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My Five Pillars for Change

While I strategically stride along with some of my nutrition clients, the thought occurred how I approached my own change.

I can’t say whether I was dragging my feet that would make a snail reach Max Verstappen speeds. Or whether I was making great strides in moving forward. It is those first weeks where you focus, work hard and smart in following the guiding footsteps of my coach. And not seeing results. Recollecting those moments led me to affirm that my change was based on drilling five pillars in my life.

We all want to see results overnight.

We want to show the world that tangible results have (re)surfaced through our social media channels. Or happily standing in front of your wardrobe with clothes one size smaller. Unfortunately, this is not how it works. The moment we pivot to those “yes, yes, yes!” moments take patience, perseverance, and a bit more patience.

The accumulation of factors of changing eating habits, hunger cues, good sleep, movement, and casting aside those thoughts that the arrival of a shiny six-pack equals the same time of pregnancy, are part of a sustainable, long-term strategy.

It makes sense, right?

What you have achieved in xx amount of time, you do want to keep in the long run. Yoyo-ing back and forth in terms of weight gain and loss is fairly demotivating. 

And the funny thing with results is that we hardly can compare them with anyone else as a measure. After all, weight loss journeys are commonly solo acts as far as my average client profile. And since we all are individuals, some gallop through the motions in a couple of weeks, other just ploughs through their routines, with bouts of temptation to hitchhike back to old habits.

When I look back on my interior and visual exterior transformation (many have said this to me, so better make use of it), there have been 5 major things that ascended me to that better “me”. I define a better “me” relates to comparing the old Niels (pre-2018) with the new one (the present one).

I want to connect my interior and exterior breakthroughs with the metaphor of an iceberg. 

The saying goes; “we only see the tip of the iceberg” and actually, this is as true as the truth can be.

Why?

Because the majority of all the hard work does not come from eating the right food, drinking enough water and adding enough protein to reach a weight loss goal. It’s the inner works that make all the magic happen – the part of the iceberg that floats below the surface.

Let me describe the five pillars of what constitutes my proverbial iceberg – the route to change.

Mindset

Buried deep down in the murky waters, this is the foundation of it all. The part that will never see the light of day (bye-bye, daily Vitamin D requirement), but it carries the tons of ice stacked above its head. Setting your goal is one thing; the task of getting to climb to the top of the iceberg and seeing the vastness of a new way of living is a task-orientated ascent of Armageddon proportions. It feels like an easy feat when looking.

Once the climb starts, it is about overcoming those pitfalls, setbacks and hurdles. And these are only achievable knowing why you’re on this upwards path.

Environment

Breathing underwater without proper equipment turns the climb up the slopes of the iceberg into a feat nearly impossible to complete. Thus adding tools to make the upwards journey more inviting is one of the next steps. Change is hard when your surroundings remain unchanged or do not give you that helping hand, or even harder, does not collaborate.

This comes with making compromises, sacrifices or looks for scuba gear to breathe more easily. A change in my social, physical and online environment was one of the five pillars to get that aiding stimulus.

Habits

A mad dash to the highest point of the iceberg does not lead to the desired results. Worn out quickly, not enjoying the view en route, tripping en route and tumbling back into the proverbial rabbit hole. Avoiding that often small steps lead to better results, habitual changes are essentials. Without knowing how we are habitually eating without realising whether we have an appetite or simply follow the arms on a clock, this was one of the many habits that needed a complete renovation. 

We often do not see what habits we have when searching for a better version. We think we can solve change by ourselves. It is those blind spots that hindered me from sustainably moving forward. I have never marked it as a sign of weakness to be guided along this path by a coach. It has been the decisive game-changer, and it still is after so many months of fine-tuning my habits.

Knowledge

What we do know about good nutrition, proper sleep, controlled movement, and stress management is by far less than what we don’t know. We believe we know because we have entered an era where all questions are answered on the internet and rely on blindfolded follow those we admire, have the perfect sales pitch, or think that our years wandering on Planet Earth gives us enough baggage. I assumed that making logical choices would turn the wheel of fortune in my favour. Wrong again. 

Knowledge comes from making guided decisions consistently for a pre-defined period of time. Outcome-based decision making follows next, assuring that the time frame spent before “seeing is believing” matches with your desired time frame and personal preferences.

You can read what you want, but it does not deliver the solidified science of what you are pursuing. It is gaining true knowledge when things turn out for the best (or worst). Either adjust your course or move along on the same slippery slope when some thumbs-up are appropriate.

How do we know what the desires time frame is before conclusions are drawn? Ask a coach! Because he/she is the one who has studied the iceberg, perhaps scaled it a few times him/herself, knows the trenches of rekindled desire, and can suggest other paths that lead to the top of this frozen behemoth we call change. 

Willpower

For me, this is what made the journey so exhilarating. Having that icy summit in your crosshairs while knowing what I have left behind and never want to go back into those dark, icy waters.

I firmly believe and live by the quote from Lao TsuA Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step”. This first step, and the ones that follow, are my rocket engines, my motivators, my mantra of not quitting. Clarity of what you want and what you can almost taste at the back of one’s throat kept me going. From 4.30 am wake-up calls to making decisions that turned parts of my life around 720 degrees is all WHY I am doing it.

It all may sound to some of you as if I may have turned into a softy. A fluffy bunny rabbit, and something like a person “dancing around dandelions in a meadow on Birkenstocks”, but trust me, I haven’t. I changed my perception of who I wanted to become in the past, redefined my ‘why’ (even before taking that first step, this is your Credo), and kicked arse every single day. Quitting was never on my agenda. I chose this because I recognized it was needed. The benefits outweigh by infinite factors of what I had to let go of.

That iceberg is still there.

I just chose to take on much bigger and more rugged ones to tackle. And so are my clients’ desired outcomes because, through accepting change and guided learning, we will evolve.

Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great. | John D. Rockefeller

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Every few weeks, I write about new things related to nutrition and deep health. Like creating useful and trending content, your journey to thrive does not happen overnight.