- in fitness , guest/interview , health by allan
How to use joy to improve your health and fitness with Dr. Michelle Segar
Many of us think of weight loss and exercise as being joyless, in fact taking away the things and foods we love. In her book, The Joy Choice, Dr. Michelle Segar shows us there is a better way to get healthy and fit. By choosing the joy choice.
Let's Say Hello
[00:02:35.410] – Allan
[00:02:36.530] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. How are you today?
[00:02:38.070] – Allan
I'm doing okay. How are things up there?
[00:02:40.600] – Rachel
Really good. Really proud to announce my son just graduated from College. He's got a job lined up with General Motors, which we're very proud and excited for him. And so this month we're working on finding him an apartment to live in and he'll be about fledged in another month or so. We're pretty excited to be one step closer to that empty nesters part of our lives.
[00:03:03.900] – Allan
Congratulations for him and you because I know as a parent these days you're engaged.
[00:03:10.280] – Rachel
Yes, I am.
[00:03:11.510] – Allan
When they're going through the College years.
[00:03:14.530] – Rachel
Yeah. I'm pretty happy to be done with that Bill. I'll tell you that right now. And he is, too. Yeah. He's very excited to be done with College and starting this next chapter of his life, and we're very proud.
[00:03:25.990] – Allan
[00:03:27.020] – Rachel
So how are things with you?
[00:03:28.520] – Allan
Well, we had a new house guest come in. A holler monkey.
[00:03:35.650] – Rachel
Oh, my goodness.
[00:03:37.400] – Allan
And so this holler monkey, we're about 2 miles away from where any of the holler monkeys would hang out. I've never heard or seen a holler monkey this far into town. Heard stories. Now, of course, once it happens, like, oh, well, this happened a few years ago kind of thing. But, no, this dude was literally coming across the wires, and, of course, Buster has to fend the habitat. So he's barking like crazy trying to get to this monkey. I'm trying to keep him away from the monkey and just try to figure out, okay, how do I get the monkey to shoo or go away? But I don't want to also don't want them to get hurt. I don't want to get hit by a car and so many things going through my head, and then all of a sudden, the monkey zap, touched a wire they weren't supposed to touch and just fell. This is from the second story, probably, I would say a good 25ft drop and just lands on pavement. I hear speck when he hit the ground. I ran over there. He's stunned. I take a picture, and I go online. I message Tag, the guy that does our local humane society kind of stuff, Papa Gato.
[00:04:53.050] – Allan
And so he brings a woman over. But before he gets over there and really before I get my post all the way down and go back out, this monkey's woke up, goes across the street and climbs up an almond tree. And so he's up in the tree. So Papa Gato goes and gets his trap. We put a couple of bananas in there, and we set the trap up. Well, the monkey stayed in that tree for almost two whole days.
[00:05:20.310] – Rachel
Oh, my gosh.
[00:05:21.690] – Allan
Stayed overnight. And then it was late the next afternoon that he finally, I guess, get climbed down and just took off because I didn't see him slip out. I would go out there every couple of hours and check on him just to see if he was in the tree. He would move from side to side. So I knew he was generally okay. Somehow, another he came down. He just ignored the bananas we had out there for him, and they just took off. And so hopefully he's going to be okay. He'll find his way back to where he needs to be. I hear these male monkeys will get kicked out of their troop, and then they just have to go find a place to be that's not where their troops at because they're not welcome there anymore. So I think he just strayed and got himself on the wrong side of town.
[00:06:06.490] – Rachel
Oh, my goodness. What an adventure.
[00:06:09.980] – Allan
Then he got shocked and it was so interesting because we had a guest up there on the balcony when this is all happening, he's just looking around like, oh, my God, what's going on here? And then all of a sudden the monkey gets electrocuted and he's messaging his wife and his daughter said, don't come back yet. Don't come back yet. You don't want to see this. I thought the monkey was done when he hit that concrete and electrocuted, I thought, oh, that poor monkey. But he was able to climb up the tree and spend a day up there, I guess heal a little and then decided it was time for him to move on because there was no water on that land where he was. So he was going to need to go somewhere just to get water. But interesting weekend.
[00:06:54.680] – Rachel
Yeah, for sure. Holy cow.
[00:06:57.650] – Allan
All right. Well, are you ready to talk to Dr. Segar?
[00:07:02.300] – Rachel
[00:07:52.090] – Allan
Dr. Segar, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:07:55.150] – Dr. Segar
It's great to be here.
[00:07:57.170] – Allan
Now I'm going to say joy is one of my favorite words. And I have a question that's going to come up later about wellness, and it includes happiness. But after I wrote the book and after I've asked this question hundreds of times, I kind of wish I'd use the word joy instead of happiness because I think that's really the word I was after. So your book is called, The Joy Choice: How to Finally Achieve Lasting Changes in Eating and Exercise. And, you know, I think anybody that's tried to change one or both of those knows it might be the most challenging thing they've ever done. I know for me it was. And while I didn't call it the Joy Choice at the time, most of what you're talking about here, it just resonates with me very well because it was effectively what took me over eight years of trial and error to figure out. And they can get this book and get a lot of the details of how to do it in a much shorter time.
