I'm writing this post from Oslo, Norway. I'm sipping a cup of black coffee, cuddled up next to a fireplace in one of the top-rated restaurants in Oslo. I'm happy, healthy, and my belly is full. Full of Norwegian fish soup; loaded with white potatoes, cream, milk, and, assuredly, some added sugar. Oh, and I dipped gluten-filled bread into that soup and devoured it for good measure. I'd also be willing to bet the butter I spread onto that bread came from feedlot cattle. To be honest, I'm considering ordering a glass of red wine... and it's only 2pm.
Now, if you've consumed any amount of Clovis content, your jaw may be on the floor right now. Why? Because I've become a bit notorious for ranting on the internet. Quite often, I rant about how I "don't do cheat days." You can find clips of me saying "cheat days" or even "cheat meals" are stupid and counterproductive.
The truth is, cheat days, or even cheat meals are, in fact, stupid and counterproductive. They are a vehicle for self-sabotage. But it's not the crappy food that causes the problems... it's the psychology behind the decision to eat the crappy food that causes the problems.
"Everything in Moderation."
We've all heard this cliche term spit at us over and over. This unfathomably dumb idea that "no foods are good or bad." That we can eat anything we want, at any time, as long as we do it in "moderation." Whatever the hell that means.
Since we were children, we have been programmed to believe that the only secret to weight loss is calories. "Eat fewer calories, lose weight." Sounds simple enough. The problem is, that's only one small piece of a giant puzzle. The human metabolism is a complex machine. To simplify it into terms like, "calories in, calories out," is actually quite egotistical. It's people believing they are smarter than they really are.
Okay, I'm going to step off my soapbox and get to the heart of this article...
I am a Psychiatrist. No, really. I never intended to become a psychiatrist. I didn't go to school for it. I didn't set it as a career goal. I don't even want to be one right now. But I am. Whether I like it or not.
I am a Nutritional Therapist, yes. But I never wanted to be a psychiatrist. I've worked with over 600 clients as a Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach. The biggest lesson I have learned through that experience is that "weight loss" is mostly mindset. I'd even say it's about 99% mindset and about 1% execution. Thus, I spend most of my time managing the human psyche. Peoples' beliefs and how that impacts their decision making.
I'm going to share with you the #1 problem in health and wellness: People lie to themselves. Constantly. Each and every day.
I use words like "justification" and "validation" to describe this phenomenon. We are programmed to lie to ourselves.
It is only when we adopt the daily practice of radical honesty that we can be released from the prison that is our own minds.
To quote the Clovis Manifesto: "I Am Clovis. I Am Free..." what does that even mean? It means I'm trying to help you build a lifestyle that will enhance the entirety of your time here on Earth. I mean that. Health... physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. All affected by the foods we put in our bodies and the daily lifestyle habits that we create.
If I know that food is that powerful, why did I choose to put "bad" foods in my body here today? Because I have the freedom to do so. I have the freedom to make fully-informed decisions, with all the facts, knowing precisely what I'm doing to my body. I'm not "pretending" this is good for me. I'm not "justifying" my decision or searching for validation from social media. I'm choosing foods that I am 100% certain are not good for my body because, at this moment, I have prioritized experience over optimal health.
This food is terrible for me. Period. And I will never, ever, help you justify your unhealthy food decisions. Especially not by using absurd phrases like "everything in moderation."
But, what I will do is try to give you some perspective on when and how to make these decisions.
For example, in America, it's common for families to "celebrate" with food for no reason at all. "It's a random Friday, and Junior was well behaved today, so we're all going to McDonald's for nuggets and McFlurries to celebrate!" That's quite different from my experience with fish soup here in Norway.
I know you see the difference.
I also want to tell you that this is the only time I will eat Fish Soup in Norway. The experience was beautiful! Cuddled up next to a crackling fire with some hot fish soup, warm bread, and black coffee, listening to the locals speak words I can't even sort of understand. It's a beautiful life!
But that doesn't mean I will be using each meal while I'm "on vacation" to eat like an asshole. The whole time "justifying" each decision as if I somehow "earned" the poison I'm eating because when I'm at home, my "diet" is making me miserable. Nothing could be further from the truth. I miss my Clovis lifestyle while traveling! I miss it dearly, in fact. Because I feel indescribably better when I'm eating Clovis Approved Foods than when I'm not. It's not even close to comparable.
I want to dive back into this concept of radical honesty for a moment...
When I say, "radical honesty," I mean, 100% truth, in every moment, no matter the consequences. Not even little white lies. Ever. That's what these occasional food choices are... radical honesty between me, myself, and I.
It is so much easier for people to use self-talk such as, "I had such a bad day at work! I deserve this ice cream, and surely a bowl or two won't hurt me! And a little Sugar is good for us! All the other nutrition experts say we need some sugar! And it will make me feel better! It's okay to comfort myself with food sometimes! Plus, I got my 10,000 steps today!! And I'm sure it's not as bad as Justin says it is! It's not really poison..." Etc. Etc. On and on it goes.
Lies. 100%. Irrefutably. And you know it.
My point is, live your life! Fully. But do not lie to yourself along the way. I can't tell you how much I believe in this message of radical truth and honesty.
When you make an unhealthy decision and say things like, "everything in moderation." It is the lie that makes the experience so painful! You say that nonsense to yourself, you know that you are lying, you feel tremendous guilt, and the entire experience is absurdly damaging. Each lie you tell takes a toll on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. You lie to yourself! And that may be the worst form of dishonesty.
Just stop and think about that last paragraph for a moment before moving on... you damage yourself with dishonesty.
"Discipline = Freedom." Yes. But you know what else?!
Truth = freedom!
"I believe in my truth. I believe in myself..." (the Clovis Manifesto)
So should you! Can you say, with 100% certainty, that you believe in yourself and, more importantly, that you trust yourself?
In the future, when you make poor food choices, be careful with your self-talk!
"I ate X food, and it was bad for me. Better not make it a habit!" is far more helpful on your health and wellness journey than, "I ate X food... but it's okay because of X, Y, and Z, excuses..."
If you're struggling to get healthy, drop the act! Stop telling lies. If you can't be honest with yourself, you've got a long, hard road ahead of you. And that road is going to look just like that dieting "rollercoaster" you hear everyone else talking about...