Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Why Run? (Last thoughts).

"This is already a long time ago, I can remember the feelings but I can't still have them. A common prayer for the over-attached: You'll let it go sooner or later, why not do it now?" - Michael Herr, Dispatches.

The eternal question?

'Because it's there' the quintessential mountaineering answer. Doesn't quite get to the heart of it.

The question should be why write, or paint or make films or sing or dance or play a musical instrument. Why create art? Running is the same, or maybe for you it's lifting weights or rock climbing or swimming in a cold lake.

Movement is a natural expression of being human, like art. To such an extent, that if you don't do any of the things listed above then there is something fundamentally missing from your life. It has to be more than being a passive consumer.

A moving koan. The answer is there, but you can't quite grasp it or vocalize it.

You run to escape, you run to go home, you run to remember, you run to forget, you run from the past, you run to ignore the future, you run for now, you run to be like someone else, you run to create your own identity, you run to lose yourself, you run to create your own myth, you run to think, you run to not think, you run because you have to, you run because it's a choice, you run because it's free, you run to be social, you run to be different, you run for your spirit, you run because no one understands you, you run to understand, you run for comradeship, you run to be part of something, you run for no one,  you run to disappear, you run to be alone, you run to feel, your run to not feel, you run to understand pain, you run yourself into the ground, you run to ground yourself, you run to see if you can find your breaking point, you run to be stronger, you run when you are angry, you run when you are sad, you run when you are happy, you run to cope, you run to create memories, your run to erase something and start again.

Some people run for PBs and split times. This seems limited in its scope. Too constrained.

You are compelled to run. In bitter cold, unforgiving heat, brilliant sunshine, drab dull dark wet mornings and endless mediocre grey days. With aching joints and a pounding head. Searching for a meaning. But mainly just running to go through the motions.

But mostly it's prosaic. I once made up the statistic that 1 in 20 workouts are sublime, 1 in 20 are terrible, and 18 in 20 are mediocre/ going through the motions/ get it done. In truth I probably overestimated the number of good workouts, but you are always chasing that golden moment.

The answer as to why you do something is always clearer when that activity is taken away from you. It is always easier to know what you don't want to do with your life than what you do want to do.

For me it was the usual story, running at night and then waking up to 2 litres of IV fluid in a strange room. Be careful, we don't know.

The moment was always coming, it had been encoded in me from birth, I just didn't know it at the time. Years later someone would tell me.

He told me to be careful going West (a true story, crossing time zones can kill). But I had spent my whole life heading West, like some 'Oakie' looking for the promised land of California.

I held my breath for a few years. They told me. And I breathed out.

There would be one last hurrah,, but my heart wasn't in it. I ran into Chamonix as the sun fell behind Mont Blanc. The mountains had kicked my ass. I knew it was over. Another chapter was forming, this one was closed. An unsatisfying unresolved ending. The kind that some people hate to read in fiction books. But life is like that.

There would be no Hardrock, or UTMB, or Badwater or 6 days in Mustang.

There would be no more endless beach run that went on forever, or 10 hours passing like a minute. There would be no more sunrising on the Downs, with a distant sketch of twin windmills, as horses run towards me through the mist, as I run on alone.

And after all that 20 minutes on the road was never going to be enough.

There are other Annapurnas in men's lives, but when Maurice Herzog wrote that, he had made it to the top of Annapurna, if he hadn't, he would have kept going back like all the other obsessed mad men and 'Conquistadors of the useless'.

Like telling Picasso he could only ever use an Etcha A Sketch (to be fair Picasso would have probably done pretty well with an Etch A Sketch) or telling Monet he could only use a paint by numbers. The 5k park run was never going to be enough, so I let it go. It's not that Etcha A Sketch, paint by numbers and 5ks are bad or worth less, you just can't go back.

The dopamine rush of equipment. Seeing the rucksacks, hydration options, trainers and GPS watches. Like the paraphernalia of drug addicts. It's best to go cold turkey.

Just another story about lost love. They all are. Me and the trail were never going to be just friends, it was more complicated than that.

Who the hell wants to take the road most taken?

Like a retired punch drunk boxer who keeps making ill advised comebacks trying to recapture the glory days and getting beaten to a pulp. It's best not to step into the ring again.

If you haven't got the answer to the question after running 100 miles, then you wont answer it, so you might as well let it go and move on.

