Engineering Your Environment
We're going to talk a little bit about some things we mentioned really other ways that you can make you could engineer your environment to actually make habits and behaviors easier for you to dio so aa lot of things we talked about in our, um, environment actually trigger us to eat mohr to rest, to do make bad decisions, and we're going to talk about how you can reverse that and have it work in your favor and tribute to make better decisions tribute to eat less. So there are thousands of triggers in our everyday we encountered thousands that convinced us eat more without noticing, and we can actually use these in this amazing book, by the way, by brian once think we talked about him the other day called mindless eating, and he talks about something known as the mindless margin where there's this basically, he says, it's, a one to two hundred calorie buffer zone that when you are within your normal range of calories that you eat every day, you can either go over by one or two hundred ca...
lories or go under by one or two hundred calories and your body doesn't really register the difference so normally were triggered two sort of go over a little bit, but what we want to do is try to find a way as we can go under without even thinking about it. You know, sort of mindlessly eat less, so I talk about mindful all the time, but that could be exhausting, so I couldn't make it is easy for us is possible because our brains love autopilot. Um, and so one thing you can do is be very aware that there are influences in your life and that contribute these things, and when you're in your home, you have control, so you've probably heard before that if you eat small, use smaller plates, you will naturally about twenty percent less of your meal. If you use taller glasses, you can, it looks, it feels like more than a shorter glass you actually drink more, um, and a bunch of other things like this and another thing that has actually a surprising influence on your ability to your eating speed and your how much you eat is just the environment. So when you're sitting at a table and eating off a plate, you're going to eat less than when you're sitting on the couch and eating out of the bag. So that's, why I always recommend you sit at a table with a plate similarly, and this is crazy to me. When there's bright lights and really fast music, you're much more likely to overeat neat, faster and he mindlessly than if the music slow if you're sitting down and having a pleasant experience and that's what we're going to test out right now on shawna nicky, so way set up a situation so the first one is going to be they're going toe they're going to be in a situation where it's like easy to overeat, we're going to turn up the music, turn on, turn out the lights and have them come in and see how it feels to eat, eh? So they're just going to sit down there is going to come in and eat for us, and then and then we're going to take him out again and we're gonna bring him back in a much more calm environment and just see how different it feels, ok, so, um we'll just pretend we were just talking about snacking this whole time are serving there, okay? Great gun vermin watch the show, guys. Yes, wait like you do in your pizza. Hee hee! I like that. Wait, it is coming. It is suddenly having public place a pizza in front. Let me get up to your palace. Well done. We're actually going to step out one more time. All right, way. Yeah, you to get an ipad for a list so don't want my path for its right so it was pretty good we're going to change the set now thanks, this's very nice you made in your video this'll wait so how does this feel for you to be compared with when you came back in last time does this feel completely different oh yeah very different very classy a classy date which is normal for you didn't strike me as sort of a piece of paper place kind of guys so when you don't actually paint todo good pizza right like the high quality item so I avoid pizza unless it's pretty high quality there very very weak piece so how was that experience that with all the noise going on well uh it was awkward that s why I even asked do I need it but this is much nicer yeah just feels much more relaxing yes you feel you feel like actually engaging with the food I mean looks better. It looks much more appetizing. Well, I noticed a few things just in their body language so they sat down there a little intrigued they both smooth their napkins on their lab nicky actually leaned in and smelled her food first and you know, there was a much more slow and deliberate approach to the food itself a supposed to sort of well there's this objects to eat which is, you know, it's sze focusing on the attributes of the food instead of food just being one part of the environment that you're in that is sort of chaotic yeah and I started noticing like I was in there on the plate like it looks beautiful when it has like you know, carrots and beets and everything I was like well, like where it and you know I want to know more so that's another way of saying that they have mr encouraged mindfulness so she is she's paying more attention to the food attributes the colors the smells way let you eat the flavors but hey yeah awesome thanks guys you want the salad, don't you? I can tell you more salad lunch thanks so much for doing that appreciate it. Thank you. Okay, so what you guys missed when you were ways we were talking about the power of you say in your environment that you're in to influence how you approach food and we talked we've talked quite a bit now about how easy it is to be triggered to eat mohr eight faster make poor decisions but you can also be triggered to do the opposite. You