[00:08:59.750] – Dr. Segar
The reason why so many people haven't figured it out yet and that it might have taken you eight years is because we've been taught an opposite approach that really gets in our way. It clouds and contaminates our thinkings and our emotions about eating and exercise and really derails what we're hoping to achieve. So that's why it's so hard. And I think the biggest thing is for people to really understand it's not their fault. It's because the whole formula that we've been taught, not the whole the majority of what we've been taught over the last three to four decades has been based on science, but it hasn't necessarily been based on how we can best sustain a behavior within our complicated lives.
[00:09:52.790] – Allan
Yeah. And you got into some of the science on that, which was fascinating. And we've seen it in other areas I have in Health and Fitness, where they'll take one study and they'll say, okay, this is the study, and then we're going to drive everything else off of this one study. And the one I'm talking about in particular that was in your book was you were talking about how long it takes to build a habit. And granted, we can say based on that study, 66 days potentially, but the standard deviations, for someone it was two weeks, and for someone else, it was almost a whole year on average. Okay, 66 days. And we drive a lot of the way we approach this on a study like that. So it's no wonder that you're not one of the people that happens to be on the right end of the 66 days. It might take you longer. It might take you a different approach, which is what you get into with the Joy choice.
[00:10:57.290] – Dr. Segar
I'm not sure that's even the most strategic question that we could be asking to focus on how long is it going to take me to form an automatic habit? As you know, in the book, there's a lot of concerns I have about telling people that they should be forming habits for healthy eating, exercise, and I'm sure we're going to get into that in a little bit. But the idea is that focusing on the process instead of the outcome, what do I need to do consistently to actually be able to stick with this long term? That's focusing on the process. That's the goal. That's what's going to get us where we want to go. So that's really the best of the question we should be asking is what do I need to do? What is most likely to get in my way, and what can I do to overcome or prevent those things?
[00:11:49.940] – Allan
Yeah. And we definitely will get into that. There was a concept you had in the book that I thought was brilliant, and it's called the motivation bubble. And the reason I think that it's great is because I think when someone actually understands this concept, it's like that happens to me every single day. It's not just every single time I try to lose weight or every time I try to start an exercise program, I build this motivation bubble. That bubble pops as soon as something gets around it. And we've got these. Can you talk about the motivation bubble because we go in with the best of intentions and we're excited.
[00:12:35.810] – Dr. Segar
Right? Well, we usually decide we're going to change our eating or start exercising more for a very specific reason. Either we're excited for a trip we're going to take or that magazine cover or our doctor gave us really scary news and we start and we're in this and we're full of motivation because we've decided we're going to do it. But the motivation is like a bubble. And as we know, bubbles are very fragile and we might blow a really big bubble, but it doesn't take much for that to bump up into anything else. Anything that bumps into it is going to burst it. This is how we've been taught to initiate behavior change in this fragile bubble of motivation without a lot of strategy, without understanding the types of things that are really going to get in our way. And bubbles burst. And that's why I use it. And that analogy came organically out of an interview, and I've just been using it ever since.
[00:13:40.670] – Allan
Yeah. Now there are some of us, like your husband, who is able to create habits, and you can call him a habitor, is what you call them in the book. And then there's people that are not habitors, and we call them you call them unhabitors. Can you talk about those two people? And why is it difficult for certain individuals to be able to form habits? And other individuals might just say, okay, naturally, here's my habit, and I start doing it three weeks later. I'm just doing it every day. What's the difference?
[00:14:12.890] – Dr. Segar
Well, before I answer the question, I think we need to create the context. And what people care about is they have some North Star they want to achieve. They want to be healthier, they want to have a better sense of well being. And in order to achieve those north stars, we need sustainable behavior change, because if you make a change and don't stick with it, you're not going to be able to achieve those goals. So sustainability is this fundamental thing we need. But sustainability is really the symptom of something else, and that is consistent decisions day in and day out. Now, I don't mean identical decisions. I just mean a sense of consistency in our choices that favor doing the behavior. There's a couple of ways to create consistent decisions. One is through our unconscious automatic thinking, which would be via habit formation, and the other is through our conscious thinking. So let's pause on our conscious thinking and focus now on habit formation, which is offloading our choices to exercise or eat in certain ways to our unconscious and automatic decision making. And let me just say, habits are great. I'm thankful for my flossing habit.
