The Anatomy of a Habit (part 2)


Let’s recap (part 1)… habits are part of our biology and are intended to benefit us by shifting a large portion of the workload of repetitive tasks from the conscious mind to the subconscious mind. There are 3 parts to a habit: the cue, the routine, and the reward. Finally, dopamine (the feel good neurotransmitter) is used to make it all work.


Armed with the knowledge that we are hardwired for habits, how do can we use that to our advantage?


Using the Habit Loop to Break a Habit

It’s important to note that habits form neurological pathways that strengthen in the response to frequency and intensity. Even after you’ve successfully “broke” your habit, don’t be surprised if you still have cravings weeks or even years later… those pathways will still be there.


To use the habit loop to change a habit, we start by breaking it down into it’s components.


First, write down the routine you want to change and why you don’t like it. Be as specific as possible.  Stating that the...

The Anatomy of a Habit (part 1)


Before we can get into some strategies and tricks to change our habits, we need to first understand what a habit is.


By design, habits are a good thing. We have two parts of the brain, the conscious and subconscious, working independently toward the same goal… to serve the host.  We all like to believe that our conscious mind runs the show. If we do something, then it’s because we chose to… right?  Not really, about 45% of our daily actions are a result of habit.


All Habits are Good!

First, it’s important to know that ALL habits are good. “What? You are an idiot. So you’re saying that habits like smoking are good?” Yep


A habit is usually born out of a conscious decision to take action. Maybe our smoker thought it would make him look cool in high school.


Over time, that action is handed over to the subconscious to handle in a more automated fashion, freeing up the conscious mind to do what it does best… think. Isn’t it great that we...

Kids Bedtimes and Brainpower

This study from the University College London looked at the sleep habits of 11,000 kids between the ages of 3 to 7. It found that 3 year olds with irregular bedtimes tested lower on reading (3 year olds read?), math, and spatial awareness. By age 7, just the girls tested lower. Other research from Australia has shown that poor sleep is associated with lower math and literacy skills, as well as behavioral issues.

From ages 3 to 5, kids need about 11 to 12 hours of sleep… and 10 to 11 hours during elementary school. Sleep needs vary from kid to kid, but that’s the general rule.


Coconut Oil is a Must Have: 6 Possible Benefits

 Coconut OilJoe Shlabotnik

Coconut oil was given a bad rap for years because 90% of its oil is saturated. Most of the saturated fats in our diets are long chain triglycerides (LCT) and have 14 to 18 carbon atoms. Coconut oil is a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) containing just 5 to 12 carbon atoms.  While LCTs are hard for the body to metabolize, MCTs are easily converted to ketone bodies by the liver, and used as alternative energy source to glucose.  Here is just a handful of the possible benefits of consuming coconut oil:


1. Brain Health - A famous 2004 study looked at the effects of coconut oil on a small group of people with either Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment.  They found a measurable difference using cognitive tests with just ONE dose.


Our brain cells use glucose as their primary fuel, but as we age it seems that our brain’s ability to use glucose is reduced, especially for those with insulin resistance.  Ketone bodies...

9 of the Best Brain Supplements

So now that you’re training your brain, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising, are there any brain supplements to consider to go along with your balanced diet? YEP DHA Since the brain is about 60% fat, this is probably the most important brain supplement you can take. We have already covered this, if you missed it... here’s a link. Article: Are You a Fat Head?   Vitamin D A Japanese study on 527 municipal employees aged 21 to 67 found that during the fall and winter, those who had vitamin D levels in the highest quartile, were 49 percent less likely to have depression. Another study by USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University looked at 318 people with an average age of 73 over 4 years. Participants who were deficient in Vitamin D were twice as like to have dementia, Alzheimer’s, and stroke.  

 photo by tshein

Vitamin B-12 An...