can also be triggered to slow down t more mindfully tio pay more attention to food and be and be more present and in the moment and actually it's slower and enjoy it more and and we don't always have control over these things obviously however, when you're at home you d'oh you know, so we have a rule in my house we eat at the table every night with placemats and drinks and at the dining table unless there's a really good playoff game on, we don't have the tv on I I put on slow music intentionally. I have a miles davis kind of blue playlist that I use for dinner because it is the most peaceful. I mean, you just feel like you're just supposed to be enjoying your meal when you have really slow music playing and even stuff that even music that I typically think of as slow, uh, you know, bands like air or things like that, they can actually still be sort of fast. They can have a faster beat, and I notice and and there's it's been shown that when you, when there's a beat going, you tend to eat with the beat, and so you sort of subconsciously or put into this like shoveling mode if you're if you've got certain music choices and so thank you so it could be really powerful at home to you. Khun set yourself up for success by making certain choices. I actually I also have, like, and if you guys have like different scenes in lighting scenes in your house, I literally have a button that says eat for dinner, so, like I have a button, it dims all the lights in the house. And, you know, dims the kitchen and all the other rooms so it like and it just sort of the and then there's this like warm glow over our dining space and it's lovely and you can set these things up in your house another reason it's it's valuable to know this is because sometimes I just flipped through these really fast sometimes when you're when you are forced into a setting, so so research has shown that a cafeteria type setting with really bright lights like a florist in life um, you know, sort of as you know, we tried to set that appear the sort of disposable plates and things like that you can be triggered to want to eat faster because you're not focused on the food attributes you're focused on the task of eating, which is it is a subtle but relevant mindset shift and and I have found myself like in that situation and noticing myself eating faster, but when you're aware that that's what's happening, you can catch it and you can say, you know what? I'm gonna put my foot down and shoe I'm going to go back to the habits that I know actually khun prevent this but it's it's obviously a lot more fun and a lot more powerful when you're in your own home and you can control these things and actually it's been really powerful for me in particular because one of the other things that greatly influences your you're eating speed is the eating speed of your partner and, uh you guys but I don't know this, but my husband needs like like a rabid animal like just like like if I wasn't there and that's even with me they're like building him like he's just like shovels food so fast and so I am inclined teo eat at the same speed when he's doing that I have to tell him all the time like, dude, you're making me nervous, chill and but one of the ways I can influence him is by dimming the lights, setting the table, putting on slow music so very, very powerful stuff especially if you're not the only person in your household you're trying to control yeah, that truly works he slows down when when you dim lights and have the music on in on that first certain yeah for certain not all the time sometimes like if he's really hungry or really stressed from something else, I have less of an impact unfortunately, he's he knows all this stuff and he wants state slower, so if I say hey, would you mind slowing down a little bit? He will because he's a very, very lovely person but it's not easy and I have to remind him often now do you recommend this one also dire for people who live alone and eat alone you don't think it's well worth setting the table and usually it is still going to slow you down absolutely to be quite honest, I don't personally go as elaborately um if I'm just by myself but you know I will still set a place mat I will still get my support myself a glass of water, glass of wine or whatever and sit at the table at the bare minimum I do not need on the couch ever now what I do yes you know that experiment it makes me think um the second time I come in I notice everything is very delicate in the melican it makes me just till the setting like all I need to treat it delicately exactly and that makes me like when I eat and everything I you know try to be in that environment it's kind of like when you go to a fancy restaurant on the side and he's just like elegant and delicate and just this tastes good you know, like it's just you change it and they think is definitely affect me awesome yeah perfect they worked yeah money being that person on the other side that eats with the shovel I think it does help when that setting is different and I think the other thing that helps is being communicated to slow down I now sometimes feel really guilty if I eat too well not if I eat but just eating too fast and rushing someone else through the process so it's I think that whole that whole set up does that actually work good hard it was hard but yeah it is it is hard it does help to explain to the personalize beneficial most people realize they should slow down to some extent anyway so just a few more ways you could engineer your environment I think you've heard out of sight out of mind get you know if if your eminence air sitting on your desk put them in a jar and put them in the covered it's a lot more effective if you are