Elective 3 / Lesson 1

Why Routine Rocks


JONATHAN: Welcome to the Smarter Science of Slim, the scientifically proven program where you eat more and exercise less to burn fat and boost health.

CARRIE: Eat smarter. Exercise smarter. Live better. I am so ready for that! Lovely listeners! This is Carrie Brown welcoming you to the Calorie Myth Show. And with me I have, of course, Mr. Jonathan Bailor.

JONATHAN: Wahoo! Carrie, thank you so much for that lovely introduction and thank you because you are the inspiration for this show, for last week’s show and maybe even next week’s show because, listeners, if you didn’t catch last week’s show please do because in it we announce — we made an epic announcement that after not seeing Carrie for about a month — and remember, Carrie’s always been quite sane and, if you looked at where Carrie started when we met and when she started going sane versus where she was two months ago, it’s amazing — but then she shows up after a month, takes off her jacket and — it wasn’t so much about body composition, which of course was fabulously different, but her hair, her skin, her smile… She just looked like a radiant… It’s like when a — I’m going to compare you to a reptile pretty soon.

CARRIE: Oh, awesome!

JONATHAN: It’s like a reptile molts and they get like a whole new… Just everything about them just looks new and fresh. That was as if Carrie had molted!

CARRIE: Well.

JONATHAN: I haven’t used the word molted in like a decade.

CARRIE: I wasn’t sure how I felt about that when you started the analogy, but I’m feeling better about it now.

JONATHAN: So we — in this last week we talked about some awesome things Carrie’s been doing. We’re going to continue that, the case study that is Carrie Brown will continue this week. So Carrie, thank you for letting us case-study you.

CARRIE: I’m very excited to share the new me.

JONATHAN: So one of the things we touched on last week, Carrie and I like to — it seems like in a lot of these shows we start off pretty macro and philosophical and then we get concrete and practical by the end which is great — so the macro and philosophical point I wanted to start here was Routine. And we touched on routine from a high level last week, but personally and this is something that I have seen in many different contexts — I’m talking body building, athletics, just general family management — is that while some people may call routine boring, people who have success with I’m going to go so far as to say anything — playing the piano, like anything that is generally admired by other people — it is because they have a set routine.

CARRIE: It’s funny. As I was sitting in traffic on my way here earlier, I was thinking that exact thing, that routine can seem boring but it actually is the key to unlocking everything that is exciting in your life; because if you take of the important stuff in a routine way, everything else in your life will work better.

JONATHAN: Carrie, I — we’ve got to play this back because that phrase you just used — something like “Routine may seem boring but it is the key to unlocking the exciting things in your life” — is brilliant and it is so true because how often, for example…

Let’s just… One concrete example, and I’m such a routine person that I’ve never had this problem but I can really imagine that it would be quite time-consuming. So every night what’s for dinner? Like having to think, “What’s for dinner? Oh, we don’t have that; we need to go to the store. Oh, I don’t want that. Do you want that? Or how do we get that…?”

Having a routine in terms of like on Monday, it’s this; on Tuesday, it’s this. On Wednesday, it’s this. Think about all the time and effort you’re saving just with that one example.

CARRIE: Yeah, and if you apply that to all the areas of your life, having a routine can be the important thing, can be so transformative I don’t even have the words for it.

JONATHAN: Yes, because the… My brother, when I was growing up, he gave me a really good analogy. He said that if you can get the big decisions right, the little decisions become much simpler.

So for example, if you say, I decide and I commit to myself, “I am going to run a marathon,” you then don’t need to — and you have a routine, which is I get up, I train for two hours, whatever –you then don’t need to decide if one of your friends is like, “Hey, I want to go out drinking on Tuesday night and stay up late. Do you want to come with me?”

Really you have no decision because you’ve already made your decision because if, on Wednesday, you have committed to and have the routine of waking up and training for your athletic goal, you’ve already made the decision to not go out partying the night before.

CARRIE: Right.

JONATHAN: And that’s what I think is really key is making these key, big decisions and then finding a routine that puts them at the forefront will then not only crowd out the unimportant things but it just frees up your mind because there are no decisions that need to be made around eating and exercise and sleep. The decisions have been made, so now you can focus your decision making power on other, maybe even sexier, more exciting things.

CARRIE: Wahoo! We love that.

JONATHAN: And the good news is that this isn’t just “woo woo, self help”. There has now been a lot of psychological research done to say that will power, aka decision making because every time you have to make a decision you are consciously using your will power, is a fixed resource.

