“Consistency, commitment and choice” with Cheryl McColgan

Consistency, commitment and choice apply to work and sport as well. An example of this is when I was learning to play golf. My goal was to become a single digit handicapper so I could enjoy playing with my competitive husband. I was consistent in my practice, I committed that goal and I made a […]

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Consistency, commitment and choice apply to work and sport as well. An example of this is when I was learning to play golf. My goal was to become a single digit handicapper so I could enjoy playing with my competitive husband. I was consistent in my practice, I committed that goal and I made a choice each day to practice, even when I didn’t want to.

As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewingCheryl McColgan.

Cheryl is the founder and editor of Heal Nourish Grow. Her passion for helping others create Ultimate Wellness and live their best lives drives her research and content each day. Cheryl helps people develop the confidence and habits needed to reach goals, create lasting change and better health.

She shares her background in psychology along with her wealth of health practices and over 25 years of experience in fitness, yoga, meditation, nutrition, health and wellness.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Igrew up in a strict household, being taught that there were responsibilities and expectations for excellence. It was understood that going to college was only an option if I got a scholarship, which drove me to be focused in school.

My dad was concerned with healthy eating, running and lifting weights since the early 70s, really before it was popular. This obviously had an influence on my life’s work. That environment inspired me to pursue lofty goals in both my schooling and life.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

Being exposed to healthy lifestyle ideas from a young age was obviously a big influence. I’m not sure I would say I was inspired to pursue my specific career as it exists now, but rather it was created out of the culmination of several pursuits over the years.

Eventually, I was able to take my knowledge and experience from psychology, yoga, nutrition, health, fitness, marketing, SEO, events and content production and combine them all to create Heal Nourish Grow. My years in various positions gave me a variety of skills that allowed me to open my own business and offer both content and coaching.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

There are several people who have helped me achieve success over the years. In business I was fortunate enough to have several great bosses. I learned something different and valuable from each.

However, my dad was also very instrumental in my success. I mentioned my upbringing being somewhat strict, yet I value that immensely now since it taught me to be disciplined.

I also viewed in him a strong work ethic and commitment to health, both of which have been extremely instrumental in achieving my goals.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

One of my most memorable mistakes came from an event that I was producing overseas from the US. It was a challenging project to begin with, but it was complicated further by multiple stakeholders and agendas.

As the lead on the project, it was my responsibility to reconcile conflicting goals, communicate with the clients and keep everything on budget and timeline. To make a long and frustrating story short, my marketing manager sent out an invitation that should have gone to a list of 400 people to a list of 4,000.

The lesson learned is to stand up for what you believe in and voice your opinion strongly and confidently when necessary. This can be extremely difficult, but I should have stood up for my belief in how this situation would be handled despite what my supervisor directed.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

There has never been a better time to create your own business. The combination of new software platforms, the internet, social media and automated marketing makes some aspects of business so much easier than in the past.

My advice is that even if you have a full time career, always have something that you’re creating on the side as a future business of your own. If COVID has taught us nothing else, it’s now completely obvious that many jobs that were considered very stable can be taken away quite abruptly.

My only regret about Heal Nourish Grow is that I didn’t start working on it when I first had the concept and bought the domain name eight years ago.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

There are several books that have made an impact on me. The business one that’s been on my mind most is The Lean Startup. The reason it resonated with me so much is because I can get caught up in trying to make something perfect before I let it out into the world.

The problem with that is that the longer you try to keep perfecting something, the less likely you are to actually release it.

Instead, the Lean Startup recommends putting out a product for which there is a demand and meets the minimum requirements to solve the problem. Then you get feedback from users and have the ability to tweak your idea/product/etc and make it better.

The author presented some examples of this and for some, using this method prevented a lot of wasted time and money by finding out the product wasn’t really viable at all or needed to go in a much different direction than anticipated.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

My favorite life lesson quote is by Marianne Williamson. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

This quote resonated with me immediately the first time I heard it. It reminds me to keep practicing the idea that I am enough just as I am. The idea that you’re enough doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for better, but rather keep yourself open to what’s possible and quit sabotaging yourself into never even trying.

This idea was really driven home by one of my teachers, Baron Baptiste.

Many people, and definitely myself included, struggle with the idea that we are “not good enough.” The idea of “not enough” creates fear and prevents us from pursuing lots of things, whether it’s a job, relationship or some other goal. This concept goes right along with the fear of failure. As in, “I’m not good enough, so I know I’ll mess this up.”

