Smart Advice on Making Decisions

February 20, 2010

A brilliant friend of mine sent this to me the other day. It was written by Michael Bond and was printed in New Scientist Magazine issue 2732.

Though it is not directly exercise related, you can apply these tactics in your approach to living a healthier and stronger life.

How to avoid making foolish decisions

It's easy for your mind to lead you up the garden path when it comes to making a good decision. Below are ways to avoid the common pitfalls.

CLEAR YOUR MIND Judgements can often be based on a piece of information you have recently had in mind, even if it is irrelevant. For example, bidding high at an auction after pondering the height of the tallest person in the room.

DON'T FALL FOUL OF SPIN We have an inclination to be strongly influenced by the way a problem is framed. For instance, people are more likely to spend a monetary award immediately if they are told it is a bonus, compared with a rebate.

DON'T LET EMOTIONS GET IN THE WAY They often interfere with our assessment of risk. One example is our natural reluctance to cut our losses on a falling investment because it might start rising again.

BE FACT BASED Don't allow your beliefs and opinions to cloud your analysis.

THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT THE LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES When considering how a course of action will make you feel, talk to someone who has been through a similar situation rather than try to imagine your future state of mind; run mental movies about how an option might play out.

LOOK BEYOND THE OBVIOUS SOLUTION Don't accept the first thing that pops into your head.

In our attempts to get "svelte and health," we often adopt and perform irrational and dangerous diet, exercise and wellness practices. Rather than using science and rationality as a guide, many opt for the sensational.

Here are a few wellness practices (in no particular order) that are not healthy, potentially harmful and should be avoided if you are doing them to improve your health:

Very low calorie liquid diets
No fat / low fat diets
All fruit diets
Explosive style weight training (e.g., kettlebell training, Olympic lifting)
Inversion therapy (hanging upside down for long periods)
Applied Kinesiology
Magnet therapy
Steroid use
Spot reduction exercises to lose fat

And there are more. None of the above have science on their side - quite the opposite in fact.

Bear in mind that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is - except sometimes.

And be wary of people who tell you what it is you want to hear.