How to use Habits to improve our lives?

By Tony Olejnicki | Creator of HiACHIEVR Program

How many habits do you have?

It takes more than a minute to identify them all because they are automatic behaviours performed with little or no thoughts, yet they subtly drive our lives.

The smallest action repeated on daily basis from saving a single dollar to smoking a single cigarette can have huge accumulative effect to achieve enormous success or lead to a personal disaster. Hence understanding and embracing your habits is a great way to take control of your life and achieve more.

Small habits can have surprisingly powerful impact on our lives. We don’t notice their impact because the changes are negligible in a short term but the effects can compound to a big success or a disaster in long term.

A 20 minute jog will not make any difference overnight but repeated every day will make you leaner and fitter in 6-12 months. Conversely eating family size pizza every day will make you obese within 12 months.

Habits are micro changes in your life which don’t involve any upheaval, revolution or reinventing yourself but through repeating it time and again they may lead to a big result.

In order to be successful, it is important to understand how habits are formed.

The mechanics are simple. The brain figures out how to respond to a new situation through the process of trial and error. Like in the Thorndike’s “Cat in the Box” experiment brain responds to a cue, performs the action and is rewarded by the release of dopamine, comfort or feeling of personal safety. If repeated it becomes the habit.

It is like your morning coffee habit. Your waking up becomes a cue, triggering a craving and a prospect of staying alert. Your action is to drag yourself out of bed and make a cup of coffee. Your reward is feeling alert and ready to face the day.

The key to success is a strong and obvious cue, difficult to ignore or avoid.

If you have a sweet tooth make you home free of sweet treats. If you decided to jog in the morning, place your running gear close to you bed.

Another way to strengthen the cue is to make it clear, specific and intentional. If you intend to “eat better”, ensure that there is healthy non-processed food in the fridge and plan it in advance to get it ready to eat with the least of fuss.

Don’t just say “I will run more often” but say “on Monday, Wednesday and Friday when alarm goes off I will put my running gear, which I prepared last night, on and I’ll clock 3km”. This is a clear plan and an obvious cue. These will lead to build a positive running habits.

We are motivated by anticipation of reward so making habits attractive will help to stick to it.

The human brain releases dopamine, a hormone that makes us feel good, when we do pleasurable things such as eating, watching favourite movie or having sex.

So you can use you favourite habits to release the dopamine while developing new habits. This is called temptation bundling. So for example you can schedule watching you favourite show, you are addicted to, only when you ride your hated exercise bike. Eventually it will become your favourite exercise.

We often spend a lot of time on behaviours that are easy, like mindless scrolling through social media and avoiding difficult tasks like studying or exercising.

Reducing friction is a well known trick to create new habits from difficult tasks. Conversely increasing friction helps to kick bad habits. Simply unplugging TV set or logging out from social media after each session, will make it a more cumbersome engaging in bad habits.

Another successful trick to make new activity more manageable is the 2-minute rule. This means to break your activity to manageable chunks to achieve the final goal.

  • If you want to read more, commit to reading two pages per day, rather than to read one book in a week. Reading two pages a day is an easily manageable task.
  • If you wish to run a marathon, commit to put on your running gear every day after work. Once you put your gear on, you will probably go for a run and get rewarded with the dopamine release after the run, nice shower and well deserved healthy meal.

From the evolutionary aspect the activity needs to be immediately satisfying to become a habit. Our ancestors focused on immediate concerns like finding food and shelter and stay safe from a predator. This was an environment allowing immediate return and was encoded over 300,000 years of evolution.

In the modern office work environment our focus is on long-term goals like saving for retirement or sticking to a diet. So the ultimate reward doesn’t happen for months or years making the good habit difficult to sustain. We have been living in delayed-return environment for less than 200 years, a time too short to effect evolutionary conditioning.

Immediate returns can encourage bad habits. Smoking gives instant stress relief but causes lung cancer in 20 years, so craving for nicotine overrides concerns over long-term effects.

So pursuing habits with a delayed-return needs an attached immediate gratification. Here come a modern technology to the rescue.
Habit tracking is a simple but effective technique. Using a simple calendar or diary to cross daily activity is effective because habit tracking itself is an attractive and satisfying habit. The anticipation and action of crossing off each day will feel good and keep you motivated. Many Apps such as STRAVA or S-HEALTH make this task even more enjoyable.

