FGvW Reviews: Down Size, Part 2

This continues my review of Professor Ted Spiker's book Down Size.  See Part 1 for my disclaimer and review. 

12 Truths for Turning Pants-Splitting Frustration into Pants-Fitting Success 

Part 2:  Down Size:
Getting Going
5. Inspection
6. Motivation
7. Nutrition
8. Perspiration

5. Inspection I love you Prof. Spiker, but I really would have put this chapter right after "Foundation" (everyone's a critic, right?) because right up there with knowing your emotional foundation, you need to know your physical/biological foundation.  I'm always going back and forth over which one more people get stuck on:  figuring out why (not how) they've gained weight in the first place or having to go face-to-face with the numbers. 

Knowing I was overweight (and the different ways it permeated my life) was much different than having a doctor in a white coat saying "So...you know you're fat, right?" listing out co-morbidities, then following up with the blood tests that supported her observation. According to Spiker, looking in the mirror (subjective) and getting data points (objective) are both ways we can inspect ourselves. "Many of us tend to avoid those numbers for the same reason we avoid mirrors.  We know we're not going to like what we see, even though that hard data can serve as the impetus for change." 

The great part about inspection is that we can use both the objective and subjective assessments as starting points to set goals. "The point is," according to Spiker, "to establish some kind of baseline against which you can track data, and use incremental goals to keep you moving forward." Eat more veggies, increase your good cholesterol, improve your blood pressure.  

Track data?  Yes please.  I love having my BodyMedia armband (data!) as well as my spreadsheets (data!) that help remind me that even on the days when I feel like I'm not a brand new person, that I actually am in many ways.  Spiker makes a very good point: different tracking works for different people -- you just need to figure out what works for you at any given time (that is, what can you maintain?). 

Doug Newburg makes another appearance in this chapter regarding "feel." I'm still digesting what he says about it and would do neither Doug nor Ted justice by summing it up or even quoting it out of context -- except to say that "feel" is the most in-your-body sense you can have and it's why we're all doing the weight loss/health gain thing.  Just go and read it. Now. 

6. Motivation — Ask people what they think "motivation" means and you'll probably get a list of examples of things that can be motivating, but don't actually define what motivation is.  Spiker has one of the best explanations of what motivation is:  "you...telling your body what's important." I think everyone who has been successful in weight loss/health gain has realized this in one way or another (in my opinion, the biggest motivation is realizing that we (as a whole person) matter).   

Spiker then explains the difference between the different kinds of motivation:  extrinsic (surface level, such as wanting to lose a few pounds before summer) and intrinsic ("deeper goals driven by how you feel at an emotional...level").  Intrinsic motivators speak to three basic needs we have as humans:  autonomy, relatedness, and competence. Spiker says that we can start with an extrinsic goal, but we have to engage the intrinsic in order to have lasting success. There's much more about this in the book that I think is worthy of a second read with a highlighter.

In this chapter Spiker also talks about the importance of planning for the journey as a whole -- that is, planning to create success and planning on how to handle the bumps in the road. He also talks about the psychology behind how competition as well as incentives play into staying motivated.  

As my motivation has been lacking as of late, I think I'll be re-reading this chapter and meditating on it.

7. Nutrition — I love that Prof. Spiker gives us credit here -- that most of us are self aware to a degree and that we know what we should be eating.  He quotes Jonathan Bailor, "It's simple, but it's not easy."  Spiker addresses many of the ways that nutrition is hard such as our environment, differing scientific studies ("fluid science"), as well as having to still eat when we know it's part of what made us fat.  

Spiker talks about the science that we do know -- such as how our bodies metabolize sugars and how we store fat, and how environment influences the choices we make, In this chapter, he seems to have a parallel view with much of what Michael Pollen writes in his book "Food Rules" (I love it when well-researched authors agree).  Spiker reiterates the anthems of the converted:  (1) eat real food; and, (2) mind the portion sizes.  

Spiker diverges a bit from most other weight loss/heath gain books for a bit here by not prescribing a set diet of "you must eat this" and "you must eat that." That's on you.  You need to know what you can live with in terms of what you're eating and not eating. You can create your own eating plan, but that also requires knowing basic nutrition (he comments on this) and food logging (how else would you be able to recreate your successes?). "The main message is:  Create your own answer.  If something stops working, try something else." 

8. Perspiration — Midway through the chapter, Professor Spiker quotes Alex Hutchinson regarding all the differing perspectives on how to get the best results out of your workout, "All of that is noise on top of the signal.  Are you exercising or are you not exercising? That's the question that matters."  

Sadly, some people feel paralyzed about exercise because (as he mentions in the chapter "Frustration") they feel they need to be perfect (in their diet, in their exercise); rather than be imperfect, they shut down.  

I don't think it's any huge revelation that all people, whether they're trying to lose weight or not, need to exercise.  Just like we nourish our bodies with food, we have to nourish our bodies with movement.  Spiker reminds us that we need to be smart about our exercise -- we need goals (which means more data!), we need variety ("not only for the physiological benefits, but also the psychological ones"), and we need to play ("create an environment that makes exercise feel more like recess than a routine").  

Just like there's a nutrition plan for everyone, there are limitless possibilities in how you interpret goals, variety, and play.  Spiker believes "anything can work."  Be flexible and figure out what works for you, your life, your schedule, and your body. And if you see a tall guy with wide hips walking down the street with a sledgehammer, it's probably Professor Spiker.  If he doesn't have wide hips, you should probably try running. 

(I'd like to add here that "play" represents a fundamental difference between how I was wired before and how I was wired after my "epiphany:  before my epiphany, exercise was punishment; after the epiphany, I saw exercise as the reward.  Find a way to love exploring what your body is capable of and you'll never regret a workout in your life, no matter how hard you push yourself, no matter how limited you may be.)

Stay tuned for Part 3:  Your Best Size: Getting the Body You Want—For Good

9. Dedication
10. Inspiration
11. Connection
12. Resolution 

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<3 Robby