Sense memory, the way the cool air hits on a clear morning in the forest near where I live (where there isn't actually a forest, another mystery), a faint odour of earth and passing rainstorm. Molecules of pine vapor. And it all comes rushing back. A Proustian Madeleine moment of memory recall.

A forest where there is no forest.

Songs from my youth resonate, fragments remembered 'Is a dream a lie if it don't come true, or is it something worse..' Yes, probably.
'You get used to anything, sooner or later it becomes your life'. Yes, may be you do.

You carry it with you.

Why run? All I can say is...

       Twin Lakes.
                I kept running.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Do you need to deadlift?

More specifically do you need to deadlift with a barbell from the floor?

If you are a powerlifter, yes, you have to.

Everyone else... probably not.

The height of the deadlift is arbitrary, based on the size of an Olympic plate, it is not based on your height, limb length, mobility or spine.

If you are 5 foot tall with long arms it's not that far away, if you're 6'5" it's a long way down.

What about the sumo deadlift I hear you say? Yes, there is less shear force on the spine (you are not bending over so much), but it still depends on your hip architecture, your back may be more upright and it may be more leg dominant, but you still need to be able to pick the bar up from near the floor. I know now a hybrid position of half sumo and half conventional is more fashionable, so it might be worth giving this a go.

Ed Coan: If you look this feel free to keep deadlifting.

Don't get me wrong the hip hinge is a fundamental movement.

But so many people can't lift from the floor without losing a good neutral spine position. Or they end up using a mixed grip or straps chasing a PB and the next thing you know, something snaps and it's not the cheap straps. Getting the bar up anyway possible becomes a fixation for them and can end in disaster.

Yes, you need to be able to hinge from the hips to use the glutes and protect the back when picking all sorts of things up.

One of the best ways to spare the spine when picking an object up is the so called 'golfers lift' which is essentially a 1 leg RDL, hinging on one leg and using the other as a cantilever. But I wouldn't be doing this with 200kg. No one ever chased a golfers lift PB.

Why are you deadlifting?

Is it to chase arbitrary weight goals, hit 100kg, 200kg, 300kg+. If you enjoy the process then fine.

If you are doing it to get 'stronger', then stronger for what? For more deadlifting?

Or for a sport? Then I would contend there are better options like rack pulls, suitcase deadlifts into farmers carrys.

The farmers carry will get your quadratus lumborum activating in the back, abductor activation,  obliques, grip work and more, add in some distance and you've got endurance as well; all with much less chance of technical breakdown under a very heavy load.

If it is to increase muscle mass, then again there may be better options, such as rack pulls, RDL, cable pull throughs, kb swing.

Plus all the single leg work options such as single leg RDL.  In the single leg version, in my experience, people can normally keep a much better back position and it is more self limiting as an exercise.

What benefit is there lifting the barbell from the floor, or in some cases from a deficit by lifting by standing on a small box or step such as the snatch grip deadlift; that can't be garnered from the lifting the bar slightly higher?

For most people a rack deadlift would be a better option. This takes out the most problematic part of the lift for most people. And means they can still focus on hip hinging, gripping the bar, irradiating tension through the body and keep a better back position. The same with a snatch grip from the rack or hang position. Add in a power shrug or high pull to the movement and you've got a good overall athletic move.

Now, I'm not talking about guys who load up the bar and set the rack about 1 inch below lockout, put straps on and then do a 1 inch 400kg deadlift.

The trap bar deadlift is a much easier lift for most people, it is much more intuitive and how people pick things up. However, the biggest issue with the trap bar is how awkward it is to move around and load up. Trap bars normally weigh more than the standard Olympic bar, typically 30kg plus. People tend to put their back in a poor position trying to move the thing and load it up, not during the actual lift.

When I injured my back, the Jefferson lift felt fine, it never aggravated my back. I couldn't lift as much as conventional deadlift, but it felt as hard and demanding but safer. For a good video and explanation of the Jefferson have a look at this link.

The only downside of the Jefferson, is everyone is going to think you are one of those guys doing a crazy exercise for the sake of it.

