Coach | Nutritionist
Coach | Nutritionist
The self sabotaging feedback loop
Have you ever wondered why when you get that draining thought or feeling. The one that just won’t go away, so you avoid it. The one that leaves you rooted to the same spot for days, weeks, or even months?
You’re sticking to your diet regimentally each and ever day. Counting the calories and macros. Training five times a week. Eating as clean as you possibly can, but somehow each time you step on the scales, they don’t move. You look the same in every update photo. Your stomach just won’t lean out. You can’t seem to get past a sticking point with the weight you’re lifting.
You’ve been in this scenario. We all have. It must be what it feel like to have Nicolas Cage’s career.
He keeps churning out movie after movie, but they just keep getting progressively worse. (Sorry Nic. I love you, but it’s time to be honest here. Just promise me you won’t make a Con Air 2.)
This is what is called the behavioral feedback loop.
LET US PICTURE THE SCENE OF DIETING.
As mentioned above. Your weight hasn’t budged in a few weeks. You have officially plateaued. But the problem is, you don’t know how to get out of it.
This creates frustration and stress.
“Ah shit I can’t believe my weight hasn’t budged again, I’m a total failure at this dieting stuff. I shouldn’t bother. Argh no way, I’m an actual failure for thinking I’m a failure at this stupid dieting. I really need to stop thinking I’m a failure. Balls, I’ve just thought it again. I must be a failure!”
What about your training?
You are trying to get stronger on a week to week basis, but not matter what you do you just can’t get past that specific bastardly number.
This must mean that it is you, who is the problem.
“Well, that was another poor workout. I actually think I’m getting weaker. This is annoying as hell. Stop getting annoyed at yourself, it doesn’t matter. Of course it does! Argh, now I’m getting annoyed because I’m annoyed at my training. Now I’m just completely annoyed at everything!”
IT’S OK TO THINK THIS WAY
This is simply a natural human behavior. It’s frustrating but natural.
The main issue is that we fall into a negative thought process far too easily.
“Madness is like gravity. All it takes is just a little… push.”
– The Joker
As mad as the joker is. He has a good point.
Other than the scales, the barbell, or any other feedback we come across on a daily basis. What is this push?
Whether we like it or not, we live in a world of constant comparison. This is mainly through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. As soon as we wake up we reach for out phones to check out what the world is up to. Our brain is then processing all the super amazing things that every person and their dog are up to. Even stupid cat videos have it better than us all of a sudden.
Once Facebook is done with us we move over to Instagram.
No doubt we follow people that feed our interests, which means one thing. They are knocking it out the park on a second to second basis. Each time you refresh your feed someone else has lost another 2lbs of weight. Added another 10kg to their squat. Living it up on their worldwide travels. All the while you’re sat there wondering what you’re doing wrong.
Kind of depressing. Like being virtually kicked full pelt straight in the ball sack – or ovaries, and wondering “what the hell am I doing wrong?”
What you must remember is that social media is simply a highlight reel. It’s smoke and mirrors. Showing you only what people want you to see. And on the rare occasion, people are brutally honest about their hard times which is refreshing. Not that they’re going through hard times. Just that you can relate.
Of course, social media isn’t the only factor. Your daily life in general is full of external comparisons. Magazines, Tv, work, and friends.
ACTUALLY. YOU SHOULD CARE LESS
You know that you are placing way too much emphasis on a thought, experience, or action. But you are reliving it over and over. So… you really should just stop giving a shit.
Try to care less about the actual event itself and realise that it’s nothing more than a passing thought, feeling, or moment. The quicker you acknowledge it and move on, then you can start to make progress in what it is you’re actually trying to do.
TYPES OF FEEDBACK LOOPS
This all sounds like feedback loops are 100% negative and that you should avoid them at all costs. It’s ok, this is not the case at all. Like anything in this life, feedback loops can be split into two parts.
- Bad Habits
- Good Habits
When it comes to bad habits we want to find a good balance here. Much like anything in life – such as our diets – we live in a thought process of everything in moderation. By automatically viewing something as a bad habit that is just going to cause stress and doubt. Look for that balance instead. Allow them to have a place to exist so that you know you can simply pick it up and drop it as you please.
Keep skipping the gym – Get up an hour earlier and have your bag packed so that you are ready to go as soon as you wake up.
Can’t stop snacking – Swap out your choice of snack to something that is still tasty, lower in calories and will satisfy.
The funny thing about good habits is that we know they make us feel happier. They have nothing but a great return. But somehow we find a way to do them less or drop them entirely. It’s like we love the idea of suffering. Humans are strange creatures after all.
Rather than look at balancing them out – like we do with bad habits. We should aim to reinforce them. Build on that good habit to further strengthen the habit itself.
Not only will this feedback bring a sense of progress, it’ll also bring a sense of optimism and happiness (even though we all get weird at the thought of happiness).
Examples of this are:
Dieting for fat loss – Preparing healthier meals ahead of time so that when there’s temptation at work – or when you get home from work tired – you know you have a tasty, filling, and lower calorie meal option at the ready. Doing this consistently will result in fat loss changes. This feedback will motivate you further to stick to this habit.
Going to the gym – Setting yourself a target of going to the gym at least three times a week at the times you know which will fit with your lifestyle. While going there, you’re progressing in your training goals each week. Keeping a record of your efforts to reinforce the feedback. Making you more likely to keep going, and looking forward to each workout.
BUILDING A FEEDBACK LOOP TO WIN
As easy as it sounds to fall into a negative feedback loop. It’s also just as easy to build one to succeed.
Action – This will always be a starting point. This is triggered by measuring up the data that you are consuming. Once it is consumed, it then elicits a change in behavior.
Reaction – Now that you have measured up the data, you need to compare it to something.
“My weight loss efforts are…”
This answer can be a result of where you currently are, and where you want to be. This comparison needs to be purposeful to what you are actually looking to achieve. Not a reaction to something that isn’t.
Modification – Once you’ve measured up the feedback to your current goals. Make the relevant changed that are needed to progress. Don’t dwell too much on it as this can then fall into the negative space. Absorb, process, and adjust. The faster you action this then the more likely you are to stick to the habit.
Of course, it’s important to understand that we don’t live in a world of eternal happiness where unicorns shit hot fudge sundaes and craft beer flows from the kitchen sink.
There are always going to be times when the wheels fall off and you feel like a failure. You’re not a failure. You are allowed these moments. This is where we learn.
Negative Feedback From Dieting – A thought of failure which adds another layer of failure, upon another thought of failure.
This Thought Is Ok – Failure is ok. Accepting it is important. But social media and other external factors can make it a whole lot worse if you allow it.
Actually. You Should Care Less – We say we don’t give a shit about things, but we don’t really believe this. We actually should care less, though. It will relieve stress and negative thoughts.
Types Of Feedback Loops – These loops are split into both good and bad habits. Knowing how to manage them is important.
Building A Feedback Loop To Win – Being aware of the process of feedback and how to control it to prevent being in a negative loop.
P.S. If you are currently in a negative loop of being controlled by the scales and poor squatting, then you should check out my newsletter below. If you aren’t, then you still should. It’s full of epic stuff and lolz