[00:15:33.690] – Dr. Segar
I'm thankful that I have a habit to feed my dog in the morning because it will starve otherwise. So I'm thankful I don't have to think about those things, but those are very simple things, and there are personality differences that I'll get into in a minute. But if we think about different behaviors like exercise, flossing happens in the bathroom. There's not a lot that's going to get in the way or disrupt it. But when it comes to physical activity, we've got places to get to. We've got transportation, we've got potentially changes. We've got other people whose logistics were in charge of there are so many different things that can get in the way and make it very complicated. Habit formation happens via what's called the habit loop, which is a queue for behavior like I brush my teeth and the cue is brushing, and I automatically think reach for the floss. I floss, and then there's some type of reward, and that fuels a process in our brain that automates it as soon as we get that queue. And again, for flossing, it's pretty simple in the bathroom. But step outside of the bathroom into the chaotic, crazy life of hubbub that many of us live, and that cue is going to get disrupted.
[00:16:50.760] – Dr. Segar
Now, getting back to your question about habitors versus unhabitors. Habitors are people like my husband, and God bless him, he lets me use him as an example. There's nothing wrong. Habitors are awesome, and I love them dearly. But what's most important is that we understand which we tend to be. And a habitor tends to be someone who is very disciplined, who has a very organized schedule that doesn't lend itself to a lot of disruption, and that makes it easier to form habits even for complex behaviors like exercise. But unhabitors and I happen to be one of those, one of the lucky many millions. I think more people are unhabitors because unhabitants tend to be less organized. We tend to have more hubbub and unexpected in our lives. We may manage many people's lives and pets, whether at home or at work. And so there's a lot of room for the unanticipated to just fly in and disrupt any habit loop that we might be trying to create. So that's the big difference. Does that make sense?
[00:18:05.740] – Allan
Yeah. The way I like to talk to people about it, a lot of it's going to depend on how you do your self awareness, and as you sit down with your self awareness understanding. Okay, am I the kind of person who can get into a Porsche and get this done? And I've got no disruptions. I got nothing in the road in front of me. It's a straight road, and I can just haul versus someone who's now got kids and other things. So now I'm driving in a minivan and I can't go as fast, and the road is curved, and maybe there's a whole lot of road construction in school zones and everything else going on in our lives. It's going to keep us from getting as far as fast and understanding that then allows you to take the approach one with patience, understanding that your life is not completely 100% of your control, which is what the joy choice really, when it comes down to it, is where the real value comes in is I don't have to Super manage my life. I don't have to worry about that I'm in a sports car. I can be in my minivan and be very happy with the progress that I'm making.
[00:19:06.890] – Allan
That's kind of the way I put where I'm at. The way I like to approach this with what you're talking about is once we know who we are, it's a lot easier to make some decisions. And then once we know how to approach it, we make better decisions.
[00:19:21.470] – Dr. Segar
You know what it's about fit and match. And let's step outside of exercise and healthy eating just for a minute, and let's think about what other areas in our lives we know that where we learn that we're fit is so important. We might, when we're younger, want to date and pick the raciest coolest person. But when it comes down to who we want to spend the rest of our life with, that person might have very different characteristics to fit us. Or if we think about schools, the fit with who we are and what kind of learning context teaching we need will determine whether we have a successful and a positive experience. So it's the same when it comes to changing our behavior. Are the strategies we're trying to use a fit with who we are in personality and our life context, or are they not? But we haven't been taught to ask that question.
[00:20:24.470] – Allan
Yeah. Now in the book, you talk about the decision disruptors and you use the acronym Trap. I love acronyms, too, because they help us remember some things. And these are really important because if you can recognize these traps, then you're in a much better place because so many times these traps get us. And by the time we recognize that, we've gone off the trail, our motivation bubble has popped and that day is effectively, in our minds, ruined before we ruin our day. If we catch ourselves in that moment, which is we'll get into the pop in a minute. But we start with understanding where the traps are. Can you talk about what Trap stands for and what these potential disruptors are?
[00:21:10.920] – Dr. Segar
Yes, and I call them decision disruptors, because what this book is about is what we really haven't been taught for the most part and what to do when our healthy eating or exercise plan bumps up with an unexpected conflict because the societal dogma has been all or nothing thinking, which really, if your plan is disrupted, the only alternative in that paradigm or that binary is nothing. And so people do nothing. And so the goal of the book is to help people at those challenges, those choice points, those momentary decisions about what to do and so things that disrupt those decisions, that tend to be internal in our heads that we might not be aware of are temptation, rebellion, accommodation, and perfection. And while these traps are active and often they're often unconscious. So one of my favorite quotes of all time it has to do with this is from Dan Siegel, and he says, name it to tame it. So if we can name the trap that is staring us in the face, we can really remove a great deal of its power to control our decisions, which is what we're focused on in the book.
[00:22:30.330] – Dr. Segar
So the first one is temptation. And temptation is just this visceral feeling. We have to we want that chocolate cake. It is in front staring us down. It's seducing us or, wow, the couch and that beer is calling us to watch more something on Netflix. Right now we're watching The Good Place, which is really funny. So temptation, when we hear that word, we know what it means. But what we might not know is what new theories based on how our brain works proposed. And that is that it's our past experiences with the chocolate cake and the couch and the beer that is really exerting pullovers. It's not what's in front of us. It's our history of past memories of participating these activities and what it felt like and what it sounded like and the emotions we had and the people we were with. And when we understand that, then we can name it. Oh, that isn't just that chocolate frosting listening in the light. It's how I felt when my mom made it for my birthday every year. And when we can notice that. I mean, I already know you started off this conversation with self awareness.
