The Habit Loop
All right, so let's now get into some little bit science because this is actually incredibly powerful. So once when u s o okay though habits are great, we're going to focus on the big ones now, how do you change him? Right? Like, how do you use this power for good and not evil? What? So, in order to really understand this, you need to think about how a habit works. You need to know the anatomy of a habit because habits are not the same as other actions. All right, what's, the difference between a habit and a regular different action it's not habitual subconscious, happens automatically. Exactly. So how is that? This is how it works. So essentially, um, the action is the q. I don't think this actually works the action. And actually, the action is the routine, right? That's what you do that's the action what makes that different from a normal action is two things. Something happens before the action a trigger, a q. Something initiates that action sometimes not even in your mind. That's w...
hy? When my dad got but me and my dad got in the car, you know, our key was the car. We actually made the mistake of having the same cue for two different things and that's that was where the the problem arise, but we didn't even notice because we were unconscious to the q we just think you just sent us on our merry way so there's always a cue that triggers and initiates the action and then there is always a reward that follows the habit, and this is essential, and this is what is often forgotten without the reward the reward is necessary because what the reward does is it reinforces. Thank you, right? Like this is how the brain circuit actually forms without the reward that hugh is never going to be powerful enough to trigger your habit. So, do you see why that's essential? And now can you see why dieting doesn't work like dying is based on suffering and, you know, expending effort and using your willpower that will never, ever, ever form a habits because it's not a reward it's torture. So this is this is why I think for first ball diets are fundamentally compatible with long term health because they ignore this, but this is also the awesome is thing in the world I enjoyed like so think what this means is that you have to enjoy what you're doing. You have to eat food you love, you have to do activities that make you happy you have tio love your habits, you have to love your routines, otherwise they're not going to stick and this is the greatest news ever like this and this really changed my life because I you know, when you start thinking in terms of how can I make being healthy fun like how you approach it so differently, you know suddenly like I'm like, you know, one for instance like one thing that I've done since becoming a food ist and since getting into this whole thing is I realize that, you know, like most people I had a very, very limited palate, you know, I didn't eat very many different foods going up and, you know, I think most people don't we get a very limited vegetables most of them aren't that good, very limited foods when I discovered that really food was the secret to me being healthy, I was like, I want to know all about it and so for me it became instead of this burden where I have to like you have to get healthy again, I became this like adventurer and I would go to the farmer's market and I would like discover all these amazing new vegetables I'd never heard of before and learn to cook them. And now I mean, I've discovered my favorite foods that I would have never known about before and it's because I approach this is like a fun, rewarding thing as opposed to a chore, so this is really the secret sauce of health is that understanding that as long as you're basing your actions on willpower and suffering, you're not going to form habits and as long as you're not forming habits it's never going to stick so hallelujah and I just I, um I found this quote that I like angus principle I couldn't figure out why search for weeks about what things principal actually is anybody online knows I'd love to hear it, but I just I love I think this is a very true statement that just the easier it is to do, the harder it is to change and that is really the essence of habits make it a habit and it'll stick all right, so this is all amazing, right? Everybody wants reform habits and they're gonna be so rewarding in your life is gonna be awesome. But let's talk about a little more how to do it because changing habits can be really tough right? Like it's? One thing to build new habits and knowing that if you want to start eating more vegetables, you have to like them that's great. If you want to start doing more exercise, you have to find an activity you actually like like if you hate the treadmill, don't go on the treadmill do something else, but what about bad habits? This is a question and get a lot and I actually read a fantastic book recently are recently ah while ago called the power of habit by an author named charles do big it's fantastic book I highly recommend it and he came up with a model for changing habits and he calls it his golden rule of haven't changed and it's very, very, very simple so think about think about the habit loop we looked at earlier but basically to form a new habit you need to use the same trigger have the same reward and just script a new action to accomplish that goal and sounds easy it's not as easy as the town's but it actually does work and it's not that then you can't form habits in other ways, but this is a a very effective method of changing behaviors from from more negative to more positive so and we'll talk about we'll get into sort of the details about what that's going to look like in a bit but let's get a little bit more into the habit reward and trigger thing because the devil really is in the details so when we talk about rewards like like if you had to guess like what would you think a good reward is for some habits say let's say eating breakfast it wants a good reward energy is a great one and and that actually is that is a big part of it how about tasty food you something tasty? It's good um so when you're thinking about what is not a good reward for breakfast is like wanting to lose ten pounds right? Like people like seriously people of like, I'm going to start eating breakfast so I could lose ten pounds on dh they think that that they think about the goal, but if they're eating like