So just like you can run out of energy, imagine — because it’s very close to accurate — that you can only make a certain number of decisions in a day. Hypothetically let’s say you can make 100 decisions in a day, which seems like a lot, but “Do I want to listen to this or this?” is a decision. “How do you want to spend those decisions?” is the question you have to ask yourself.

How do you want to spend your will power? Do you want to spend your will power telling yourself, “No, I’m not going to eat lunch?” Do you want to eat lunch now? “No, I’m not going to eat lunch. I’m hungry.” You should eat lunch. “No,” and continuously deciding to fight off hunger, or are you going to have a routine that empowers you to feel full, to feel satisfied, to achieve nutritional and exercise serenity so that all of your decisions can be focused on helping others or achieving your professional goals or doing something that leaves a legacy and is awesome.

CARRIE: I — one of the — I’m glad you brought that up about “No, I’m not going to eat lunch now. I’m not going to eat lunch,” because that was one of the things that was really messing me up in that I would get so… I was so — my schedule was so crazy and I had so many things to do that I was not…

I would often forget to eat, or I wouldn’t have time to eat. And because of that, my — when I was eating, the things I was eating were sane, but I certainly was not getting my ten servings of nonstop vegies in because if you’re only eating once a day, you simply can’t eat that amount of food.

So one of my big failings was not eating and it was just because I didn’t have — well I didn’t put the big rocks in and I didn’t have a routine around what I was going to eat when. And I would just routinely be so tired that when I got up in the morning, I didn’t stop to make breakfast or I would just work through lunch because I had to much to do or I would get home so late that I just didn’t have the energy or the time because I had to get to sleep, but I didn’t eat dinner or, on some days, all three of those things.

And as Jonathan has repeatedly reminded us, starvation is not healthy! And although it wasn’t intended. I wasn’t intending not to eat, I wasn’t consciously choosing not to eat but the end result was the same, that I skipped a lot of meals. Even though I was eating sane when I was eating, it wasn’t a lot of eating going on and you can’t expect your body to run well if you’re not providing it with fuel.

JONATHAN: And there are probably two groups of people right now who are listening to this show. There are the people who are saying, “Yes! I did it. Of course routine is important.” And I bet you’ll find that those are the individuals who are having the most success with their health and fitness outcomes, because I have literally yet to ever… And I’ve been in fitness for a long time, talked to a lot of different people, again in different arenas — people that are just trying to lose weight, people who try to improve their health, people who are trying to be body builders, people who are trying to be athletes, who are having success — and if you ask them, “Take me through a typical day. Take me through a typical week,” they will be like “Okay. At seven a.m. I do this. Ten a.m. I do this…” because you’re not going to accidentally happen to eat ten servings of non-starchy vegetables in a day.

CARRIE: Right.

JONATHAN: It’s just not going to happen. And for the individuals who are hearing this and are saying, “This is just boring, I’m not going to do this, this is a routine existence, it seems too hard,” I’m going to do two things in defense of routine.

First is it’s interesting how, in every area of our lives we are like simple. I like simple. Simple is better than complex. If you want to simplify your life, add routine because if, for example my wife and I are probably too routine but I don’t think we’re too routine, but people might consider us too routine…

CARRIE: They’re very routine!

JONATHAN: We’re very routine but it also enables us to do a lot of other things in our lives because we don’t have to think about a lot of stuff. But for us, there are never any… Our weekends are very simple. It’s not like, “What are we going to do this weekend? Where are we going to go eat this weekend? What’s going to — what’s the plan for this weekend?” “I don’t know. What do you want to do?” “I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

It’s extremely simple. We know exactly what we’re going to do. It’s simple. There is enough complexity in life, so we like to simplify in that sense. And the other thing is, if you think for example eating ten servings of non-starchy vegetables a day is unreasonable.

That’s only because it’s being looked at from a non-routine basis, because if every meal… What am I going to eat for breakfast? “I don’t know; I’m in a rush.” Where am I going to be? What about lunch? “I don’t know.” What about dinner? “I don’t know.” The idea that ten non starchy vegetables is going to happen — no, you’re right — that’s ridiculous.

But if you’re like this is my breakfast and it has two servings of non starchy vegetables. This is my lunch and it has three. This is my dinner and it has four, and I have this snack which, if I’m hungry, I eat and it’s got two servings of — oh, that’s twelve servings of non starchy vegetables and you’ve got that routine and it’s done.

So some of these things that, when people hear them, they might think this is unrealistic, it’s only unrealistic if you’re starting from a place of not-at-all planning and you’re hoping it just happens. And that place really doesn’t exist. Nothing worth anything has just ever happened. It requires conscious effort.

