. It's that simple. Sign up today. https://nasm.co/3qodqaY
Hi, everybody, my name is Melanie Douglas. And the session I'm presenting now is called 'Don't Eat That! How Words Shaped the Way We Eat.' And this is a really fun session about real world nutrition, what we encounter in the gym, in our home at the grocery store, and how words really shaped our behaviors. So let's get into it. First of all, a little bit about me, my name is Melanie Douglas. I'm a registered dietician, I have been in the fitness industry for over 25 years. As I worked through college, I was a fitness instructor, Personal Trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. And I've kind of done a little bit of everything. I've authored a few books. I'm a consultant on TV here in Salt Lake City, Utah, and do a lot of fun things. I've always claimed to be a real world dietitian, I specialized in what's in the grocery store, what do people see in the club, what's happening in my home in my friend's home. And so that's really my specialty, I'm all about food. I'm also a liberal dietician. So you're gonna like what I have to say, because it's really about making all types of foods acceptable, acceptable, and not making a big deal about food, I think we make too big of a deal about it. But what the slide says is that I'm the VP of business development. So I do a lot of consulting work. Over the years, as I've worked in fitness, I've helped a lot of startups get going. And that's made me really great for business development. So I work for two companies that are basically very closely related. One is called Lolo, they do fitness apps and fitness technology. And the other company is yes, fitness music. And they do music for group fitness, small group training, and for all kinds of things in the fitness industry. So I have a lot of connections there. Reach out to me after if you want to know more, but let's get into this session, about nutrition and about, you know how it works shaped what we eat. Here's our agenda. So we're going to try and cover word analysis. And I'm gonna several times as we go through this, I'm gonna have you stop and think about your words, because your words affect what you say to yourself and to your clients to your class members. So it would be really great if you had a piece of scratch paper notebook pencil, because I'm going to ask you to write some things down. I know nobody has pencils and papers anymore I do because I'm homeschooling my kids, or your phone. But or even if I pause, I just want you to play the game with me and stop and reflect and think about the things I'm asking you to think about. So have something to write. Before we before we do the agenda, though, I want you to do something for me. I want you to write down or think about your top five nutrition tips. Now, if you work in the fitness industry, we always say hands off, I don't do nutrition advice. But in the real world, we tend to do that we tend to say, Well, this is what works for me, or you should be doing that. So stop, take a minute, if you had to narrow five things that you would tell someone that's struggling with their health, what would you say? What's the first thing you would say? Write it down, even if you only get one thing. And I'm just going to sit here and we're not going to talk because I'm distracting you. So take 30 seconds, write down your five tips for yourself or for your clients.

Okay, even if you're still thinking you're writing, just keep going because it's just the agenda. So be thinking about that. What do you normally say? How do you say it? So what we're going to cover in this session, we're going to look at word analysis. We're going to talk a little bit about why we love food so much why we're kind of obsessed with It, we're going to talk about classifying behaviors. Because that's important to realize how to modify it, you need to understand what that behavior is. We're talking about modification. And we're going to talk about ways to make it stick. Okay, so hopefully you have your, your five tips. Now just put those off to the side. Okay? So, um, let's get into our first slide in in a fitness class. So word analysis, we're fitness people, right? So I'm talking about consider if you teach group fitness, or if you've been to a group fitness class, what are the words you hear? What are the phrases you hear in class, right? You'll hear things like listen to your body, right? Maybe it'll be a little positive encouragement, like, let's jump a little higher, or really forgiving, right? If you miss a step, just keep moving, no stress. I mean, I'm nice. Maybe you're not as nice as I am in class. But maybe we'll say things like educating them, right? You're building a stronger body, so doesn't feel great. Or you might just be like, Hey, guys, we're having fun and remind them to loosen up. So right, those are some things we might hear in a fitness class. What about in a personal training session? So as a personal trainer, your client comes to you, let's say it's the first time, what are you going to say to your client? What are the words you would use? A lot of us would say, let's customize a program for you. We would say things like one more rep, you can do it right? We'd say it, let's say they came in, and they were tired. They were burnt out, you could just feel it. As a trainer, you might say, Okay, let's try something new. Maybe they really hate burpees. They don't want to do burpees you say as a trainer, okay, let's swap that exercise out. You might not say that. I know some of you trainers. Or you might say, okay, you might say let's have Oh, sorry, wrong slide. I can't see something on the bottom here. What's your goal? Right. So you might just ask them what their goal is. So those are the words we use in fitness in personal training. In our roles as fitness professionals, that's how we talk to people, right? How do we talk to people? When anything about diet comes up? Food, nutrition diet, the grocery store, the stuff comes up, right? And what do we say? We say, don't eat sugar, you shouldn't be eating sugar. You say? I mean, I say you say whatever we do, it happens in our industry, we might say, yeah, you should really cut out all processed foods. Or you might say, you really need to stop eating late at night. That's that's your problem. You're eating late at night.

