Advertising
Advertising

How to Discover Who You Are And Then How To Behave Like It

How to Discover Who You Are And Then How To Behave Like It

I know you’ve had a night at the house with your homeboys or homegirls, maybe partaking in a glass of wine or two or some other adult beverage and rattling off philosophical ideas and theories about broad subjects including life, love, health, and wealth.  There’s nothing like a good back and forth with some good friends, am I right or what?

A lot of those discussions were most likely rooted in happiness. How to get more of it, how to keep it, and what to do with it once you’ve found it.

I’ve mentioned it in posts before but it bears a little repeating.

Happiness is like currency. It is the essence of life.

Somedays you have more of it, other days you don’t, you’re willing to trade or buy things for it and you probably have even given it up in exchange for something else. Usually that something else is thought to bring you even more happiness.

You may eat certain foods because they make you happy, buy certain items because you’re convinced they’ll make you happier, get into relationships because that’s what you need right now in order to become happier, and chase the green because if you only had more of it you could finally do all of the things you’ve wanted to do that will make you happier.

But all of those things are a means to an end. They provide you with brief spurts of happiness and in reality all of us need those little jolts of mojo from time to time, but in the long run that’s not what’s going to get it done.

All this leads us to is the bigger is better cycle with no consistency or clarity on what it is that actually provides us with consistent and long lasting positive emotions.

Advertising

Virtue is the true path to happiness.

Great Justin, but what the heck is virtue?

Old school wisdom spitter Aristotle has said that, “A good life is one where you develop your strengths, realize your potential, and become what it is in your nature to become.” ~ Jonathan Haidt from The Happiness Hypothesis

Blaine Flower, author of Virtue and Psychology calls Virtues character strengths such as; generosity, loyalty, and honesty; that make it possible for people to pursue worthwhile goals.

I’ve talked about the integrity gap on this site before but finding virtue is in closing that integrity gap as much as possible.

Just as a refresher that gap is the distance between what you do and what you know to be true. It’s your ability to align your behaviors with your strengths and the things that are most important to you and then finding a way to do them consistently.

About a year ago I participated in Brain Johnson’s Optimal Living 101 course and one of the activities I was asked to do was to find my strengths.

I took the signature strengths test created by Martin Seligman and other researchers over at the authentic happiness site (I highly suggest you do the same) and discovered the following personal strengths.

  • Creativity
  • Persistance
  • Self-control
  • Vitality
  • Bravery
  • Optimism

Because these were my greatest strengths I wanted to know how I could live these as often as possible. How could I display these characteristics in the areas of life that were most important to me.

Advertising

Shoot, now I had to figure out what is most important to me?

A few weeks ago I was at an event with James Franco and he was discussing the importance of defining the different roles you play in life. I had remembered hearing this somewhere before but I couldn’t place my finger on it.

I went home that night and shuffled through some notes of mine and found the life plan I had created based on Michael Hyatt’s life plan template.

The things that were most important to me were the current roles I was playing in my life.

You may play some if not all of the following:

  • Brother
  • Sister
  • Student
  • Father
  • Mother
  • Friend
  • Lover
  • Husband
  • Wife
  • Daughter
  • Son
  • Yourself (this is not selfish. If you can’t take care of yourself it will be damn hard to take care of others.)

I’m sure I am missing some as I bet there a few that are unique to you.

After you have become clear on the current roles you play it’s important to prioritize them in order of importance to you.

Before you automatically put yourself on the bottom of this list consider this for a second. If you play the role of a husband how are you going to be the best husband you can be if your own health is deteriorating? You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else.

Advertising

  1. Purpose statement: What is your purpose for each role? I also like to find a powerful quote that goes well with how I define my purpose in each roles.
  2. The future as you see it: This is where you envision the best possible scenario of yourself in that role.
  3. Reality: Check in time. Where are you currently at in each of these roles? What gets measured gets managed and you have to have some sort of sense of where you are in order to know where and how far you have to go to get to that ideal visions of you in that role.
  4. What do you need to do: What are some commitments (behaviors) you need to start making TODAY that will help you bridge the gap between your current reality and the future as you see it?

How to display your strengths in your roles more often

1. Move away from having goals to being goals: Having goals are the desire to see a specific outcome. To lose so many pounds, to make so much money, to be with the love of your life. They don’t require you to do anything, there’s no action associated with them. With having goals you simply state them and hope that they come true. Their more likes wishes.

Being goals establish action. They force you to actually do something. In order to active your weight goals what do you have to do? You have to exercise consistently and eat more real food. In order to create more wealth what do you have to do? In order to find love you have to love more.

What areas in your life can you give more?

That’s where the next step comes in.

2. Create morning rituals surrounding your signature strengths: As the day progresses your willpower will drain and make it less likely that you do those behaviors that lead to the outcomes that you desire.

Your best course of action is to do the toughest things first. Setting aside time every morning to build consistency around your signature strengths is one way that you can build the habit of displaying those strengths everyday.

If you’re the creative type spending a few minutes writing, practicing your art, doing something creative for your spouse or coming up with unique and unusual ways to solve problems at work might be something you want to spend time doing when you first get up.

3. Discover the things that are working not what you think you should be doing: There is a movement happening that is really picking up steam lately. It’s called the quantified self movement in which you incorporate technology to acquire data about various aspects of your daily life.

Advertising

  • Food consumed
  • Exercise
  • Daily activity
  • Mood
  • Sleep

And a host of other lifestyle variables. Some of the tracking can be done through wearing sensors like Fitbit, Jawbone, or using apps like Sleep Cycle and Moody Me.

What gets measured gets managed and if you are aware of what you are doing everyday you’ll have the ability to decipher if it is working for you or not. After that, you’ll have the ability and knowledge to make changes as necessary.

4. Start with the easiest first: When you establish changes that need to be made go with the easiest first in order to build momentum, confidence, and the habit.

If you are looking to be more active but have been sitting on the couch for the past three years walking may be easier then running. If you are trying to reduce stress taking a hot bath daily might be easier then starting a meditation habit.

And if all else fails

Simplify the heck out of everything. What is one big thing that you can start doing today that will have the most positive influence on the roles that you play? What is one big thing you can stop doing that creates the most stress, anxiety, and confusion?

It’s easy to get lost in this self discovery and constantly trying to figure yourself out. I’d say most of us already know who we are. We’re husbands, fathers, mothers, daughters, lovers, friends, caretakers, artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, and the list goes on.

I think most of us already know who we are. Now it’s just a matter of acting like it.

With gratitude.

More by this author

Justin Miller

Healthy Lifestyle Architect, a Fitness and Nutrition Coach

How to Dramatically Change Your Life in Just One Week The Habits of the Highly Healthy How to Discover Who You Are And Then How To Behave Like It The Beginners Guide To Slacklining A New Way to Create a Bucket List

Trending in Lifestyle

1 Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism 2 10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult 3 How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower 4 How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive 5 8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

Advertising

Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

Advertising

What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

Advertising

  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

Advertising

Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next