Recently I completed a series of lectures presented by the UCSF Med Center program called “mini-med school.” Lectures by eminent professors at the top of their profession (both clinicians, researchers, and professors) are recorded to show to medical students, but classes are populated by us older non-medical adults. I plan a series of blogs on what I have learned, some information well known, some intuitive, and much of the information fact and research-based at UCSF.
In the final presentation neurologist Dr. Sandra Aamodt spoke on “The Diet Trap: Why you should never go on a diet again and what to do instead.” You can watch her TED talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jn0Ygp7pMbA
She started by listing the common excuses given for why we can’t eat healthily such as we have no time, it’s too expensive, I’m too tired to cook, social pressures, my family won’t do it with me, I hate regulation, and others. She verified that we cannot just rely on will power to pursue and maintain a diet: it doesn’t work.
I’ve long been convinced that habit and motivation are two key elements that have to do with success in figure shaping, corset waist training, and pursuing good health. Aamodt said that 90% of our food choices are habit based, and don’t require will power at all.
Habit works with three steps: (1) cue, (2) routine, and (3) reward.
For a reward to work it has to be intrinsically valuable to us and not imposed by anyone. It has to be directly associated with the habit, and we have to enjoy the reward. It has to be positive and not neutral, but it can be subtle. What is NOT a reward is eating healthy, lowering our disease rate, or being a healthy size (that’s too abstract).
The above highlighted information was a surprise to me. The food industry seems determined to stress “healthy eating” these days, declaring their commitment in all capital letters on the front of food packaging even if the backside of that package reports food contents including many different kinds of sugars, artificial and “natural” flavorings straight out of the chem lab, and lots of carbs.
What does work to motivate us to change habits are rewards that increase our physical pleasure, psychological pleasure, or efficiency.
- Something tells me that the latter motivation of efficiency to help us change our eating habits, has to do with changing values coming from our overly-stressed out, IT-oriented, fast-draw society, and perhaps is not the best thing for us to concentrate on.
- I’ve often said that corseting and waist training are old-fashioned techniques involving a historical garment, and none of that goes very well with efficiency. It’s “efficient” to lower your head to the plate and shovel food into an open mouth, chewing little at all and gulping while shoveling the next bite in. That’s efficient. I see it all the time in both men and women (in more and more women eating in public these days, sad to say). But there are other things to consider, not least of all the distress it might give your viewers and companions to observe you being so efficient. Enough said.
What helps us change our habits is setting clear, simple, measurable goals not involving calorie counting. Yes to “cook dinner four times a week”, no to “lower my calorie intake by 200 calories a day.”
When I coach students in my three-month waist training program, as part of the nutrition element (there are three elements in total) I “require” them to count to 30 when chewing, that is, chew 30 times before swallowing. Yes, even ice cream…! That goes along with Aamodt’s point that we must be mindful to the present moment especially when eating (and planning to eat say I). Pause, evaluate and redirect your hunger she says. Re-set your urge to eat. Direct your attention to the properties of food and enjoyment, not to time and not to the quantity you eat. Pause–do you really want that second helping?
The best takeaway from this class was the point to start changing habits with the smallest habit you can choose.
Things appear harder than they are; just start and start small. As you practice, it gets easier to change, and also more rewarding! Just trust that fact and keep on long enough for the rewards to become evident. That’s the advice I give my students: persist in your three-month waist training program until the very last day, because change comes later for some, and it takes time to develo9p new tastes for healthy foods, shrink the expansion of your belly, and become satisfied with going for top quality rather than “low-quality quantity” as I call it.
Make your new choices sound good: “tasty” or “easy” or “handmade” or “Cajun style” or “farm fresh”. Words matter (as I’ve written before), and predispose us to get to better results with less effort along the way. Concentrate on value-based motivation rather than health-based motivation. Re-frame the way you think about eating, but forget about “dieting.” — it just doesn’t work.
That’s a new way to put it for me (value-based motivation), but not a new thought. Value-based, quality-based, slow-based, and in-the-moment are all phrases that apply to corset waist training. Why not try it now, or re-institute a short program to get back in your groove, but don’t quit if you fall back a bit, keep going all the way thru what you plan to try, and let me know how you fare and what works for you in corset waist training or figure shaping.