Wednesday, Jun. 28th 2017

The Law of the Traffic Light

 

   If your reading this I assume you have a fairly good understanding of the basic rules of the traffic light. I mean pretty much everyone from the age of 6+ probably does. Not exactly sure when I started playing “Red Light, Green Light” as a kid, but it had to be somewhere around kindergarten I’m guessing. Today I wanted to take that philosophy and discuss how it applies to our health. 

   Recently I was listening to a gentleman by the name of Jade Teta, and I was really intrigued about what he had to say. He specializes in metabolism effect, but it was the analogy about a traffic light he made that stuck with me. It was one of those moments that just made so much sense. I was listening and the light-bulb flickered.. “yeah that’s what I’ve been thinking, just never knew how to say it”. Anyways if your curious on learning more, he has some great insight on metabolism at his website in the link above. But back to my point

   I’ve been training/coaching people now for almost 8 years professionally. I’d chalk on another 2-3 yrs. of working with friends and roommates in college. So I’d say I have a pretty decent track record in the fields of health and wellness. In that time I’ve worked with a couple hundred clients, and one thing has always struck me as weird. It seems that in almost all cases the people I worked with are either ON or they are OFF. More specifically they are GREEN Light or RED Light

   It truly stumped me. I had people constantly asking me “how can I lose these last 10lbs.?” or “Is it better to do this or that for my workout?” People were genuinely curious about how to get in shape, but when push came to shove they couldn’t make the move from complacency to action.

   Then there were the ones who said it…hired me…began to take action with such enthusiasm…only to see them flame out shortly after. I struggled with the idea of someone saying to me, “Hey I really want to get in better shape, and lose this fat”. I’m like I got this. I give them the program, suggest what foods to eat and what to reduce or eliminate, and BOOM THEY ARE ON. We got the GREEN LIGHT for GO! Here is a common trend in the months that followed:

  • 1 month later – they begin to see results, but not quite what they are expecting…they wanted more
  • 2 months in – results still coming, but confused as to why they are like the person on FB they saw who lost 30lbs. in 60 days
  • 3 months in – they’ve plateaued or have maybe gone backwards, they are ready to stop…uh oh RED LIGHT ALERT!

What happened I ask myself? How did we go from that motivated GREEN state of mind to the this sucks, I suck, I don’t want to do this RED state so quickly? Why couldn’t my clients stay motivated and stick with it? The truth is a majority of us operate primarily either all in (GREEN LIGHT) or all out (RED LIGHT) making it hard to handle the ups in downs accompanied with a lifestyle change. That got me wondering and posing the question..what would happen if I could help them to live their life in between? and HOW to I help them come to understand what it means to live in the YELLOW?

 

The Laws and effects of the Traffic light

RED LIGHT living and the effects:

COMMON LIFESTYLE HABITS

  • Desk job or sitting all day
  • 5+ hours in front of a TV, Computer, tablet, or phone
  • Less than 30min. of intentional exercise/activity daily
  • Eating junk food, processed foods, fast food, drinking soda and beer or wine daily
  • Sleeping less than 6hrs. nightly 

  It’s a no breakfast, protein bar for lunch, large steak and potato for dinner…oh and don’t forget that bowl of ice cream for dessert you earned while working hard on the computer kind of day!

LIFESTYLE EFFECTS ON THE BODY

  • Increase in lifestyle diseases including (heart diseases, stroke, cancer, diabetes, cirrhosis, and more)
  • Increase in mood disorders like (depression, anxiety, stress, low-self esteem and more)
  • Poor Sleep and constant fatigue
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Weaker immune system and increased time to recover from injury or illness

  Sadly this bullet list could go on and on for a couple pages, but I think you get the picture. When you operate in this zone for to long you will put on weight that is hard to lose, Normal Daily Activities (NDA) will become difficult, getting quality sleep will become a thing of the past, your hunger slows as your metabolism slows, and depression and sadness are bound to set-in! The real scary part about all this though…is when you decide you want to go back to GREEN Zone. Because it’s going to be twice as hard as last time, and 2x harder than that each time you let yourself drift back to the dreaded RED Zone.