Take home points:

  • If you like deadlifting, then keep on doing it, and if you are a powerlifter then you need to. Nothing I say would stop you anyway.
  • But be  a stickler for form in the gym, there should be no variation in the reps. Leave the 'whatever it takes' rep for competition.
  • Ask yourself why you are chasing numbers, are big numbers on the bar carrying over into your other goals such as improved sport performance, hypertrophy or overall strength.
  • Try rack deadlifts, the bar might only have to be slightly higher than the standard height for you to keep  better form
  • For sports performance try suitcase deadlifts, farmers walks and long jumps (broad jumps).
  • For hip hinging and hypertrophy try single leg deadlifts with dumbbells or kettlebells, RDLs, cable pull throughs, a whole range of machines, kettlebell swings and more.
  • If you've had back issues which tend to show themselves when you start to load up on the conventional deadlift but you still want to deadlift, then try the Jefferson deadlift.
Let me know your thoughts, is the deadlift a staple of your programme? Do you lift heavy all the time, or use deload periods, speed/ dynamic variations. Do you switch up the style you use? Do you think you need the deadlift for strength, hypetrophy and sport performance.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Do you need to squat?

More specifically do you need to back squat with a barbell on your back?

If you are competing in powerlifting, then the answer is yes.

If you are competing in weightlifting, the answer is probably yes.

For everyone else I'm not so sure.

The squat pattern is fundamental..

Now, don't get me wrong, I think the squat pattern is fundamental. Young babies do it naturally, and adults need it to get out of a chair.

In fact, one of the things I see with many back pain sufferers is they get out of a chair using their back, and spinal flexion, and don't use their hips or knees properly at all. It's the same with stroke patients I see, and some very elderly people, they can't get out a chair. This is sometimes because of weakness, but also an exacerbating factor is they normally have too narrow a stance, have valgus collapse and don't use any type of hip hinge at all. Many manage to get out a chair with some simple cues, without actually getting any stronger per se.

Recently, I haven't really programmed back squats for anyone.

It's not as if I never did them, I've done high rep squats in the past, 21 days of squats myself, squatted maximum, done high bar, low bar, safety bar, cambered bar, box squats. But now, if I do a squat it is invariably a front squat with a barbell or 2 kettlebells.

Squats ahoy.

There was a time when the back squat was rare. Now thanks to most gyms having power racks and the influence of a few key people, back squatting is very popular from young girls to rugby players and beyond.

Also increasingly popular is back squatting in Olympic weightlifting shoes. These allow people to go lower, in a sense give them false mobility. This has resulted in a rush of people complaining about their knees hurting squatting. The standard answer is the Dan John one, squats don't hurt your knees, what you are doing does...

However, I know from personal experience and from friends of mine continuous squatting in lifting shoes does hurt your knees and cause excruciating pain if you are squatting regularly. And as soon as you take the shoes off, the knee pain spontaneously resolves.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have lifting shoes, and for front squats, cleans and snatches I would use them if I was going heavy and really wanted focus on these moves and the sport. But as I generally don't, if I do a power clean or front squat I do them in my normal shoes I train in (inov8 F-lites).

Why are you back squatting?

There is the issue of why you are back squatting.

If you are doing it for leg development, I think there are better options. Front squats target the quads more and with less spinal loading and less chance of technique breakdown.

I know some people can't do the front squat grip, in which case I would do a goblet squat with a dumbbell or kettlebell rack squats. I am not a big fan of the classic bodybuilding front squat with the arms crossed over, it looks like an accident waiting to happen.

Alternatively, a Bulgarian split squat (rear foot elevated squat), or the leg press using one leg at a time (I prefer the one leg version as it's easier on the lower back, and stops the dominant leg taking over).

I know there is a school of thought that bilateral leg work, and specifically 5x5 on squats is all you really need to do. I respectfully disagree.

The hack squat seems to have become fashionable recently, possibly because it can be loaded up and is technically easier than a squat. To me it still seems to cause the same compression issues, and is overrated. It also seems to be exactly the same movement pattern as the Smith machine squat (legs forward, back vertical) that we used to do back in the day when gyms didn't have power racks.

For the posterior chain, take your pick from RDLs, single leg RDLs, hip thrusts, glute bridges, glute ham raise machine, Nordic hamstring curls, and various leg curl machines.

For most people I think there are better ways of targeting the legs.

For athletic purposes I think some unilateral leg work is a must, and something as simple as a bodyweight jump squat or lung jump (broad jump) would be more effective.

Athletically, I would say the prowler push and sled drag have more carry over to the field with less spine compression, less coaching and less risk of losing form and powering through anyway.

Technical breakdown.

Some of the issues with squatting I have are to do with trying to fit all people into the same box. Same stance, same depth.

If you have what Stuart McGill calls the 'Celtic hip', you are going to probably need a wider stance and squat above parallel - and no amount of mobility work is going to change this.