[00:23:54.370] – Dr. Segar
Self awareness is what people need to be able to notice those things. And so when we understand how the brain works when it comes to these temptation choice points, then we are much more empowered to take charge and not succumb to something that we might not want to succumb to. So do you want me to go to the second one?
[00:24:17.440] – Allan
[00:24:18.090] – Dr. Segar
Okay. So the second very common disruptor that I've seen in my coaching clients is rebellion. And in my last interview, the podcaster asked me, why would people rebel against something that they themselves have planned to do? Well, there's a really great reason why. And the reason is because we have been socialized to initiate an eating plan or to start a new exercise regimen out of shoulds because we think we should do it because our doctor told us to, because our company told us to, because we think we're overweight, whatever the reason. And when we initiate a behavior change out of that mentality, which is the most common way actually to initiate a change in this area, it makes us feel like we're not free to choose the things we want to choose. And it's human nature. And theory support us that human beings are motivated to reclaim their freedom when they feel like it's been taken away. So if you think you can't have pizza because it's not on your eating plan, well, guess what we're motivated to do? We're motivated to say screw you plan. I'm going to have it anyway. So that's rebellion.
[00:25:38.780] – Dr. Segar
I bet you've seen that a lot in your work.
[00:25:40.780] – Allan
Is that I do. My very first client was doing great, seeing results. Everything was wonderful. I was excited. She was telling me these wonderful stories or interactions with her granddaughter. And I was thinking, okay, she's on a really great track. So she's experiencing the benefits of what's going on and things she had told me before. She hates exercise and everything. And I'm like, well, you know, we're going to do some and we're going to do. And so we were going along. And I think similar to what you'd said in the book, it's like when she started rebelling and then disappeared, it was my fault. It really wasn't her fault. I should have recognized early on that she was starting to struggle with the shoulds, even though she was seeing the benefits. I was focused on the benefits and thinking this has to motivate her when the reality was she was having an internal conflict with the shoulds and eventually just realized I was the bad guy, if you will, of the should. And every time she thought of me or thought about being on the phone with me, there was a should that kept coming out and that was too much pressure on her.
[00:26:56.700] – Allan
And so she just decided to rebel and disappear, ghost me. And because we weren't, again, not a family member or friend or somebody I was close to, when she decided to ghost me, she's gone. I think the one that you talked about was more on the perfection side, but I think as a coach, I should have recognized the warning signs. And now, having read your book, seeing this trap, listening to what my clients are telling me and understanding, hey, you don't have to do this. There's no shoulds here. Let's talk about it. And let's see how we can get past this trap because I missed it.
[00:27:37.550] – Dr. Segar
Until we recognize it, we all miss it because we haven't been taught to name it and categorize it. And I want to say something that people that coaches and personal trainers are doing is having their clients take the trap quiz on my website and then going over it with them to see, oh, is rebellion one of your traps? Yes or no? Is it temptation? And it can be a diagnostic for a coach to use with their clients. I personally found it really helpful. But let's move on to the next trap, which is accommodation. And this one is a little counterintuitive. People don't think about this as intuitively as they would think about rebellion or temptation. And it basically refers to whenever we come up against the needs of someone else or work needs, we just instinctively unconsciously drop what we had planned to do for our physical activity or our healthy eating because we say to ourselves, and again, most of this stuff has to do with self talk or unconscious processes that we're not aware of. We just said, oh, I have to join the celebration. I'm going to forget about my plan. I don't even want to eat that cupcake.
[00:28:53.820] – Dr. Segar
But if I don't eat it, it's going to hurt their feelings. And so that's accommodation for eating, where you just kind of decide what I've been doing doesn't matter. I just need to be in the celebration with everyone. Now the reality is there's a ton of ways you can participate in the celebration if you don't have all or nothing thinking. But if you do, then the only option is eat the cupcake. And from an exercise perspective, we see this a lot. And I'm sure you see this all the time. When people have some kind of planned exercise and our work needs, our email inbox, those urgent things are non urgent, but mounting things never go away. And so if we always feel that what our work is more important than our own walk or selfcare, then we're letting accommodation get in the way. And I want to say, people assume that people like you and me, who might be proponents of active lifestyles and self care, that we don't struggle at all with these issues. But I know I do all the time. And this has been a hugely busy time with the book launch.
[00:30:12.430] – Dr. Segar
And I have had to consciously make joy choices day in and day out about my walking because I have a lot more to do right now. And so I'm sure you experienced that too.