CARRIE: Right. I’ve lost my train of thought. I haven’t got things lined up so what I’ll say in the interim while I remember is that I have created for me a… Oh I remember what I was going to say. Sorry, people. Sorry. You might take a slurp of your water there while I get my head together.

What I was going to say was I have — I’m different to Jonathan in that I have a routine with I have for my work week which is different than my routine for my weekends. So my routines through the work week gets me through that crazy schedule while keeping all the big rocks intact, but I’m not so routine on the weekend. That works for me.

So I just want to make you feel that you don’t have to be, to do what the Bailors do and have every single moment of your seven workdays routine. I do a half. I do a routine for my work week and then at the weekends I’m freer and I tend to be the more once I’ve done my workout on Saturday morning, then I’m like, “What am I going to do today?

“Well, I think I’ll do this and I think I’ll do that. And what am I going to eat? Well, I think I’ll make this new recipe or think I’ll make that new recipe. Oh, I love that that I had last week; I think I’ll do that.” My weekends are a lot less structured, but that is the way I like it, but then my work weeks are very routine.

JONATHAN: Carrie, that inspired me to… I think the macro point here is that routine is… So first of all do whatever works for you. If somehow you are lucky enough to just have things fall into place and no routine is required, that is brilliant. But if that’s not the case, what I just observe in the conversation Carrie and I are having here is that the distance between where you are now and where you want to be, from a goal perspective, is the bigger that gap is, the more routine is going to help you. And the reason that’s true is the more big rocks you need.

For example, let’s say you want to become an an Olympic athlete. We’ve all heard, for example, these stories of Olympic gymnasts who train literally for eight hours a day. So if right now, civilian, you want to become Olympic gymnast, you’re going to have to find eight hours worth of big rocks to fit in your day. The only way you will be able to do that consistently is to routinize everything, everything. And so we see these Olympic athletes go to compounds and their entire life is a one routine that revolves around these giant big rocks which they have.

But for example if your goal is simply to say, “I would like to wear one size smaller of pants,” there is less that you’re going to have to do. There is more room for just random spontaneity. Really the amount of routine that you should expect to, let’s say, need to best achieve your goals, I believe, is proportional to the ambitiousness of your goals.

CARRIE: Right.

JONATHAN: What do you think about that, Carrie?

CARRIE: Yeah. No, and I think… I just don’t want people to get the idea that there is just only one way to do this and your entire life has to be routine. For people who are not routine folks that may be really kind of ice glazing on the stuff. It’s not like that. You need to work out what works for you. But we are saying that you will get better results in all areas of your life if you routinize — is that even a word?

JONATHAN: It is now.

CARRIE: If you routinize the really important things, especially when it comes to your health and general wellbeing.

JONATHAN: There are also different… There are arenas in which routine doesn’t work. Right? For example, art, or very creative endeavors. There are some routines. Like when I was writing The Calorie Myth — and I know that a lot of other people experience this — setting aside routine time periods in which you are supposed to write is very helpful, but just saying… There are certain things that just aren’t linear.

That said, eating is something you do consistently throughout the day. Exercise is somewhat linear, it’s concrete. It’s not this creative undertaking. I feel like things like that or even your work week, Carrie, which is focused around tactical progress, really routine works better versus for example trying to… It’s not like making someone fall in love with you. You have a routine that helps that to happen. Right? So of course…

And if your goal is just enjoyment, just to enjoy life, if that is your goal, then that probably doesn’t require a huge amount of routine, whereas again if your goal is to accomplish some distinct goal, achievement oriented, I personally never met — unless they’re lucky — someone who is able to do that without routine.

So I would just urge: if you have no routine in your life, if every day is a blank slate and you have to figure out every single thing you’re going to do that day — which I don’t think many people have that — but you could imagine that that would be almost this paralyzing state. Every day you wake up, “What the hell am I going to do? I don’t know. What am I going to eat? I don’t know?” Yeah, well that’s an ambitious undertaking!

CARRIE: Yeah. For me, routine for the one since this conversation started — because of the dramatic change in me in the last month — the routines that have been most material in making that change are sleep, which we talked about last week, but then from a dietary perspective, eating three meals a day has changed the way my body functions. All I had to do was routinize having breakfast, having lunch, and having dinner and being religious about that.