The shrill call of everyone having to go 'ass to grass' seems to have lessened recently.

If you have a much shallower hip socket, Eastern European hip, your squat will look text book. Very few people look like this in the gym. However, there is still no excuse to be bouncing out of the bottom with the sacrum tucking under unless there is a gold medal at stake.

Dave Draper squatting. If you look like this then carry on. Source: everyone on the Internet who thinks this is Tom Platz

If you have nice ovoid shape discs in your back (again see Stuart McGills work), you can probably take the compression in the spine. If you have a much more slender spine, there is more chance of buckling and an end plate fracture with continuous heavy loading (I'm not saying this will happen, but look at the risk reward).

Then we have too much lordosis, too much arch in the back, I see this with quite a few women squatting. They can be quite stiff in the hips and compensate with the back.

Then there are people with limited shoulder mobility, normally guys, and even getting the bar onto the back is problematic and causes shoulder issues before they even start.

Then there are the people who shift to one side under load, twisting and having one leg stronger than the other. These aren't  necessary bad things, its just the way this person is built. But I don't think bilateral back squatting is going to make there leg strength more equal or change their movement for the better.

To paraphrase Gray Cook, people are loading up their dysfunction for no other reason than they think they need to back squat. They then breakdown and they could have got the same results with a different exercise.

Now I know many of these issues can be fixed by coaching, cuing, using  a box, adjusting peoples stance and depth, using different bars on their back. However, most clients don't come to you to get better at back squatting, they come to you to lose weight, or get stronger or more toned. And in my experience for many of these people, save yourself time and do something else instead that gets them the results they want.

Squat patterns that I use.

Sit to stand to box or chair - the fundamental pattern for rehab clients.

TRX supported squat and deep squat for lats with exhale at the bottom - good for turning off the lats, breathing and giving people the confidence to squat lower.

Goblet squat - nearly every session I do includes this, use a dumbbell or kettlebell.

1 kettlebell rack squat - asymmetric loading for core and more.

2 kettlebell rack squat - one of my favourites for added anterior core activation and a great leg workout.

Barbell front squat if someone can get in this position, if they can't I wouldn't bother with various bodybuilding versions I would do kettlebell rack squats instead.

Bodyweight jump squat for athletic development if needed.


Is the barbell back squat bad? No. Do I use it with most of my clients anymore. No.

Let me know what you think.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Forming new habits. Part 5: Choice.

For part 2, 3 and 4 go here, here and here

Why do you make the choices you make?

Why do some people choose to exercise and eat healthily and others don't.

Every day you are exposed to an enormous amount of information. According to Plassman et al (2012)

"Each second we are exposed to an estimated 11 millions bits of information that reach us through our senses, yet humans are capable of processing only around 50 bits of that information."
Think about that for a second (and if you did, 11 millions bits of information were just missed by you). Your brain filters information so it doesn't get overwhelmed.

Your brain and body use autopilot, short cuts and what Daniel Kahneman calls fast thinking all the time (see part 2 for a description of this system 1). Without it you would probably be paralyzed by indecision everyday. You get up, shower, clean your teeth, get to work without much thought. These become habitual activities. When you travel somewhere new, have you noticed how much you have to concentrate, in the car you have to turn the radio off and really focus on the sat nav and the road, not the same as when you do your daily commute.

Certain decisions have been taken out of your hands from an early age. Where you were born and your parents preferences have already determined the language you speak, the foods you culturally like, the school you went to, many of the hobbies and past times you chose. You may not even be aware of other choices, you can't miss a food you've never had or are not even aware of. And that job you drifted into after school or university, it may have not been your top choice, but possibly, only years later you realize you want to do something else.

This fast system of shortcuts is useful. Going out for a coffee on your lunch break if you live in a big city could be overwhelming. If you were really to evaluate all the options you would have to go to every coffee shop, try every different type of coffee, weigh up the price and distance from your work places and then make a decision (okay, I may have actually done this). Whereas, most people will intuitively go to the same coffee shop and order the same drink.

If the choice is limited it is easier, only one coffee shop, you go there. Only one gym, you join that one. In fact, it has been shown the more choice people are given the harder they find it to make a choice. In one study, given  a choice between two different types of jam, you pick one quite easily. Given the choice of 10 or 20, then what? You are frozen with indecision over a pot of jam.

