The is an article in this month’s The Atlantic by David H. Freedman entitled “The End of Temptation” which is all about behavior modification and how this is being applied to smart phone apps.
A large part of this article focuses on B.F. Skinner who was a Harvard psychologist who first did experiments focusing on behavior modification and how he was subsequently demonized by broader society for what people thought was a fascist method for controlling people. While I am not going to dwell on this aspect of the article is was interesting to get more background on how this science developed (I am sure a simple search of his name will give you some background).
The basic tenants of behavior modification is rewarding yourself for practicing new habits that you want to change, think eating right for a week and then buying yourself something you want to reward yourself. I try to use the idea of the Free Day as my way of rewarding myself for being good throughout the week (though they say that you shouldn’t reward yourself on a diet with food; it has been working so I will stick with it).
I herd about this article on NPR on forum with Michael Krasny for those of you who are too lazy to read you can listen to an interview on this article that is great. What I took away from all of this is that if you could focus on one eating behavior and one activity behavior at a time that you want to change and then made this your focus until it becomes routine then move on to another you could effect real change in your weight. For example, a good friend of mine recently cut out fried food from his diet, and he was able to loose about seven pounds, that is all he changed. Now if you added using the stairs at work to this I am sure that the weight lose would be even greater. Then after you get these two habits nailed down, you could focus on eating breakfast instead of skipping it and then walking two times a week for half an hour instead of watching one TV show. Baby steps.
In going back to the conversation that I had with a coworker last week, one of the best changes that I think people could implement that would have dramatic effect on their waistlines is brining lunch to work and going one step further bringing healthy vegetable soups to work. If you are used to having a 20g fat 500 calorie sandwich for lunch (the average 6” sub at subway has 454.5 calories and 18.5g fat, that is just the six inch) and replace this with a 200 calorie soup that has 4-8g fat (see any one of the soups we have listed on this site), you are cutting 1,500 calories out of your diet a week (assuming you only do this at work, five days a week).
There are 3,500 calories in one pound of fat, so in two weeks of doing this, you could cut 3,000 calories or almost one pound every two weeks out of your diet. If you were to combine this with a marginal effort to exercise more then weight loss could be (I will not say dramatic) but it would be steady and if you aren’t really feeling starved by doing this, what are you really giving up?
Try to look at some little changes you could start tomorrow that might have a dramatic effect on your daily calorie consumption.
Today I started my new job as a one-on-one counselor for a girl with some disabilities that I am going to help her overcome. I think the term “life coach” is a better explanation of what I do.
Anyways – my client and I have a lot in common including really solid workout routines. When she went to have a personal training session today (at the same 24-hour fitness I go to!) I was able to hop on a treadmill and put in my miles while she worked with a trainer.
I jogged 3 miles (27 minutes including warm-up walk) before grabbing some water. After the water I had more time to kill till she was done so I hopped back on the treadmill and did another couple of miles.
When she finished with her trainer she said she wanted to run for a few more minutes which I told her was okay with me so I got back on the treadmill and jogged a little more than a mile before turning down the speed to walk till I had done a mile and a half.
During the third segment of my run I marveled out how after putting in a really decent work out- being asked to jog another mile was super easy and really just something to fill time.
It blows my mind to contemplate how my cardiovascular strength has improved since February. I am still overweight but I jogged over 6 miles today and still had energy to burn afterwards.
My goal is to do a straight up 6 mile run within the next week. It might have to be next Monday because my schedule is going to be a little crazy this week BUT I know I can do it and I am going to feel awesome when I crush it ;).