Change Academy

A Health, Fitness and Education podcast
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The key to solving any problem is first understanding what the problem truly is. In this episode of the Change Academy podcast we define the three types of problems that crop up and teach you how to identify which one you’ve got. Then once you recognize what type of problem you’re dealing with, your chances of solving it go way up. Takeaways: If you’re not sure what needs to happen in order to solve the problem or create the result you want, you have a what problem.  If you know what needs to happen but you don’t know how to make that happen, you have a how problem. If you know what needs to happen and how to make it happen but you find yourself not taking action, you have a why problem. Why problems cannot be solved with what or how solutions.  Lab Experiment: Identify a place in your life where you are stuck or not making progress. Step 1: Can you write down in a sentence or two exactly what needs to happen or change in order to achieve the goal or solve this problem? If not, focus your energy on identifying the best approach. If yes, proceed to Step 2. Step 2: Can you write down the concrete actions you need to take next? If not, focus your energy on identifying what your next steps are (which might be researching, planning, or taking some small action.). If yes, proceed to Step 3 Step 3: Can you write down 5 detailed and compelling reasons that you want to do this now? If not, spend some time digging for your why (or maybe your why not)?
In this episode of the Change Academy podcast, Mitch Harb joins us to talk about his “easy wins” approach to creating sustainable behaviour change. Mitch is a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and is the co-owner (with Zach Smith) of Hidef Seattle, a fitness studio and physical therapy practice that offers both in-person and virtual training and coaching. Take Aways: Small interventions can also be big wins. And those interventions don't all have to be "one hundreds" they just can't be "zeros." Often, process-oriented successes (like being consistent) can be more effective than goal-oriented successes. Figuring out how an individual goal supports or reflects your larger life priorities can be a powerful motivator. Keeping momentum is easier than starting up again and again. Lab Experiment: Choose one area of your life that you’d like to make a change in (eating habits, sleep, exercise, or any other area). Spend this week collecting some data on your current habits and patterns.  For example, keep track of what time you’re going to bed, getting up, and how rested you feel each day. Notice what happens when you break from your normal patterns. Do you feel better or worse? For example, does running after work or on a trail feel easier or harder than running around the neighbourhood before breakfast? Use the information you’ve gathered in Step 1 and 2 to identify an easy win that you can incorporate into your daily routine.  For example, adding one extra serving of vegetables into your meals every day.
Some habits are just habits. We do them because they take us down the road of least resistance. But some habits give us pleasure, and we often think of those habits as being more like an addiction - something that is going to take willpower and determination to break. But what if we told you that you can break a highly rewarding habit without resorting to a monastic lifestyle? That is what we are going to cover in this episode. Key Takeaways: Breaking any habitual behaviour can be challenging but when that habitual behaviour is highly rewarding, it can be even more difficult. Sometimes things that were once rewarding become less rewarding (or more costly) over time--but they’ve become habitual. Replacing a rewarding (but costly) habit with a different rewarding activity can make it easier to break a habit We can create a more rewarding life by choosing our habits (and our rewards) more intentionally. Lab Experiment: Make a list of activities that you find rewarding or that give you pleasure. Make it as comprehensive as you can. Review your list and put an X next to anything where the cost (in time, money, energy, or health) is greater than the reward you get--or even just more than you want to pay. Review your list again and put a checkmark next to those things that would make your life better if you did them more often. How can you use this information to create positive change? NB: For more detailed instructions, listen to the audio.
Being easily distracted can be a bad habit and also a barrier to change. But we can also use distraction as a way to break bad habits or ingrained behaviours. The trick is being more intentional about when, why, and how you choose to distract yourself. Takeaways: Distraction is when we allow an unplanned intrusion or diversion to pull us off focus or task. Redirection is when we consciously choose to redirect our attention. Distraction (unintentional) can cause harm in two ways 1) keep us from doing what we need to be doing and 2) may cause us to engage in behaviors or activities that aren’t serving us. Redirection (intentional) is 1) making a conscious decision that you would benefit from refocusing you attention on something else, and 2) choosing the alternative focus/activity thoughtfully Intentionality is the key. Lab Experiment: Next time you find yourself in the grips of an unhelpful thought or emotion (such as anxiety, worry, stage-fright) try the mental flashlight technique: Step 1 - use your other senses (not your monkey mind) to identify (or shine your mental flashlight) on something you see, hear, smell, or generally are “aware of.” Step 2 - Simply say the words (out loud or in your head) “I am aware of ____” without attachment or judgement. Just simply be aware. Step 3 - Repeat: Become aware of something else around you (not inside you). Use as many different senses as you can to list all the things you are aware of.