really gross breakfast, they don't have a reward that's not a real reward, so when you're thinking about what rewards look like in terms of re scripting your own habits, the reward must be directly associated with the action ok, like it has to be as a result of the action and and that means immediately not in the future. So again losing ten pounds fitting into your genes, you know, looking good on every year for union that's going to be great for a willpower based goal, but it is not gonna work for habit forming um and I think wait for get this a lot, you know, it's really, really easy to get hung up on the goal on dh forget that the action itself needs to be the reward this is important to it has the reward has to be positive, not even neutral, so uh, for instance, you can't like, you can't just suck less like someone you know? I mean, like, um yeah, you can't just be in slightly less pain I mean that that that is somewhat motivating but for something to really stick it can't just be I wasn't so bad yeah sure I'll do that everyone's well it won't be so bad you have tio there has to be a reinforcing hashimi's be strong enough to reinforce that trigger and you're not going to get it with a neutral ward there's lots of science on all this stuff by the way if at any point you guys one references or so I have all this like I don't want to make this too geeky but first well in my book there's a huge uh references of the back and also if you want you can email me later and I can send you this stuff but there's lots of lots of good science behind all this and the last point I wanted to make is that rewards can be very very subtle and this is ah it's bad in the sense that it could make it hard to identify what they are sometimes but it's good in the sense that they can be so subtle that it's like almost no effort on your part so just a little quick story about me so I'm a total weirdo as you can imagine as you can probably tell about habits and so once I discovered all this stuff I went into like geek mode like trying to like get all my own habits in you know all my ducks in a row and one thing that I really wanted to do was I knew I could read so much information that eating slower is really important it's a very good habit to create and I am like the fastest eater ever, so I used to like telling myself it was like efficiency like I'm being like super efficient by like shoveling food in my face as fast as possible the problem is like once I started doing that like it's a really, really, really hard to break that habit I was the hardest habit I ever broke was no not guzzling food at light speed down my face hole s o I set about trying tio choose lower and I tried everything I was like setting alarms on my phone toe like remind myself to chew I tried counting my choose for a while, but I would forget and get, like, three quarters away through my meal in fact, um and it was really, really tough and then I learned all this stuff about triggers and rewards and I'm like, oh, I need a reward what the heck is a reward for chewing there's? No reward, right? Unlike what I get to eat slower and like have blood sugar's lower like that sounds horrible, and I couldn't figure out what the reward is, um ultimately I discovered and I'm going to tell this story a little later and save save that punch line but the the reward ultimately ended up being so weird I mean, it's even kind of weird telling you this but I love you guys, so I'll tell you anyway, basically I got to a place where I am now super uncomfortable swallowing a big chunk of un shooed food, so I guess you could say my reward is like swallowing really chewed up when she food and like, it sounds totally weird but like that's enough like, if I if I am like in a hurry or grumpy or you know, whatever and like distracted and I, you know, take a bite of something and she really fascinate swallow like that like that was awful. I need to remember to slow down so, you know, and and so this is cool, right? Like, it was hard to discover that reward, but now that I know that I have it it's not like I have to do something crazy to get a reward for chewing. And now it's, just natural so reports could be really subtle. You have to be a good observation all scientists and to figure this stuff out, but they're there, and it's and it's very powerful if you can figure out what they are so let's talk about the types of reward so when you're thinking about the different kinds of rewards, what can maybe I told you that could be subtle, right? So physical pleasures and obvious one right tastes great less filling um even smell could be a good reward because a lot of our taste comes from smell and these types of of rewards tend tio tend to rely more on well these I mean they're often associated with certain kinds of neurotransmitters in your brain I don't know how much you guys know about neurotransmitters but adrenaline dopamine, serotonin these air pleasure based happily and the things that make you feel good there's also psychological pleasures their rewards that you can have so socializing is a big one sometimes we eat because we're lonely you know, sometimes uh just spending time with others can convey a very strong reboard actually, as humans is probably one of our strongest were very, very much wired to connect with other people and that's mostly you're going to be serotonin based um we actually also are as humans we love efficiency I know I do you guys like efficiency is anybody right like it's it's when things are easier when things when we save time? I think it's because actually no it's because we have so our cognitive resources are so limited right? We are taxed to our max every single day and anything we can do to save that and make it less hard is a big win in our brains. So that's a form of reward if you could make something easier. So I want to just talk a little bit about one way you confined reward. So I talked about how he discovered my chewing reward, but there's, this fantastic experiment that was done by charles do pick the power of habit author and for his book trailer he put together an experiment to discover a reward for a habit he had, which was eating a cookie every day at three o'clock in the afternoon. So he's a he's a works at the new york times, and he said he found himself, like, at around three o'clock every day, getting a little antsy. He would go, go to the elevator, go upstairs the