Extrapolate that to big life decisions like choosing a career or partner, the number of variables is overwhelming. This is where the shortcut, intuitive system, works best.

Dijksterhuis et al (2006, good luck pronouncing that name by the way) state that conscious thought works best when you are making simple choices like "buying towels or an oven mitt" but more complex matters like choosing a house, or car (or life partner) should be left to unconscious thought. What they call "deliberation without attention". Your unconscious mind has much bigger processing power and your conscious mind finds it hard to focus on more than one thing at a time.

When buying a car, studies have shown people make better decisions when they don't consciously think about all the variables.

Dijksterhuis et al (2006) got people to choose a car based on 4 attributes or 12 attributes (safety, mileage etc). They were given 4 minutes to think about their choice, or 4 minutes distracted by doing anagrams. The people who were distracted doing anagrams and therefore used their unconscious mind, made a much better choice when choosing a car when they had to think about 12 attributes.

We make emotionally driven choices all the time. We are not even aware we are making them.

Companies and marketers know you can be influenced, so they exploit these systems.

You are influenced by marketing even when you think you are not.

Think about all the advertising you are exposed to. Does it influence you? Of course not, you are smarter than that. Or may be not.

In a study by Bagdziunaite (2014) three group of people were shown commercials before going in to a store to buy paint.
Group 1 - random commercials
Group 2 - random commercials plus adverts for brand A paint
Group 3 - random commercials plus longer adverts for brand A paint

They were then told to go and buy some paint for redecorating.
Group 1 - 78% chose brand A
Group 2 - 94% chose brand A
Group 3 - 100% chose brand A!!

Group 2 and 3 also spent more time looking at brand A on the shelf. And guess what, 23 out of 25 participants did not perceive the link between exposure to advertising and their purchase.

And ALL of the participants who saw brand A remembered it, but reported it did not affect their choice!

Now think about the adverts you are exposed to, the filter bubble you live in, the shops you go to, the choices you make. In the supermarket, trying to make healthy choices...

Plassman et al (2012) state
"At fast decision speeds a significant number of food choices were biased towards the food items with bright packaging, even when subjects preferred the taste of alternative food options." 
In fact, given less than 1 second you will choose the most salient thing, given a second or more you will choose your preference,

Now given that most foods that are brightly packaged are processed, and if someone has been eating unhealthy for a while and has certain in built preferences, what choices do you think they are going to make?

You will choose from the menu on offer. 

There is a myth that humans will make rational economic choices. Choosing between an apple and a snickers, you choose the one that costs the least or has the most benefit for you. Except in the Western world the cost difference between these purchases is irrelevant.

The value you assign to anything is subjective. For example, chocolate or strawberry ice cream have no intrinsic value, you make a decision which one you prefer (Padoa-Schioppa, 2011). And if one is not available, it doesn't figure in your decision making process.

Or put it another way, do you want a £1000 or a glass of water? The answer is obvious unless you just came out of the desert, you're dying of thirst and someone offers you that choice. Context matters.

The orbital frontal cortex (OFC) front part of your brain has neurons that are particularly active when you prefer one option. They are not sensitive to the menu, but decide based on what is on offer.

For example, Padoa-Schioppa (2007) offered monkeys* raisins or apple slices. Monkeys prefer raisins, but eventually when the monkeys are offered 3 times as many apple slices to raisins they switch to choosing the apple. The OFC neurons then start to fire off more, as they react to one decision that is clearly better than the other.

This also happened when the monkeys had to choose between drops of water and kool aid. The monkey prefer water, until they were offer 6 times as many drops of kool aid to water, and then they switched and chose the kool aid and the OFC part of the brain was more active and helped make this decision. They even did this when they were given 2 food options they had never encountered before, they would make a choice and then switch if significant quantity of their less preferred option was given.

What does this mean for you? It means you can switch your own choices.

I read somewhere that you should crowd your diet with healthy choices. If you eat enough vegetables and whole foods, you will 'crowd out' the unhealthy options. (Sorry, I can't remember where I read this, if this is your idea, let me know, and I will credit you)!

Eventually, you brain will choose from the menu you on offer.  You can control the menu and the quantity of the menu as well.

You go to a petrol station...

How does this all work in practice. A classic way people lose track of their diet.

They have gone to a petrol station to fill up the car. This is a top down conscious decision.

But then in the shop they are confronted by chocolate bars and crisps. All brightly coloured. There are no healthy options on offer, you're hungry (you've just left the gym) and you are not carrying any healthy snacks.

