I curate articles from around the web that present an interesting perspective or helpful information using technology to improve our wellbeing. Each of these articles were featured in my August 2019 newsletter. I send out an update twice a month along with some notes on my latest work. Sign up for my newsletter here.
I started my fasting experiment back in February. It's an eating schedule where you fast for 14-16 hours a day, basically eating all your necessary calories in a shorter window during the day. Early studies have shown that it can contribute to weight loss, longevity, brain health and happiness as well as significantly lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.
While doing the 16 hours of fasting with 8 hours of eating in February, I showed measurable improvements in my weight and body fat percentage. I also found that I lost my craving for pizza. Since then, I've continued to average 14 hours of fasting a day.
As we know from the Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett's Theory of Constructed Emotion, we assign emotions to the sensations in our body. What's been most interesting has been how I've now been able to respond to hunger sensations. Rather than responding as hangry when I unexpectedly can't eat like when traveling, it's been a recognition of a familiar feeling that I know but where I don't feel a negative emotion.
"Over the course of our lives, we encounter many kinds of deficiency, whether of money, success or affection," Andreas Michalsen writes in this article for the Wall Street Journal. "Fasting is a conscious renunciation, a controlled exercise in deprivation. That’s why successful fasting increases self-efficacy—we overcome an instinctive need in a way that gives us physical and mental strength."
Newer research on habit formation actually encourages giving in to temptation — but only if it’s paired with something beneficial. I have some mindless, guilty-pleasure tv shows that I like to watch (my current favorite is Cobra Kai streaming on YouTube). So I'm normally pairing tv watching with folding laundry or doing some copy/paste work on the computer. This allows me to enjoy the show while also doing something I'm not motivated to do. That is temptation bundling.
“One reason immediate rewards, like temptation bundling, are so effective is that they increase intrinsic motivation — your interest and enjoyment in an activity,” says Kaitlin Woolley, an assistant professor of marketing at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. “The earlier the reward arrives, the better, because it can actually make you enjoy the task itself.”
Often, when people struggle with motivation, it’s because they have trouble conceptualizing their future selves — the ones who will benefit from the choices that require willpower now. Learn the do's and don'ts in this overview article on temptation bundling.
How can we be comfortable about being uncomfortable?
I was immediately attracted to this NPR Hidden Brain podcast about people who break the rules by defying norms to lead to innovation. Francesca Gino, a social scientist from Harvard Business School, talks about how our hard earned experience could actually be costly.
"We gain experience and knowledge, and we all believe we have the right answer. And we don't stay humble. We don't have that type of intellectual humility that keeps us focused on what's left to learn rather than what it is we know already."
Experience keeps us in our comfort zone. But being comfortable with being uncomfortable actually turns into confidence. It shows authenticity which is contagious. We are actually more confident when breaking the rules, according to Gino.
"Rebels are people who break rules that should be broken. They break rules that hold them and others back, and their way of rule breaking is constructive rather than destructive. It creates positive change."
"You can't think your way into a new way of living. You have to live your way into a new way of thinking."
Your love has to be greater than your doubt, greater than your fear. You have to question your assumptions and ask new things. And this is difficult given our assumptions are embeded in our language, routines and habits, our culture.
Dr. Michael Wesch, aka “the prophet of an education revolution”, gives an inspiring introduction in this video for his course at Kansas State University on the art of being human, or the science of human beings, or the study of all humans in all times in all places: Anthropology.
Surprising bonus to hear the powerful words of the “The Hip Hop Preacher” and Michigan State alum Eric Thomas:
“You will never ever be successful, until you turn your pain into greatness, until you allow your pain to push you from where you are to push you to where you need to be. Stop running from your pain and embrace your pain. Your pain is going to be a part of your prize, a part of your product."