In this episode, we explore how and why we often talk ourselves out of making the changes we want to make - and give you some tools that will allow you to push through that self-sabotage. There’s an odd but very common phenomenon where we identify a change we’d like to make in our lives, we get excited about it (we may even take a step or two toward making it) but then, we abandon the effort before we’ve really even tried long enough to succeed (or fail!). Resources mentioned: Workplace Hero podcast episode: Work Expands (or contracts) to the Time Allowed Key Takeaways: Your brain is wired to seek familiarity, comfort, and efficiency. Change is by definition unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and inefficient. Talking you out of change--by convincing you that change isn’t possible or that now is not a good time--is your lower brains’ attempt to keep you safe. Often these thoughts are operating below the surface or your conscious awareness. By tuning into these thoughts with your higher brain, you can decide whether or not they are actually serving you. Lab Experiment: How are you talking yourself out of making a change? Identify the reason or excuse your brain has come up with and write it down as an "Unhelpful Thought." Then use the following questions to assess the validity of this thought: Is there substantial evidence for or against my thought? Am I trying to interpret this situation without all the evidence? What would a friend think about this situation if I consulted them? If I talk myself out of change, how will I feel a year from now? How about five years from now? Now, see if you can rewrite your unhelpful thought in a more balanced, rational, and helpful way. With practice, this can become a very effective tool for thought management in all realms of life.
People seem to love these short-term challenges where you give up sugar for a week, do 25 push-ups every day for a month, or give up alcohol for SoberOctober. While these can be fun, and an interesting challenge, do they ever actually result in permanent change? In this episode, we will give you a recipe to make the most of them. Resources mentioned: The 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade Key Takeaways: Habits aren’t made or broken because we did something (or avoided doing something) through willpower alone, for a set amount of time. Doing short term challenges can actually delay the process of making more meaningful changes. If you want to use a short-term challenge as a springboard for longer-term change, make sure you’re not just counting down the days, but using that time to gain a better understanding of the role that a particular behaviour plays in your life. Be sure to think past the end of the challenge: what happens at the end? What do you want to carry forward into the future? Lab Experiment: When you find yourself considering joining in the latest 7 day, 21 day, or month-long fad, take some time to ask yourself some questions: Why is this attractive to me?  What do I hope to learn from this temporary challenge? What plan can I put in place to ensure I don’t just return to my previous behaviour as soon as it is done?  Am I using this as a delay or distraction from the deeper changes that I know I want to make? (see episode 6: the hidden cost of unmet goals) Thinking carefully about these questions before you embark on a short-term challenge can make it about more just a temporary exercise in willpower.
Sometimes we get excited about an idea, we follow through on a goal, and are very successful at it. But while everything should be peaches and cream, we realize that this isn't the happy reality we thought it would be. Or maybe our feelings and values have simply changed. That is when we are faced with the problem of "what do we do next?" In this episode, we ask our guest, Naomi Rotstein, why she decided to leave her successful career as a competitive body-builder and how she went about redefining her new objective and, ultimately, created a freer and more satisfying life. Key Takeaways: Keep an eye out for warning signs that what you have achieved isn’t healthy or sustainable. Using your willpower can be addictive… not in a good way. Even if you have a history of being a bit of a control freak, you can learn to relax and shake that all-or-nothing mentality. You can change the values of your goals to make them more sustainable, without abandoning them altogether. Sometimes we can’t see what’s next until we clear away what is here. Lab Experiment: Take a look at your current goals and consider whether they are truly allowing you to live your best life. If this goal is no longer what you want, stop pursuing it. Think about your perfect life or your ideal day, what would you want to be doing? What are three steps you could take that would bring you closer to your ideal life? Which one of those steps could you take this week?
Most of us have a long list of things about our lives (or ourselves) that we would like to change. And while that is a great place to start, when you are working on creating a more fulfilling life, the problem is that when we try to make a bunch of changes at once, we end up changing nothing. That is why knowing what to focus on and when is essential. Key Takeaways: All goals feel and are important, and doing them in a particular order doesn’t mean you don’t value or will forget about the other goals. Focusing on one new behaviour at a time -- instead of trying to change everything at once -- can actually help you accomplish your goals more quickly. Cultivating the ability to prioritize and focus can help us with other aspects of our lives When choosing what to focus on, prioritize behaviours that you perceive to be impactful AND that you feel ready to tackle now. Lab Experiment: Make a list of all the changes that you’d like to make. Consider their potential impact and your readiness to do them. Choose no more than three to focus on and put all the others on hold - for now. Estimate how long you will need to focus on each one (in order to either accomplish it or create a solid habit.) Decide what the very first step for each one will be, including when/where/how you will take it--and then take that first step!
