behavior change

3 Natural Urges Humans experience and How to More Effectively Fight Them 

We as humans are biologically wired to encourage certain behaviors. Those behaviors are almost always related to survival in some way. Think about it! That urge to check out the very good looking young man or woman walking by is a biological urge of reproduction. That urge to Netflix and chill is a biological urge of energy preservation. The whole reason why your body stores fat is wired biologically! Our ancestors had to store fat very efficiently because there were almost always times of famine or scarcity of food (like winter months). Our biology doesn't know that we have access to food 24/7!

Despite our hard wiring, there are some cognitive behavioral techniques we can use in order to help us with these pesky urges. 

#1:  The urge to overeat. As stated above, our bodies are designed to overeat and store fat. Our species would not be around today without this mechanism in our biology. So as we take a look at that 4th piece of pizza that we can't seem to resist, how can we overcome our genetics? Some great strategies come from the Mindful Eating field of Psychology. Mindful Eating is behavioral practices that we can engage in everytime we eat in order to curtail giving into our biology. Here are just a couple of Mindful Eating skills. Before you eat, assess if you are really hungry. On a scale of 1 to 4 (1 being ravenously hungry to 4 being full) where are you? Unless you are a 1 or a 2, don't eat. And only ever eat until you reach a "3" on the scale. Once you reach a 3, stop. Another Mindful Eating skill is to well, eat mindfully! That means never eat while distracted or multitasking. So that means no scrolling through phones, no watching Tv, no working while eating. Sit, pay attention to only the task of eating. People who do this tend to eat less during the meal than those who are eating distracted. 

#2:  The urge to sit on your butt and do nothing. This is also engrained in our biology. Our bodies are designed to preserve energy as much as possible. This is because our ancestors needed to store energy in case of an urgent need to move, and move fast (survival instinct)! One great way to overcome this urge to be lazy is to get some accountability partners. Make a pact with a work friend and walk around the building every hour and during lunch. Track your steps on an app and get friends to join you on the app. Set up weekly competitions and challenges to beat each other for the number of steps you take in a week.  Research shows that having an accountability partner for fitness goals can make you up to 80% more likely to achieve your goal. 

#3: The urge to cheat. This can be cheating on a significant other or just cheating in general. A competitive edge is also ingrained in our biology. Darwin's theory of the survival of the fittest is based on this principle. Our species was at one time in competition with other species and other groups of the same species for resources and thus survival. The urge to get something better than what we have or get something more than someone else can drive urges. The best way to deal with this urge is to identify when it is rearing it's ugly head and hit the pause button. Take a step back and start listing the things that you do have and what you like or love about what you do have. That lady walking by may have a great butt, but your spouse may be kind, funny and a great mom to your children. Are those things more valuable to you than a great butt? Yes of course! No one has ever said, "Well, she is a horrible mother to my kids, she is very boring and I hate spending time with her, but at least she has a great butt, so that makes up for it." Beauty is fleeting. That person with the great butt will eventually age and sag too. 

We hope these tips were helpful! Viva la resistance! 

 

© Fire Team Whiskey, LLC, 2018, All Rights Reserved

Are we all just rats in a cage?

When it comes to our military fitness, why is it so much damn hard work!?  Why is it so hard to change!? We know that PT Test is coming up. We know we have weigh-ins next month. We have all these plans to lose a few pounds, or increase our run time, and FAIL. Are we all just rats in cage?  The short answer is yes. But there is hope. First let's address why change is so hard....

#1: Genetics. Think of it. Our ancestors had to be VERY wary of change. It was a SURVIVAL MECHANISM! Think of our great-great-grandfather discovering a new mushroom. Hmm, new mushroom. Let's eat it! No! Anything new was scary and dangerous. Our brains were very basic. New equals potential death. So we proceed with caution. We still have those same mechanisms in our brains. Yes, we have developed all those advanced layers on the outside, but at our core, we still have those very primitive systems. We have a very hard time with change. We like what we know. What we know is safe. 

#2 We are animals. Research shows it takes an average of 66 days to form a habit. That's just an average, so let's over-estimate and say 75 days...that's almost 3 months! We are that rat pushing that lever. Ok, if you were not a biology major, you may not have done these experiments in school.  Have you ever tried to train a pet or a toddler to do something consistently? Didn't it take A LOT of time and repeating yourself over and over and over again to get them to eventually to do it on cue? We are animals! We need consistency and repetition to make those neurological connections in our brains to link that behavior (or command) with that other behavior. 

So yes. We are rats in a cage. But the good news is, we CAN CHANGE. It just takes a bit more effort and time than most people are willing to put into it. We are an instant gratification society. We want it now and fast. We don't like waiting for anything. That is why the fast food and crash diet industries make a TON of money. They cater to instant gratification. But, if you have ever done a crash diet, or two or three, you know that the results don't last. Why? Because the behavior change was very short term. You lost the weight said "thank you very much," and then went right back to your before the crash diet. "Old habits die hard."

I can hear you saying, "What the heck? How am I supposed to get past this stubbornness and make real lasting change?" Here are some tips:

#1 Get rid of the negative and punishment behaviors and thoughts. Research shows that lasting change comes from a focus on positive thoughts and verbalizations and rewards. Don't threaten yourself with "If I don't lose 10 pounds by July 4th, then I am no longer allowed to watch TV.". Focus on a positive reward instead. "If I lose 10 pounds by July 4th, I will buy myself those new sunglasses I have been wanting." Try to keep your thoughts and verbalizations positive. Don't say "I am on a diet." That reflects you are being punished. Say "I am trying to eat healthier." 

#2 Have SMART goals. Specific. Measureable. Attainable. Realistic. Timely. Studies show that goals are easier to reach if they're specific "I'll walk for 30 minutes every day," rather than "I'll get more exercise." You should also limit the number of goals you're trying to reach; otherwise, you may overtax your attention and willpower. And it's not enough just to have a goal; you need to have practical ways of reaching it. For example, if you are trying to lose 20 pounds, have a bunch of baby goals that will lead you to getting to that big goal. Baby goal one: switch drinking sodas to drinking unsweet tea. Baby goal 2: bring lunch and snacks to work every day instead of eating out and from the vending machine. 

And remember that change is a PROCESS not an EVENT! There is even a model of change in psychology called the Transtheoroetical Model, also called the stages of change. TTM presupposes that at any given time, a person is in one of five stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, or maintenance. Change is a process and it is on-going. Maintenance is key (consistency). This is the major reason why diets fail. Because there is no maintenance phase. You lose the weight. You stop. Health is a journey and not a destination. You have to take the long view. 

So go get to pressing that lever. We have a lot of work to do! Stay tuned to Fire Team Whiskey's Facebook page and web site for our BIG launch in 2018. We have all the tools a military service member (current or former) needs to stay fit to fight or get back to fit to fight if we have let some of those things go for awhile. It never too late. Semper Paratus. Whether you are still in Uniform or not, as military Service Members we need to be always ready. Fire Team Whiskey Military Fitness Protocol can help. 

 

© Fire Team Whiskey, LLC, 2018, All Rights Reserved.