Or we might say things that absolutely do not work, like drink water when you're hungry. I said that once I was speaking at a very large conference, it was a ballroom with like 3000 people. And I was new. I was fresh out of school. And I said something like, if you're craving chocolate, just drink water, and the whole audience started laughing. And I was like, I know that one doesn't really work that well. But you know, maybe we say things that don't work. That's the point. The other thing, and we don't specifically say this in our industry, and I even meaning in our culture, not just as trainers, or instructors. But we say we basically send messages, right that say, the way you eat, I mean, sorry, the way your body looks is a reflection of what you eat. We don't say that. But we judge that way, right? We look at someone's size, we look at someone how someone performs on the treadmill, we might look at their face, if they look tired, or they're not eating good, they're not healthy. So there's always this this judgment, right with when it comes to food, that if someone doesn't look or feel good that it's their diet. So I bring that up. Because now let's flip that, right? What if you walked into your group fitness class, or to train your client? And you started with statements like that? If you started with, Hey, you guys, today, we're going to cut out all walking all low intensity workouts. You don't get to do low intensity, you only have to do high intensity, we're going to do burpees the whole time. You shouldn't be wanting to do low intensity. I mean, what if you introduce your class like that, and it was all about Don't do this. Don't do this. Stop doing that. Cut out that. We don't do that in fitness, right? We're motivating people to do something that's hard. It's hard to get healthy. It's hard to eat while it's hard to exercise. That's what we do. We help people find the positive. We say we focus on what they can do in fitness, what they can listen to their body and learn from their body. But when it comes to nutrition, you see where I'm going with this. We tend to To have a completely different dialogue. So that's what I want you to be aware of. Now, remember how when we started this, I asked you to write down your top five tips. So look at those. And tell me if they happen to look like the slide you're looking at now. And if they don't, that's great. You should share with me I like to hear all your ideas. But just kind of look at your top five tips and think about if they are from a negative approach, or using negative words, restrictive words, good and bad words, start thinking about how you can rephrase your tips, your top things in a positive way. Right. So if I took these statements on the slide right now, and I wanted to flip them to be positive, here's how I might do it. Remember, I said I was a liberal dietitian. Instead of don't eat sugar, I would say, have a teaspoon of sugar. Like what? This is a real tip that I give to people and it works when someone is craving sugar. I'm like eat sugar. Go get a spoonful of processed white sugar. See how far you get with that? Because I guarantee you when we get past one teaspoon, it's plenty sweet. But guess what, what can you eat, you can have a tree, did you want an Oreo, you can have an Oreo. The statement is you can have an Oreo or you can have a reasonable portion. The statement is we don't want anyone to have a whole package. But we want them to know that if their body is craving it, and they slow down and they enjoy it, that they can have a reasonable amount. Okay, we're going to get into this. And I'm going to reinforce a lot of statements and behavior modification several times because it takes several times because in our society, we're we're kind of messed up when it comes to food and the way we talk to ourselves. I'm cutting out all processed foods, how would I say that in a positive way? I would say buy a new fruit or vegetable at the grocery store tonight. That's what you get to do. It's what you can do. It's a positive thing you can do you control it. It's something fun, it sounds a lot better than Cod, all processed foods. Or even simply saying focus on fruits and vegetables is a way nicer say that way nicer way to say cut out processed foods. Stop eating late at night.

A positive way to say that is if you feel hungry at night, have a small portion of something you can eat at night. Because eating late at night may not be the problem. It's maybe what they're eating. So have a piece of string cheese have a handful of nuts. Try that glass of water. Maybe it works at night. Actually, one of the things I do tend to say to people a lot is because hunger is on this slide I'm going to bring it up now is to not be afraid of hunger. We act like hunger is I'm hungry. I'm not going to survive. I need something to cope. How am I going to deal with this hunger? What am I going to eat? And the fact is is hungers normal? Doesn't mean you need to go feast right now doesn't mean you're going to starve. It means you can eat a reasonable balanced mill. When you get to it like you're going to be okay. And so I always say that if you want to be hungry, if you want to deal with hunger anytime the best time is a night, you're just going to sleep it off. So what's wrong with going to bed a little bit hungry? It's not bad. I mean, if you've had three healthy meals, and you're feeling fine, it's just hunger. sleep it off, right? Okay, so I'm going to move on from this slide. How did your assessment of your five tips go? Were you able to reward some things or were they already really good? Okay, so we're going to get into why we love food. That's my next slide. Okay. So why do we love food? Food is where do I start, right? We love food because we're designed to eat food. And food is not bad food is fuel. It's fuel for our body. It's fuel for movement for energy. For living, it's totally fine. And it's normal to like food. It's normal even to cherish food. And to make it part of celebrations birthdays, that is not bad. It's totally fine. The issue we have in our society is that we have way too much food at our fingertips. Too much variety, right? And it's so convenient. Like I could eat a day's worth of calories at a traffic light. I could, I've probably done it before I can have a big huge cheeseburger and some of these food joints that might be 1500 calories. You know a few friends and I'm like, that's all I needed. for the day, so we have too much food. So it's a really delicate balance, what this topic that I'm talking about trying to talk about food in a positive way, and helping people recognize that we can use positive words when it comes to our nutrition, but also realizing that there is a problem in this society around us in the culture around us, and that there's too much. And just because there's too much doesn't mean it's bad to say there's too much, right? And here's, here's where I'm going with this. So forgive me if I if everybody wants to have chocolate chip cookies after this, forgive me. But I want to show you this. It looks okay. But this is a little like sideplate. Right? This is a this is a really big cookie. It's a really thick cookie. How, how much do you think this cookie weighs? How many portions of cookie Do you think this is? Because we live in a society now where this is normal. And some people think that this is a serving of a cookie. And the fact is, is that our culture is so oversized, right? That this is actually eight ounces. That's half a pound. It's about five servings of regular chocolate chip cookies. And it's just too big, right? But let's say My kids love like, it's my family loves these cookies, it's fine. But they also know that we eat Oh, I'm gonna make a mess. we afford to have a cookie. And it's fine. So making that a positive thing, right? So it's not that I can't have the gigantic cookie, it's, I can have a piece of a cookie, I can have it. And there are some things we can do that I'll get into later to even slow that down and create healthy behaviors around that. But on the other hand, here, I have a bowl of spinach is a gorgeous when you look at the spin edge, what do you think when you saw this?