It's hard to keep believing that change is possible when all the evidence seems to point to the contrary. And that's why it's so important to collect some evidence that a different choice is possible. Takeaways: You can’t lie to yourself - you need evidence to convince your brain that this is true, possible and worth doing. Evidence can come internally or externally. It takes deliberate practice to collect enough evidence to make it stick. One success is unlikely to convince your inner skeptic. Habits that have good evidence behind them, gain momentum. Lab Experiment: Choose a behaviour or habit that you have struggled with but failed to change in the past. Those past failed attempts could be considered evidence that change is, in fact, not possible. Collect at least one piece of counter-evidence. This can be either an example of someone in a similar situation or (ideally) one time in which you actually succeeded in changing your long-standing behaviour. Think about how many pieces of counter-evidence you would need to collect in order to believe that you do, in fact, have the ability to change this pattern in a more lasting way. Then, start collecting (and counting!) that evidence. You may even find that it doesn’t take as many pieces of evidence as you thought to begin believing something new about yourself.
We humans like comfort. We believe that making ourselves comfortable is a good way to take care of ourselves and make ourselves feel content. But is this desire truly helpful or is it simply a way to keep ourselves stuck exactly where we are? Most of us place a certain value on being comfortable. And sometimes, something that is comfortable is very pleasurable (like putting on a favourite comfy sweater or connecting with an old friend). But often, it’s simply familiar (like the way your family celebrates holidays). By the same token, something that is uncomfortable at first, because it’s unfamiliar, may end up being very rewarding. But if we are unwilling to be uncomfortable, we’ll never find out. FOLLOW the Change Academy: Subscribe to the podcast (and leave a review/rating) Sign up for our newsletter at (and you’ll get a downloadable copy of each episode’s lab experiment) Connect with us on social @changeacpod Drop us a note about what you’re working on and how we can help
You have probably heard the term 'grit' thrown around but what does it actually mean? Our guest on this episode boils it down to “getting back up, one more time.” In this episode, Monica interviews guest Rebecca Louise, of the It Takes Grit podcast about why we feel stuck what it takes to get unstuck. Rebecca has helped millions of people improve their mindset and achieve their goals. The secret behind Rebecca’s success isn’t just her (as she says) cheeky British humour; people come to Rebecca because she’s shared many of the same experiences as them – so she knows what’s it’s like to feel lost, unable to find the right career, be broke, divorced, and struggle with an unhelpful relationship with food. It wasn’t until Rebecca changed her mindset and started to become the master of her habits that she was able o truly find her way to a career that she loved and a lifestyle that matched. Key Takeaways: The only way you can fail at something is if you quit. Instead of saying that you are stuck, admit to yourself that you have stopped and then find a way to get going again. Action creates motivation, not the other way around. If we are so locked to our identities as someone who defined by their past or in need of fixing, we will find it hard to make change.  Don’t take advice from someone you wouldn’t trade places with. And then make sure you actually follow their advice.   Lab Experiment: Think about the last time you asked for help, heard some good advice on a podcast, or found some helpful knowledge in a book you read. Then think about whether or not you actually took action based on what you learned. If the answer is “no” or even “sort of,” see if you can identify why you didn’t take action. Was it because you are too tied to your identity as someone who is X, Y or Z? Is it because you were scared that it actually might work? Or did you think it was going to take too much effort? Learning how to do this type of introspection can help you avoid that stuck feeling and help you become the curious experimenter that we all want to be. Resources and Links: Resources and Links: It Takes Grit podcast episode: How to get unstuck Rebeccas's new book, It Takes Grit
What are the pros and cons of using rewards vs. consequences as our compelling reason to change? Sometimes our compelling reason is a positive vision of a future we want to create. But other times it’s a negative vision of a future we want to avoid. Is one better at keeping us on the path toward our ideal self more than the other? Key Takeaways: There is no clear winner or wrong way to do this. Just knowing the difference and trying each on for size is important. No matter which version you feel works best for you, make sure you develop a clear and detailed picture of the Reward or the Consequence. Be aware of the language that you choose when you are working on developing or solidifying a behaviour. Performing an action is often more achievable than not performing one. Lab Experiment: State your compelling reason (or your Why) for making the change you want to make and pay attention to whether it is based around a reward or consequence. Before you lock it in, turn it around and see if you can restate it as the opposite. Give each version time to breathe and then consider which one feels more motivating, calming, satisfying or doable in the long run. Resources: The Savvy Psychologist: How to Overcome Feelings of Shame. Harvard Business Review: What Motivates Employees More: Rewards or Punishments?
