Mission Maintain: 11/2014

- Mission Maintains goal is to have individuals look to just maintain current weight during the Holidays. During which, we send you a task. Start finding your Habit Loop.

The plan we are implementing for execution has been finely researched by scholars. Names in particular are Charles Duhigg, Roy Baumeister, and John Tierny. I highly recommend anyone who chooses to accept this mission to read these publications for further observation.

The two pictures above are examples of how the Habit Loops works. In the first picture, is what a habit loop might look like for an over-eater. The cue is a certain time everyday your body/brain has gotten used to a "craving". That craving now needs to be satisfied so you enter the routine. In this case, it is going to the cafeteria. Although, the food may seem the reward, it is often not in some cases. In this case, it was a chance to get away from this persons desk and socialize with friends or co-workers. The craving in this case was socializing and it's reward (as we all know too well), was not only time away from our desk, but a brief connection with someone that our brain has craved since caveman days. 

As stated in the book The Power of Habit, "Your brain doesn't know the difference between a good habit, and a bad habit. It only knows the cue, the routine, and the reward." The good news with this is, just like updating your computer or phone, we can update our neurological wiring. Going back to the first picture, if this is your or someone you know, I present to you the program to update your software. 

The clock strikes 3 o'clock. Just like Pavlov's dog, your brain sets you in motion to what's next. A trip to the fridge or snack area as always. Here is where we reach your task for the Holiday Season and Mission Maintain. When changing our habits, the first step is to isolate a cue. The cue in picture one, is the time of day. The second part, identifying the routine, wasn't going to the cafeteria, rather it was getting away from his/her desk. The third part, the reward, wasn't necessarily always about eating. Instead, it was the rush our brains get from good social connections. And after is all said and done, the craving has been satisfied.

Now, with the holiday season, let's try the same example. It's getting late in Nov. and people are already starting to bring in the X-Mas treats. Your cue has always been seeing those candy cane shape cookies and your brain puts you in action of routine and that reward of sweets. Before we write this off as impossible to change let's break it down. First, we need to identify our cue. Do we reach for the cookies right away? Or do we always get up at a certain time of day. If we are home what does this look like. Start taking mental notes (or I can't stress enough, written notes), as to what your cue(s) are before starting your routine of reaching for that treat. We will come back in Jan. to talk about the routine (and how to change it), as well as the best part, the reward and how you get to experiment with different rewards to help you change your habits. But first, let's find our cues. 

If you want to take your new knowledge one step further, let's practice finding our loop while strengthening our Willpower little by little. Again, we are trying to maintain, not get worse, so take little steps day by day. As I like to tell people, you can't compare yourself to others, you can only compare yourself to who you were yesterday, and have you gotten better or worse. 

In the publication Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, the authors lay out a couple plans for readers to use when it comes to exercising your most important muscle, your brain. Going back to our holiday treat routine, we can put plans in place to help us get better. As stated in the book, "Pre-commitment is the ultimate offensive weapon." So here are some strategies for going on offense. 

The Bright Line Rule: You make a clear distinct rule (I will not have a third cookie). I purposefully put third because one, you need to be clear and distinct. Most people would state their rule as "I will not have that second or third cookie", and right away the plan has no chance because you didn't draw a line. Two, no one eats just one, so live a little;) If you REALLY want to cover your six (military term for covering your back), try the Implementation Plan.

Implementation Plan- If X happens then I will Y. In our example, I would say, "If I go for that third cookie, I will go to the restroom and read the note I left myself on my phone." Oh yeah, go into your phone and write yourself a motivational note that you can look at during times of significance. 

So your mission, if you choose to accept it is start isolating your cues. Once you start doing that you will start noticing your routines. During the holiday season it could be eating, smoking, or drinking. Whatever the routines are, you can choose to start changing the routine with the plans mentioned above. As we said, we will come back in Jan. with the rest of the Loop and how to complete your new habit loop. Until then, we need some personal stories to use in our next mission so please be sure to send them to operationf4@gmail.com.

-Team F4