When you saw this cookie, did you think good or bad? Did you think I can't believe she showed me a cookie right now? Sorry. Did you think I want I mean, I would be so bad. I don't deserve that. I haven't worked out enough. If I ate that cookie, I would be over my calorie limit. What did you think about what what were your thoughts? What are your thoughts? You see a bowl of spinach? are your thoughts? Boring? That's for rabbits. I'm gonna have to be on a diet if I want that. When I see a bowl of spinach, because I've worked with this for a long time. I'm like that would be super delicious with garden tomatoes. And crotons. That would be so good in my next movie that would give it so much color. That would be so good sauteed into my pen a pasta for dinner. What are all the possibilities? What are the things I might even think? Mmm, that's really good fiber, and I need some fiber right now. Or I might say, that's really good vitamin K. And I need that vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, whatever nutrients, you can just say that's a bowl of nutrients. The point is that as we talk about why we love food, it's totally okay to love food. It's okay to have the giant cookie and the treats. But I'm going to help you through this. help you help your clients and yourselves. Because when we fix ourselves, we use natural words that help our clients as well. To see the positive and see how I can do this and all the things this healthy food can do for me. So why do we love food. The bottom line is food is so palatable right now it is hyper palatable. And it is because our food is low in fiber. Most of the foods we eat are low in fiber, we're supposed to get like 30 grams of fiber a day, the average American is at 10 to 15. So it we're just not getting enough fiber, and then food. Most of the processed foods that we love that we have a hard time controlling are really interesting combos, like the perfect combo of salt, fat and sugar. Those three sometimes all three of those sometimes it's salt and fat. Sometimes it's fat and sugar. Sometimes it's so fat and sugar, but that combination is so easy to overeat. And it's also so easy, it goes down so easily. It's easy to mindlessly eat those combinations. So we have a bunch of food that honestly is so boring, that we eat too much of it, if that makes sense. So the other thing that really makes it so we Love and eat too much food is that there's too much variety. So there are some really interesting studies with nutrition. When we look at people and the amount of calories they consume, when they have too much variety in their diet, if you think about it, you go to a restaurant. And there's an appetizer and you eat a little bit of that, and you start to get fooled, and you start to go, Hmm, I don't know, if I'm going to be able to eat the entree, then the entree comes in at something new. And suddenly you have more room in your stomach. So you eat some entree. And then the dessert comes, you're like, I don't have room. But it's something new and you take a bite, and suddenly you have more stamina to eat more. So the if there are studies that show that as long as it's like the first few bites of something, are really, really good. And they taste better than the last few bites. So the more variety you have, the 10 tends to be, the more that we eat. Now, variety is not bad. But being aware of these things helps us to focus on the control aspect of it. So anyway, too much variety, then third on the list really good at this one. we're stressed, right? We're we're stressed out people. And a lot of us use food to calm our stress, we use food to reward coming off of a big stressful event. So we're stressed. And then the last one is we're tired. And there are lots of studies that show that lack of sleep, less than five hours of sleep is really messing with our hormones that tell us when we're hungry or when we're full, and even affects our ability to metabolize fat. So not getting enough sleep. too stressed too much variety, and foods too boring. There's more. But those are the basic ones, right? Okay, so let's move on and get to some good stuff. 

