Today, we are talking about expanding your comfort zone in an entirely achievable AND sustainable way so that what might seem extreme or out of reach today will one day be part of your everyday, ordinary routine. I’ll use my rapid fat loss phase as an example of how this process works.
We just finished a challenge where we had about 30 members of the Wits & Weights Facebook community following along or running the protocol themselves, so I will be using direct quotes from their experience to give you context as to how what seems extreme may not be depending on the foundations you’ve already developed.
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Today you’ll learn all about:
[2:36] Expanding comfort zone for personal growth and self-improvement
[10:16] Expanding your comfort zone through behavioral change
[11:40] Avoiding the extreme zone and setting yourself up for failure
[14:47] Rapid fat loss vs. extreme crash diets
[17:15] Success in the rapid fat loss challenge
[22:05] Expanding comfort zone for sustainable self-improvement
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The key here is not to exit your comfort zone. Because you're going to fail. The key is to expand it. This is a balanced approach. This is how we add new and quote unquote healthier habits without abandoning what you know and love. Welcome to the Wits & Weights podcast. I'm your host Philip pape, and this twice a week podcast is dedicated to helping you achieve physical self mastery by getting stronger. Optimizing your nutrition and upgrading your body composition will uncover science backed strategies for movement, metabolism, muscle and mindset with a skeptical eye on the fitness industry, so you can look and feel your absolute best. Let's dive right in Wits & Weights community Welcome to another solo episode of the Wits & Weights podcast. In our last episode number 113 barbell training for physical therapy and injury prevention with John Patricio. We discussed how John marries the worlds of rehab and strength, challenging conventional wisdom while laying down a framework that could drastically change your approach to injury prevention and rehab. You'll learn why strength isn't just about lifting weights, and why barbell training could be your secret weapon against not just injury, but mediocrity. Today for episode 114. Can Rapid Fat Loss, aggressive dieting, be sustainable, we're talking about expanding your comfort zone in a way that is entirely achievable and sustainable. So that what might seem extreme or out of reach today, will one day be part of your everyday ordinary routine. I'll use my Rapid Fat Loss fees as an example of how this process works in real life. Now, we just finished a challenge where we had about 30 members of the Wits & Weights Facebook community following along or running the protocol themselves. So I'll be using direct quotes from their experience give you context as to how what seems extreme may not be depending on the foundations that you've already developed. Okay, let's dive into can Rapid Fat Loss, aggressive dieting, be sustainable. Okay, this is a topic that is often misunderstood. But I think it's crucial for personal growth, it's crucial for self improvement, the idea of expanding your comfort zone. And after having read a specific chapter within a new book called you can't screw this up by Adam Bornstein, a very well known nutrition author, he works with Arnold Schwarzenegger, a bunch of famous people, he gets around. So you probably already know the name. And if not, you'll know it soon enough. But I'll include the link to his book in my show notes. And on this one particular chapter of the book, which is about expanding your comfort zone, he used a very simple model, it's very much like Maslow's hierarchy of needs where until you have a foundation established, it's hard to move up to the next level of the pyramid, at least this was in the hierarchy of needs. In this case, we're talking about comfort. So he uses three circles. And I'm going to get into the model and have you visualize it as part of this podcast episode, because I think it's gonna be really helpful in doing what we're talking about here. But I wanted to quote from his book, and I'm gonna have a couple of quotes in here. The first one has to do with the idea of discomfort. And I think this will resonate with you because I do talk about this quite a bit, maybe with different language, but I think it should resonate, quote, research suggests that even when a challenge requires a lot of effort, mixing in enjoyment, and feeling accomplished is a big part of success. That's because accomplishment leads to more confidence. And that confidence will create consistent behaviors. Once you're consistent, you see better results and have more motivation. And that's when you can take on greater challenges and discomfort, and make even more progress. So to put that whole thing in the nutshell, the themes are if you can take some action, a little action, a micro action, a tiny habit, and get a result, the result makes you feel accomplished, the accomplishment leads to some motivation. And you can spiral that into greater and greater momentum to where the little things that you did that are slightly out of your comfort zone are no longer out of your comfort zone. And that's the premise of what we're talking about today. And so I want you to imagine and this is a diet based on a diagram he actually shows in his book so I'm just shamelessly stealing the idea