Friday, August 5, 2011

Lean Eaters - Are you too smart for your own good?

In a recent interview with New Scientist (p. 28 - 09JUL11 edition) - Why we screw up when the heat is on. Author of CHOKE: What the secrest of the brain reveal about getting it right when you have to, Sian Beilock, a psychologist, talked to NS about "what it takes to stay on form under stress, and why being smarter can be more of hindrance than help."

Right away I found myself smiling and nodding.

Smiling? Because anything that helps me and my clients perform better and accomplish goals, gets my attention.

Nodding? Because I have said it many times to a certain "profile" of client, "You are too smart for your own good! Less thinking; more doing!” Sometimes I am happy that I am only kind of smart :-). Just like Tim Ferris teaches in his 4 Hour Body, perhaps the optimal is to be JUST smart enough to get 'er done. Not SO smart that thinking interferes.

" For people with less working memory - who were relying on shortcuts that didn't tax their cognitive system in the same way - pressure didn't have a negative impact.

Those with more cognitive horsepower...tend to over-think and analyse. We found that over-thinking can be detrimental...” ~ Beilock

All these years I have been hard on myself and suffering from self-battery and self-labelling myself as "not smart enough". That has just been changed to "just smart enough". EPIPANY! :-)

How can LEAN EATERS benefit from this?

Well the Lean Eating program already includes strategies to avoid "choking" and overthinking such as introducing change via new habits every 2 weeks, directing clients to focus on the WHAT TO DO TODAY and keeping things simple and narrowed in on what actually gets results such as The Big 3 (Nutrition habits, Workouts and Daily lessons).

We also teach clients not to suffer from analysis paralysis and "majoring in the minor". Not only do we teach but we ask Lean Eaters to reflect and apply what they are learning about themselves and what makes them unique to their journey and goals.

It is important to KNOW if you are an analyzer, an over-thinker or simply too smart for your own good sometimes AND, importantly, to identify and actively put strategies in place for countering and managing this.

Speaking of strategies, Beilock's book provices more depth and detail, but some highlights from the New Scientist article:

"Download" worries before performance is required (test, presentation, athletic event) - Beilock and her colleagues showed that writing about thoughts and feelings for 10 minutes before a test boosted scores from B- to B+

Look at "problems" differently / look at things differently - worries were less likely to have an impact when students looked at math equations (visually / spatially) differently. The less talking one has to do in their head, to try and "figure" something out the less worry. You may want to consider this when learning about the science, the technical or more complex components of nutrition and exercise. Ask yourself "is this going to help me or hurt me?". "Should I keep it simple?". "What do I really NEED to know here to help me on my journey and with me goals?".

Practice more / Concentrate less - golfers performed better by concentrating on their swing whey they were additionally distracted and stressed by people watching them, money being at stake and verbal distractions. This comes back to The Power of Less - focus on the "essentials" only. Sift out distractions and turn "fear into focus". Take the fear of being watched (perhaps their compliance or participation being monitored or tracked by their coach or the program) and turn it into focus on DOING the BIG 3 (lessons, habits, workouts). Do not excessively concentrate and bring more stress to the fact that you are being "coached". Accountability is a good thing but not if you focus on it too much and make it a source of anxiety.

Other noteworthy points:

"Singing a song or counting backwards by threes can prevent you from attending to the details of your performance."

"'s better if an activity you have performed thousands of times runs on autopilot." (the importance of practice)

"...a supportive audience can cause you to focus and analyse your performance in a way that disrupts it."

"....performing under pressure is a skill itself. We are not born able to succeed in stressful situations."

So again LEAN EATING is on more than just on the right track! We are on the cutting edge. In fact, we are leading in this area. We are taking all the science of nutrition, of people, of change and bringing into every fiber of the program to ensure you get the best possible opportunity to succeed. Which sounds much better than "not choke".



idv8 said...

Hi Krista!

As one of your clients who was rightly told more than once "less thinking, more doing!" I really relate to this post. :-)

But I'm especially happy to report that between Lean Eating's *outstanding* system of focusing participants on daily accomplishments and my own willingness to simply give in the process, I've never felt better! Especially mentally.

My compliance is at 100% but not because I set out to be "perfect" and impress my coach (as I would've - and have - before, until perfection exhausted me) but because I focus on each day: I do the assignment, I follow the habits, I workout hard. But I don't do "extra" - no extra exercise, no extra habits, and consequently no extra mental baggage either!

I am convinced that if every day I do as you guys say, at the end of this I will be healthier and happier than every before.

Thanks so much!

Danielle, LE 2012 finalist ;-)

Krista Schaus - Lean Eating Coach said...

This is wonderful to hear! Thank you for taking the time to share this here. It made my day.