If you can continue to practice accepting that you are enough just as you are and let go of the fear of how you look to others as well as the outcome, it will free you up immensely to take chances on things that you would normally not even pursue out of fear.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Right now I’m working on some articles and a book proposal related to keto nutrition. If any literary agents happen to see this article, I’d love to have you get in touch!

Keto has been such a buzzword and even has a negative connotation to some. I like to think of this way of eating instead as ancestral or the proper human diet as coined by Dr. Ken Berry.

Most of the processed crap available in our grocery stores today didn’t even exist 200 years ago.

Unfortunately for us, it takes evolution a long time to catch up with the speed of “progress.” Our bodies just aren’t physiologically capable of processing the types of processed food a lot of people eat. Research out of North Carolina Chapel Hills revealed that only 12 percent of people are metabolically healthy. This is one of the reasons we are having so many poor outcomes from COVID-19.

Educating people and getting them to think about the agendas behind our current food production and nutritional guidelines is my passion. There are a lot of people out there doing this and doing it very well, yet there is still so much misinformation and clinging to old dogma.

I want to be part of the awakening.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

The main reason it’s important to create good habits is because they are key to reaching your goals. No matter how big or small the good habits you create may seem, they are all related to a larger agenda that can eventually support a larger goal. For example, brushing your teeth every day is a small habit that actually contributes to a much larger overall goal of health and longevity.

A better example may be running a marathon. Technically, you could show up the day of the race and attempt it. We all know that would be a disaster though! Instead, creating good habits over time is what would lead us to success in this goal.

The first good habit would be to start running consistently while gradually increasing as you become more proficient. Then you might start eating in a specific way to support better running performance. You might even make it a new habit to go to bed earlier to be able to have the energy to get up early to fit in more running to support your longer term goal of the marathon.

This process will seem quite intuitive to some that already have good habits, yet you’d be surprised how many people struggle with this concept.

The key here is consistently. You must choose small, achievable steps that can become a habit. You must start with an intermediate goal small enough that you will actually do it every day or a certain number of times per week. This is the best way to engrain good habits.

So if we go back to running as an example, if you’ve never run, you might commit to running five minutes five days a week. This may seem too easy to some, but that’s partly the point. It’s got to be easy enough and typically a small amount of time starting out so you’ll actually do it consistently. Otherwise, your new activity may never become a good habit.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Habits have played a role in my success by giving me what you might think of as an operating system for life. There are certain things that are now so much of a habit to me that I never even consider skipping them. When you can create strong habits, success is sure to follow.

Habits that have helped in my journey are mostly related to overall health, such as meditation, diet, exercise and good sleep.

It’s much more difficult to do your job well, create success in life and feel good on a daily basis if you aren’t taking care of yourself first. These baseline habits that take care of your personal wellness first contribute to success more than people want to believe.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

The best way to create good habits is to first determine what your core values are. Core values lead to your goals and your goals lead to identifying daily practices that will lead you to achieving your goals.

When you know a specific habit is needed to reach your goal, you have much more motivation to do it. I like to work with people on identifying care values by using two worksheets I created.

The ability to stop bad habits is related to the same concept. It’s easier to let go of bad habits when you know they don’t contribute to your goals.

Use your goals to identify the new good habits you need to put in place to reach them. Replace existing bad habits that are at odds with your goal with new, good habits. Or replace bad habits with an alternative behavior that may not be directly related to a goal, but replaces the bad habit with something neutral or at least productive.

Habit replacement is a valuable tool. An example that’s easy to understand is smoking. Most would consider smoking a bad habit, something that’s at odds with the goal of good health. One way to stop this bad habit is to approach it with a replacement behavior, such as chewing nicotine gum. Gum chewing is obviously not related to any specific goal, but it acts as the neutral replacement for smoking in this case.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

I’ve identified five “C’s” over the years that are the keys to success. You can learn more about all five things you need to create good habits in my video here. They can be applied to anything, but they’re absolutely essential ways to create good habits that support ultimate wellness, performance and focus.

Let’s review the top three.

The first is consistency. It’s nearly impossible to have good wellness habits without it. By definition, habits are something that you do as a routine. Once you’ve identified the habits that will get you to your goals, it’s not enough to know what they are. You must incorporate them on a regular basis, usually daily depending on what they are.

The second is commitment. To me, commitment is something you do whether you feel like it or not. There are many healthy habits that will not sound appealing initially. Your brain will want to convince you that it’s ok to skip them.

Commitment to your goal is what keeps you performing good habits, even when you don’t feel like it.