but hopefully, you know, he understands imitation is a form of flattery and I'm giving him credit where credit is due and the link to his book in my show notes. So definitely go support him. So imagine three concentric circles, okay, the innermost circle represents your comfort zone. The middle one around it is your expanded comfort zone or what he calls your Improvement Zone. And the outermost is the extreme zone. Let's start with the comfort zone. Let's assume that everything you're doing today whether you whether you like it or not, whether you're happy with your habits or not. That's just By the point right now you are where you are right now, even if you know you want to be and can be that the athlete that you want to be. So that inner circle is your comfort zone. And this is where you currently are. It's not about loving or hating your habits. It's really recognizing what feels easy for you right now, what is just something that you do what you do really? Well, you know, the example he says is, if you're used to eating takeout all the time, that's part of your comfort zone. If you're used to sitting around most of the day working and get maybe 3000 steps a day, that's part of your comfort zone. If you're used to eating cereal for breakfast, that's part of your comfort zone. So embrace it, that's true. And that represents a single circle of 100%. Okay, so that's your current reality 100% of the time. Now, if you do one little thing tomorrow, that goes outside of your comfort zone, and it's a small enough thing. So for example, I mentioned eating cereal every day for breakfast. What if you incorporated protein, and fiber in your breakfast, that's it just protein and fiber in your breakfast, and this is outside your comfort zone, because you've never done it before. But it's pretty easy, you would logically start to think about your options, and you'd say, Okay, well, oatmeal is like cereal, but it has protein and fiber, great, I'm gonna have oatmeal, of course, I'm not going to have cereal, too, I'm gonna have oatmeal instead of cereal, maybe I'll have a protein shake or some eggs, but that could be pushing it. So we'll just switch the cereal out for oatmeal. Awesome. Now that oatmeal represents a 5% of your actions, just throwing a number out there. This is that second circle, right, the expanded comfort zone. Now if that expanded comfort zone is 5% of your actions, then the inner comfort zone, your original comfort zone has now shrunk just a bit, hasn't it? It's shrunk to like 95%. Okay. And every day, you have oatmeal instead of cereal, not a big deal. It's easy to do. And now all of a sudden, your comfort zone Blue has popped out a bit. And the original comfort zone plus your expanded comfort zone now becomes your new comfort zone. And that's just if you make one change one at a time, right, we can start applying this to multiple examples. For example, let's say you do sit around all day because you have a desk job, and you get maybe 3000 steps a day. What if you decide I'm going to walk after lunch every day, maybe it's a mile, a mile is reasonable, right a half mile half mile back, maybe it's less, maybe it's more, but a mile is maybe 2000 more steps. So you are saying that I'm going to instead of doing whatever I do now after lunch, maybe that scrolling on social media, I'm gonna go for a one mile walk and for lunch. That's it. That's what I'm gonna do this week, I now pushed out my comfort zone. And that's one thing. Now I'm going to right now I don't exercise. But I am going to start with some bodyweight exercises one day a week. Again, these are little things micro habits, tiny habits, whatever term you want to use that go into your expanded comfort zone. And every time you do them, you are building up this repertoire or this portfolio of habits that you never did before, that are beyond your original comfort zone that cause a little bit of discomfort but not too much. And it leads you to having a smaller and smaller living in your original comfort zone less and less. So I want to read you another quote that's related to this. Quote, if the small circle is your current reality 100% of the time, when you expand your comfort zone, you'll find yourself living in the Improvement Zone 60 to 80% of the time, and your old comfort zone 20 to 40% of the time. This is the goal to gain new healthy habits and behaviors without ever fully abandoning foods that you know and enjoy. It's about enjoying takeout. But adjusting how you order or eating dessert, but limiting how many times a week, end quote. I love that the way that this is expressed because this is exactly what we talk about with flexible dieting, with giving yourself room and space to enjoy the things you enjoyed, and never to stop enjoying those things. And the fact that restrictive diets tell you to do exactly that. They tell you to cut out something and I guarantee one of those some things is something you enjoy. And that creates cognitive dissonance or moral choice, where if you ever choose that thing, you are now denigrating yourself down to the very soul of who you are. Because there's a dissonance there. I would rather you live in a place of quote unquote, comfort. And this is where I love Adams, you know concept the way he phrases it where our comfort zone simply expands more and more over time. Or put another way our Improvement Zone is where we live more of the time and not so much in our comfort zone but it's still within the realm of possibility and I can