So we've made it this far. And this is a really, really important point that I, I hope this sinks in really strongly, and maybe it already has. But this behavior change that I'm talking about is not just about your clients. It's not just about how you talk to your clients who I know look up to you, and want to know how you do it, or how they can improve their nutrition. It's about how we talk to our clients. And do we use those negative words are those words that have the opposite effect that make people crave the thing we tell them they're not supposed to have. So behaviors, our behaviors come from our self talk, the way we talk to ourselves, drives our behaviors. And that self talk starts to become outloud talk. And we talked to our clients that way. One thing about self talk is think about the way you would talk to or treat a child or a spouse or a grandparent or someone that you really, really love, right. So first of all, I have four kids college to first grade. And we don't always eat healthy and just get that out there. But one thing that has really helped me have positive self talk with myself and with my kids is if there was something that I don't want them to do as a parent, like let's say, they're like, I want Skittles for dinner. And I'm like, No, you're not gonna have Skittles for dinner, because I want you to be healthy. I want you to have vegetables, you feel good and have fiber. And you can have some Skittles after we eat something healthy. But I wouldn't. First of all, I wouldn't belittle them, I would sell it to him in a positive way. But also, I wouldn't let them do that to themselves. And so but then as a, as a parent, or a single person. If I'm stressed out, and I want a bag of Skittles for dinner, I'll do it. As adults, we do it. Or maybe it's ice cream, or maybe it's a bag of chips, or maybe it's a whole pizza, whatever. We do this. And sometimes if you've ever had that experience or client with that experience, stop and say, like, if you had a loved one a kid, spouse, grandparent, would you let them do that to themselves. Because you love them, most of us would try to intervene and like point out something positive. But we let we do that to ourselves. So there's that aspect of like treating yourself the way you would treat someone you really, really love. And there's also the aspect of talking to yourself, the way you would talk to someone you really, really love. Because I know that if I've really gone overboard with my diet in the past and I said something negative to myself, I would be like I'm such a pig, or I would just be like, I can't believe I picked out like that, like, I'm gonna be so fat. Would you ever say that to your kid or someone you love where you I mean, so give yourself that same respect. So when we talk about behaviors come from our self talk, stop yourself talk in its tracks if it's going that direction, and that's kind of where we're going to go with this lecture is trying to identify those areas where it starts to go down that path. So when we change our behavior and self talk, then our clients can be successful in changing theirs. So this is really important. Basically, what I'm telling you?

Yeah, I'm just making sure I'm covering all my notes. So here's another thing that comes up on this topic. And I've worked in the gym as a trainer for many years. And as a group fitness instructor, so I've seen it and I've done it. I've said this before, I have a client 6am tired, that I'm not losing weight. I'm so burnout, I this is not working. And I go, what are you eating? How's your diet? instead of pointing out something they could do to feel better? Or marking any milestone or anything they've done? Good. I immediately went to Well, what are you eating, because that's obviously the problem. So sometimes we go over there in that direction, and it leads to people obsessing over their food, right? Or, as trainers and fitness week tend to obsess over our food, we get a little nutty, sometimes we're super healthy. And that's an obsession. We're obsessed with healthy food. But helping what we're trying to do is help clients recognize their own behavior. So as you go through this with yourself, you can help your clients stop those types of thoughts and recognize their own behaviors. So they can make the change. Because you know, have you ever had someone in your life where you're like, they have an addiction, they have an issue. And you really want to just change them, you really just want to, like turn on the off switch, or turn off the off switch and make that problem go away and just say, Stop, stop doing it. We can't do that for our clients with food. And they have, they have to realize the issue, they have to want to change it and see the value in it themselves. So we're going to talk about getting there. Okay. Um, okay, so let's talk about behavior classifications. So this is important to realize what we're doing when it comes to food, the words we're using when we talk about food, in our head and with our clients. So remember, when I showed you this, right? The cookie and this finish, the first thing on healthy nutrition behaviors. Everyone goes bad, good, bad, good, right? When the truth is, food has no moral value, doesn't matter. It's not bad or good. It's, I can eat a fourth of that. Or like 10 cups of that. But I can eat either one doesn't matter. It's about quantity and quality. But food, the first thing to realize is that food is has no moral value. So stop assigning it good or bad. And I know that's hard for some people, like we want to say, No, that's good, spend it just good smoothies are good. Those things are good. But giving it that good assignment, it's natural for people to go, Well, if spinach was good, and ice cream is bad. And I'm fine with saying things are good. But saying things are bad. As soon as someone eats something that in their head is bad, they're bad. And then they're guilty. And then they beat themselves up. And it's the cycle that we're trying to break. So, and again, I'm going to reinforce these concepts, it's really not about it being good or bad. It's about quantity and balance, and helping people find I can have that cookie, but it's only a fourth of it right? A lot of times with unhealthy behaviors, the first thing we say to ourselves is do I deserve it. And I hear this in group fitness classes across America and in the gyms that you earned something right? I just worked out for two hours, I totally earned pizza tonight, I totally earned that. I deserve this. So that kind of language, earn it deserve it, I have mixed feelings about I get that it's nice to balance your activity, and then say I can eat this because I burned it. But that whole like having to create checks and balances with every single thing we do is a little bit unhealthy. So these unhealthy nutrition behaviors. fixation is when people are not able to concentrate on anything else, and doesn't have to like last all day. But if they're trying to get through a task and they can't quit thinking about the ice cream, or the Ritz crackers, or whatever it is, that's a food fixation, right? And recognizing that it's not that it's bad. I mean, okay, it's unhealthy. But recognizing that I'm fixating is is that's the first step in behavior modification, right? classifying like, Oh, I'm not even able to get through this task because I'm so fixated on this. fact that I really want. So fixation, and I will talk about how to redirect these behaviors, but we're talking about recognizing them right now. Okay?