Tony Olejnicki – an engineer, motivator and exercise physiologist specializing in high altitude training is the creator of the HiACHIEVR Program, an inspirational program helping professional working in an office environment to improve productivity and life quality by lowering physiological age, improving cognition and optimizing personal health.

TAKE ACTION!
Contact us for a free consultation about the personalized transition with HiACHIEVR Program to high productivity workplace.

What is The Most Dangerous Job?

By Tony Olejnicki | Creator of HiACHIEVR Program


According to the Safe Work Australia, the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries are the most dangerous working environments in Australia with 44 fatalities in 2016 out of total 218 work fatalities.
Considering over 3 millions of sedentary office workers in Australia, with 8 fatalities reported in 2016, the office job appears the safest job in Australia.

But wait… […]

How to Improve the Brain Efficiency and become Younger, Smarter and Healthier

By Tony Olejnicki | Creator of HiACHIEVR Program

The GOOGLE search for “how to Improve Brain Efficiency”, will offer the advice from Wellness Gurus on motivation, brain diet, ketogenic diet, short naps, exercises, mindfulness, building strong connections and many more. These are all great snippets of advice. However for an average office worker busy and stressed with competitiveness, shortage of time and financial resources they are difficult and unrealistic to implement.

All these advises are too generic, too complex in detail and require a serious time commitment for any sensible person being able to implement any of them, even in a short form or express version.

Ask yourself this question:

Has any quick motivational program, hyped up exercise styles or trendy diet worked for you in a long term?

Most of the businesses implement office productivity tools and automation (digital transformation), protecting stressed employees from customer interface and shifting stress on customers instead. Alternatively, businesses outsource the workforce abroad, often forgetting that a customer is a key to the profit bottom line. These will make a business more profitable in a short-term, however, will make no one younger, smarter or healthier. As an example, consider banks, telecommunication businesses, and utilities just to mention some.

Imagine now, if you could improve your Cognitive Availability (Brain Efficiency) in a simple way and complete your work in half of the time available?

There are companies which do exactly that. They collaborate with employees for a win-win wellness and productivity proposition and improve profits with shorter working hours.

How do they do it?

Is this some other wellness gimmick for a psychological motivational feel-good-training?

Brain Efficiency and Productivity.

The Office Worker Productivity is closely coupled with the Brain Efficiency or Cognitive Availability, regardless of whether you are doing repetitive or creative and inventive work. The human brain works at its best in the Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) mode, which makes a perfect sense considering 300,000 years of human evolution.

NEAT is a state of continuous non-repetitive mobility at low effort level, where the body system uses fat as the fuel (Thermogenesis) to generate energy. In this state, the brain generates complex and diverse neural activity to the muscles as it keeps the body balanced in the upright position. It also monitors feedback from proprioception sensors. The heart beats at a slightly elevated level delivering an increased Oxygen level. This, in turn, energizes the brain and supporting cognitive functions. The brain is the heaviest user of Oxygen out of all human organs. It consumes as much as 25% of total Oxygen despite its comparatively small weight of about 2% of the total body weight.

Guess what happens when you sit down and stay sedentary in the chair focusing on your computer work?

It takes about 30 minutes for the body to sustain the Brain at its full cognitive availability before it settles to the resting state. The heart slows down delivering less oxygen to the brain so the brain enters a resting mode which also limits the cognition.
After one hour of a motionless sitting the Brain Cognitive Availability diminishes to a level equivalent to the sleeping condition. If you have not dosed off, you will be prompted by the brain activity to a movement with a strong pain signal in your back, shoulders, neck or maybe a cramp of your leg muscles.

As soon as you stretched your legs and took a walk to the coffee machine your brain resets to its full cognitive capacity for another 30 minutes and the Brain cognitive cycle repeats. Typically most of the sedentary office workers would repeat this cycle 6 times in a day. As a result, this offers a full cognitive engagement for about 3 hours per working day. The remaining 5 hours of the working day blend into a low Brain cognitive mode without most people realizing it.

Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions:

  • What have I done today?
  • Have you ever arrived to work by a car not remembering details of your journey?
  • Why am I behind the schedule despite working so many hours?

Becoming Younger.

Have you ever wonder why many people look older than their chronological age?

Often it is due to genetics. For most people, however, genes by themselves determine predisposition only. The condition such as a ‘speed of aging’ must be triggered by environmental factors.

In the past, we thought about aging as a static process determined by the chronological age. Since science fully explored the role of stem cells, we understand that aging is controlled by the physiological age.

