One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Derek Sivers, who said:
“If more information was the answer, we’d all be billionaires with six-pack abs.”
It explains why we read a book on money and still don’t automate our savings.
It explains why we stay up later to watch another episode even though we know we have to wake up early.
And probably most relevant, it explains why we choose the burger and fries even though we know we’re trying to lose fat.
Put simply: our behaviors are often a result of emotion, not logic.
So, because of that, we sometimes have to trick our monkey brains into doing what’s rational by appealing to our emotional side.
Let me explain.
For example, I’m sure many of you have seen this wonderful graphic on nutritional importance (or a variation).
It’s excellent⏤it’s backed by science, proven to be true, and completely logical.
Great. Let’s take it a step further.
I bet if I ask 10 random people at a local gym which is more important: total calories eaten in a day vs taking supplements, 9 out of 10 people would say total calories.
They know, logically, that how much food you eat in a day matters more than taking a pill.
How many of those same 10 people have meticulously counted their calories in the last month compared to how many of them took supplements?
Because if they’re doing what’s logical⏤and what they know is most important⏤technically they shouldn’t worry about supplements until they’ve figured out their daily calories, macronutrient targets, micronutrient targets, AND nutrient timing, first.
This is exactly what you hear coaches say on social media, right?
“You shouldn’t worry about supplements if you have no idea how many calories you’re eating in a day.”
Logically, YES. They’re absolutely correct. I’ve even said this before.
But from an emotional, monkey brain perspective⏤it is wrong.
We want to take the pill or drink the powder.
We want to buy the new pre-workout instead of tracking calories because it:
1) Gives us a quick mental “win.” Immediate gratification that we’re doing something to get us closer to our goals.
2) Gives us instant feedback. We feel something. The euphoria of the caffeine and the skin tingles of the beta-alanine feel WAY better than hitting our macros at the end of the day. Even though something will happen over time from hitting our macros, our monkey brains want to feel good TODAY, dammit.
(In fact, make it a double scoop.)
This is the psychology we’re battling every day while trying to make better choices. And, usually, we end up losing.
But what if we didn’t have to fight against these behaviors? What if we actually used them to our advantage?
Like I mentioned before: sometimes we have to trick ourselves into doing what’s rational by appealing to our emotional side.
The reason why this works is because these small, easy wins help us build momentum. And getting started in the right direction is often the hardest part.
We can ask ourselves, “What’s the easiest and most attractive thing you’re willing to do to get the ball rolling down the hill?”
Because sometimes doing things the way we’re “supposed” to do just isn’t practical.
To solve these emotional problems, we need to use emotional solutions. We need to work with our emotions, not against them.
Let’s give that some thought this weekend as we inevitably fail at making the rational choice over and over again.
Cheers to our monkey brains 🥂
P.S. This was totally unplanned (seriously), but in case you want some supplements to kickstart your momentum, you can get 20% off Legion Athletics supplements by using code “MATTM” at checkout. I highly recommend their pre-workout, but you can take their free quiz to find which supplements best suit your goals. If you have questions, about the supps or why I back this company, feel free to reply.