So recognizing fixation restriction restriction is, right, I can only have so many calories a day, I only get 1100 calories. I only eat eight hours a day, I skipped breakfast, or I overeat. So I will restrict and not eat as much tomorrow. So there's restriction and there's there's constant restriction. There are people who restrict every single day and live, they don't get enough calories. We see that a lot actually, in people working out and trying to get healthy and they're tired. They're tired, because they're not getting enough fuel for their workouts. compensation, right. So compensation is that, and we do this a lot in fitness. And I'll kind of help us twist it a little more to a healthy side. But compensation a lot of times is I ate a bag of Doritos. So now I'll go run on the treadmill. I did this. So now I have to do this, right, I have to make up for it. And that's fine. If it's like fluid and relax. But when it's a constant, like I Oh, I did this, I have to do this. I got to make up for it with this way. Um, punishment. Punishment might be saying that I don't get to eat tomorrow, because I had a bad day with my diet. punishment. eight week, people punish themselves in all kinds of ways if they feel like they didn't eat the right thing. obsession is obsession for a lot of people is like you're always planning your next meal. When's my next snack? One thing about obsession is that we shouldn't have to think about food all day. And I mean, we really shouldn't, we only need to eat two to three times a day. And maybe some people need snacks. But we don't need to think about food all day. There's no reason you eat breakfast. And after breakfast, we're thinking about snack. And then after snack, we're thinking about lunch. That's not a healthy behavior. So kind of just letting go. I mean, plan your meals for the week, maybe plan your dinners for a week, and eat the same type of lunch and breakfast. So there's not too much variety. You know, that's one way to work around that. unhealthy nutrition behaviors. All the things I've talked about so far, negative words and statements. Most of the things we say to ourselves every day, quit eating processed food, don't do that. You can't have any sugar, stop eating saturated fat, butters bad. Whatever it is, you know, we have all these opinions of things we should or shouldn't be doing.

Okay, moving on. Let's talk about healthy nutrition behaviors, right. So healthy nutrition behaviors are empowerment. I love this one. empowerment is I can't eat this. I can't eat broccoli, I get to eat brussel sprouts. I could totally cook my carrots for dinner. Um, I can eat, I can drink a smoothie. And I will feel so unstoppable in the morning. Because I'm going to feel better. Getting people to just understand how their body feels and give them time to feel that like if you eat healthy food, fresh food, you feel better we do. And so don't focus on like telling them what they should do help them empower themselves to do it. And then they can enjoy the way they feel and learn and want to do it on their own. Helping nutrition behavior is flexibility, right? Too much structure can have create issues. And so life doesn't always go as planned. So we have to be flexible. Maybe you had the best, most healthy dinner planned, your car breaks down, you're stranded. And you go through the McDonald's drive thru. It's not the end of the world. Like fixating on it, feeling guilty about it, talking about it in front of your kids how bad it was. Those things don't help but like just doing it moving on and coming home. I've even had I mean, I like to slip in like personal stories, but I've had times where that happened. Like the day got away from me. Everyone's hungry at home, I went and got burgers, but I came home and made broccoli. And we do burgers and broccoli. I'm like at least there's like there's something that the kids like and I can throw a vegetable on the side and balance it whatever but that's flexibility right? Um, okay, so planning. So I said planning can be bad planning in general, but you have to know your plan can change but planning in general is a definitely a healthy nutrition behavior. It's just life is just too fast paced. So taking some time to have a basic plan for meals or basic plan for this is probably what I'm going to eat for lunch is a good idea because honestly a lot of the times When we end up in these unhealthy behaviors, it's because like, Well, the only thing in the cupboard was a bag of Lay's, so I ate chips. I'm letting go. Right. So letting go is a really healthy nutrition behavior. Let's say you did have a bag of Lay's, guess what stressing about it feeling guilty telling yourself your bad thinking about how you can compensate and make up for it. None of those things make those calories go away, they don't make the salt sodium go away, they don't make the chance that you missed out on getting other nutrients go away. And none of it's going to change it in the past. So like, let it go and keep moving forward. One of my most favorite quotes of all time when it comes to nutrition is that you can have a fresh start, at any moment you choose, right, you can have a fresh start after breakfast, if you like set out for the day to do really well. And breakfast didn't go well try again. Lunch didn't go well try again. And it's fine. Let it go. Don't focus on what you did in the past because it's in the past, right. Um, just association of body food and exercise. So this is really hard because we work in the fitness industry, and everybody wants to connect it, they are connected, but they aren't dependent on each other. So I mean, people can have a not ideal body in their mind. But they can eat really healthy and exercise, right. They can have an eye body shape that someone might look at them and go, they're really overweight. But we all know that on the inside, they can have a rockin cardio respiratory system, great blood pressure, really healthy cholesterol, they work out everyday, they feel good, like their weight, or the size of their hips doesn't really matter. So letting those things go and not always connecting like I did, I ate this. So I have to exercise here. And now my body will look this way, like always connecting those things can create a problem. So let him be separate.