The stem cells abundant and active in children and young adults diminish with age, however, they do not disappear but remain dormant until activated and can be stimulated and rebuild any organ to its original state.
In the eighties, scientists participated in BIOSPHERE2 noticed by coincident that caloric restriction diet leads to organ regeneration. In other words, the hunger causes the body to use protein as a fuel and at the same time, it stimulates a stem cell regeneration when the supporting environment becomes available.
Take the muscles for example. You can rejuvenate them through an intensive exercise and nutrition as athletes and bodybuilders do. For most healthy people it can be done to most of the body organs up to 50. However, for people with lifelong commitment, it can be done beyond 50.

Most generally healthy individuals above 30 are physiologically 5-20 years older than their chronological age due to their sedentary lifestyles and poor nutrition. The amazing thing about physiological age is that it can be lowered. NEAT with appropriate nutrition and daily exercise will lower your physiological age.

It is worth it and achievable for most people to engage in the HiACHIEVR process. It is very rewarding to retire at 65 having a body equivalent to 55 rather than 85.

50 is a pivotal age and most people have the opportunity to peak at 50 as a combination of financial status and physiological endurance and be ready to ‘climb’ their ‘Life's Everest’.

The alternative for the sedentary population is developing a sedentary condition. Half of the population over 50, in developed countries, will contract one or more, a totally preventable, sedentary condition such as diabetes, sedentary lifestyle cancers, hypertension, stroke, dementia just to mention few.

Becoming Smarter.

Brain stem cells also exist in adult bodies and can be stimulated to replace damaged neurons.
Similarly to nutritional deprivation stimulating muscle tissue rejuvenation, reducing oxygen concentration stimulates stem cell production in the brain and brain cell rejuvenation, neurogenesis.

For the last 5 years, I have observed such an effect with my clients participating in our high altitude adventures, including myself.

My original explanation stemmed from high altitude exercise physiology. I linked it to increased production of red blood cells to deliver a sufficient amount of oxygen at the high altitude. The observable effect of improved cognition and energy lasts a couple of months after returning from high altitude but the studies indicate even more long-term benefits.

The NEAT system employed in the HiACHIEVR Program helps to improve cognition through consistent increased blood flow to the brain rather than Oxygen deprivation in the low Oxygen environment. The HiACHIEVR program also offers a high altitude extension for all participants who successfully completed the HiACHIEVR program.

The HiACHIEVR Program protocols, based on personal experience in high altitude training and the latest neurological research, lead not only to physical improvement but also improve the cognition.

Tony Olejnicki – an engineer, motivator and exercise physiologist specializing in high altitude training is the creator of the HiACHIEVR Program, an inspirational program helping professional working in an office environment to improve productivity and life quality by lowering physiological age, improving cognition and optimizing personal health.

TAKE ACTION!
Contact us for a free consultation about the personalized transition with HiACHIEVR Program to high productivity workplace.

Occupational Health and Safety Risks of Sitting

By Tony Olejnicki | Creator of HiACHIEVR Program

A routine and personal comfort are natural parts of a human behavior and need to be disrupted at regular intervals for healthy and productive life in private or professional settings.
 
There are many ways to achieve that.
 
There is a new epidemic of public health imminent but avoidable, the office immobility. There is so much evidence now that prolonged sitting is detrimental to the human health and it lowers life expectancy. In fact, sitting is more dangerous than cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption. It kills more people than HIV infection.
 

  • How will the legal system deal in the future with a negligent behavior of a business causing horrendous health implications to long-term employees?
  • What is the solution?

 
In 50’s and 60’s it was not uncommon to think about cigarette smoking as not only harmless but the chick and beneficial to thinking. Yet tobacco industry had the evidence how unhealthy and dangerous the habit was; they denied and withdrew the research results from the public. When exposed in 80’s the industry faced serious legal implication and costs. A similar battle is raging currently with the alcohol industry. The situation is far more complex because the alcohol consumption is so entrenched in the community’s norms.
 
Smoking and drinking are personal issues solvable by individuals however sitting have to be addressed by the businesses. The good news is that it affects everybody equally including office workers, management, and executives. There are no particular evil forces hiding or confusing information for some nefarious gains. So it should be easy to deal with. Whether you are an office worker, manager or CEO you really don’t want to develop the sedentary condition in your 40’s and 50’s, suffer over last 15-25 working years and retire unable to enjoy retirement to the fullest.
 
