Intentional Sustainable Growth: Autonomy (Part 2)

This blog is part 2 of a larger post on the ingredients for cultivating and practicing intentional, sustainable growth: 

  • Autonomy: Freedom to be who you are
  • Purpose: Utilizing your autonomy in service of your WHY
  • Context: Acknowledgement of needing to adjust your behaviors given environmental specificity 
  • Mindset: Attitudinal willingness to adapt
  • Adaptability: Ability to adapt given what best fits the specifics of context. 

In this post, I am going to discuss the concept of autonomy more deeply. 

Autonomy refers to the idea that people need to feel willingly engaged in their behaviors and feel a sense of ownership over their actions. In essence, people need to feel like they have a say in what they do and that their perspective and their feelings actually matter to others. Put more simply (as listed above), autonomy is the freedom to be who you are. This is in contrast to behaving in response to external/internal pressure (external: behaving in order to achieve a reward or avoid punishment), (internal: I “should” or I “have to” to maintain self-worth or avoid feeling guilty). 

The practical application and full expression of this can be seen as represented with these four domains of autonomy: 

  • Self Respect: Becoming clear (intent) about who you are 
  • Self Esteem: Becoming content (mood) with who you are
  • Self Responsibility: Behaving in accordance (alliance) with who you are
  • Self Confidence: The feedback (calibration) you get from your environment about how you behave. 

Remember, in the gym, your growth is contingent upon you taking ownership over your experience. Taking ownership over your experience assumes you are thinking about and engaging in conversations with your coach about what motivates you, why you are motivated by the things you mention, and how you are behaving to actualize your motivations. What is written on whiteboard is not meant to put pressure on you but to be a tool to help you on your unique journey of intentional, sustainable growth. The manner in which you utilize that tool depends on you. Well, who are you… really

Nutrition Principals

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds about this diet or that diet, macro nutrient, and/or calorie counting. Hence, I always appreciate big picture guidance that underscores principles, as opposed to methods. Here is a version of nutrition principles that is included as a part of Performance Psychologist Michael Gervais’ and Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll’s Finding Your Best online course:  

Eat colorful foods:  

• Eating whole foods in a variety of colors gives us the best chance to obtain balanced nutrition.  

• Aim for 5 different colors on your plate at each of your major meals.

Consume lean protein:

• Protein is essential as it helps build muscle mass, which enhances our metabolism.

• Examples of lean protein include but are not limited to grass fed beef, chicken, wild caught fish, edamame, chickpeas and eggs.

Enjoy healthy fats:

• Healthy fats, in particular those which contain Omega 3’s and monounsaturated fat, are foundational for brain and heart functioning. They also help us stay satiated longer, as they take longer to digest, especially when combined with lean protein and low-glycemic foods such as non-starchy vegetables and beans.

• Healthy fats can be found in certain oils, such as olive and coconut oil, fish such as tuna and salmon, avocados, nuts (e.g.: almonds and walnuts) and seeds like flaxseed and chia.

Other helpful behaviors:

• Start your day with a large glass of water.  

• Watch less TV. The sights, memories, emotions and thoughts that are provoked while watching TV or being exposed to commercials can signal our brain and influence how much and what we want to eat.

• Stop counting calories. Eat more of the right foods.  

• Be mindful of how your body responds to the food and liquid you consume. Practice a short mindfulness body-scan meditation to tune into signals of hunger and fullness.

• Slow down your eating. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to compute satiety.

• Cut back on added sugar and refined/processed carbohydrates such as those found in anything packaged, e.g., cereal, chips, breads, pasta, cookies, soda, etc. 

• It’s natural for you to have cravings. Here’s a good mindful strategy for dealing with them: Pause and notice them, think about where they are coming from, choose how you want to respond.

• Have a plan when eating out. Here are a few suggestions: 1) share a meal, 2) have the server box up half of the meal and bring it at the end to take home, 3) order two small appetizers instead one large meal, giving yourself an option for some lean protein and colorful vegetables, 4) when eating salad look for something with lean protein, nutritious add-ons such as mushrooms or artichokes that are high in fiber, and plain (not candied) nuts. Opt-in to whole fat salad dressing. Studies have found that we absorb more nutrients from vegetables and fruits when paired with fat.

• Change your language around food. Rather than the deprivation mindset e.g. “I can’t eat that…” try, “I don’t eat that…” Research has found this feels more in alignment with self-control.

Intentional, Sustainable Growth: Ingredients for Cultivating and Practicing (Part 1)

Change is an inevitable function of time. Whereas, GROWTH requires intentional, deliberate behavior. Growth over the long term (intentional, sustainable growth) requires even more of the proper stacking of these five ingredients: 

  • Autonomy: Freedom to be who you are
  • Purpose: Utilizing your autonomy in service of your WHY
  • Context: Acknowledgement of needing to adjust your behaviors given environmental specificity 
  • Mindset: Attitudinal willingness to adapt
  • Adaptability: Ability to adapt given what best fits the specifics of context. 

(In part 2, I’ll dive deeper into the concept of autonomy)

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