Rules and Personal Philosophies For Life

We covered how simple it is to get lean in just a few minutes of exercise in part 1, of this expert interview series with the host of the #1 Rated Fat-Burning Man Show, Able James.

There’s a lot to say and I think we just want to jump right into the interview.

Click here to listen to the call.


Abel: That’s totally true. Why don’t we talk about that a little bit? I’m sure that you experience this all the time. The hook for why someone comes in to get help is fat loss or building muscle, something that’s mostly superficial, but they stay with it and find that it’s changing their lives in a positive direction. How do you coach them through that process?

Craig: One of the big things that has been a huge boost to my business and how many people I’m able to help and really has literally changed my life has been including a transformation contest in my business. I started running my first one in the Fall of 2007 and we’re on 16 or 17 right now in Turbulence Training, which is my main business.

We actually just started another one in another business I have called, and in that one we’re giving away $100,000 to people who change their lives in health, wealth, and wisdom.

It’s a very interesting thing that I’ve been doing with the transformation contests and that’s where we help them go from changing their body to changing their lives.

What I’ve found is that you cannot make a physical transformation without making a mental transformation at the same time. You develop willpower, you develop self esteem and self confidence, you really change as a person for the better.

For some people it’s a really dramatic experience. There’s certainly a lot of ups and downs and new thoughts of, “Oh my goodness, what am I getting into?”

You end up really having to look at some of the relationships in your life, some of them being toxic and you have to minimize them. It’s just a whole new world of psychology. It’s very interesting that physical fitness brings a lot of people into it, but they end up changing in so many ways at the end of the day because of it.

Abel: So you come into nutrition and fitness, you basically get that all dialed in and you start eating correctly in a way that suits your body well, and then you start exercising correctly. So you know how to change your body, but how do you go about changing your life?

Craig: Well, when you’re doing this what I’ve found is the people who are making the changes and having the best results establish what I call rules and personal philosophies for their life. They start predominantly in the nutrition area.

They go from somebody who can’t say no to a drink or french fries to a person who then becomes, in their mind, “I’m the type of person who doesn’t eat that type of food.” It’s a complete mindset shift.

You’ve probably read the book Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz.

Abel: Yes, great book.

Craig: It’s really a living proof of what he teaches in that book about people who succeed and change their self image, they only do it when they truly believe in themselves.

In the transformation contests with the nutrition and exercise changes these people go from, “I can’t ever stick to a diet,” to all of a sudden being the person who says, “I can stick to a diet. This is what I do six days a week, on the seventh day I’ll have my favorite foods in moderation. I never miss a workout, I get up every day at 6:00 and spend at least 15, if not 30 to 45 minutes doing my workouts on this day, this day, and this day. These are my rules and I follow them.”

What I found was over time after watching these transformation contests is that the winners always establish this mindset shift. It actually caused me to go and write an article that’s probably one of my most popular articles over at called The 12 Rules of My Life That I Live By.

Since establishing these rules a couple of summers ago I’ve been much more stress-free, I’m able to really move towards my goals a lot better, and it really just guides me.

It takes away a lot of decision making. I use the example of let’s say you’re a Paleo person. If you’re a Paleo person then you never eat white bread, you just do not ever eat white bread, it’s not even something you have to think about. On the other hand, if you’re a person who is just “on a diet” then if somebody offers you a hamburger on a white bun, you are not using your rules to say no, you have to rely on your willpower to say no.

It’s different. Odds are, nine times out of 10 you’ll buckle in and you’ll have that white bread. But if you have that rule in your life it’s not even something that your mind has to spend an ounce of willpower on.

You probably know as well as I do, or you probably know more about willpower and the research there than I do. From what I understand it’s a limited resource and these rules and personally philosophies allow you to have a workaround to not using willpower to make the right decisions.

Abel: Yes. Actually, I was talking to Tim Ferriss about this not too long ago and he said, “I know that I have a limited amount of decisions I can make over the course of the day, so I try to systemize that and make sure that I don’t have to make the little ones.”

I thought that was so brilliant because it’s true. When you just live in a certain way and you don’t have the option of having those cookies or whatever in your cupboard that you have to use your mental power to avoid and you just set up this system, then you can focus on the big stuff. That’s where the real changes happen.