The third is choose or choice. This is a little trick of mine from psychology that I use on a daily basis. What’s amazing about living a life that results in goals achieved is that you GET to CHOOSE every day.

Decisions you make each day are a choice. Your choice. One of my favorite examples of this is when people say to me, “oh but you can’t eat that,” when it’s in relation to my low carb, healthy eating choices. I’ll often say in response, “I can eat whatever I want, I just choose not to eat that because it doesn’t align with my health goals.”

Can you see the difference there? Choice is empowering. Choosing and making conscious decisions are an exercise in empowerment. Choice fosters an environment in which you are creating your future through good habits that support your goals rather than mindlessly moving through life.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Meditation and mindfulness are particularly helpful to create consistency, commitment and choice. These practices train your brain to be in the moment and realize that you are not your thoughts, which can be useful in breaking habitual negative thought patterns that keep you in your bad habits.

Since something that has become a habit is done without much thought, becoming more mindful also allows you to catch yourself at the moment you start to perform your bad habits. Being more mindful brings core values to the surface. It gives you the opportunity to make the choice to commit to your new habit over and over as you move through your day.

Directed thinking, mindfulness and choice are much different from the random thoughts, quite often negative or unproductive, that your brain creates from simple neuronal activity. Random thoughts that pop up and are at odds with your goals are often what take people off track.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

Consistency, commitment and choice apply to work and sport as well. An example of this is when I was learning to play golf. My goal was to become a single digit handicapper so I could enjoy playing with my competitive husband. I was consistent in my practice, I committed that goal and I made a choice each day to practice, even when I didn’t want to.

Over time, these habits allowed me to reach my goal.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

This goes back to what I described before. Identify your ultimate end goal that’s in alignment with your core values. Then, work backwards to identify the habits and intermediate goals you need to perform on a regular basis to reach your end goal.

The process is simple, but definitely not easy. The real work begins once you’ve identified the habits to reach your goal…then it’s all about the commitment and consistency!

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

Meditation is a great habit to learn focus. A lot of people use to see meditation as kind of a fringe modality, but it’s backed by a ton of research. There are even apps you can use now to learn to meditate and plenty of YouTube videos, including my own.

Diet can affect your focus immensely. If you’ve ever tried to concentrate when you’re hangry, you know exactly what I mean! Even if you don’t want to go super low carb or keto, reducing carbs and/or following a low glycemic index diet will reduce blood sugar fluctuations and lead to better focus.

Lastly, I am a believer in a few key dietary supplements for focus. There is good research to support using caffeine, which is pretty commonly accepted and known.

There are also a few supplements that you can use for focus if you’re not getting enough nutrients in your diet. Examples are Omega 3s, B vitamins and MCT oil.

There are also a few substances that are newer to the scene that could be worth trying as well. Nootropics are substances or drugs that improve cognitive function, caffeine is probably the most well-known. I personally use a couple of supplements each day that increase focus. I’m happy to share more about those with anyone who contacts me.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

For meditation, the key practice is simply to do it. There are several different types of meditation and many free online sources to teach you. My introduction to meditation is a good place to start.

For diet, it’s helpful to move through the five Cs and make small changes over time. Practicing mindful eating as you begin to make changes is very helpful. If you’d like to know more about how to implement the style of eating and practices and supplements I choose that increases focus, you can check out my beginner’s guide.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

I’ve most often experienced flow in two situations. First is when performing a very routinized task at which I’m already proficient. Two examples are playing the saxophone and vinyasa yoga. Activities where you are very practiced allow you move focus from performing the activity to being in the moment or in “flow.”

The other situation in which I’ve experienced flow is when performing something that’s very new to me. An example of this is painting. I do it very rarely, but when I have, I find myself completely immersed because I’m not good at it and it requires a lot of concentration.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would absolutely love to inspire a whole foods or ancestral eating movement. With only 12 percent of our population being metabolically healthy, inspiring people to eat better would improve so many things. Less obesity, diabetes, heart disease among other things could greatly improve wellness for so many people. Unfortunately, this is difficult to achieve without taking on our current food system.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

This question was very difficult, there are so many wonderful people from which to learn. I have to admit, Warren Buffet was the first to come to mind. However, since the movement I’d like to inspire is for more whole foods and an ancestrally consistent way of eating, I’d love to have a sit down with Dr. Paul Saladino or Dr. Ken Berry. They’ve both written great books that have been influential to me and are producing content each day to educate people on nutrition.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Please visit healnourishgrow.com and be sure to sign up for my newsletter. I’m also very active on Instagram and publish stories and videos there daily.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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