[00:30:25.690] – Allan
Yes, that was kind of the interesting thing. As we went through the traps, I was like, okay, well, yeah, that happened. So temptation got me. And then accommodation perfection. I had a hard time finding examples of rebellion for myself. I just kind of looked through, I said, okay, I haven't taken your quiz. So I'm interested. As soon as we get off this call, I'm probably logging in and taking a quiz. But the accommodation was a big one, because what I found was I wanted to work out every afternoon during my lunch hour. And so I would just have it in my mind that as soon as I took my lunch, that was when I was going to go to the gym. Invariably, a meeting would get scheduled. My boss would call, something would be going on, a report. I have to get out today, something I've got to get done. And so I would say, okay, well, I'll just do this instead. And then that day I get my workout. And what I finally found was, okay, what I have to do if I want this to happen is I literally have to block out my calendar as if that's the most important meeting of my day.
[00:31:25.640] – Allan
It's with my boss, myself, but it's with my boss, my real boss, me. And it's not something I can cancel. And so when I made that non negotiable meeting on my calendar, no one else could book a meeting coming up about a half an hour before that meeting, I actually turned my email off, so I wasn't hearing the Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding leading up to that hour. And then when my hours was up, I put my clothes on and I go and maybe my work boss would call. And so I'd say, okay, what do you need? Come on up to my office. I was walking up to his office in my workout closed. He's like, what's going on? He's like, well, I was on my way to the gym. Here I am. What do you need? He said, well, I need this. I'm like, okay, well, I need an hour to get my workout done, and then I'll have it over to you. Cool. And now, would I have done that before? No, because I didn't have the awareness, self awareness that I was letting that accommodation trap happen until I realized, okay, I keep missing workouts because I'm accommodating these other things.
[00:32:26.480] – Allan
And again, I didn't have a label for it exactly. But I just understood that if I didn't take that time back, I would always lose it.
[00:32:35.450] – Dr. Segar
What the book would address in that scenario is, let's say you walked upstairs to talk to your work boss, and what he needed you to do was going to take 25 minutes, and you had another meeting on the hour that you had to take. So the alternative is that instead of saying, oh, I didn't get that hour, what else can I do? In the 35 minutes that I have left, I can't go to the gym like I plan to because I'm not going to get all sweaty. So that's what we're trying to help people learn is how do you navigate in flexible ways? That unexpected thing that did cut into your hour, despite your great strategies of blocking off that time in your calendar, right?
[00:33:24.010] – Allan
Yeah. Now, the last one you had was perfection. And I actually think I know for myself this one's, the one. If I could have solved this one, it probably wouldn't have taken me eight years to figure this all out, because a lot of us suffer from this. And in many cases, it's the perfection trap that then really almost sets off everything else. I mean, all the other traps happen because we're already caught in the perfection trap.
[00:33:52.020] – Dr. Segar
Yeah, I'm smiling really big right now because you couldn't have said it more perfectly. Perfection is the most common one. It's what our society has taught us, socialized indoctrinated, us to do, and it does set the stage, because if perfection is the bar, then of course you're going to rebel and eat the whole piece of cake because there's no in between. You're going to succumb to temptation because you can't have it. You can't have it, and then you're going to rebel against that darn diet anyway. So perfection, you are right. I call it it's so big, I call it a Dragon. It's the all or nothing Dragon. And we have literally been so it's not our fault we have all or nothing thinking or perfectionistic approaches because our society has evolved in a way to teach us. But that is the old behavior change story. It's outdated and misguided many of us. And the great news is the new science offers us a whole new story of behavior change. And it will have a happy ending because it's based on what a body of science shows work. And I don't want to leap into the solution because you're guiding me along.
[00:35:12.140] – Dr. Segar
But perfection is the old story of behavior change and it is outdated.
[00:35:19.550] – Allan
Now with perfection and I think this is really where the breakdown of all this comes together is everybody believes that the reason they're failing is because they lack self control. And regardless, it's almost as if, okay, well, if I had more self control, I wouldn't fall for these traps. But that's not really the case because we don't have a lack of self control. It's not a failure, as you mentioned earlier, it's like we're not broken. We're wired the way we're wired. And it's not that we need more self control, we just need to go into what you call the choice points with our head up and being aware.
[00:36:04.970] – Dr. Segar
That's exactly right. We need to understand that the choice points right now and right now is the place of power because they accumulate over time. And that's why the perfect, imperfect choice or option is the solution, because right now we might make a choice that's imperfect, but it keeps us on the path. And the next now we might hit the Bull's eye, but the next five, we might make another perfectly imperfect choice, but we're still staying consistent. And that reinforces himself and keeps us getting the benefits over time. That continuously reinforced why we're doing it in the first place.
[00:36:51.770] – Allan
So the approach that you take to do the joy choice is called Pop. Again, another acronym. Again, they'll remember this, okay, trap is Temptation, Rebellion, Accommodation, Perfection. And then Pop is the approach that you take to get out of these traps. You recognize the trap. To do that, we've got to do a few things. And that's what the Pop is about. The story you told in the book about one of your clients using this technique I think was really good and I'd like to use that here. And that was the woman who decided, okay, I'm going to do a pool workout five days a week. It's going to be my bridge between my work day and my evening. And in theory, when you say that to a personal trainer, it's like, that sounds brilliant. That should work great until Alex got involved. Yeah, go ahead.