The sedentary behavior is insidious. It happens in slow increments starting with muscle atrophy, where muscle tissue gets replaced by the fat. This affects the levels of hormones and enzymes leading often to an irreversible deterioration of other body systems. The majority of office workers experience elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels leading to diabetes, heart diseases and strokes in as early as in 40’s or 50’s, what suppose to be the prime time of life.
 
The human body has evolved to an upright position. A prolong sitting, no matter how ergonomic the chair is, weakens skeleton and joints not being stimulated by the movement. This leads to back pain, joints pain and other conditions.
 
The evidence is ocean deep starting from epidemiological studies, sedentary behavior studies, physiological studies to the evidence at DNA level.
 
Once acquired, the sitting complications are costly, difficult and unpleasant to deal with, they may be terminal for the victim and costly for the public health system. The positive news is that the prevention is really simple and cost-effective. The simple answer is the active office work.
 
The active office environment is not only healthy for the office worker but it is also beneficial for the business. The mobility not only stimulates muscular system but it also wakes up neural system leading to a better self-awareness (presenteeism), productivity, creativity and increased personal energy for the office workers, so they are alert all the time and don’t doze off during the day and in particular after lunch.
 
Transition to the active office offered by the HiACHIEVR program is a systematic and sustainable approach with a high rate of success and cost-effectiveness.

Don't just take my word for it. Listen what world's leading researcher on mobility Dr. Levine says about a prolonged sitting

"Sitting is the next smoking" says Dr. Levine from Myo Clinic Research

 

Tony Olejnicki – an engineer, motivator and exercise physiologist specializing in high altitude training is the creator of the HiACHIEVR Program, an inspirational program helping professional working in an office environment to improve productivity and life quality by lowering physiological age, improving cognition and optimizing personal health.

TAKE ACTION!
Contact us for a free consultation about the personalized transition with HiACHIEVR Program to high productivity workplace.

How the Body Awareness Enhances Creativity and Productivity

By Tony Olejnicki | Creator of HiACHIEVR Program inspired by Dr. Michael Anderson

I was inspired by Dr. Anderson research documented in his book After Phrenology: Neural Reuse and the Interactive Brain and his explanation of modern understanding of how the brain works. I connected that immediately with work of Dr. Marc Hamilton on the office mobility awareness a basis of the HiACHIEVR Program. It was a Eureka moment for me when I fully understood how both concepts can revolutionize the Quality Lifestyle for most of the people.
 
Michael Anderson is a modern day Leonardo Da Vinci with a diverse background with no dogmatic views on what is suppose to be true. He started as a pre-med undergraduate at Norte Dame followed by a Ph.D. in philosophy and postdoc in computer science specialized in Artificial Intelligence.
 
The Brain Falacy
 
The research by Dr. Anderson measured, quantified and applied new angle on how the brain works. He confirmed that our minds are connected to the physical world by interacting, touching and manipulating things rather than storing things in ‘memory’ and recalling computer-like on demand. We are all familiar with a fallacy that we are using only 10% of our brain and this is why we have geniuses, who can use 100%. Nature is very efficient with resources so why should be so wasteful with the brain? And of course, it is not.
 
The Brain Plasticity Makes us Smart
 
At first approximation, we know that the brain is a collection of very specialized organs dedicated to some very particular kind of processing or kind of perceptual mode such as vision, touch, language etc. The neurons connect and form partnerships, which can get stronger or fade. This is called neuroplasticity.
This was a foundation for a next step called neural reuse which explained how these specialized areas collaborate.

 
Dr. Anderson has connected these two stories in 15 years of research and discovered that these two mechanisms interact, collaborate and form sophisticated organizations which lead to the complex brain functionality.
 
Parts of the brain involved in things like motor control or basic perception are also important to the higher order of thinking like language and mathematics. It is well documented that the task of naming tools activates places involved in motor manipulation.
 
People with vision when reading Braille while blindfolded use vision parts of the brain but if reading with eyes open uses a different part of the brain.
 
How the Brain and the Computer Memory Differs?
 
The brain has some storage capacity and stores mental representations, affordances, for future manipulations. If we look at a doorknob we instantly associate it with a rotation. In mathematics, we solve algebraic equations based on patterns and precedents.
 
