Lift Learn Grow Newsletter #4

In this week’s newsletter: how to look good naked, the best squat cues & more
Hey <<First Name>>,

I hope you’ve had a good week.

In today’s newsletter, I want to look at cognitive dissonance theory.

Described as “a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviours”, cognitive dissonance describes the psychological stress you feel when you hold 2 or more conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviours and the efforts you take to overcome this stress.

It states that when there is this inconsistency something must change to reduce or eliminate it. This can be done in a few ways;
  • Change your behaviour or the cognition
  • Justify your behaviour or the cognition, by changing the conflicting cognition
  • Justify your behaviour or the cognition by adding new cognitions
  • Ignore or deny information that conflicts with existing beliefs
At this point, you might be thinking “this is interesting and all Theo, but what does it have to do with fitness?” …the answer is quite a lot.

You see, cognitive dissonance is at play all the time in our lives and can have a big impact on your efforts to reach your fitness goals.

Let me give you an example.

You’re following a new weight loss diet and things are going well. Then one weekend you’re at a friend’s house or out to dinner and before you know it you begin to binge and overeat, ruining your calorie deficit and messing up your progress.

Here 2 conflicting beliefs and behaviours are at play;
  1. The belief “I can and will lose weight” with the behaviour of doing it
  2. The belief “I’ve messed up so might as well go all-in” with the behaviour of doing it
To realign your behaviours and remove the cognitive dissonance in the face of this conflict something has to change;
  • You change your behaviour: you stop overeating as soon as you realise what you’re doing and look at why it happened and how to stop it from happening again
  • You justify your behaviour: you tell yourself that you’re allowed to go off your diet from time to time and that it’s ok
  • You add new cognitions to justify the behaviour: you tell yourself it’s ok because you’ll make up for it tomorrow with more exercise, by eating less or eating nothing at all
  • You ignore or deny the information that conflicts with your belief: you tell yourself that you didn’t actually overeat and are still within your calorie goal
What does this mean for you?

Simply put, it means you need to be aware of your behaviours, attitudes and beliefs and if and/or how you change when confronted with cognitive dissonance.
  • Are you changing in a negative way i.e. moving further from your goal but justifying your behaviour or ignoring the conflicting information altogether?
  • Or are you changing in a positive way i.e. being open to new information, adjusting your beliefs and changing your behaviour to get closer to your goals?
To put this in a real-world context;
  • If you find out that your way of strength training is inefficient and ineffective do you deny this information and justify your current way of doing things in the face of conflicting evidence?
  • Or if you learn that your way of losing weight is not working and causing you to lose muscle mass do you evaluate this new information and make the necessary changes?
Both are examples of how you might encounter cognitive dissonance on your fitness journey, however, they have very different outcomes.

Hopefully, now you know enough to make a positive change.

Here’s what I want to share with you this week:

#1: This week’s blog post all about unsexy habits and the truth about what it takes to look good naked. In this post, I detail the 5 important and unsexy habits that you need to adopt to build the body you want. Read it here.

#2: These squat coaching cues to help you get the most from your leg day, squat deeper and lift more weight;
  • Push the knees out: this cue combats knee valgus, the name for what happens you’re your knees collapse as you drive out of the bottom of the squat. By actively pushing your knees out you maintain your strength and stability as you complete the lift
  • Elbows under the bar: this cue helps you keep your chest up, shoulders back and head in a neutral position throughout the lift. Doing this helps reduce pressure on the lower back, prevent excessive back extension and stops you from letting your shoulders round forward
  • Big breath: this cue encourages proper bracing of the torso whilst completing the squat. This bracing helps protect your spine and maintain good positioning. To brace properly take a big breath into the belly and think about pushing out the belly button and obliques.
If you’re looking for additional tips for a better squat, then check out this blog post.

#3: This article by Benjamin Foley on Medium titled; ’43 thought-provoking prompts that changed my life’ is a go-to resource of mine that I often refer back to when I’m feeling unfocused, unmotivated, unsure or simply curious.

#4: This blog post on why you mess up your diet and what to do about it. If you’re struggling to consistently hit your calorie goal, lose weight or build muscle then you need to read this.

#5: This podcast listening tip: listen to everything on 1.5x speed.

Sure, it sounds a bit fast, to begin with, but you’ll adjust quickly and soon wonder why you never did it before.

This is particularly useful if you listen to a lot of long podcasts and allows you to get through them quickly without ruining the listening experience.

I’ve been doing this for the last couple of years and cannot recommend it enough.

#6: This blog post on cheats meals, why I believe you shouldn’t use them and what you should do instead. If you’ve been using cheat meals and not seeing the results you want, this article is for you.

Thanks for reading. If you want to support this newsletter send this link to a friend or family member that you think will enjoy it.

Speak soon,

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