And of course, part of positive words and statements, focusing on the things you get to do you can do. You can try again. Those things I know it seems so simple, right? You might be going this is so simple. But why don't we do it? Why don't we do it because our society has trained us in a very different way. And it's going to take a lot of practice. Trust me, as you start thinking about this or hearing the things that are said at the gym, or that our clients say to us, you're gonna go Yep, we need to practice this, it's gonna take some work. Okay, so we've talked about classifying these behaviors kind of recognizing them. And there are many more in between. and when it comes to just stepping back to the classification. Oh, actually, I have this in the next slide. Oh, hello, slide. This is what I wanted. Okay, so behavior modification, the first step in that right is classifying those behaviors. So we want to be mindful, and really set a goal to say, you know, I want to figure out why I think about food so much, or why I feel bad when I eat food, or why I can't quit eating sugar. Right? What is it that you feel you need to work on with your food? And so say, I'm going to be aware of whatever that thing. So let's say I'm trying to Why do I love sugar? So enjoying the day and be mindful? And every time you find yourself wanting to eat sugar, take some notes. Like, what time of day is it? What were you doing? Were you stressed, retired? Were you driving? Were you yelling at your kids? Just kidding, nobody does that. But classifying like looking back and if you're too busy, because I know a lot of us can't do that in the moment. If you're too busy, then set a goal at the end of the day, to stop and think about your day. Maybe write down what you ate. Not that it really matters what you ate, but you'll start to remember the way you felt or why you ate what you ate. Like one thing for me is eating in the car. And I pulled that face because that's when all my unhealthy behaviors come out, I am not paying attention. I can eat 9000 calories in the car and not notice and I don't even enjoy it. Like I'm usually actually talking and eating or food or whatever. Um, okay, so looking back or noticing your observations during the day. Okay, so then next is just day to day self awareness. So, I'm really as you're going forward, set a goal to maybe for three or four days, maybe a week to stop, write it down. When you have these thoughts. Stop, write down what your thought was like my thought was, I really need to stop eating sugar and write down what you thought. And what do you think that behavior is? Is it are you obsessing over sugar? Does your body really need some sugar? Did you try just having a spoonful of sugar Did you try giving your You wouldn't want it did that work? Okay. Um, some other ways you can classify like using our phones, is you can take pictures of what you eat. Now this might sound like it's leading down an obsessive path. But this is just like a setup. Like if you go to the doctor, they'll do an assessment, right, they'll do a health history, they'll review your current status. And doing this food journaling is like that. It's a food history. It's a food assessment, looking at your behaviors with food, so you could take pictures of everything you eat, every meal, every snack, whatever in the car for three days, at the end of those three days, look back at your pictures. And just kind of look at your behaviors. Do you have some behaviors there? Are you eating sugar every single night at 10? o'clock? What what kind of behaviors are you noticing? You can write? Of course, you can write things down. You can also does anyone use Marco Polo, you can Marco Polo a friend, and be like, you know what, you're my friend. And I'm trying to work through some stuff. And here's what I've been eating and my thoughts about when I eat that whatever. But helping you Oh, and one more Sorry, I have one more. record yourself. Like just make a video of yourself. And describe it to yourself, try to put it into words. Like I'm thinking about this food and it tends to come up when I get home from work. And then when you listen to yourself, you might, you might notice that it's really easy to classify these behaviors. Okay, so that's the first part, right? assessing yourself.

So our next part is redirect swerve. So you can choose whatever word you want. Maybe you have a better word, I really like redirect. So let's say you're, you caught yourself saying I really need to stop eating Oreos at night. I feel like crap. I'm such a loser because I ate Oreos last night. So you're like, Oh, stop. That's, that's not a healthy nutrition behavior. What can I do? What How can I redirect? Right? So redirect to something, what can I do? So I could say, I could have a bowl of grapes. I could have a cup of ice water and an apple, I could have an Oreo cookie and not even freak out about it. But maybe it's just having one instead of 10. You know, like the fact that this comes down to the quantity controlling the quantity over a good or bad food. Not not worrying about that. Just saying Okay, fine. I can have an Oreo. I have one and I'm done. Right controlling the quantity. What do you get to do? So I get to eat broccoli, I get to exercise, I get to have a nap. I get to whatever, what can you do? Also, a good redirect is saying, you know, this is neither good nor bad. It's just a choice I'm making, and it's fine. Like I'm choosing to have Oreos, snap good or bad. Like you don't need to have that moral assignment. I'm a loser, or I'm a winner. And just saying this is normal, right? This is normal people eat junk food sometimes. And I mean, it's okay to acknowledge that it's junk food, it's fine. And it's okay to eat it. It's part of what we do in our society. Okay, so you've got redirecting and swerving, and think about ways that you can kind of change your thoughts from a lot of the things I've brought up so far, right? Okay. So then we have Step three, step three is you're going to practice, practice, practice, and you might practice for the rest of your life. But when you're practicing, you're really tending to make improvements on the way you talk to yourself, and the way you feel about yourself. And when you talk to your clients. So practice isn't bad. I don't think that healthy self talk and being kind and forgiving, and letting go and having fresh starts is something we ever really master, but it's something that we're always working on. And that's totally okay. It's like fitness, you're never done. It's not like you get to run on the treadmill for six weeks, and then you never have to do it again. With fitness. It's a constant thing. We know what makes us feel better. It gives us the energy we need, we feel better about ourselves. So why is using positive words and being aware of the way we talk to ourselves and our behaviors that are connected to that self talk? Why is that any different? It's never going to be done, but that's okay. That means you just get lots of practice time. So it's not a specific daily. It's not for a specific number of weeks where you say, hey, client, I'm gonna put you on this eight week program. You're gonna feel really positive about food. We're gonna get you eating healthy, and then you'll be done. Nope. It's You know what, just try to work on this tomorrow. Take it one day at a time, right? What can you do tomorrow? What can you do today, um, or, and, and I have in bold here until the behavior changes. So practice, practice, practice, there are going to be behaviors that change, where sometimes when you make the change, it's so it feels so good. It's like I'm sold. You know, maybe if someone's overcome an addiction, and once you come overcome that you're like, I'm never going back. And there are going to be behaviors that you notice about yourself, when you're aware of them. And then you redirect or swerve and you let go, and you never go back. But there are always going to be some behaviors in our life that creep in or new things that maybe a friend or a neighbor, or someone at the gym says something and you get that negative self talk that comes back in. So that's why I say it's like, it's always something we're working on, like our cardiovascular health. We're working on our mind, and our food connection, staying positive, right? So practice, practice, practice. don't attach emotions to relapses, you just redirect and move on. So just like any other thing, whether it's Fitness, Food, addiction, whatever, if we relapse, and I mean, relapses in negative self talk, using negative words, focusing on the things you can't do, you're supposed to not be doing.