In this episode, we talk about impulse control and how giving in to unplanned urges can get in the way of achieving lasting change. Not only that, but it can rob us of the pleasure of anticipating and maximizing an indulgence. Main takeaways: It’s not about deprivation. We are not suggesting that we live without pleasure.  In fact, we are suggesting the opposite! Impulse indulgences are usually much less pleasurable than the ones we would plan and choose. Remember the minimum effective dose. You don’t have to blow the entire afternoon off of work, eat the entire pie, drink the whole bottle, purchase everything in your Amazon shopping cart in order to not feel deprived.
In this episode, we discuss why our past failures (or successes) don't predict our future successes (or failures). Then, more importantly, we get into how to dismantle that idea so you can clear a path for future change and growth. There is a tension between using our past to our advantage while also not getting stuck in it. And striking that balance is tricky. Cutting ourselves completely free from our past is not the goal - but learning to use our past thoughtfully, can be. Key Takeaways: Our past does not define who we are or predict our future results- unless we fail to learn from our missteps and continue taking the same actions. If we allow our past to stop us from taking action we will never make progress. Accept the idea that we can and do change, whether it is a purposeful change or just a side effect of time, we are not the same person we were in the past. Once we let go of the past, we no longer have to feel the need to fix ourselves - we can simply commit to a journey of self-improvement, where we work on being a better version of ourselves each day. Lab Experiment: An exercise to explore the ways in which your thoughts about your past may be informing or perhaps limiting your future Write a paragraph describing yourself and your life as it was five years ago. Jot down where you lived, what you were doing, your relationships. Try to remember what dreams you had or the goals you were working toward, any major successes or failures that preceded that period of your life. And finally, see if you can remember what you believed about yourself then. What did you think was possible or impossible for you? What did you see as your greatest strengths and weaknesses? Now write a paragraph describing yourself and your life as it is now. Your current circumstances, occupation, relationships, dreams, goals. What major successes and failures have you experienced this year. What do you believe about yourself now? What do you think is possible or impossible today? What do you see as your greatest strengths and weaknesses today? And now compare these two versions. How do you feel about what you see? Are you surprised to realize how much has or hasn’t changed? Did you fail or succeed in any new or interesting ways? Are you holding on to dreams, goals, beliefs that are no longer relevant or true? Finally, write a paragraph describing yourself and your life as you’d like it to be in 5 years. What goals would you like to have achieved? What failures might you need to experience in order to reach them? What would you like to believe about yourself five years from now? What would you like your greatest strengths to be?
The truth is that every time we give ourselves an excuse to quit, we get better at quitting. But every time we don’t quit, we get better at pushing through. So, both quitting and not quitting can become a habit. And an identity. Reasons we quit : Not seeing benefits. Fatigue and anticipation of future fatigue Perfectionism (all or nothing thinking) Success would move us out of our comfort zone. Lab Experiment: Let's do some reverse engineering. Think back to the last time you quit or gave up on a new hobby, task, job, goal, or whatever. Once you have it in mind take a deep look at two things: Was this a potentially beneficial activity? If you had continued to do this thing, how would your life look in 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years from now? — If the answer is “not that different” then choose a different activity. Why did you give up on it? Were you not seeing benefits, were you bored or tired of it, did you feel like you were running out of willpower, were you not able to execute it the way you had imagined, did your perfectionist side creep out, or were you frightened of what your life might look like if you succeeded? Now, once you have zeroed in on one (or maybe more) of the reasons for why you quit, can you figure out how you might be able to remove some of the roadblocks to make it easier and more likely that you will succeed next time? Resources: Make “no quit” Your New Habit (Brock's Weighless LIfe blog post) The central governor model of exercise regulation (National Library of Medicine paper) Which wolf with you Feed story 
In this episode, we look at our beliefs and how deeply they affect both the choices we make in life and how we react to situations. Here is a bit of a spoiler: As we go through life, we may need to periodically reexamine our beliefs to make sure they still serve us.
This is an approach we developed to help people in our Weighless program create sustainable weight loss but this process can be applied to any change that you want to make in your life. In this episode, we explain how it works. Key Takeaways: You really need all three of these to make change sustainable. All the awareness in the world doesn't create change until you form a concrete intention. And intentions are nothing without action. And taking action without paying attention tends to fizzle out. When you learn to harness all three of these functions, there's almost nothing you can't do. Lab Experiment: If you are trying to change something or develop a new habit and it just won't stick: think about which part of the cycle you might be neglecting and ee if you can close the loop.
