5 Kickass Strategies To Hack Your Behavior


I’m 25 going on 50. A lot of people that know me can attest to that. In many ways I’m the typical American Bro who loves drinking beers, eating wings, and debating why Southern Rap is superior to both East Coast and West Coast rap. Seriously, #UGKforlife.

In other ways, I’m such an old man. I’m a creature of habit, as one my best friends Dad’s used to drill into our heads in little league baseball and football. We’re all creatures of habit. That is exceptionally true of me.

I hate letting other people plan things, because I always feel like they leave out logistical details that I’d account for. I hate going to other people’s places because I prefer playing home games vs. away games.

I hate when people rush my workouts, or ask me out to eat when I’ve already had things planned out in my head for days in advance.

Most of all I despise when I let other people choose music. Unless of course we’ve gone through some shit that would lead me to believe you don’t have a shitty taste in music. If our friendship hasn’t been tested on the battlefield of life, you haven’t earned the right to assail my ears with your auditory garbage.

These are all ingrained behaviors on my part. Reinforced through years upon years stubbornness on my end.

Sometimes I admit to myself I need to be a bit more open, and let my behavior be a bit more malleable. Other times I love that I’m so set in my ways. I like being an old man, even if I haven’t earned the title of Silver Fox. Yet.

And that’s the thing with behavior. Once it’s set, changing it is a Sisyphean effort. Click To Tweet

Say you decide to go against the grain, you rebel you, and change your behavior. What do you do?

Complete lifestyle change goes far beyond the scope of this article. There are entire degree programs built around large-scale behavior change, because we’re now beginning just how important habits and behaviors are to influencing our health and fitness.

But people on the Internet love to hack things, like their behavior. So we’re going to take a look at a few ways you can do that on a much smaller scale.

1. Use smaller plates.


It’s been consistently shown that when you have a larger plate, you’ll eat more food. Part of this is because with a larger plate you can fit more food. Duh.

The more subtle part is that when you eat with larger plates, you don’t consider yourself satisfied as quickly as you would with a smaller plate.

Satiation is surprisingly malleable. It can be influenced by something as simple as us thinking a shake is a certain amount of calories. Using smaller plates can help influence that satiation, causing you to eat less overall.

On that same note, eating out of an opaque bowl can limit how much unhealthy food you eat compared to eating out of a clear bowl or container. The brain is a crazy fucking thing, man.

2. Wake up in the mornings.

Who loves puns? This guy does, and being punny is exactly what I’m doing here. Obviously you’re already waking up in the morning, but are you really waking up?

What I’m getting at here is something my friend and mentor John Romaniello coined as a neural-wake-up-call.

The neural-wake-up-call functions as a way to wake your nervous system up first thing in the day, by going through a few basic movements. You get your blood flowing and become more proficient at certain movements. As a product of that movement proficiency you can burn more fat and build more muscle.

After finding that out, why the hell wouldn’t you want to wake up? Unless you were dreaming about being with Scarlett Johansson. That’s an acceptable reason to not wake up.

In my own little twist I added on a one-minute meditation session to help develop mindfulness and living more in the present.

And while all of this really does help you move better, burn more fat, and build more muscle – that’s not why I love it so much.

I love it because it’s a way of taking control of your day first thing in the morning. Much like the standing rule in the military of you make your bed in the morning; it’s a way of exhibiting control of your environment and your life before you start your day.

This carries over to the rest of your day. If you start the day kicking ass, chances are you’re going to keep kicking asses all damn day.

Want your own neural-wake-up-call? Give this one a shot.

  • Reverse lunge x8
  • Deep squat x5
  • Hip hinge/Romanian deadlift x10
  • Yoga push-up x5

Repeat 2x.

3. Dress like you’re already fit as shit.

Here we see Example A: Kid Rock, dressed as a Patriot and a golfer. I’m willing to bet the Kid was a bit more patriotic on this day, and maybe a slightly less shitty golfer.

Ever heard of enclothed cognition? I doubt it. But it’s a powerful tool, and one that you need to start using for your own personal gain.

Enclothed cognition basically means taking on the mindset of the clothes you’re wearing. For example, it’s been shown that if you wear a white coat that you believe belongs to a doctor, you’ll pay attention more. If you believe that same coat applies to painter, you won’t change at all.

Dressing like you’re fit as hell causes a subtle influence in behavior. You start acting the way a fit person would. Specifically, a fit person who wears those clothes would.

4. Utilize a journal.

I’ve written a number of times on narrative bias and how it can derail progress, by allowing us to reframe slip-ups as fitting within our narrative. The main strategy I like to use to fight this sort of thing is utilizing a journal.

In a recent article where I talked about narrative bias, Greg Nuckols also did a great job of talking about narrative bias in a positive light. This was something I hadn’t considered, and now I’m all in on it.

Telling yourself that you’re the kind of person who succeeds on a diet or gets abnormally jacked can be a game changer. After enough repeating that story becomes your own personal narrative.

Your personal narrative becomes your actions. You shift from telling yourself this is how a fit person would behave to just behaving how you want, because you’re fit.

Write in your journal. Write the good stuff and bad stuff. Then use that info to frame it into the narrative of being fit as shit and making Arnold look like he doesn’t even lift.

5. Cut off most media consumption.


Bet you didn’t see this one coming did you? Before you sheeple flip your shit, I’m not saying cut out media consumption because we’re all being brainwashed by the nanny state or some other bullshit that people argue about on Facebook these days.

The truth is when it comes to shaping our behavior; the media has far more influence than we care to admit.

This can be seen in cases where Doctors misdiagnose AIDS because of intense, 24-hour media coverage. Or in a less depressing way, people wanting to try the latest diet that they heard about on TV.

The truth is, there exists something known as the availability heuristic. We put more emphasis on things that are immediately available to our brains. Media exposure makes certain things more available, and distorts our perception of what is important.

Removing media consumption allows you to begin focusing more on your own behavior, without being swayed by what the media says is the latest diet craze, workout fad, or groundbreaking cancer causing food.

I love that I’m a creature of habit. That’s just me, and it will always be me. It will always be you as well. We’re all creatures of habit, and behavior. That doesn’t mean we can’t try to change those, though.

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Who’s this guy?

Yo, I'm Tanner. I'm a Texan marooned on the Island of Manhattan, reader, history nerd, and rom com afficianado.
I like to talk about fitness, history, pop culture, and just about anything else under the sun. If you're here, hopefull you do as well.

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