 

GREEN LIGHT living and the effects:

COMMON LIFESTYLE HABITS

  • Working out to complete exhaustion
  • Working 10+ hr. days
  • Eating your meals in 10min. or less
  • Drinking caffeine or other energy supplements through out the day
  • Short and hurried conversations that lack emotion or empathy

LIFESTYLE EFFECTS ON THE BODY

  • Increase risk of physical injury
  • Weaker friendships
  • Less intimacy in marriage
  • Elevated stress hormones (primarily cortisol) increases blood sugar levels
  • Inappropriate work-life balance leading to job dissatisfaction and mood swings

   When your in the GREEN your constantly on the move and going from one thing to the next. Your operating at such a fast pace you don’t have time to slow down. Your making sure you get that popular hardcore sweat-it-out fitness class in, then off to slam down an espresso or 2 after, clean up and rush to make that client meeting, grab a quick protein shake for lunch, answer 100 emails and make 30 calls, speed home to grab the kids and take them to practice, then home to catch up on tomorrow’s meeting deadline, and off to bed (while forgetting to tell your wife good night).

   I added that last part because we live in world where doing things fast and efficiently is synonymous with doing right. Well I wanted to highlight that’s not always the case when operating in the GREEN zone. It doesn’t automatically lead to the right or best actions, and often can compromise a healthy and joyful life experience. Also, when we aren’t careful speed will start to control us, and that word efficiency goes Buh-Bye!

   When you operate in this zone for to long your not only putting a ton of stress on your body. Your going to burn it out. When you do your going to come crashing down hard…right back into the RED LIGHT district if your not careful. So what am I proposing?

 

YELLOW LIGHT living and the effects:

COMMON LIFESTYLE HABITS

  • Balancing workouts and activity with attention to quality over quantity
  • Well balanced diet comprised of whole-foods
  • Personal time daily to reflect and decompress
  • Bonding time with wife and kids
  • Socializing with individuals who share the same balance in life

LIFESTYLE EFFECTS ON THE BODY

  • Appropriate body weight and composition
  • Balanced stress levels allowing one to be efficient
  • Less sickness and injury
  • Better quality sleep, so waking up refreshed instead of groggy
  • Thicker hair, softer skin, better glow

  I like to refer to the YELLOW ZONE as the balanced life. Because that is what the body seeks daily..balance. Learning to operate here is key to all facets of your health and for maintaining that healthy lifestyle long-term. When you function in the YELLOW your like a defensive driver. It gives you balance and the body just loves balance. I’m talking about balance in our activities, balance in our diets, and balance in our lives. There’s that word again!

   When your in the YELLOW your more in tune with whats going on in your body, and able to adjust accordingly. Like doing yoga, or meditation for your workout that day over another sweat session at the local cross-fit box. Or taming that sweet tooth after a night catching up with friends and having dessert. At the same time though your body and mind are ready to speed back up when needed. Your hands are at “10 and 2”. Your staying with the flow of traffic and prepared to escape those “Traffic Jams” of life like chronic injury, mental fatigue, and insatiable hunger.

   Being in the yellow doesn’t make you an under achiever. It still means exercise is a part of your daily life. Some days are really tough workouts like a bootcamp, and others are light days like walking. It still means nutrition is a daily priority. You may enjoy a dessert now and again, but you don’t eliminate it…nor do you gorge on it. You understand what your body wants or needs, and your mind is okay with it. Lastly living in the YELLOW means you give your mind rest. Stress is a part of life, but you understand the difference between good and bad stress. Your able to live in the moment knowing today has it’s own worries, and let tomorrow’s worries come tomorrow!

By: Anthony Giordono




4 Comments on “The Law of the Traffic Light”

  1. Erin Parrett Says:

    Great article Anthony! It seems like as a society, we’ve fallen into a pattern of it’s either “STOP or GO”, “yes or no”, “hot or cold”…we forget that there’s SO much in between!

  2. Compound Health & Fitness Says:

    Thanks Erin. Very true. The term healthy lifestyle is thrown around a lot, but still much with an annotation of all or nothing. I live with the belief that its rarely “nothing”, at times “all”, but primarily on cruise control.

  3. Jose ramirez Says:

    Great article, very helpful.

  4. Compound Health & Fitness Says:

    Thank you Jose! I love to help

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