cafeteria by a cookie and, like, eat it with his colleagues and you notice he was, like, put on some weight and so he did. He did all this research on habits and decided he was going to try to break that habit. And so he knew about triggers and rewards, and he was like, ok, well what is the reward for the cookie? And we want to our natural assumption is to say it's the sugar hey, obviously sugar it's delicious, but we're going to be testing all of our assumptions on this course, and I love this experiment cause that's what he did, he was like, well, maybe it's a sugar let's test that if it's the sugar, I can go upstairs, get a candy bar, take it back to my desk, and I should be fine. It's a psp, that's, sugar. So he did that one day, another day was like, well, maybe it's just getting out of my seat. Maybe I'm just like auntie from just sitting on board, so another day he just got up and walked around the block came back to his desk and he's, like, well, maybe it's the fact that I was going upstairs and like, talking to people hanging out, maybe that was what it was he went upstairs, got a water or something and just talked to colleagues for ten minutes and then went back to his desk. It turns out it was actually the socializing that satisfied the craving, not the sugar he didn't have nearly as much. He didn't satisfy it when you got the candy bar and took it back to his desk, so first of all it's not cool I mean, I think one of the powerful messages here is that if you're habitually eating something it's probably not the sugar it's probably not the it's probably something else that you're trying to satisfy and not necessarily the food. The other thing is this is a great model for you to use to learn to discover what your rewards are and so you can script a new habit so he was able now that he knows that to just you know when it gets answer go talk he talks to a colleague next to him for ten minutes and it goes back to work and he's lost twelve pounds so it was a really I highly recommend this is the youtube link I highly recommend you go watch it it's it's brilliant but it's just a great illustration of how you can use triggers and rewards in this case most specifically rewards teo rescript your habits. So does anybody have? Because anybody have a burning habit that drives them nuts that we can use really quick as an example let's do it get off the train every morning going to work and I walk into market hall it is wonderful home baked you know you think ok it's ok, because they make it there it's not processed oatmeal cranberry scone take it to work and eat at my desk do you break that habit no that is my breakfast that is your breakfast at his breakfast right so so that's that's great so you what what what do you think is the reward for that behavior I'm full and I like I give a little food well but I also think that I like it I feel it's a little indulgent a baked good huh and you like you don't like my baked goods you liked your records but do you like them so much that you need it every single day I need no want yeah right so the way I would tackle a specific habit like I think that's a great example and you cut that out you'd probably lose ten pounds a month like honestly and uh so if I we're in that situation like I hear yet like I love I love a good scotch but what I would do is I would recognize that one of the issues is the fact that you're hungry so one way you can you can that's a trigger so one way you can get a news script there because the reward is being having blood sugar being full is to eat something different and something healthy um but you also there's another trigger which is that you really want that darn scone but one thing when you talk about like high impact habits what could you have this cone maybe start having it just twice a week you know, maybe friday's your scone dough because friday's tough have already drained ourselves all week um and then maybe even, you know, maybe even cut back from there, maybe every other week and do it gradually you don't want to suffer, you don't want to deprive yourself you don't want to tell yourself I can't have this guy because it's bad but you can say, you know, my health is a priority to me. I really like my breakfast to my healthy breakfast at home and we can talk about what a healthy, yummy breakfast looks like, but then you shifted the balance in your favor so that you can have this go on everyone's well, totally guilt free and still lose weight following question when the trigger also be getting off the train. So is it? I think valis personally for me, a trigger would be also getting off the train, and so if I was choosing not to do that that day, getting off the train would remind me that I wanted the skull totally. And so is there something that I could tell myself or do instead you could bring your lunch, bring your breakfast with u s o she says she eats it at the office, so is it? I mean, I think it would be better to get it home, because you're going to have a hard time making the right decision walking past the bakery when you're hungry, so if you could develop the habit of doing in a home, that would be comfortable, I think, but if you really you know, like your routine and you enjoy eating at the office, I would try bringing something has to be satisfying remember it has to be it can't be like a rice cake, you know, like you can't be like, remember it can't be even neutral has to be good, but there are many, many delicious options that are going to be way have a way better impact on your body than that, and I have to actually have to get get through this a little bit more, but we can have more questions later, so great, so let's talk about triggers a little bit. Triggers are also very important, as we just discussed, they are essentially your reminder, your mental reminder to do the task to start the task again. All this is subconscious, um, and they can be either cognitive so you could have internal triggers like stress is a great example or a the environment like environmental trouble there's a ton of these cause anybody think of an environmental trigger, I think actually the train was a great one, anything else? Yeah I live across street from a school so between two thirty and three o'clock there's this rodeo that starts on and it's a trigger for me I'm about to hit my three o'clock wall I'm going to be hungry can I power through that yeah and it's