Before you know it you are making a bottoms up decision, you had no intention of buying chocolate. But it's there, and the menu on offer is chocolate or more chocolate. Before you know it you are in your car eating a snickers and your diet has been derailed before you've even had time to think. The pleasure centres in your brain are firing off and you go home and wonder what happened.

Why you will be fooled by expensive wine and works of art.

The orbital frontal cortex helps you make choices. And the medial part of it (mOFC) is believed to activate more when you experience pleasantness.

In one study by Plassman et al(2008) they measured the activation of peoples brain in an fMRI scanner while they were given wine of different value, they were told the wine cost $90 or $5 o $10. Of course, there was no difference in the wines but people experienced more activation in the pleasantness areas of the brain when they thought they were drinking the more expensive wine.

The perceived price did not change the activation of the primary taste centre of the brain, but the expectation of how good it was meant to be changed the activation in the pleasantness centre of the brain.

(And as a side note: Wine experts can't even tell the difference between red and white wine when blind folded!).

In another study people valued works of art more and had more engagement in the mOFC when they thought they were painted by an expert rather than a novice. Of course, none were painted by an expert.

If I told you I painted this you'd give me £1 for it. But if I told you Jackson Pollock did, you might be willing to pay way more.

This has led to the idea of "placebo marketing".

Why do people spend £200 more on a computer because it has an apple on it? (like the one I'm typing this on).

In the world of fitness and nutrition you could use this effect to your advantage. If you spend £80 a month on a gym membership or get the platinum super duper personal training package with the best trainer in town, you may well perceive that your results will be superior to the £20 a month gym and the free programme you got given.

You may possibly work harder and just have more belief in the product.

In terms of nutrition, the super detox juice you bought for £6 a glass may seem more beneficial than the apple and bag of spinach you bought in the supermarket.

This may also explain why people see famous online coaches, posting up pictures of clients, and testimonials. You may automatically perceive this person as an expert and expect to get results when you buy their programme or online product.

Even if objectively the expensive options are no better than the cheap options.

Where does this leave us?

So you know your brain is now making decisions on autopilot all the time and whether you like it or not marketing can influence you.

Here are a few take home points relating to health and fitness

  • Make it as easy as possible for your brain to make the right decision. Reduces the cognitive load. This is why Steve Jobs wore the same outfit everyday. Put your gym gear in your bag ready to go in the morning. I once heard someone give the advice of sleeping in your gym kit and then getting up and going, it might be going too far, but you get the idea.
  • Put the gym session or class on your schedule, it becomes an autopilot activity.
  • Not sure what to do in the gym, get a plan/programme that is not too complex and stick to it. Again it will take another decision out of your hands.
  • You will choose from the menu on offer. Fill your cupboards with healthy options, crowd out the unhealthy.
  • Be prepared when out and about. Take your own snacks with you, a box of nuts in the car may stop you buying chocolate in the garage. Also prepare your own lunches.
  • Avoid the office on cake day!
  • Trying to give up fizzy drinks/soda? Try drinking 6 glasses of water when you feel the need for a soda. (I'm serious, give it a go, but don't over hydrate).
  • You can change your preferences with regards to food, they are subjective and you can switch them.
  • Take a shopping list to the supermarket. Take your time, when tempted by bright colours and packaging. Pause, take a breath and stick to the list.
  • You may think the more expensive product is better, it may not be.
  • OR if you are a personal trainer or gym, people may perceive your product as better if you charge more and be more willing to listen to you if they perceive you as an expert. (Testimonials, qualifications etc can help with this).
  • Sometimes your brain will make the right decision without you thinking about it, especially if it is a complex decision.
  • Beware of placebo marketing and living in a filter bubble.
  • Your environment and the people you surround yourself with will influence your choices. The old adage that you are the sum of the 5 people you spend most time with is true. Expand that to environmental influences, the websites you visit, the TV shows you watch, the books you read.
  • Buy cheap wine and tell people it's expensive. They wont know any different!


Choosing paint research
Expensive wine research
Monkeys choose raisin or apple
OFC in making choices overview
Plassman et al "Branding the brain"
An Introduction to Neuroeconomics: How the Brain Makes Decisions. www.coursera.org
An Introduction to Consumer Neuroscience & Neuromarketing. www.coursera.org

*Yes, I find the research involving monkeys problematic, as they don't get to choose to be part of the study. But it is what it is.