Don't beat yourself up over it. As soon as you realize that it's happening, what's happening with your client. Nobody needs to be be beaten up over it, you just redirect and move on. focus on the positive, right, what can I do positive and move on? Remember that that whole thing about you can have a fresh start at any moment? Your shoes, right?


Let's talk about some real world strategies that work. Okay. So these are pretty basic, but I'm hoping I'm hoping that I've given you some ideas, maybe your own ideas that work with your life, in your gym or with your clients. Just ways to rephrase or rethink about what we normally say to ourselves and to our clients. So here are some basic things, right? Number one, and most important is listen to your body. There is nothing wrong with if you are craving something, to say I can have a bite, I can have a small portion. So there's no food where I'd ever be like you can not have that. Stop thinking about that you don't get to eat that type of food. You can control how much of it you eat. So listen to your body, if your body is saying I need and I'm really sorry, if everybody goes needs chocolate chip cookies after this is fine, right? It's about controlling the quantity. But if your body's saying I really want a chocolate chip cookie, here is the way to do it. One small amount, right? Because and small amount doesn't mean you're restricting or you're bad, you don't deserve it, it means we're human beings that don't need that much food. And society gives us too much. So saying I can have a small amount is a restrictive or punishment. It's fact of life like, we don't need as many calories as we think we need. But listening to your body, part of that is slowing down. Right. So you're going to eat the cookie, fine, eat the cookie, but sit down, slow down. Enjoy it. Like let your mind process that you're giving it what it was thinking about. And slow down. So one of the tips I often give to clients is to only eat when you're sitting down. And so if there's ever some if it's a meal or a snack, but try not to eat when you're on the phone, how rude, right? That's rude on the phone. But when you're driving, or snacking as you're like vacuuming or telling the kids to do their homework or you're like mindlessly eating it, food is good. That's fine, we'd love it. But Sit down. So listening to your body and saying that's fine, I can have that. But I'm going to slow down, and I'm going to enjoy it right? Um, real world strategies that work. This is probably the top one I should have put it first. But build your food brain. What does that mean? Your food brain. Your food brain isn't about the nutrients you give to have a better brain. It's about your food database that's in here. Because as soon as you are informed, then you can put foods in your body that make you feel good. And so building your food brain is about reading labels. It takes five seconds, weighing your food weighing food is so so eye opening that cookie when I weighed it and it weighed eight ounces, and I thought that's a half a pound in my brain. I was like yeah, that's just too much like it's fine. I can eat it, but it's too much too much food. But how would you know that if you do didn't weigh if you didn't look it up or if you didn't measure. So building your food brain when reading and measuring sounds obsessive. But if you just do a little bit at a time, you don't have to do like boot camp it and weigh everything you eat or measure it all the time. It's just like randomly, like, let's say you're looking at a new kind of popcorn. Okay, well maybe take this opportunity to add a good popcorn to your food database, right and read the labels grocery store and find the one with the most fiber and the least sodium done.

Or just get, I just buy regular popcorn and sound butter at myself. But anyways, moving on. So weighing measuring all that kind of stuff, do it randomly just, it's part of life, you know, maybe each time you go to the grocery store, set a goal to just learn about one food you eat. weigh it measure it. When I say weighing This is really helpful because with a lot of carbohydrate based foods like pastas, or rice, or cookies, or muffins or breads, typically one ounce is about 100 calories. And we're not it's not about calorie counting, it's about being aware of what you can put into your body, and how quickly it adds up. And coming back down to that I don't need as much food as I think I do. So when I say it's about 100 calories per ounce, that's really easy for me to weigh that eight ounce cookie dough, it's probably about 800 calories. I'm not obsessing, I'm just informed. And when I'm informed, I make better choices, because I'm informed. Right? Okay, so next is to slow down, which I kind of mentioned with listen to your body, but slowing down in general when it comes to food. So slowing down for me is family dinners. I try so hard. And sometimes it's like at 10 o'clock at night, and I'm not proud of that. But to sit down with my family and slow down and catch up on the day and make food because we love it. It does bring families close together, it creates positive feelings, but slow down, right. So just setting a goal in general to when I eat, I'm going to slow down and not multitask. Just try that. Another time. Another strategy that really works is to all instead of talking about food, talk about fuel, always call it fuel. I'm eating broccoli because it's going to fuel my workout. I need some fuel this morning to get going. Is this Twinkie really fuel for my body, like just talking about food as fuel kind of changes the way you think about it and helps you approach it in a more like, matter of fact, logical way it's just, I just my body just needs fuel. It does. I'm detaching emotions right. So trying to really not connect. I'm sad totally this I'm happy swallow this. Or I'm sad because I ate that or I'm happy because I that it's just food. We need to stop like glorifying food so much. It's just food. We all eat it, we get to eat it several times a day. So I like to make food special. Sure, on special occasions, but not every meal needs to be like a super indulgence, right? Um, another thing too about detaching emotions and, and associating too much like specialness to food is that not every meal has to be incredible. Like it's okay to just have peanut butter and jelly. Or maybe oatmeal for dinner or whatever. Sometimes when we try too hard to make our food beautiful, full of variety and super healthy, it becomes so overwhelming that I'm like, forget it. I'm going to the drive thru. So it can be simple, right? Just to detach all the emotion. And yes, I've said this a few times. But it's true, right? We need less than we think. As a trainer, dietician, instructor. I've seen it many hundreds of times over the years, where people tend to overestimate what they burn in their workouts and underestimate their caloric intake. So they're like, I'm only earning 1500 calories a day, and I'm burning 3000 and what the heck's the problem?

