EXERCISE IS A KEYSTONE HABIT

“If it’s important, do it every day. If it isn’t, don’t do it at all.” – Dan Gable Olympic wrestling champion

I usually suggest people begin their fat loss journey with daily exercise. Not because I think it is the most effective at reducing body weight. It isn’t, but because daily exercise is a keystone habit that leads to a host of other good habits. Australian researchers Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng found that regular exercise leads to significant improvements in a wide range of regulatory behaviors such as less impulsive spending; better dietary habits; decreased alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine consumption; and fewer hours watching TV.[i]

Exercise is more about feeling good than looking good. People that exercise regularly are much less likely to suffer from depression or other psychological ailments. John J. Ratey, MD  Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says going for a run is like taking a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin because, like the drugs, exercise elevates these neurotransmitters. He says it’s a handy metaphor, but the deeper explanation is that exercise balances neurotransmitters — along with the rest of the neurochemicals in the brain.

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GATEWAY HABITS & DECISION POINTS

“I begin each day of my life with a ritual. I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirt, and my hat. I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st Street and First Avenue, where I work out for two hours. The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab. The moment I tell the driver where to go, I have completed the ritual. It’s a simple act, but doing it the same way each morning habituates it—makes it repeatable, easy to do. It reduces the chance that I would skip it or do it differently. It is one more item in my arsenal of routines, and one less thing to think about.” Twyla Tharp

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WHY HABITS CAN BE DIFFICULT TO CHANGE – BUT DON’T HAVE TO BE

“Most people are in favor of change, as long as they can continue to do things the same as they always have.”

-Bill Phillips

What you are going to learn:

  1. Why Habits are so powerful and potentially dangerous
  2. The four components of the habit loop
  3. How a better understanding of habits can help us improve them
  4. Why it is a mistake to blame our willpower

Change is difficult, but we are all capable of change. Our lives are continually changing, learning to drive, marriage, babies, new job responsibilities, and new technological tools. Initiation is the most challenging phase because it is mentally exhausting. Learning a new skill requires our cerebral cortex to do the heavy lifting, but as the new task becomes routine, the more resilient basal ganglia take over. The action becomes easier and easier. Our conscious brain goes on autopilot, and our actions flow. You undoubtedly experienced this when you were learning to drive. In the beginning, it required your total concentration, but now you can drive, adjust the cabin temperature, tune the radio, and carry on a conversation.

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Emotion - Logic Right side left side brain

ONE BRAIN – TWO MINDS

“Every battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought. ‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle..'” -Sun Tzu. The Art of War

Psychologists say we have one brain but two minds. I’ll help you understand both – their strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies so you will be able to win every willpower battle. When armed with practical strategies, we are all capable of change. Most programs tell you what to do. They fail to address the hardest aspect of behavior change, not repeating past behavior. Our program provides practical techniques for interrupting bad habits and replacing them with good ones.

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WHY WE ARE ALL SUSCEPTIBLE TO BAD HABITS

The nature of bad habits makes them irresistible to our basal ganglia, where all habits live. Our primitive brain is a sucker for a quick payoff.
Why do we allow bad habits to happen? When we are stress or not paying attention, our subconscious mind will choose bad habits over good ones. Every bad habit provides an immediate benefit. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t repeat them. When we are feeling tired and stressed, we are particularly susceptible to them. When our body’s cortisol levels are raised, our mind shifts from a pause-and-plan state to a more impulsive fight-or-flight condition. Our primitive brain takes control and seeks quick satisfaction. Our primitive brain isn’t concerned with abstract ideas or our long-term goals; it is in tune with our body’s sensations. We have one brain but two minds. One is driven by emotions, the other by logic. Which is in charge at any given moment is dependent on our stress levels. Stress triggers a fight-or-flight response that puts our impulsive mind in the driver’s seat. Relaxation, on the other hand, shifts us to a state of pause-and-plan. When you are about to give in to temptation, taking, a few deep breaths has been shown to improve our self-control.  Continue reading WHY WE ARE ALL SUSCEPTIBLE TO BAD HABITS