give you more examples I could say going from soda to diet soda, going from large portions to small portions going from not tracking to tracking As much as I talk a lot on this podcast about, you know, here are the 10 things that you would do in a perfect nutrition plan and fitness plan to get to your goals, you know, track your food, track your macros, your calories, do this, this, this, I never intend for you to just do that overnight. And this idea of expanding your comfort zone is behavioral change, it is what I help clients with, it's how we do it. And here's the cool thing is before I get to the third circle, by the way, is I would actually insert a kind of I'll not, I won't call it a circle, it's like a a sleeve or a comfort jacket around the Improvement Zone, where if I'm working with a client, they now have a support structure in place where their Improvement Zone, that second circle is actually a little bit bigger, they have a buffer, past that Improvement Zone, before they get to the extreme zone, and that's their coach. And that could be your community as well, where we're giving you this, I'll say not permission, but space to kind of push the limit just a little more than that, if you want, knowing that you can fall back, and we will give you that feedback and advice and make adjustments and so on. So if you start with me as a client, you're gonna get that accelerator that multiplier, to expand your comfort zone a little more quickly, is the way I like to think of it. And also to know with confidence, how to expand that comfort zone, and when you can expand it. Okay, so just just to put that in there. So we talked about the comfort zone, we talked about the Improvement Zone. And remember, the Improvement Zone is just adding in other habits that serve you that that push your discomfort that make your comfort zone bigger zone bigger as well, but still having the comfort zone in the middle, right, and still retaining some of those. And it's okay to have both. But if if you go too far out of your comfort zone, you're gonna get into the extreme zone. And this is what leads to stress, anxiety and setting yourself up for failure. This is where you say, I'm going all in on Monday with my diet, I'm going to cut this cut that I'm going to drink more, I'm going to sleep more I'm going to exercise five days a week that you've you've been there, we've all been there, right? And some sometimes I know, from personal experience, the thinking is kind of the cold turkey, right? Like, you know what, I'm just going to do it. If I don't go all in, I'm going to fail because I don't have all the pieces where it's actually quite the opposite. If you try to go all in, you're pushing way past your comfort zone. And then you're just gonna screw it up. Let's just be honest, like we are, that's we're inevitable, it's inevitable inevitably going to happen. Now, I had another thought related to this. I want to chime in here. Oh, yes. I've talked before about how when we add things in, for example, when we add that protein in like we're adding in the oatmeal instead of the cereal, right we're at, we're adding in the protein, so it crowds out the cereal, that concept can apply to anything we're adding in the walk after lunch. So crowds out the sitting and being on social media. And everything you add in is going to naturally display something that just doesn't work anymore. And that's the same concept of of shrinking that comfort zone a bit expanding the Improvement Zone a bit, it's the same idea. So whichever way helps you that's the way to do it. Now going back to the extreme zone, that is what we want to avoid going all in and going to the point where we break. And so this leads me to actually wanting to tie this in to the rapid fat loss phase that I so as I record this episode, I'm about five days in it's it's the weekend, but the the challenge will be over by the time you see this, it'll be just over. So an upcoming episode will actually go into all the results of that and kind of examining what we learned from it almost from a research type approach. Hey, this is Philip and I hope you're enjoying this episode of Wits & Weights, I started Wits & Weights to help people who want to build muscle lose fat and actually look like they lift. I've noticed that when people improve their strength and physique, they not only look and feel better, they transform other areas of their life, their health, their mental resilience and their confidence in everything they do. And since you're listening to this podcast, I assume you want the same things the same success, whether you recently started lifting, or you've been at this for a while and want to optimize and reach a new level of success. Either way, my one on one coaching focused on engineering your physique and body composition is for you. If you want expert guidance and want to get results faster, easier, and with fewer frustrations along the way to actually look like you lift, go to wits & weights.com and click on coaching or use the link in my show notes to apply today. I'll ask you a few short questions to decide if we're a good fit. If we are we'll get you started this week. Now back to the show. Today what I wanted to talk about is the amazing experience that I'm not surprised by but I'm it's validating to see that so many people in the Rapid Fat Loss Challenge that are doing it with Me have had this experience. And here's where I'm going. Here's where I'm going with this. If I just say it with no