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Funny post from a blog devoted to mind hacking:
You have a legacy brain. We've talked about that a lot on this blog, and in my presentations. Your brain thinks you're still living in a cave. Although your mind knows you're in the 21st centry, your brain never got the memo. A big part of the learning theory we use in the Head First books is figuring out how to "trick" your brain into thinking that learning Java is as important as watching for tigers. We pay a great deal of attention to what your brain cares about, especially when the concerns (tigers-but-not-java) are in direct conflict with what your mind cares about (java-but-not-tigers). Besides caring about tigers-and-not-java--and the problems that creates when we're trying to pay attention, learn, and remember--our legacy brain does something else we all struggle with--it thinks you won't get much to eat all winter, so it better store it up while it can. Your brain thinks that food is scarce for you, so it better hang on to it. In other words, for almost all adults (especially in the US), our brain wants us to be weigh more than our conscious mind wants. The brain never got the memo about how you probably aren't going to starve this winter. Given how interested we are here into hacking and creating workarounds for the legacy brain issues, a new diet book that claims to take this approach got my attention. The claims are outrageous, the "plan" is absurd and counter-intuitive, but when the publisher sent me a copy of the book I figured it wouldn't hurt to try it. I say "wouldn't hurt" because it is ridiculously easy to try. And since the Freakonomics guys were recommending it, I figured there had to be something interesting. Plus... I loved the name: the Shangri-La Diet. It's been two weeks since I started and oh-my-god.
She means oh-my-god in a good way.
trouble in paradise "Mind hacking" is a great phrase. I wish John (Ratey) or I had come up with it. Mind hacking is practically John's whole concept in a nutshell: work with your brain, not against it. Never rely on brute force of will if you can enlist automatic processes. Use what you've got
trouble in paradise (really)
After 13 days on the Shangri-La diet, Jimmy has maybe lost one pound, Christopher has lost one pound for sure, and I've officially lost and regained and then lost and regained again the same .5 lbs. oops - Christian is here. We have to go to Westchester Community College to get him signed up for classes. We went last week, but the office was closed even though it said on the website said the office would be open. The office wasn't open. It was closed. So we're trying again today. Naturally we've missed the deadline for financial aid; we're pushing up against the deadline for registering at all even without financial aid. I've forgotten what that deadline was, and I refuse to look at the website one more time. We're just going to saddle up and ride out there and see what happens. It's a good thing I have OK cognitive skills, because if I had to rely on my noncognitive skills to get through life I'd be in trouble.*
ohmygod....I am going back to the website, because Christian needs another application printed out. This will be the third. Or perhaps the fourth, fifth, or sixth, I've lost count. Martine is ragging on him now. Good. Just what I was needing. A fourth son with lousy frontal lobe myelination. I obviously enjoyed reading Little Men way too much as a girl. Someone up there was watching.
back from WCC OK, mission accomplished. We have financial aid forms, we have a corrected social security number in Christian's file, we have an appointment to see an academic counselor on August 10. I've collected every conceivable form of explanatory literature printed by WCC, and I have scanned a copy of the pink campus map onto my hard drive. I know where the administration building, the student center, and Parking Lot 8 are to be found. Later on tonight Christian and I are going to look at the sample questions for the WCC placement test.
back to Shangri-La The diet will work for Christopher. I slimmed him down 3 years ago using exercise alone, so it's doable. This summer I'm walking him a mile and a half to camp every morning. Then he spends the next 6 hours playing sports. This time around exercise alone hasn't been working and the ELOO appetite reduction is the extra oomph he needs. Plus he's growing, which is a huge advantage. Our Los Angeles pediatrician told us that normal weight gain in a year is 4 to 8 pounds. Somehow I figured out from this figure that every inch a child grows without gaining weight is the equivalent of a 5 to 8-lb weight loss in an adult. The other factor is that the ELOO regimen itself is strongly organizing. The problem with a normal reducing diet is that it's not really an action. Instead of doing something, you stop doing something; you stop eating as much as you were eating. A reducing diet makes no limbic sense, as I'm sure the mind hack folks would tell us. I suppose a reducing diet makes "frontal sense" in a way, the frontal lobes being the brakes of the brain. But to lose anything at all you have to ride those brakes morning, noon, and night until eventually you get tired or stressed and your supply of iron will gives out. Then you're chugging through the Haagen Dazs and your lizard brain is saying Yes! Good! This is the right thing to do! A reducing diet, I conclude, is not a mind hack. It's the opposite of a mind hack. The ELOO regimen, on the other hand, is a mind hack in more ways than one. First of all, it really does reduce appetite. At least it does for the 3 of us. But even if swilling ELOO twice a day didn't reduce appetite, it might still help you lose weight because it's a plan. Even better, it's a highly structured and easy plan. Two helpings of ELOO a day, taken in the center of a two-hour food-free window of time. You can organize your whole day around it. Once you are organizing your whole day around it, not drinking Gatorade & not eating potato chips start to seem sensible. After all, you've just timed yourself not-eating-potato-chips for one hour before your ELOO, and then again for a second hour after your ELOO. By now it's time for lunch. At this point not-eating-potato-chips is practically a done deal. With Shangri-La you are creating not-eating-potato-chips momentum! Christopher has stopped drinking Gatorade thanks to Shangri-La. People still try to give it to him; Martine tried to get him to drink some Gatorade just yesterday and his camp is sloshing in the stuff. But he's not drinking it. He's drinking water. Part of the reason he's drinking water is that he knows he's on a regimen. I'm benefiting from the same life-organizing, mind hacking effect. I'm not losing weight, but I'm also not eating junk. I'm not eating junk because I'm not hungry and I have a plan. I am on a mission from God to thin out two of my kids. That's a mind hack! Christopher will be thinner by summer's end, and I'll be younger next year or whatever it is you turn into when you're not eating junk.
Jimmy's another story. This is really a struggle. We're fighting Depakote food cravings and rebound night eating when the Concerta wears off. Plus it's extremely difficult to get him to exercise. Thanks to the Depakote, he's sluggish. Indoors he's obsessive; he can't walk more than a couple of feet without stopping to do a bunch of ritual door jamb touching. Getting him dressed and out of the house in the morning is impossible. He's almost frozen inside multiple touchings of this, that, and the other. So the plan now is.....what? Not sure. I think I'm going to add sugar water to his ELOO dose (two tablespoons of ELOO twice a day). Then see what happens. I've decided to see slimming Jimmy down as a challenge. Viewing things as a challenge is probably a mind hack for me, or let's hope so anyway. If I can get my helicopter mom juices flowing maybe I'll have a fighting chance. Jimmy will have a fighting chance, I should say.
The New York Sun had a terrific quotation yesterday:
We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. - Charles Swindoll
Mind Hacks, the blog
The Shangri-La Diet at Amazon
Shangri La diet in freakonomics
Shangri La diet part 2
diet, evolution of the brain, & McDonalds
Marginal Revolution on Shangri La
your own lying eyes
progress report 7-23-06
mind hacks & Shangri-La 7-26-06
my life and welcome to it - 8-6-06 - success
compare and contrast photo op 8-12-06
9-17-06 Jimmy is melting
* Is a woman's weight a noncognitive skill? (scroll down)
-- CatherineJohnson - 26 Jul 2006 Back to: Main Page.