hard because you already we'll answer we got both so it's this internal thing by three o'clock well plus I hear all the boys getting out of school I'm going oh my god and they're talking about food and I can hear them because there's a food truck that comes by so there's that right can anybody think of another um trigger yeah what's this time in general right like look see what time of day it is yeah instead of listening to your own signals totally great great call so we're very very susceptible tio external time triggers were various acceptable tio ads you know it's like we really love to believe that we're not that doesn't work on me but we are you know you you see a hamburger on like a billboard or you know or even just walked by something that smells really good like your bakery and like that stuff can really derail you in a hurry right um unless you have a backup plan um but you said about the food truck I see people lining up in the street by a van to get a cupcake I'm thinking it's a cupcake but they've all been told this is the best cupcake in the world, so they have to line up to get it absolutely on that's fine once the issue is when it is you're doing it by word of mouth tells me this is the best thing in the world, you have to do it. Absolutely. I think that the advertising is really hard and I've given up coffee on occasions, not for pain, but just because I like to change things up and you are bombarded by coffee places, some with green symbols and you can walk by and you don't want a coffee until you see that trigger and when you're not drinking really well, I totally want one, but not really, but that thing just reminded me that I should get one totally. This is one of the reasons it's so difficult for smokers. Yes, tio stop smoking is because they they associated with either coffee or alcohol and when they, you know, and it's like it's hard enough that they're giving up smoking you don't want also give up your social life, but then you put yourself in this social position, and suddenly you're like, totally tempted and it's really, really tough, and when you're in that state, they called a hot state. When you're when you're being triggered and when you're everything in your body is telling you to do the thing you've been like planning a whole day not to d'oh it's called being in a hot state and we'll talk about dealing with that in a little bit but yeah there's a lot of triggers and I'm skip through the cognitive ones really fast but what are some cognitive triggers to that can help that will trigger mainly eating or their behavior yeah speeding something sweet oh that's an interesting one so I say that's actually physical but like if you need some things for you tend to overeat in the hole dopamine pathway oh right so being like a sort of addicted tio initiating a cycle for example of eating something sweet and then perpetuating that two other whatever yeah totally right so I think I think the biggest one most people have the biggest cognitive triggers stress when we get stressed either through just having too much on her plate having difficult things happen to us just having everything's stresses you out man just walking down the street stressful people are screaming and it's crazy out there in that world um we have a tendency when we feel stressed we get we shut down to some extent we get very uncomfortable and our natural tendency is to go toward comfort and we all have our different comforts but oftentimes it's food and so being simply being aware of that is first is really, really powerful, and another thing that's really powerful is just understanding that if you're stressed, you're looking for comfort and doesn't necessarily have to come from food, if there's other ways to get comfort will go more into that in a bit. So yeah, there's triggers everywhere but that's like one of the things I want oh, really, stress here is that we are being triggered constantly, so be hyper aware when when you're sort of being forced down a path that you don't necessarily want to be on, because something else is driving you there, and it wouldn't in terms of restructuring your habits when you're trying to think of a new trigger to start a new habit. For instance, one of the most important things here is that it's actually part of your normal routine that makes sense, like, for instance, like I wanted tio create the habit of chewing more when I told you, but it was really hard for me to remember I try to, like set alarms to remind myself said shoe, and it wasn't really working, but eventually I realized that I could actually put program and into actually part of my meal, I'll get more into that a second another another way is like, for example, waking up in the morning perfect trigger I actually have used that recently to start a meditation habit I just always think I was going to meditate like in the middle of the day and I'm turns out I'm just already way too stressed out and the only time I knew I wasn't stressed too stressed out is like right when I wake up so I started it and now I have, like, a really powerful meditation habit, but it took me a long time to figure that out. We really need a strong trigger um and it's best yeah, but, uh, I'm so here's a quick cheat sheet four triggers and rewards, so basically a trigger is a feeling or event that precedes a habitual action, right? Something that right before whatever your habit is and it could be a lot of things stress, procrastination, your morning hunger, lots of things simply noticing the trigger can help you identify the reward, right? So if you're like, I'm being triggered by stress oh, the reward isn't food it's comfort comfort food could be a path to comfort, but the actual reward is comfort um, habitual eating and we talked about this a little, but especially like overeating, this is rarely motivated by hunger or food itself, so think about that when you thinking about your reward it's, not necessarily the food it's. Probably something else, and you might be able to address it in a completely different way than your than the way you're thinking about it, which is, I wish I would just not be eating so much and last, like we did with the cookie experiment. Test your hypotheses by trying different things. You know, this is in your power. You contest, you can experiment. You can ask yourself what's working, what's not and and tweak those things until you figure it out.