How do I stay energized? How do I stay in shape every day? You know the obvious answers. They are simple and time-proven and have been confirmed by WHO and those happy 7% with godlike abilities who run marathons, don’t drink alcohol and are always energized. If you are one of them you can skip this post.
The value of these recommendations is next to nothing when you are not an athlete, not a marathon runner and not a super productive trouper. Because these recommendations are hard to follow.
Extremely valuable and impossible-to-follow pieces of advice
Exercise. Sure, I’ll start on Monday.
Run in the morning. It’s cold/slushy/snowy/hot/I slept through my alarm.
Eat healthy: 5 small meals a day. Oh, it’s 5 pm already? I haven’t had lunch again.
Don’t eat before going to bed, especially fast carbs: pastry and sweets. Late-night hunger is the most intense.
Go to bed at 11pm and wake up at 5 am. %№@? … 11pm is when I finish work!
If you have tried to change your lifestyle you probably understand what kind of obstacles you encounter in your way and how easy it is to find excuses. Breaking a bad habit and building a good one is not easy.
Willpower is not of much help
There is an interesting effect when you give up a habit. You want more of what you’ve deprived yourself of. The habit becomes more valuable for you. That is why it is so hard to quit smoking. It’s not only because of the physical urge to smoke. Quitters simply think about cigarettes all the time. And at some point they relapse.
When we deprive ourselves of something we automatically increase its value to us. Willpower rarely helps in these situations.
Developing good habits is also hard using willpower only.
If you decide to lose weight and finally go to the gym, you don’t see any improvements in the first months. It’s hard, your muscles are sore and the excess pounds are still there. In your rear end. 🙂 At some point willpower fails. You come up with something like this: “I’ve been working out for a whole month and now I really need these 5 éclairs and want to just to kick back on the sofa.” This is just a psychological trap. You think that nothing bad will happen if you miss the gym once. You will catch up tomorrow. Or on Tuesday…
The body wants to be active. Being active boosts your energy, makes your brain work better and helps you think clearly. But you don’t see the improvements immediately. Neither in your body nor in the way you feel. Instead, you have fatigue, stress and apathy here and now. In this case physical exercise seems like torture.
If sport hasn’t become your habit yet then you won’t be doing it when you are tired.
The brain satisfies your habits
A habit is a reaction. It automatically switches on when there is a trigger, a type of anchor or association.
- You want to smoke after having dinner.
- You need to have a glass of wine and tiramisu after getting exhausted at work.
- You watch TV series in the evening and don’t notice how you have eaten more calories than during the entire day.
The brain always chooses the easiest path: it wants to get pleasure and relax. Pleasure switches off the defence mechanism that is responsible for survival. That’s why we can’t properly understand what our body wants. We get tricked taking our natural desires for our body’s needs.
The brain is lazy. When we are stressed and experience a drop in our energy level the brain automatically chooses the usual and familiar way to relax.
When the brain chooses between doing something the usual way or something healthy — it will always do the usual way, it’s the energy saving mode.
In order to change that you need to identify it and be aware of it when you are about to make a decision. You also need to be in a normal physical state rather than stressed and exhausted. Otherwise you’ll silence your will and find excuses.
How to change your habits easily
Imagine that you start breaking your bad habits and developing good ones naturally without forcing yourself, having strong willpower or doing endless I-do-not-want-this-burger self-persuasion sessions.
Done? It is totally possible to do.
We have discovered the “observer effect” among our Welltory app users. In quantum mechanics it is known as the Zeno effect. The idea is that systems function differently if they are constantly observed. Your body is also a system.
Users who measure their stress and energy levels every day for more than a month note that their lifestyle started to change naturally without any conscious efforts. They began to develop good habits.
And not necessarily by tracking their activity or eating and sleeping habits. Measuring your wellbeing in the morning and in the evening is all it takes.
What causes the observer effect?
We analyzed people’s behaviour, collected their comments and then closely studied the data. It was consistent with our own experience. Every Welltory employee automatically becomes a geek and tracks everything: what they do and how they feel. 🙂
How does the observer effect work?
- Every day the brain receives the results of the stress and energy level measurements. Essentially that’s how it receives feedback about the way the body reacts to your lifestyle. And the information is presented in concrete numbers and facts.
- When the figures fall you try to find the cause and analyze what went wrong. “Oh, that’s probably because I didn’t have enough sleep yesterday” or “my stress level went up because I skipped the gym.”
- When you regularly see the correlation between your wellbeing and your actions, you naturally start making changes to your lifestyle. You start watching a series at night and then a thought flashes across your mind: “If I do this my battery level will go down tomorrow.”
In other words the cycle through which you break your bad habits and develop healthy ones looks like this:
You measure your wellbeing and compare it to what you did that day.
You analyse the data and your brain remembered it.
Next time you want to do something unhealthy you will be aware of it.
It’s that simple 🙂
Welltory provides you with objective feedback about your health. The measurements are based on the mathematical analysis of your heart rate variability. HRV accurately reflects the condition of your body and the autonomic nervous system. You can find more information about how the heart knows everything about the state of your body here.
Comparing the results of your measurements and the way you feel about the state of your health helps you unconsciously learn to understand what boosts your energy and what drains it. This is why it becomes easier for you to opt for healthy habits. And it is done without any effort of will. It is much easier.
So what do I do if I’m stressed and exhausted?
Continue taking measurements correctly, you will learn to understand the signals your body sends. Then you will start saying stop to yourself when you overwork. You will start making yourself go to bed before your body gets exhausted.
Note what makes your stress level go down and energy level up. Have a 30 minute walk in the evening and look at your measurements in the morning. Take measurements after spending your evening at a bar. The stress level is likely to increase substantially.
Learn to find your own life hacks to improve your wellbeing and recover faster.
So, what do you need to do to improve your health?
- Do not rely solely on your willpower
- Try not to exhaust yourself and stress too much
- Take measurements of your stress and energy levels twice a day in the Welltory app for iOS
- Note what improves the figures
- After 3-4 weeks you will naturally choose things that are better for you.
Be healthy and stay energized!
P.S. Yea, we know, everyone keeps asking us to make an Android app. We are working on it. Follow us on Facebook for updates.