Craig: Absolutely. Tim is a master at eliminating distractions and stuff like that from his life and there’s a lot to learn from that. I agree absolutely, you can just eliminate a lot of the things that can get you into trouble.

Abel: Paleo is one way that you can do that. How else can you do that in your life, making sure that you eliminate distractions but also guide yourself on the path that you’d like yourself to follow?

Craig: You can set hard rules for getting up and going to bed. As far as I’m concerned, the one thing above all else that helped me have more energy, that really dialed it in to have more energy all day every day, was when I finally gave into this advice of going to bed and getting up at the same time seven days a week. I know it’s not the most sexy and exciting thing in the world, but when people sleep in on the weekends they ruin everything. It really ruins, I would say, until Wednesday of the next week.

If you have a rule that this is the time you go to bed and this is the time that you get up every day, then you have to abide by that clock. It helps you get more done, it helps you eliminate the small things.

You know, “I just don’t have time for that because I have to go to bed at exactly 9:45 today in order to get up at exactly 5:45 tomorrow to get this eight hours of sleep that I need to get. I don’t have time to watch this TV show, or do this little errand that’s not worth my time, or to read this junk mail.” It helps you eliminate stuff like that.

That’s one place that people can start with physical activities. One of my rules is kind of a longer rule that I’m not the type of person that gossips or talks behind people’s backs, or this, or this, or this. I can’t remember the exact rule, but it’s along those lines. I’m not the person that I do not want to be.

So growing up, like everybody else, you might sit down to have a drink or two and you talk about somebody. I decided to eliminate that from my life. That does not happen because it does not serve me in any way, so I eliminated that from my life by putting it in a rule.

Once you set those rules for your life, if you start to break them then you become a hypocrite. Becoming a hypocrite is probably one of the most looked down upon things in society these days, so you don’t want to be a hypocrite to yourself and you don’t want to be a hypocrite to others because everybody looks down on that more than they look down on people that commit some crimes.

So that’s another thing, you can build in things that you don’t want to do into rules. Personally that’s really helped me.

Abel:    At the beginning when you’re building those things in, I’ve found, the people around you tend to revolt. Right? They poke fun or they say, “He can’t be serious, this is ridiculous.” But after a little while they start following those rules for you. If they used to be feeding you tortilla chips and cookies and say, “What, you’re not going to eat that cookie? You must be crazy, what a bummer.” After awhile that becomes part of your identity in their eyes as well and they just kind of knock it off.

Craig: Right. The more that you live your identity with confidence and courage, the more people will support it. That’s a tough thing for a lot of people that are making changes and around those negative people at the start to understand and to realize and live strongly about. But once you do live that way you get more support.

Abel: Totally. I actually have an example of that that’s gotten more and more distance from who we should be. That’s just the amount of accessibility that everyone has to technology in our lives. We’re carrying it around in our pockets, we’re in front of computers all the time, TVs are starting to be wired into all of this.

I’m from Nowheresville in New Hampshire and when we go there there’s no internet, or often times there’s no internet, cell phones don’t work, we never had cable growing up, it was just like you were detached.

I made this rule, and this was following an interview I did with Gary Talbs when I was trying to schedule it to get him on the show and he said, “Sorry, I can’t do anything before 1:00 PM because I’m writing in the morning.” I thought, “Wow, that’s brilliant. You can get so much done when you have that rule of time that’s only for that thing. There are no text messages barraging you, there’s nothing else in the way, you can just focus on it.”

So I decided to make my own rule when I turn my phone off so I don’t respond to texts, phone, or email in the morning. At first that kind of confused people, “Why isn’t he getting back to me? Is he ignoring me?” But over the course of time, now I open up my inbox and no one emails me around then. They wait until they know I’m going to be available. That just works so much better for everyone.

Craig: Right. It’s all about managing expectations. It really is.

Abel: You can build your own day, you can build your own habits, it’s not out of your control.

Absolutely! We went over quite a bit today so we’ll end it for now and pick it back up in part3 tomorrow. 

But before we go I want to remind you that The Intervals sale ends…

…in just a few hours.

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We’ll talk to you soon, everybody,

Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer