Bringing it together

I recently came across an excellent summation of how healthy change comes about on a blog by Peter Attias, “What does lower back pain have in common with low carb eating?” I’d hoped to find some practical link between the two, but the link he was drawing had to do with forming habits of how he used his back:

1.  Unconsciously incorrect  (You don’t know what you’re doing wrong)

2.  Consciously incorrect  (You know what you should do but can’t always do it)

3.  Consciously correct  (You do what you know you should)

4.  Unconsciously correct  (You don’t have to think about whether to do it)

It took years to retrain himself.  He observes that most people feel like they’ve made a change when they move from 2 to 3,  But it can take years to move from 3 to 4.  This is particularly true when something doesn’t come up everyday.  You might learn how to drink plenty of water or eat breakfast at a level 4 in a year, but dealing with restaurants or family dinners is going to be less frequent.

One approach has been to avoid the situations that are challenging.  The NWCR uses the phrase “avoid situations that encourage overeating”.  Many weight loss plans tell you not to weigh frequently as fluctuations can be demotivating.  Some research has suggested that willpower, or our capacity to exert judgment over impulse, seems to be a resource that we can exhaust.  But it is also true that it can be replenished.  People seem to have more when they are otherwise energized and refreshed.

One area this was applied to was choosing options in shopping, wedding registry and computer builds.  Yet we know some people enjoy shopping, selecting options for computers, or looking for channels on cable.  I would guess the difference lies in familiarity with the material.  Knowing which areas remain a challenge for you may be better than trying to avoid making choices.

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