[00:37:51.210] – Dr. Segar
She comes home from work, her in laws are visiting, and she's thrilled to enact this perfect plan. And she hears screaming up in the window and looks up and sees her young son crying because she is in his happy place without him. And he's distraught. And she's like, oh, no, I've been gone all day. But I really want this, my time, this movement, listening to my music in the pool and helping me transition from brain heavy day to heart full evening with my family. And her old way of thinking would have been either I have to choose between meeting Alex's needs, which is not being in the pool and going and getting him or going out of the pool to comfort him, or fully meeting his needs and dropping my pool workout. But we had had a session, and she remembered that instead of letting this is what I say. Instead of letting the circumstances or life burst your bubble, you can pop your plan. And when we say we're going to pop our plan, we are taking ownership of our thinking and the situation. And again, we are not aiming for perfection here. So what did she do?
[00:39:16.660] – Dr. Segar
She popped her plan and pop stands for pause. This is where she said, oh, my gosh, accommodation is staring me in the face. Alex needs me. I'm yearning to go to him, but I know that I can name it and I can say, oh, this is what's happening. I have some control over it. Now, let me get my attention back on the pop process. Then she opened up her options and played with the options. Well, what could she do? She could take a walk after work with her family. She came up with another option that I can't think of off the top of my head. Or she could bring Alex into the pool and play around, walk with him, and basically do a modified pool workout with him. Still getting her physical activity and meeting Alex's needs. And of course, that was like the Ding, Ding, Ding. And she P, she picked the joy choice, which was staying in the pool, worked out to give her the transition she wanted. But instead of doing it alone, Mommy time with music, she decided she would do it and be active with Alex so that she could fulfill these two different what had been conflicting but had a mutuality that she could choose.
[00:40:38.180] – Dr. Segar
So she picked the joy choice, which is what we do at the end of the pop process.
[00:40:43.410] – Allan
Right. And the advantage was this. And this is the kind of added benefit that really wasn't built into her original model. But it worked was she had the in laws get Alex ready for the pool, which gave her, like, five to ten minutes to do the kind of the unwinding thing that she intended to do while she was in the pool. She got her head straight, got herself that transition from work to heart. And then Alex is in the pool with her. It wasn't the workout she intended, but she still got movement in, as you said, the perfect imperfect. And she got it done. And as a result, she was in control. But she had to get that pause. She had to recognize the trap, and then she had to make the decision that was the right decision in the moment for her. The joy choice.
[00:41:31.490] – Dr. Segar
That's right. That's the beauty of it is the joy choice lets us meet the many roles and responsibilities that give our life meaning and still take care of ourselves. And there's a new definition of success. And that's another reason why it's the joy choice, because we are successful when we do something instead of nothing. And she was so proud of herself, and that was the beginning. Once we do it one or two times, it really does become intuitive. And the beauty of it is that once we start doing it with exercise and eating, we actually can do it. I do it in all areas of my life because it's a way for me to regroup and be flexible and pick the most optimal choice for that particular challenge.
[00:42:23.980] – Allan
Yeah. Now, the way this would apply for, like, one with temptation. You talked about in the book, how if you walk by the cafe and you see that croissant, chocolate filled croissant, and it's glistening and it's calling your name and it's a loud voice and you're really struggling to walk away from this cafe and you find yourself in line magically. And then you realize, okay, again, pause. Why am I in this line? And you realize, it's not the chocolate croissant. It's the last time you were at that cafe with your friend, you guys had a wonderful conversation. You had that chocolate croissant. And the blend of the moment is now in your memory. So one of your executive functions has tied into this and said, this croissant is kind of a reminder of kind of a reliving of a great moment in your life. You talk about the chocolate cake your mother made. This is kind of another one of those things. Now, you can recognize that this is temptation.
[00:43:25.810] – Dr. Segar
Absolutely. And when we recognize that it puts it in perspective, it takes away. It's not the dark force that's drawing us in. I mean, if we think about eating the cake as the dark force, then we've already succumbed to it right before we ate it. So once we recognize, oh, Geez, this is what's going on. This is what's going on in my brain. It's not that when we remove the tension that it's this evil thing that we shouldn't have that's off the plan or that we feel that we should do and want to rebel against. We really put ourselves in control. Again, it's a decision. And it doesn't mean that people will decide not to have the croissant, but they're going to do it understanding the meaning it has for them without tension. But they're going to make a conscious choice instead of an unconscious reaction. Or they might say, you know what? I really want that chocolate croissant for all the reasons above, but I don't need to eat the whole thing. I actually would be really satisfied and proud of myself to eat half of it, wrap the other half up, and maybe I'll have it for dessert, or split it with my family after dinner, or I'll save it for the next day.
[00:44:41.410] – Dr. Segar
Learning how to be flexible is the key to sustainability. I mean, the research clearly shows this.