First of all, it's not that black and white, but we don't need as much food as we think. And so it's not really about calorie counting. It's that we just need to focus on the good things that make us feel good, right. And when I talk about we don't need as much as we think that's easy with the cookie, right? A fourth of the cookie are done. But it's also if you think about we don't need as much food as we think it saves money. It saves food prep time. It saves space in our home. It saves our health. So and when I talk about we need less So we need enough, we need to fuel our bodies. And there are calculations right, where people can calculate how many calories they need, based on their height, their gender, and their weight, their activity level. And that's good. Those those numbers are good to know, that's part of being informed. But those numbers are typically way lower than what a lot of us tend to eat every day. Because there's just too much food. There's just too much around. Um, okay. I think we're at you just, this is some practice time, okay. And this is a good exercise, if you take some highlights of what I said, and you try running it by one of your clients or someone that you're working with, and you want to try and incorporate some of these strategies. This is really good practice. So I feel like I've said some meaningful things. And maybe you had moments where you're like, Yeah, that's true. I should really try and think about it that way. And maybe we've made really good progress, but now less than an hour into this experiment. We are let's do some practice time. Okay, so let's say you just pretend you just did this. ate an entire bag of Doritos.

What does your brain say?

What did you say to yourself? or What did you picture saying to someone who said that to you? Oh, you know, when I say when I go, move on for a start doesn't matter. I don't care. Let's say you skipped your morning workout. You wake up like I slept in. I miss my workout. What do you say to yourself? How do you feel? are you beating yourself up? What's a positive thing you can say? Words shape, the way we behave? The way we eat? The way we move? skipped a morning workout. Do I have time now? Can I do jumping jacks for 2020 minutes? You might as well go workout? Can I do jumping jacks for two minutes and feel a little energy boost? I probably can. Let's say you just caved. I don't know what that means. But we say it right? I Kate? You just caved? What are you saying to yourself? Or clients? What's something you can say? I can tell you the thing, the universal thing that always works, let it go. Let it go. Let's say you just weighed yourself. Or your client just got on the scale. What are they saying? It's a bad week. I need to do better. Why can't I lose weight? Right? What's something you can say? I can go for a walk. I can invite a friend and we can go to the gym and go try a new fitness class. I can go find a new recipe like just move on. Right? What can you do? You get to do? You just felt hungry? Huh? Okay, I only have three minutes to chop. You just felt hungry. Well, what's your thought? I'm hungry. There's your thought I better go find something to eat. Maybe my thought would be Do I need to eat right now? did have I had enough? Yeah, I'm probably not really hungry. I'll just move on. Or I'm going to eat like two hours, I'll be fine. I'm an adult, I can do this. Let's say you just finished a long, stressful day at work right? practice time. You come home super tired, super stressed. What do you do? What do you want to do? I'll tell you, I mean, again with you can say you can walk in and just say I'm going to slow down. Right? Then a long day at work. I can slow down. I can listen to my body. Maybe my body says I want that treat. That's fine. That's what your body says. But with that type of behavior, it's like just slow down. Okay. Did we cover everything up? Last thing. Last thing is and I sincerely mean this, I have three email addresses on here. Because I have a lot of connections in the fitness industry and a lot of ideas. And so if it comes to fitness and nutrition apps and technology, you can reach me with my little ofit connection. If you are interested in music for group fitness or for your gym, or for a new format you're inventing, you can reach out to me Yes, fitness music. Or if you just want to talk about other stuff, nutrition or other projects that I've done, or that I could help you with, just reach out to me on my Gmail. So I hope you took some positive things away from his session. And then I've given you some things to think about in a positive new way. And thank you for joining me for this session. Have an awesome day.


The Author

National Academy of Sports Medicine

National Academy of Sports Medicine

Since 1987 the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) has been the global leader in delivering evidence-based certifications and advanced specializations to health and fitness professionals. Our products and services are scientifically and clinically proven. They are revered and utilized by leading brands and programs around the world and have launched thousands of successful careers.

A NASM advisor will contact you to help you get started.

Get Started