This blog is all about simple, practical ways to more effectively achieve your health and fitness goals. We don’t focus on technical or theoretical content. There is a time and a place for that kind of information and it can be useful. But we ascribe to the belief that what counts is information that helps you change your behaviour; not information that simply increases your knowledge. Learning that leads to knowledge is of limited value. Learning that leads to action is priceless. So we spend most of our time discussing concepts about how to form effective habits, how to build productive routines and how to automate lifestyle processes. If you’re new to the blog, check out the Measurable Lifestyle, Occam’s Razor or Nutritional Hacks for classic examples of the kinds of tactics we discuss.
The 30 Minute Rule
Today I want to introduce one of my favourite lifestyle tactics, the 30 Minute Rule. It’s so simple I almost decided not to write an article about it… But it’s just too effective not to share.
The purpose of the 30 Minute Rule is to eliminate will power from situations where it seems like will power is the only force at play. The question is, how do you manage cravings for non-optimal foods and drinks without resorting to plain discipline (have a read here about how will-power is the biggest myth in fat-loss)? You do it by creating a conscious decision-making procedure for what you consume. Next time you feel like pouring a glass of wine or popping open the Ben and Jerry’s, say the following to yourself: “OK, right now I feel like some ice cream. If I still feel like some ice cream in 30 minutes, I’ll go ahead and have some”.
This is the 30 Minute Rule. It is a tactic of delayed gratification and it can be exceptionally powerful, simple though it is. The idea is that this 30 minute delay will separate real cravings from impulses. If you really feel like some ice cream, you’ll still feel like having some in 30 minutes and in that case you should have it. What you will find is that in the vast majority of cases by the time the 30 minutes is up, you have either forgotten about the impulse or you’ve had time to rationalise it and realise that the instantaneous pleasure isn’t worth the cost to your longer term goals.
Conscious Eating and the power of the 30 Minute Rule
I would argue that any time you are about to consume something, crave or not, you should ask yourself whether consuming that thing aligns with your vision of what you want to become. Before you eat or drink anything simply ask, “Do I need this? Will eating / drinking this help me get to where I want to go?”. The idea, again, is to force you to be conscious of your lifestyle choices. This can have a potent effect.
This all sounds almost too simple to really be worth trying, but let me assure you: this tactic can radically change outcomes. The 30 Minute Rule means that you will never have to endure the mental fatigue of feeling deprived. That’s super important. Constantly denying yourself pleasure will lead to all sorts of undesirable outcomes and will most likely cause you to eventually fall off the wagon in a spiral of guilt-ridden binges. With the 30 Minute Window you will be indulging in a moderate and sustainable way without feeling ashamed at your lack of will power.
At the same time, the 30 Minute Rule makes sure you aren’t just responding to momentary impulses, laziness or emotional stimuli. The 30 Minute Rule forces you to be conscious about those occasions where you choose to err. Far too many people derail their efforts with frequent, almost un-noticed lapses. How often have you passed the cupboard and before you know it, you’ve got a biscuit or two in your mouth and you barely even acknowledge that it’s happened? This is what we want to avoid. Those instinctive, reflex responses don’t provide you with any real pleasure but they certainly can prevent you from making good progress with fat loss.
Do. It. Now!
Start using the 30 Minute Rule now. Eat consciously. Every time you are about to consume something, ask whether eating or drinking that thing will help or hurt your chances of achieving your goals. If it doesn’t align with your goals, then apply the 30 Minute Rule. If you still want to eat or drink that thing in 30 minute, go ahead and do it and ENJOY it! Don’t rely on will power, don’t suffer through needlessly depriving yourself and don’t respond to base impulses.
Let me know how you get on!
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