Note: During my run 8 weeks ago, I broke my iPod Nano … again (See weeks 13 through 16). I decided not to fix it or purchase the iTouch. Instead, I’ll wait till this September for the latest generation of Apple iPod to be released until I can run with music again and log my exact time, pace, and mileage.
Things you need to maintain consistency: General psychology tells us that when it comes to intrinsic motivation, the kind that has nothing to do with external factors to push you forward, there are 3 things that makes us feel fulfilled:
- a sense of competence,
- relatedness to other people, and,
- strongest of the three, autonomy (the sense of freely choosing what to do)
These pillars of personal satisfaction, also called the self-determination theory among psychologists, has been proven true in multiple studies since the ’70s, as proposed and developed from earlier works on motivational psychology by Richard M. Ryan and his colleague Edward L. Deci.
Steps to a better self: (adapted from Marina Krakovsky’s feature, “The Secrets of Self-Improvement: Meet your goals with research-proven tips and techniques” on the March/April 2012 issue of Scientific American Mind)
No matter what kind of goal you have, these tactics can help get you there.
1. Maintain Realistic Expectations
- Visualize your success along with the specific obstacles you will face.
- Avoid situations that trigger the habits you want to break.
- Forgive yourself if you slip up; keep moving forward.
2. Find What Motivates You
- Think about how making this change will help you become the person you aspire to be.
- Try to come up with fun ways to work toward your goal.
- Imagine how achieving your aim might strengthen your relationships with other people.
- Find a way to measure your process and track your accomplishments.
3. Take Baby Steps
Set short-term, achievable objectives that add up to a big change.
4. Formulate Action Plans
- Prepare yourself for specific situations: “If I am offered a cigarette, I will say, “No, thanks.’ “
- Frame your intentions as positive actions: “I will say, ‘No, thanks,’ ” works better than “I will not take it.”
- Picture yourself carrying out your plans.
Why one instance of overeating leads to extra-overeating in your next meal: Overeating, like any other behavioral dependance in life, is linked to biochemical alterations and chemical irregularities in the brain, particularly in areas associated with addiction and drug abuse. Though not necessarily a causal relationship, eating a meal exceedingly high in fat, sugar, and salt in one sitting changes your brain in a seemingly harmless way that may trigger future addiction to eating higher-caloric meals with little nutrients.
Unbeknownst to you, your brain perceives the two slices of rainbow cakes and half a bag of chips as one afternoon hour of pleasure. Later on, you might end your day with four more rainbow cake slices and finish the rest of the chips, plus, perhaps, a bag more.
By increasing the amount of pleasurable foods on your palate, you’re also increasing the reward center’s threshold in the brain, which is the same circuitry that governs those who are gambling-addicted, cocaine-buffed, and alcohol-abused. The mere taste of junk food on the tongue triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with motivation, punishment, and reward.
Just one slice, or one sip of beer, is enough: Be aware of your pleasure portion-control, lest you develop an addictive behavior that’s way beyond your baseline levels of neurochemical density. ”To start an addictive cycle, dopamine must be felt, and for that the brain must have ample dopamine receptors,” explained Katherine Harmon on ScientificAmerican.com. “In many substance abusers a low level of dopamine receptors, either from the outset or caused by the behavior, means they increasingly have to seek more dopamine-inducing substances to reach a level of neurochemical reward they can enjoy.”
Any unhealthful behavior continuously reinforced becomes a downward spiral on both your physiological health and psychological wellbeing. Avoid unnecessary pounds and quit corrupting the brain circuitry, but don’t go on depriving yourself completely of the sweet, little pleasures of that rainbow cake.
As an alternative, have good sex frequently: It’s not just the surges of dopamine. One hot session promotes the release of exercise-induced endorphins and bonding chemical oxytocin while relieving stress, headaches, migraines, upping your chances of a positive, long-term change in self-esteem.
Whatever it is in your life you’re building mileage of – be it a weight loss program, a habit removal, a career change, or a sleep schedule - keep yourself accountable to ensure success. If you want to move mountains, you’ve got to count every mile you’ve covered.
Click the button below to download your very own weekly Making Miles worksheet and start seeing yourself progress
Rule of thumb: Always opt to plod rather than sprint. Once you’ve crossed the starting line, whether it’s 2-K or 10-mile distance, always pretend you’re in a marathon – and this doesn’t only apply in running.
P.S. Connect with me on Nike+ Running! Run over 50 miles and you’ll earn a trophy like I did In the meantime, though, because of the other day with my iPod Nano (second time this happened now), I don’t think I’ll be able to run with music, track my pacing, and count my miles accurately in the meantime.