[00:44:48.170] – Allan
Yeah. Especially if you find that you're an unhabitor and you can't sit down and just say, I'm going to do this and stick with it. If you've struggled in the past with that, it's very likely you are an unhabitor. It's likely that you fall into these traps. And if you really go back and think about it, you'll start to see the patterns, and you just have to stop and recognize that pause and recognize when you're repeating that pattern and make another choice.
[00:45:17.530] – Dr. Segar
Absolutely. And it is, again, it's really important for people to recognize am I more like Michelle's husband Job, who's a habitor in all areas of his life, or am I more like Michelle and a little disorganized and a little comfortable keeping dishes in the sink and sometimes feel like, oh my gosh, how am I going to do all these things? So self awareness and fit is really the structure we need to set us up for success long term.
[00:45:49.930] – Allan
And so in the book, you give us a lot of tools as we start going through this process, because we can say it pop and go through it and we can talk about examples. But the reality is that you get good at this or get better at this by practice.
[00:46:08.290] – Dr. Segar
Like anything, like anything. Like any new things, we need to give ourselves Grace when we don't do it, quote, unquote as well as we hoped we would or thought we should anytime we learn something new, it's a learning process. And giving ourselves Grace is like we should give other people Grace when they're learning how to do something. That's a really important part of this, too. And that's part of why it's the joy choice, because it's all about being forgiven forgiving. It's about being imperfect like we are honoring that and making sure that our strategies for physical activity and healthy eating match with the imperfect lives that many of us live.
[00:46:59.470] – Allan
Dr. Siegar, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:47:08.770] – Dr. Segar
I think understanding that we need self-awareness is the fundamental element. Without self awareness, we can't know what we need, we can't know what we want. So first and foremost, we have to have the intention of becoming more self aware. Then when we decide that we want to do something toward our happiness or wellness, we want to make sure that what we're choosing to embark on is the right thing at the right time. So, for example, if someone now, this is different for different people. And this is why self awareness is really key to understand this. So for example, if someone just has a baby, they have a brand new newborn baby and they're like, I've got to get fit right now. They have a newborn that's a week old, that doesn't sleep through the night, and that person decides they're going to start working out every day or whatever. I would say that is probably the wrong thing at the wrong time. And the workout has to be perfect. Now, exercise is a great way to facilitate your sleep. But if you add something to grandiose onto an already overwhelming situation. So that's where fit of what we're doing when is really important.
[00:48:26.610] – Dr. Segar
So I just want to take a step back and say physical activity is great for new moms. It's the overarching plan that they create that would be important. And of course, walking with your newborn is a great way to be active. But that's just an example. You said, how do you do it? You want to make sure that what you're doing is the right thing for the right time. And then the third thing is, I think considering whatever you're doing as a process of learning, where one day you're going to have a couple of steps forward, you're going to hit the bullseye, and the other days you might have to make joy choices. And that the goal isn't perfection, it's staying on the path through doing something instead of nothing.
[00:49:10.510] – Allan
Great. Thank you. If someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book, The Joy Choice, where would you like for me to send them?
[00:49:19.150] – Dr. Segar
Well, the book should be everywhere. So they can go to their local bookstore. They can get it online through booksellers online. If they want to take the quiz and learn more about the book, they can go to my website, which is michellesegar.com
[00:49:35.590] – Allan
awesome. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/538 and I'll be sure to have links there. Dr. Segar, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
[00:49:45.910] – Dr. Segar
Thanks for having me. It was really fun to talk with you.
[00:49:48.950] – Allan
Me, too. Thank you.
[00:49:57.470] – Allan
Welcome back, Ras.
[00:49:59.090] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. With an interesting conversation you had. There's a couple of things I'd like to talk about. But first, I'd like to talk about setting or creating habits. It sounds like it's still a good thing to do, but not everybody is able to create habits quite as easily as everyone else.
[00:50:14.010] – Allan
Yeah, there are people that they decide they want to do something, they're going to start taking a multivitamin or they're going to change something the way they do something. And then pretty easily after that, they're just doing it. They're not even thinking about it anymore. For most people, for a lot of people, works fairly well. If you do it long enough, it's different for everybody. You may have heard numbers out there, like 21 days or 66 days or whatever. And the reality is that the science that's out there, while there was an average of 66 days to make an action automatic or feel automatic where you weren't thinking about doing it, you just did it. 66 was the average. But the spread on that was really wide. Some people less than two weeks, other people almost a year. And so you can't just say 66 days. But for a lot of people, if you get to doing a simple thing over and over, eventually it just becomes a habit. You get up in the morning, you brush your teeth, you put the coffee on, you walk the dog. There's simple things that become like a ritual when you do them.
[00:51:31.890] – Allan
But big caveat, it really only works for simple things. When you want to do something like food prep or something like that, that's a whole series of actions. Then you have to go deeper than a habit because habits not going to get you there like that. There are habitors, like she said, like her husband, that once they start doing something, it does. So if you're doing Sunday meal prep, Saturday grocery shop, maybe Sunday morning grocery shop, and then Sunday meal prep, yes, that can become like a normal thing on your schedule that you get to doing and feel like a habit. But most of us are not going to feel comfortable that that's an automatic thing. And then anything that gets in the way pop, we're out of it. And we may not even go back the next Sunday and do it because we stopped doing it this Sunday before.