The chess player resolves his moves based on few successful patterns he remembers and associates them with the current pattern. He doesn’t need to remember a large number of patterns just a few making sense. The computer, on the other hand, relies on millions stored patterns and matches them a current pattern.
The language and mathematics are a collection of affordance manipulation tools. The language is super powerful as it allows us to manipulate each other affordances, which is going to change their behavior, including their verbal behavior. So our language development is deeply rooted in our social interactions.

 
Use it or Lose it
 
Living in a frugal nature we face ‘USE IT OR LOOSE IT’ paradigm every day. Both the Brain and the Body are frugal to preserve the resources. This is why sitting in a chair for 8-10 hour per day leads to sedentary conditions and cognitive deterioration.
 
1 hour of vigorous exercise per day by no means compensates for 8-10 hours sitting. It slows deterioration process to some extent but it is too hard for most of the people and therefore not sustainable.
The HiACHIEVR Program design based on office mobility awareness studies and validated by neural research is a sustainable way to prevent sedentary conditions and improve mental cognition, creativity, and productivity.

 

Tony Olejnicki – an engineer, motivator and exercise physiologist specializing in high altitude training is the creator of the HiACHIEVR Program, an inspirational program helping professional working in an office environment to improve productivity and life quality by lowering physiological age, improving cognition and optimizing personal health.

TAKE ACTION!
Contact us for a free consultation about the personalized transition with HiACHIEVR Program to high productivity workplace.

Why is Everyone So Fat, Broke and Busy

by TONY OLEJNICKI | Creator of the HiACHIEVR Program |

This is the best steel I have ever done. It comes from the title of the book by Jeff Gains .
He asks these 3 questions about Americans and finds out that at least 65% of Americans are obese or overweight, 65% are in a bad financial situation and 60% by their own standards are busier than they ought to be.

So what is the reality in Australia?

In 2014-15, 63.4% of adults were overweight or obese. 2 million of Australians in 2016-17 are experiencing financial stress. 42% of Australians acknowledge that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but more than half (56%) are missing out on their morning meal at least once a week because they are too busy to have the breakfast.

The issue here is not about calling people fat in bullying mindset but to address the issue in a practical way to help suffering population to recover and develop sustainable living practices. It is a serious mind crisis created by the negative side of total commercialization of humanity. We all know that but the crisis has not risen sufficiently for people to take action. So what would it take to get to the tipping point for the population to take action?

It is all about psychology and perceived value and commercial mind may help us. It is all about choices. Why do we make wrong choices so often? And, how to change that?
Behavior produces results, so to change results one must change the behavior. It is as simple as that.
The behavior is driven by your brain: primal brain, the emotional brain, and deeply thinking brain. Jeff Gains calls them the Robot, the Emotor, and the Thinker.

The Robot, the unconscious part of brain drives your survival mode and is the happiest in a comfort zone of an experienced safety. The Robot receives the feedback signals from the body sensors. It translates them into thinking emotional parts of the brain. The Robot drives muscles to act in self-preservation to experience gratification and avoid pain.

The Emotor springs to action, when you are driven by emotions (urges, desires, fears). It is concerned with the present and requires a gratification without much delay.

The Thinker, reasoning and thinking part of the brain can see the past, present, and future.

The Emotor makes us see and act through emotions. We ignore contradictory evidence and fabricate supporting evidence. The Thinker can manage the Emoter. Hence most people try to fight or control their emotions, feelings, and fears. This is why they are unsuccessful because willpower doesn’t last.
How to control emotions? Simply put yourself in other's shoes. You will see reality in different ways and instead of going against your emotions you will follow your emotions and develop new behavior which in time will develop new habits. The jerk who cut you off is probably a jerk but it may be a person in distress taking his dying child to the hospital to save the child’s life.

If you felt better about the exercise you would enjoy doing exercise.
If you felt different about the food you would eat different food.

If you need to change behavior there is plenty of advice. Most of the advice is about the type of behavior and not how to change it. This is one most important reason why it is so difficult to change the behavior.

The HiACHIEVR Program is a 12 weeks practical course of changing and developing behavior for a sustainable and productive personal and professional life.

It is based on the most important principle to successful transformation synchronizing the Robot and the Emoter.

Tony Olejnicki – an engineer, adventurer, motivator and exercise physiologist specializing in high altitude training – is the creator of IMA (Infinite Mountain Adventure), an inspirational company helping professional working in an office environment to improve life quality and experience a motivational Himalayan adventure.
Send feedback or questions directly to the author tony@8mtb.com