Exercise – No Pain No Brain

Now that I started writing this, I know why I never seemed to get around to it. At 40 years old, I’m sitting here in the worst physical shape of my life... ugh. I haven’t worked out on a regular basis for over 4 years and with 3 young boys and a business, excuses are never in short supply.   When I was a powerlifter, my motivation was my desire to make the World team. I’d pick a contest date, make an 8-12 week plan and then train. I didn’t make a decision to go or not go to the gym each day, after I picked a contest, I never gave myself the option again.   A link to this article will be posted on our Facebook page and I’d love to see some comments about how you stay motivated to exercise... OR if you’re like me right now, then what’s the problem?   "Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness." - Edward Smith-Stanley (1752-1834) — English statesman, three times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom  
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Sleep Fitness

The goal of this article is to challenge the way you think about your sleep.  We all know that we feel like crap if we don’t get enough, and we feel better after a good nights sleep.  Other than that, sleep is very mysterious.  Science has been looking at sleep from every angle and asking every question, including why we need to sleep at all.  The first big clue to the importance of sleep is found just by observing how fiercely our bodies demand it.  When we’re low on water, we get thirsty, and when we’re very low on water, we get very thirsty.  The same is true when we get hungry or when we get tired.  We can all condition ourselves to get by on less, but the big question is whether or not our bodies learn to function optimally on less too.  
Let sleeping dogs lie
photo by andrewr
Better understanding the benefits of sleep and how it works will help us determine how we think about our...

Are You a Fat Head?

Yes, you’re a fat head... and that’s a great thing, because 60% of our brains are made of fat.  We can all agree that Omega-3’s are amazing, but since we’re focusing on the brain in this series, then we'll just talk about DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid).  DHA accounts for about 30% of the structural fats in your gray matter and 97% of the total omega-3’s in the brain.   Studies on DHA have exploded and it’s been found to be good for us from 9 months before the cradle, and all the way to the grave.  I’m not joking, DHA is critical for the developing brain of a fetus through infancy. There have have been very positive studies done on children, young adults, middle aged, and the elderly... did I leave anyone out?  It’s also been shown that people suffering from conditions like Alzheimer's, ADHD, and Depression generally have very low levels of DHA.   It’s important to note the studies that looked at Alzheimers have mixed results, but a study that tested age related cognitive decline was very positive... suggesting maybe we should pay attention to this sooner than...

Can Playing a Free Computer Game Actually Make You Smarter?

I’ve seen a lot of advertisements lately, both on the net and TV, for brain training products like Lumosity.  Nintendo DS also has a very popular game called Brain Age.  All told, brain training is a billion dollar a year industry, but does it work?   In 2009, BBC Labs UK designed an experiment to answer that question.  Led by Dr. Adrian Owen, a British neuroscientist, they created a number of games that were representative of those on the commercial market and tested them on over 13,000 participants.  Each participant was placed into 1 of 3 groups; the reasoning game group (games involve planning, problem-solving and analysis), the non-reasoning game group (games involve short-term memory, attention to detail, maths and interpreting visual information), and the control group (asked to just use the internet to find the answers to simple questions, like when did Henry the VIII die).  Each group was asked to play for 10 minutes 3 days each week for 6 weeks.   After 6 weeks, what did they find?  They found that the participants got better at the games but they didn’t get any smarter.  Using 4...

Beat the Blues with a Daily Dose of Positive Thinking

These days there is much hype around positive thinking and how this is the key to happiness and satisfaction in life. We are told to keep an upbeat mindset through thick and thin in order to come out tops everywhere and every time. However, recent research has shown that such extreme, and possibly not always obtainable, levels of positivity are not necessary for us to benefit greatly. All it takes is an awareness of the good moments throughout the day and we will build up resilience to the ups and downs of life. Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., Kenan Distinguished Professor of Psychology in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences, and the principal investigator of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory was involved in a month-long study where 86 participants were required to submit "emotion reports" on a daily basis. Typically in trials happiness levels are assessed using a person's recollection of their life experience over prior months. This daily reporting method, however, is much more accurate, as a person finds it easier to recall feelings on a daily basis. Furthermore, researchers can also obtain information on variations...