[00:52:27.630] – Rachel
That's a good point. Which brings me to the other thing that I think is more useful is that Traps acronym that she had for the decision disruptors. And the reason why that was such a light bulb moment, I love the phrase decision disruptors because we are all trying to make good decisions. We're trying to eat healthy and be active and stuff. But just things tend to get in the way. And her acronym of Traps kind of outline some of those things, some of those reasons why it's hard for us to stick or make these better choices.
[00:52:59.730] – Allan
Yeah. The temptation one is fairly common. And you'll see, so you go to work and a vendor brings Donuts.
[00:53:08.500] – Rachel
[00:53:09.410] – Allan
And you had no intention of eating the Donuts. You're even doing intermittent fasting. So you haven't eaten since dinner and you weren't going to eat until lunch. And you walk in the break room and there's those doughnuts, and you find yourself grabbing one of the doughnuts without really even thinking about it. And there you are. The rebellion is one that I don't see as often, but I see it from time to time. Accommodation is probably one of the most important ones because it's something that particularly women who are caregivers to their children, they take priority. Taking them to soccer practice, picking them up from dance, and just shuttling your kids around Burns up so much of your time that it's really hard to take time for yourself. And then Unfortunately, I think a lot of women will feel guilty taking that time away. I want to go for a run, but that's 45 minutes that I'm not here with my child.
[00:54:15.870] – Rachel
My guilt is strong, and it's definitely a driver in a lot of our decisions. But what I tell people is I tell people you can't fill from an empty cup. You need to take the time for yourself and take care of yourself before you can care for others adequately. But yes, I can definitely see that one. And the last one she had being perfection. That's a big one, too.
[00:54:40.090] – Allan
Yeah. She's absolutely right there, because so many of us are all or none.
[00:54:47.680] – Rachel
[00:54:48.930] – Allan
And I'll admit when I learn about myself, when I think about myself and I've done that self awareness thing that I had to do, I recognize, though, that I do pretty much have to be all on or I'm off. I need to push towards that. But it also creates those other problems. And I've worked with people like this. I have a client right now that's going through some of this, and he wants to eat keto, but this is going on. This child graduated from this that one's going here and there's this party that he has to go to. And so he finds himself off keto, and it just creates this cycle of and unfortunately, guilt, which he shouldn't feel. We villainize food, and so we feel like we've let ourselves down if we are not perfect. And the reality is if we know that perfect isn't possible.
[00:55:55.390] – Rachel
[00:55:57.610] – Allan
Particularly for us, it's like something's going to come up. I can't think of a year that I've gone through that there wasn't a holiday or birthday, right?
[00:56:05.520] – Rachel
Yeah, there's always something, isn't there?
[00:56:09.370] – Allan
So at some point you're going to go to a party or go to dinner. At some point, somebody's going to bring Donuts to the break room and you're going to end up eating one. That's fine. The point that she was getting at was don't let that be what beats you, right. The joy choice in her book. It's about finding your path where you feel good about your decisions. And so if you can get rid of that concept that these are bad foods and good foods and bad food, then you kind of get to where this is all at and we're going to have another guest on in a few weeks. And his name is Alan Aragon and he's got an excellent book as well. And it goes really deep into some of these same concepts of ways that you can look at just doing better than you're doing now. And then he talks about this concept of discretionary calories. The way he puts it together is if you're eating your calorie level, Then it's okay if up to 20% of your total calories is coming from stuff that you would put in a bad food list.
[00:57:35.850] – Rachel
[00:57:36.360] – Allan
So if you decide, okay, I want to have a Coca Cola And you're like, okay, that's sugar. I don't need that sugar. But I can fit that in my calories for the day. And because I know I'm getting good nutrition otherwise, that 80%. Then I know, okay, I can have the Coke and still stay under my calories, then that's fine. And so it's just trying to get away from the perfect is really important. So looking for tools, looking for things that are going to help you just kind of go through this and then it's hard, don't get me wrong, it's probably the hardest thing to do Because it's the mindset of change. So different things we talked about in this interview. There's even more in the book those tools and things that you can do. So I encourage anyone that's struggling with mindset, struggling with this willpower motivation, habits stuff. This is a good book Because it's just down to Earth stuff. It's science based. So she did go back into the science, looked it up. But at the same time, it kind of gives you a way to get through this without feeling like you've failed every single time you're not on plan.
[00:58:54.980] – Rachel
That's wonderful. That sounds like a really useful book and I love that it offers tools to help people get through these really tough traps like she had mentioned and these other tough situations. I think that's fantastic.
[00:59:07.490] – Allan
All right. Well, Rachel, I'll talk to you next week.
[00:59:10.100] – Rachel
Great. Take care.
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