if that's not enough to get it out of the house out of house out of mouth but I always say I don't you know we don't really keep snack foods or junk foods in her house sometimes to our detriment but sometimes we were like why don't we have any chocolate but it's for the best I'm using smaller serving where smaller plates sit at a table place low music and dim those lights that became quite a crazed in it a while ago for people to eat with like child child size knife in a very small plane that I guess that was the thinking yes the volumetrics method yes it works when it works it's a subconscious way to eat less so another thing. I I talked about this a little bit, but this is another technique I use called the ulysses strategy. I love this s o. You guys know the story of, like, the odyssey. So basically, ulysses is going on this journey, and he knows that he's about teo approach the sirens. You know, the mermaids that like seeing these beautiful songs. But if you if you go after, then they will, you will. You will die. And so for some reason, I forget what he really wanted to hear. That what that sounded like he wanted to experience that. But he also knew that if he heard it, he would go crazy. And so what? He had his men dio and his on the ship is they had the he strapped, they had him strapped him to the mass. So he was stuck there, and then he forced them to put he told them to put it wax in their ears so they couldn't hear anything. And he was also told, like they were supposed to, like, hold him at knifepoint. And but and so when they went into the siren's song, all the men were safe and he was safe, but he did temporarily go crazy. And he was and he was trying to get out he was trying to get to those sirens, but this strategies he had used before hands tio prevent himself from doing that kept him in line and kept on working. So this is what I call this attitude, which we've talked about a lot now I call it the ulysses strategy, so when you actually pre commit to a plan of action when you know you're going to fail, this is another way to get through cravings and sacks so basically things you can do to pre commit besides just being prepared having healthy snacks around you can do things like make bets with your friends very powerful you can pre by personal training packages, so you've already put a lot of money up front and so you're way more likely to do it and not waste that money on and there's websites called like stick dot com and other ones where you can do things like if I don't lose ten pounds by the end of the next month it's gonna like donate one hundred dollars to my least favorite political party or something something that you do highly, highly emotionally motivated to stick with and these air some great ways that you can actually pre commit tio difficult, difficult situations another home court habit that is really essential is behavior monitoring and this is sort of a little meta little high level, esoteric stuff but I can't stress enough how important this is because what's the thing about habits right there automatic and the problem like that's great when you set them up but the problem is they can shift somewhat automatically as well without you really noticing like a small adjustment in your daily planning and suddenly you're not going to the store is often suddenly going to the gym is getting a lot more difficult and and and if you are aware that those changes were happening it's going to be very tough it's going to be because you're what this has happened to me like when I stopped I think I told you when I stop commuting toe lab I stopped walking twelve thousand steps a day and I'll cut down to six I gained a bunch wait didn't know why I actually the only reason I ever figured that out was because of my predominate er that I wear a fitbit chronometer and then I realized that that's what the problem was so that is one way to do it so it creates awareness and accountability I mean a lot once you have that knowledge it enables you to be more strategic about your approach like, oh, I'm not getting enough steps anymore oh, you know this this behavior has changed and this this data that is what enables you to troubleshoot problems this is why it's so important to be honest remember and and this is what this is what monitoring yourself does is it keeps you honest and also when you're making progress it's sort of like a natural psychological reward we love to make progress toward goals you know that's why we get addicted to playing video games like it feels really good when you feel like and you're seeing that number on the scale go down when you seeing that you're learning how to chew when you're saying that you're doing exercising three days a week instead of two now it's really good and so here's a few things you khun dio we've talked quite a bit about uh well you guys have all been filling out your journals right your food journals this is a great way to keep yourself honest and accountable um especially early on when you might not be so aware of what's going on a digital scale is fantastic there's a lot of rumors about whether or not it's good to weigh yourself often when you're when you would you have a weight loss goal the research shows that it actually helps it's good to be honest with yourself about how your behavior is actually impacting your weight and it's a good data point to know you know so for instance if every monday you're like every monday to friday you lose three pounds but you're back up two pounds on monday you know, maybe you need to be looking at your weekend habits I'm having the act parameter activity tracker I'm wearing two right now I recommend some habit tracking software could be really useful