context whatsoever, rapid fat loss, what do you think? You think you might think, oh, quick fix, it's one of those short term programs, unsustainable. Its its marketing. Its extreme right, you might think of all those things. Now, if you listen to my episode called fat loss versus weight loss, you already know that one distinguishing word there is the word fat loss or the word fat versus weight. So I'm not saying rapid weight loss, I'm saying rapid fat loss. Well, what distinguishes rapid fat loss from an extreme diet or an extreme crash diet? Well, a couple of things. One is that we are training extremely hard, hard as in the way we normally want to train to build muscle to give ourselves the muscle building stimulus. And that means our body is in a, in a acute muscle building priority status, meaning the most important thing is to build muscle and therefore it's going to recruit whatever nutrition it can to do that, well, when you're at maintenance, or in a surplus, it's going to recruit proteins, and carbs for glycogen, and you're going to have all this energy coming in. So you can build muscle, when you're in a deficit, when you're in a dieting phase, for fat loss phase, whatever you wanna call it, you don't have that much energy coming in. So number one, you're giving it that signal. And then number two, you want to keep the protein very high. And by very high, I mean around a gram per pound, which relative to calories, ends up being a significant portion of your calories, the more deep your deficit, the more percentage of calories the protein represent to the point where if you are down to like 1000 calories a day or something like that, your protein might be 90% of your calories, because you've got the essential fat coming in very little carbs, and most of its protein. But here's the cool thing, even when you do that, if you if you have no other stressors on your body, if you have not been dieting before, if you have been training, if you have some muscle, you can still be successful, for a short duration, by giving your body the muscle building signal and the protein that it needs. And I won't go into Dr. Bill Campbell's research in detail here like I did last time. In fact, I think I have a bonus episode that came out about this. But where am I going with this is that I see people in the challenge. You know what, I'm actually going to open the chat right now, I'm not going to share it on my recording. But I want to bring up specific, I want to bring up specific quotes that people say, said, okay, so I actually asked about how things were going. So in this rapid fat loss protocol, we have four days at an extreme deficit, I'll say extreme, I don't even use the term because we're using the extreme to represent the outer circle. And my goal at the end of this is to show you that this may not actually be extreme for these participants, and myself. And this is the point is expanding your comfort zone. So what was once extreme or could be extremely someone else is really just ordinary to you, and your body knows it. And your results show it. So I asked about how things were going in general, I didn't try to lead the question by saying, you know, are you hungry? Although I asked that later, I asked how things were going and I got comments like the hunger that gets kicked in, that kicks in is very short lived. Any lack of energy is refueled by a walk or going to the gym. Not gonna lie, I thought this was gonna be way harder. I like the term comfortably uncomfortable, not too difficult, but also challenging. I'm not hungry, and everything is balanced. To be honest, in terms of hunger, I wouldn't even need a refeed today. But there's one thing I noticed my legs were sore, I train consistently, and there's not a huge difference in stimulus. So maybe this is due to lack of carbs and fats to fully recover. So I shared that quote, because it's a little bit of, hey, I, this is not that hard. I have a little bit of symptoms going on. But it's within the realm of possibility. And this is from someone who's been training for years, who has a bunch of muscle and knows how to track their food. Another quote, to be honest, I was having doubts one day before the challenge, because I promised myself many years ago, I wasn't going to go hungry for losing weight ever again, right, which would be extreme. And I've done many diets in the past with the same amount of calories I'm now in and I was hungry all day, the high protein ratio really makes a difference. And I'm very happy to be doing this challenge. Thank you for creating, I'm grateful to be in the community. And it gave me that push. There are a lot of quotes like that, that basically said, You know what, this isn't even bad. Like I thought, you know, a lot of people were a little bit scared with the rapid fat loss phase that they would feel just ravenously hungry. And the idea of prioritizing protein and fiber satiation training, and then only doing it for four days before you have your first refeed a refeed. Basically filling up your calories to maintenance is enough to show that you can push your comfort zone and still not have it be unachievable or extreme now, if you came to me and you had never tracked food before, you'd never strength train before your metabolism was kind of downregulated from your years of dieting, I'd say hell no this is not free. You This is not the thing for you to be doing this would be so out of your comfort zone, that it would feel like a crash diet, it would be