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Episode 198: From Novice to Expert - How to Move Up the Ranks as a Health Warrior

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Do you ever want someone to just freaking tell you what to eat? What's good? What's bad? What's allowed? What's not?

I get it. That is the simplicity and clarity we need when we're new to any skill.

If we're just starting piano, we can't start with chords and using both hands at once. We have to learn note by note, pluck it out finger by finger.

But eventually, if we want to get good, we have to progress. We have to learn the more advanced skills, navigate the greater complexities, until eventually we become the expert. 

The same applies to health. 

We need to start with the basics. But if you want lifelong results you can't stop there, you have to build on that.

You have to learn to how to work through changes in your body, changes in your life, changes in your needs.

You have to deepen your knowledge about nutrition so you aren't constantly pulled in a million directions by opposing views. 

You have to transcend your reliance on rules and become more intuitive in your approach. 

And that is the journey the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition outlines. 

In this model, there are 5 stages of learning that people have to go through to make it from novice to expert:

1. Novice

2. Advanced Beginner

3. Competent

4. Proficient

5. Expert


Characteristics: No exercise of discretionary judgement, difficulty knowing what to do when something goes wrong, rigidity.

What You Need: Rudimentary information, basic rules to follow, clarity, and simplicity.

What This Looks Like in Practice: Specific foods to eat/not eat, planned meal times, specific recipes to follow, coach helping pick specific dishes on a menu, quitting when things go awry because you don't know what else to do. 

Advanced Beginner:

Characteristics: Limited situational perception, all aspects treated with similar importance, ability to apply knowledge in different situations, unable to take full personal responsibility for their actions - still following rules very closely. 

What You Need: Practice in different situations with step-by-step coaching to get through it. Ask lots of questions as various scenarios pop up.

What This Looks Like in Practice: Guidelines to follow in various situations like parties, holidays, restaurants, and travel. Some feelings of overwhelm because nutrition, supplements, workouts, sleep, and stress management all carry the same weight - inability to discern needle-mover habits from low impact habits.


Characteristics: Some perception of actions in relation to goals, more deliberate planning, formulating routines, solid amount of knowledge that they're starting to organize in terms of importance, more emotionally involved in their learning, and more personal responsibility in their actions.

What You Need: Someone to help organize everything you've learned into a cohesive plan, more habit-based plans as opposed to rule-based plans, an accountability partner/coach to celebrate when you apply your knowledge well and to help you trouble-shoot when something trips you up. 

What This Looks Like in Practice: Having more flexibility in your actions, being able to reflect, learn, and adjust through obstacles, more comfortable making good decisions - everything doesn't feel like such an uphill battle, your brain isn't having to work as hard to implement changes. 


Characteristics: More holistic view, ability to prioritize actions easily, can work through deviations from normal routines, feel suffocated by overly strict rules but fall back on them when necessary, can use their own judgement during unique situations, more intuitive action.

What You Need: Need support transitioning to a new way of doing things - listening to your body, bouncing back from cheat days, identifying the rules that don't work for you, personalizing your knowledge. 

What This Looks Like in Practice: You aren't having to count calories, track macros, or follow food lists anymore. You can look at your plate and more or less know if it's balanced/what's lacking. You can eyeball portions and don't feel totally thrown off when life gets 'lifey.'


Characteristics: transcending rules, intuitive knowledge, having a vision of what is possible, strong ability to analyze a wide variety of situations, don't have to make conscious decisions, it's just automatic. 

What You Need: At this point you can continue to collect information, absorb it, apply it, and refine it for yourself. 

What This Looks Like in Practice: This is when healthy living has truly become a lifestyle. Putting together healthy, well balanced meals is second nature. You can enjoy cheat days and move on because you're confident in jumping back to your good habits. You can easily discern good information from bad information.  

Hopefully this model gives you a better understanding of where you are and what you need to move on to the next phase of your health journey.

And if you're in the early stages where you need more support, guidance, and accountability, I'm always happy to help! Click here to book your free consultation!


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