I use an app called lift lift dot dio and that just did you do this habit today cook dinner three times a week a breakfast, meditate get ten thousand steps a day all these things and it can be really helpful to just know what you are and aren't actually doing yeah, I just had one comment about lift I noticed someone who right but wrote about their experience with lift what they found was they were using it for writing to build a habit of writing and what they found is when they got to day to sixty seven or writing and they didn't want to do it they go well, I've done it for two hundred sixty days in a row I probably should do it the next day so I don't break that habit yeah, now it gives you that extra motivation. Yeah it's really, really powerful. I've also found that sometimes want to form a habit I don't need it anymore like I took eight breakfast off my lift habits because I eat breakfast every day like I told you I don't need to check it off my list every day I do it so automatically now so for those of you at home watching from home, I had all the students here fill out a health style journal, a food journal you can download the one we offered with the when you are a svp, you can get one there and there's a few just rules that I recommend when you're approaching your journal s o first it's worthwhile for almost everybody to take a two week just inventory of your health style. What am I doing? And this isn't about judging yourself. This isn't about being good or being bad. We want you to be super, super super honest about what your health style actually looks like, because if you're deluding yourself, you're not going to fix anything, so just be honest, write down what, when, how much and all your feeling around the food that you're having, like if it made you feel good to eat that if you felt guilty about eating that, if you thought maybe could have done something a little different again amid nothing, honesty is essential, even like that one little bite of food off your, you know, husbands played at night write that down, no one's judging you, this isn't about judgment if you can include exercise and the number of steps you're taking every day valuable, valuable information. And even sleeping and waking times could be helpful I didn't have you guys do that we're just doing a few journal but if you really want to get into this stuff including sleep and waking times can be really valuable so I was going tio we were going to do a food journal tear down does anybody we would anybody here like really like some help with their journal like want to come up and talk about it with me? Otherwise I'm going to call on somebody randomly and you probably want that anyone gerald all right let's do it hey thanks I don't even think I got a chance to look years this is perfect makes that made some notes on some of yours um and if you want we can talk about it later but basically it's so when you're doing your analysis here's what we're gonna deal just open these all freeze you can see him. What we want to do is we want to identify repeated actions anything that you do more than once that the habit and I want you to identify them when they're both positive and negative right? Because we talked about the benefits of the positive ones with your bright spots and you can learn from those causes the places you're already succeeding you might be able to replicate that somewhere else and obviously the negative ones or places we're going to work to improve um identify the major barriers and analyzed the context of thanks so some people will have repetitive binges every weekend or like a certain snack time breakdown they have all the time and try to figure out what could be going on there. What is the trigger usually and what what's rewarded you seeking and then sometimes it's useful to think in terms of week days versus weekends? You know, I've been focusing on that a lot because they tend to be very different behavioral sets and you might have nailed one and you just might have a weekend brunch problem I don't know we're like too much alcohol or something like that so it's that could be valuable to think in terms of patterns of the week then hypothesize create hypotheses for what the triggers and the rewards for each habit is good and bad and and then go test those hypotheses the next week the next time you do those things I say is this was struggling me is am I seeking? Is that the sugar? This reward er is the comfort from discreet decreasing stress the reward so that's how we're going to go through here and then and then test your hypotheses? All right, so thank you for doing this yeah, so ok, so let's see? So for day one we start with taco salad pretty good lettuce what is that? Pasta, pasta, pasta and tacos out well, it was this I was at a convention so it was they were serving us because this, um they called it a pasta taco salad so it wasn't this man a spacecraft that you normally get but this lovely salsa based taco flavored it just all you ate all day? Um, yeah, he had one big meal at noon. Yes, and then a little bit later, even though that was part of the whole thing and then a little chocolate moves for dessert. Um, so one thing that stands out here is that generally, I would recommend three meals a day. Yeah, I didn't quite get that, but this isn't it's not a terrible choice. I mean, if you're this is much better than, you know, some sort of lasagna, then do something like that. Just forget I don't know. What's right? Friday didn't happen. We deleted that. Yes, on saturday was interesting. Saturday was interesting. Okay, so weekends could be tough. Yes. You started off the day with a chocolate egg salad. No it's chocolate dessert first. You know