Category: Motivation

Improve Your Workouts with This One Simple Trick

Every once in a while I run across a study that makes me laugh even as it makes me think. Such was one in a gaming journal (admittedly unfamiliar territory to me). The study assessed the comparative impact of varying degrees of “human-like, software-generated” workout partners (e.g. “a nearly-human-like, humanoid partner (NHP), a hardly human-like, software-generated partner (HHP),” against one another and a no partner control as well as a genuine hominid presented virtually. The concept made me chuckle as I pictured the potential animation, but the results gave me something to consider. Subjects’ motivation was higher and generally the same in any of the partnered conditions, no matter how “hardly human-like” the partner. Other factors like perceived exertion, enjoyment or self-efficacy were also relatively constant among the partnered scenarios. The only significant difference measured was persistence, where the virtual hominid took top honors. (Grok would be proud – or just wholly befuddled.) The conclusion, as drolly described in the title of the study, was “Cyber buddy is better than no buddy.”

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When All You Want to Do Is Sit on the Couch

We all have days when our motivation is less than sprightly. We stayed up too late the previous night. We’ve had a busy week with work or family duties. We’re worn out after trying some new fitness experiments. The snow and cold are getting on our nerves. There are plenty of good reasons to take a day off from exercising. An overabundance of physical or mental stress, after all, can deplete us without adequate recovery. Plus, some days we just want to wallow in some abject, Grok-style leisure. As healthy hominids, we’re entitled, yes? All this said, what about the times when a day on the couch becomes a couple weeks – or couple months? What if we’ve, in fact, spent much of our lives on the couch (or office chair, driver’s seat, etc.) and are trying to make our way out of the sedentary trap? If this kind of chronic inactivity describes your lifestyle of late, consider this post for you.

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Dear Mark: New Year’s Resolution Edition

For today’s Dear Mark, we’ve got a series of questions and answers related to the successful realization of your New Year’s resolutions. No matter what you’ve actually resolved to try to do, you’ll probably find something of interest in today’s post. First, I cover the eternal question everyone ponders when attempting a lifestyle overhaul: cold turkey or baby steps? Next, I give tips to someone who’s worried he’ll fail going Primal just like all the other times he’s tried to change his diet. Third, I cover how quickly a person might see results from going Primal, explaining the various determining factors as well as the best way to think about your results. And finally, I reveal my (lack of) New Year’s resolutions for everyone to dissect!

Let’s go:

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Do You Use Food As a Crutch?

I really enjoy eating. I think many of us do, especially after we’ve been on our Primal journeys for a while and have expanded our cooking talents into new creative territory. My opinion is food can and should make us feel good. It’s part of our evolutionary fabric. We eat for survival but also for enjoyment just as our ancestors did. Our very physiology is set up for it, in fact. We’re treated to a feel-good hit in our brain’s pleasure centers when we eat. That said, we sometimes get emotional satisfaction from the deal as well. For example, while not every meal needs to be a monumental creative accomplishment, those that are offer a unique satisfaction that goes somewhat beyond the physical. Other times, it’s not so much a culinary feat but a familial/cultural tradition that magnifies or deepens the satiation. (This time of year, of course, is prime time for sentimentalizing food – for better and worse.) Still other times, however, the emotional component is less a side bonus than the initial impetus. We’re drawn to eat because of our emotions. (And here’s where we begin to get ourselves in trouble….)

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Why Diets Fail

Question of the day: what does the term “dieting” conjure up for you? Anecdotes, laughs, regrets, frustration, anxiety? I bet there’s quite a collection of stories to be told. When I think of diets, I think it’s common to think deprivation – of calories, of real food, of satisfaction, of enjoyment, of peace of mind. And that’s how it generally goes in our culture, isn’t it? We diet, we end the diet, we go back on the diet because either it didn’t work the first time or it did but then we fell right back down the same hole again. So, we keep playing the same game of deprivation, white-knuckling it until we get to that glorious sham of an “endpoint,” what I would call the “and they lived happily ever after” conclusion delusion. From a maybe more humorous angle, I think of deprivation dieting as an extended version of the mental game, “don’t think of a elephant.” Gee, what’s the first and most predominant thing you’re going to think of? How much determination and energy is it going to take to not think of the elephant 40 times per day? How about just forgoing the game altogether? Just eat the elephant already.

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11 Small Wins to Help You Kick Start Your Primal Life

Last week I took up the idea of how small wins can lead to big successes. When we allow ourselves to appreciate the everyday accomplishments and set ourselves up for regular achievements, we inevitably gain confidence in our abilities and build the motivation to continue challenging ourselves. Ignoring a win is like brushing off a compliment: it’s a missed opportunity and a waste of positive energy. That energy matters more than we think in our journeys. When we shift the pattern and begin seeing – and celebrating – our small wins, however, we learn to literally see ourselves as winners (this doesn’t come easily for everyone), and as psychological reason goes, winning begets more success.

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