We have come to the final topic on our list of eight things we believe need to be in place in order for real, sustainable change to happen. In this episode, we are tackling the idea that there is no "finish line" to cross. Change is forever. Key Takeaways: We aren't simply reaching a finish line, we are changing ourselves. Fundamentally but also dynamically. The great thing about that is you don't have to abandon one to start another. This is a great framework to evaluate what you are going to spend your time focussing on - am I willing to do this forever? And if I don't, what will happen if I quit. Lab Experiment: Take a look at your biggest focus right now, whether that is contributing to retirement savings, keeping a relationship afloat, losing weight, getting fit, anything and ask yourself - "is this how I want to live my life - forever?" If the answer is no, you have your answer. But if the answer is yes, then you can ask yourself - "what will happen if I decide to stop this behaviour?" If the answer is, you will lose all your progress and eventually have to start at square one, then you know this isn't a forever behaviour.
In the last episode, we got into the power of practice and in this episode, we explain why failure shouldn't be something that you fear and avoid at all costs. Failure is actually useful (and perhaps even necessary) to your long-term success. Few of us will travel a straight path to success. There will be false starts, unplanned detours, stalled engines, and dead ends. But the answer is not to start over–only this time “do it right.” Those false starts and dead ends are all part of the learning. We do not achieve success when we put sufficient distance between ourselves and our failures. We achieve success when we learn to bring our failures close, examine them with clear-eyed compassion, learn what we can from them, and use them as fuel for future growth. The famous ancient Stoic, Marcus Aurelius, wrote: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way. The wise person is aware of all possibilities and prepared for them. In this way, there is no such thing as failure—simply outcomes." Key takeaways: Embrace failure! As Brooke Castillo says: "Failure is currency. Success is what you buy with it." Don't let the fear of failure stop you from making a decision to move forward. Plan for failure so you don't get surprised and thrown off course by it. Gathering the data from failure is the best way to determine your next move.
In this episode, we are moving down the list to #6 (of our eight key behaviours) and discussing why practice is important ... and also why it may be more nuanced than you might have thought (Hint: it's more than just repetition). Key takeaways: Practice, practice, practice. Practicing once isn't enough. But it is more than just repetition, it needs to be deliberate practice. Don't just practice the action also practice the thoughts and beliefs behind the action. You can't trick yourself into believing something simply by saying it over and over again.
Look at your social circles and habitat. Do the groups you belong to have the identity you want? Does your home or office reflect the identity you want? If not, what can you easily change or adapt to make it more aligned with your vision of your Ideal Self? Key takeaways: Hack your habitat to support your vision of yourself. Spend your time with people who encourage you to become our best self (and avoid the folks who may sabotage you). Remove obstacles or temptations, instead of counting on willpower.
It’s exhausting to carry around a goal that we never get any closer to. To have a problem that we can’t solve–or that won’t stay solved. To make the same resolution over and over again. When you identify something that you want to change - and then don't take action or make progress - you start to pay a sort of psychic tax. Not only do you still have this unmet goal/desire, but you also have the added discomfort of realizing that you're not making progress, not converting intention into action. Not taking action is not a way to "save energy". It's EXHAUSTING to carry around a goal you never get any closer to. Key takeaways: 1. Unmet goals get heavier and heavier the longer you carry them around. 2. An unmet goal can be a barrier (or an excuse) to achieving other goals 3. Sometimes, it's wiser to let a goal go than to continue to pay the "interest"
Your plan is your map. Without your map, you may make it to your destination but it will take a long time and you will expend a lot more energy and frustration getting there. Main points in this episode: Bridging the Intention/Behavior Gap (It’s not just you; everybody struggles with this). Action Planning: Anticipating how, when, where you will perform the steps. What do you need to put in place? Coping Planning (just as important but no-one ever talks about it). Anticipating the ways in which things may not go according to plan and being prepared to adapt.
Well beyond a number on the scale or an amount in your bank account, your objective keeps you moving forward in your journey of change. Questions we answer during this episode: Why can’t I just have a plan and do it? Why is a goal or objective so important? What is the difference between a goal and an objective? What do I do if I have tried to hit this goal before and failed? How do short term goals help us reach our ultimate objective?
Both curiosity and openness are essential to creating lasting change. Curiosity goes hand in hand with a willingness and ability to look at thoughts, feelings, actions, outcomes. Key takeaways in this episode: The right answer is only right for you (keep in personal). Don’t get hung up on what you think you should be doing, try stuff. Ask yourself why this happened so you can learn where the process is breaking down. Don’t reject an idea until you have tried it on for size.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Brock Armstrong
Podcast Status
Nov 25th, 2020
Latest Episode
Nov 25th, 2020
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
28 minutes

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