what I mean? You know what I'm imagines, I imagine, like those easter chocolate well, like some disgusting you okay, I'm where where were you for this? I was actually at home you're at home and you had like leftover egg salad or yeah I'd leftover egg salad and I had some chocolate I was walking to the kitchen and I saw the chocolate first so I was on my way to like check my email so where was the chocolate sitting on the island and make it that sounds really tempting yeah maybe waiting for that the pantry so I think that's a great that's a great thing you know it's like well obviously like chocolate is not normally a breakfast food and it's finding it at some point but you know, to avoid these sorts of like this sounds like you were triggered yeah, I was sort of hungry not really hungry and a couple phone calls to make to set up some appointments for that day and it was just that grazing thing of oh, I need a little bit just tio yeah like e mr a phone call and that's what you thought when you do that I think that's one of the reasons breakfast is so important but you would you walked into your kitchen and you saw chocolate so that's what you ate yeah so if you walked in your kitchen ends on orange you might have been that probably yeah there wasn't in orange on the counter it was in the fridge okay, so so this is the sorts of things so you that was something that you could have foreseen and and change the environment and changed the triggers and probably changed actions we'll go straight so and then later you has he excelled and this was around breakfast time I assume there's around ten eleven between nine eleven I think ok and then you had some hot chocolate leader yeah, that was about two o'clock in the afternoon and then um chicken wings and salad greens that's that's good and that was at six again I'm saying only two meals yes saturdays they're kind of like that sometimes ok, but did you not eat for like seven, eight hours? Um ahead hot talk about chocolate so another place another so another thing so a pattern that we're seeing is that I'm you're not eating three solid meals and looks like sometimes because of that you're resorting tio a sugary pick me up yeah it's really that that you can probably avoid by scheduling in a more regimented lunch we'll sit down at a table and he ate some right real food egg salad again in the morning chicken salad salmon smoked salmon for lunch this looks like a good day how do you feel today that it was good? Although this was like it eleven ish I didn't have the smoke samples like four so this I had a memorial service to tense with this big gap I say and this was the the reception food and it was actually quite good okay, so the reception had smoked salmon sour cream I knew and so it's like a alongside of saia yeah, and then the fruit salad and then late late at night you had cpk yeah, it was I had a little mini in california pizza kitchen little pizza. Ok. Did you have any salad with that? Yeah, I think it was a little salad. Okay, so this looks like a pretty good day. I like that you had three meals obviously like pizza is not the greatest tries, but when it when you ain't pretty good most today I think I give you pass on that a test one day andan we have monday so this is started the week, right? So we have breakfast sandwich again hot chocolate we got a hot chocolate thing I dio I've had this hard tackle things since I was a child when my mom used to make it from scratch for me. Okay, so I'm noticing I mean, we've had it three or four times this week um what's the what's the trigger there I wanted something warm and the tea choice I didn't like and I don't drink coffee, okay, so ok, so for me, if I'm looking at this and depending what my goals are but if I wanted to lose weight I would try teo you know you did with the chocolate he said the really high end right? I would do a really, really good hot chocolate on a weekend and just do it once a week I don't want you know it sounds like it's important to you like it really creates a nice warm feeling for you and you should have that but every day and a lower version of it is going toe make it more difficult rather than easier for you to hit your goals so I would maybe go buy the best hot chocolate in the universe and make it like a saturday morning ritual sunday morning ritual that you can really really get excited about um and then the rest of day looks good chicken salad these are all real foods awesome you need a lot this day to yeah that day was much better like actually actually little meals did you have hot chocolate again? Um I don't think so no, not too bad ok, so you guys getting the seeing what we're doing here? So the point is tio identify patterns identify things that are potentially easy to change that we can upgrade so when you're talking read powdered hot chocolate and this you may go now you're making it from scratch yeah, ok well that's good, but we wanna make that an even special occasion because it's something that you're relying on a little too often and then try to get in the habit of creating more regular meals, because remember, when we talked about the circadian rhythms and how your body hormones, you can work with them instead of against them, and when you can get on a more regular schedule, it's easier, even if it's just a little something. Okay, thank you so much. She didn't you, copeland, thank you, train. So I just wanted to closing thoughts here. And the reason why behavior modern monitoring is so important is as they as benjamin hoff rights and and the dow of poo, the wise, know their limitations on the foolish, do not so it's. Not until you're completely honest with yourself. Do you really know where you can improve?