So at 7 o’clock in the morning, I get out of bed, I make breakfast, I eat breakfast. At 12 o’clock I stop what I’m doing, I eat lunch. At 6 o’clock I stop what I’m doing, I eat dinner. And that…

My body feels different because of that. Just that right there has changed the way my body operates, in a good way. It knows there is food coming. It never gets forced into that starvation mode of not burning body fat because it doesn’t know when the next meal’s coming. All that kind of stuff goes away. So I’ve been very religious about that and it’s made a huge impact on the way I look and the way I feel.

JONATHAN: This is a great example of how “routine” can be interpreted, or let’s say implemented, differently because while Carrie has achieved wonderful success, building routine in to when she eats… For example, that is not how I operate. I have no routine as to when I eat. I have a routine around what I eat. So I eat whenever I’m hungry and I stop when I’m full, but I have a definite set of options that I choose from.

So routine doesn’t mean you always have to do the same thing, same everything. It just means take some of the decisions in your life and make them once and stick with them. That’s really it. It’s the difference between in some ways… Well think of… This actually may be a silly analogy, Carrie, but think about the amount of time and effort that goes into dating versus the amount of time and effort that goes into a good, established, happy relationship.

CARRIE: You are talking to someone that hasn’t had a date in seven and a half years.

JONATHAN: Well I think you know like dating is this big ordeal. It’s time consuming. It’s like just starting from scratch every single time.

CARRIE: That’s why I don’t do it!

JONATHAN: So anyway, as much as possible, when you find something that works, just stick with it and certainly evaluate it, but don’t force yourself to start from scratch every second of every day because if you try to do that, you’re going to run out of will power by 11 a.m. and then you’ve got plenty of the day left where it’s just… If you’re out of will power, you’re not going to make the decision. Other people or society is going to make the decision for you and that usually turns into sub optimal results.

CARRIE: I also — not only did I routinize when I ate, because for someone who was just skipping meals, sometimes multiple meals a day, for me to get me back on track it really helped to have this seven, noon, six thing. Maybe at some point I’ve healed my body and everything’s working better I’ll be able to be more like Jonathan and just eat when I’m hungry. But right now, setting that routine is what has got me back on track.

But I’ve also been very deliberate about what I eat. So I’ve been very — the last two years the foods I’ve eaten have been sane, but where it’s been not good is that the ratio of proteins to fats to non starchy vegetables has not been right… So I also make deliberate choices everyday now about what each plate looks like. It’s more non starchy vegies, then protein, then the healthy fats.

I’ve actually been doing the more high fat, low carb version of sane the last month. I have not been eating fruits or any kind of sugars at all for the last month, and that’s really helped my appetite get back on track.

It’s also made it simpler for me because I’m not worrying about as many food groups; I’m just worrying about non starchy vegies and protein and nuts, and I’ve been very clear about what I’m eating at every meal.

JONATHAN: I love it, Carrie, because this is an absolute gold mine. Again, I want to congratulate you on your wonderful success because it has been absolutely fabulous and also playing the hand you’re dealt. I know there are some stressful things going on in your life that aren’t just going to go away. And there is obviously — we all have different pre-existing medical conditions that can make things a challenge, but really embracing the had we’re dealt and saying, “I’m going to do the best I can with what I have and then I’m going to be genuinely happy about that.”

We’ve got to wrap up the show here, Carrie, but one thing that I am proudest of about you is I had never heard you say, “I wish I was more like X ( someone else).” I’ve never heard you compare yourself to anyone other than yourself. So when you do better than Carrie from three months ago, you are thrilled and you don’t say, “Oh, but if only I could be as good as Foo or if only I could be as good as Bar.” You take genuine joy and satisfaction from becoming the best version of yourself and that’s something that I — frankly I envy because I always compare myself to other people and it’s a horribly unhealthy habit to have.

CARRIE: Well stop it then! Stop it!

JONATHAN: So stop doing that, so stop doing that. So congratulations again, Carrie. I’m so proud of you.

CARRIE: And I guess we’ll carry on talking about this stuff next week.

JONATHAN: We absolutely will and until then, listeners, remember to eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better, and don’t compare yourself to other people. Chat with you soon.

CARRIE: See you.

JONATHAN: Wait! Wait! Don’t stop listening yet!

CARRIE: You can get Fabulous, Free, Sane Recipes over at carriebrown.com.

JONATHAN: And don’t forget your 100% Free Eating and Exercise Quick Start Program as well as free, fun, daily tips delivered right into your Inbox at bailorgroup.com. That’s B-A-I-L-O-R Group dot com.

This week Carrie and I show how a little more routine could make your life a lot more simple.