extreme because from day one you'd struggle like, oh, how do I get enough protein? How do I even track this? What do you mean by this much of a deficit, on and on and on. So there's a foundation of knowledge, a foundation of I should say, skills and habits needed before you go to a level that's beyond that, for it not to seem extreme. And that's really the point of this whole thing. Okay. So what do we do about this? What, how is this information valuable? The key here is not to exit your comfort zone, because you're going to fail, the key is to expand it. This is a balanced approach. This is how we add new and, quote unquote, healthier habits. without abandoning what you know, and love, I will always want to eat ice cream, I do it in a fat loss phase, I do it in a circle, it doesn't matter, I love ice cream, I will always want to go out to eat, whether it's a restaurant, whether it's a cafe, whether it's for dessert, at a bar, whatever, I'm always gonna want to do that. And I know I'm going to want to do that. I'm always going to love carbs, I love all the carbs, give me all the carbs. And guess what you can have all those things, it's really, it really comes down to making them fit within your comfort zone, and balance with your Improvement Zone. And the Improvement Zone is where you're always pushing yourself a bit, just a bit. All right. And so we keep things in our diet that we enjoy that prevents the burnout, we do the micro habits that push our comfort zone out into the expanded comfort zone, that's create that creates consistency, because it's pretty easy to stick with small changes that we barely notice, and not doing too many of them at once. So those are kind of the practical tips on expanding your comfort zone, which is a balanced, sustainable approach to self improvement. And so yes, even a rapid fat loss phase that's only two weeks long, that's done by someone who has a foundation that it takes so that the the extreme quote unquote, deficit that you're doing is actually just a little bit out of your comfort zone actually means that it's sustainable. And in fact, the skills that the people participating are learning myself included, they actually just sharpening or refining the skills we already have of, okay, here's, here's really how we dial in the fiber and protein to a to another level. And now when we go back into a normal fat loss phase in the future, that's going to be easily in our comfort zone. And people are going to hit all new heights of body composition or body recomp and physique enhancement. And if people want to go for other more extreme goals in the future, like maybe a longer fat fat loss phase, but a normally aggressive or moderately aggressive rate, for example, they're going to now have even more sharpened skills because of their expanded comfort zone. Okay, it's not about extremes. That's my point. It's really incremental changes you can maintain over the long term. And so the next time you're thinking, I'm going to do all those things, because I need to get in shape, consider just expanding your comfort zone instead. Because the long game is actually the fastest path. The long game is the fastest path. Because the short game of trying to do the shortcut, and go into your expanding comfort zone, it's going to collapse every time you're going to do it over and over and over again, potentially for years. Many people never learn that lesson. You're listening to Wits, & Weights, you're gonna learn that lesson. And you're gonna do the long game, which is actually the fastest path to results. Now, one way to do this to expand your comfort zone is take the teeny tiny step of scheduling a results breakthrough session with me, yes, you'll get some clarity on how to expand that comfort zone. As I said before, it's kind of like an accelerator. It's a multiplier. This is like a free coaching session where I'm just gonna give you some tips with from all my expertise and years of working with people of how to do that, how to make training and nutrition a comfortable, everyday part of your lifestyle, and embrace the athletes inside of you the one that's inside of you right now that just is roaring to come out. So to schedule that call, just click the link in my show notes or go to wits & weights.com and click free call at the top. It'll take no more than 30 minutes. I will not sell you on anything. I'm not going to mention prices, my coaching none of that. It's all about clarity and how you can take concrete steps starting as early as this week, like the day after the day of our call to expand your comfort zone. In our next episode 115 how Tony lost 15 pounds 8% body fat and built lifelong strength with barbell training. We'll discuss my friend, fellow lifter and client Tony, his transformative journey, the intricacies of nutrition and barbell training and the mental hurdles he faced along the way. Tony's insights could radically change your perspective. And I mean totally serious about that even though he might think I'm joking, and your approach to fitness, nutrition and health. As always, stay strong. And I'll talk to you next time here on the Wits & Weights podcast. Thank you for tuning into another episode of Wits & Weights if you found value in today's episode, and know someone else who's looking to level up their Wits & Weights, please take a moment to share this episode with them. And make sure to hit the Follow button in your podcast platform right now to catch the next episode. Until then, stay strong.