August 21 Day Tastebud Challenge

Super simple challenge this month because it’s August and we’re all busy having fun. But on the inbetween days you can learn an important skill by Challenging Your Taste Buds….


Yeah I’m mostly thinking about sugar and crap food, but could be anything that you are a sucker for.

If you ‘can’t resist’ a food, or you ‘need’ a biscuit with your tea that is your subconscious telling your conscious what to do based on association. You are stuck in a Pavlovian reaction that is entrapping you in the food crime that’s holding you back energy-wise, body-wise and long-term health-wise.

You know it.

Yet you don’t mind. You post justify it and let yourself off. But it’s damaging your insides; over-shooting your calories for the day, stored as fat in skin and organs, furring your arteries, downgrading your hormonal health, boosting the cells that cause game-over illness. For the sake of an urge. We are no puritans at Livefit, pizza, cake and a night out are all over our calendars, sometimes you have to keep those grey areas in check.

Sorry to be accusatory. There’s no nice way to challenge this subconscious blind spot because you’re conscious has been complicit in the subconscious responsibility heist!

“There’s nothing to see here, keep moving…” it instructs, smoothing it over with the authorities and distracting your planning cognitive self. You know, the part that wants to make improvements and break the pattern, the real you. So your conscious is triggered by this challenge, it’s already jumping to its defence telling you I’m being anal and “It’s just a bloody biscuit! If I make an issue out of a biscuit it’ll end up with me not enjoying my food and I’ll blow off the whole health kick.”

Well yes. And no. Consciously eating a treat and enjoying the moment, hell yes. But let’s not drown the baby in bath water. Eating repetitively out of habit and wrapping it up in a post justification SHOULD be challenged or you’ll never know the difference! Be flexible, but be strong too.

Post justifications about energy are very often BS.

Even in the case of a 3pm biscuit when you could say it’s a response to a slump from low blood sugar signals, it’s incredibly likely you can fix your energy better and more permanently over a one hour time period by eating more wholesome food (a few nuts and a piece of fruit), drinking some water and doing a couple of reps of bodyweight exercise. You’d feel more energy, it would last longer and you’d have much better short, medium and long term health consequences. Getting this momentary energy based choice right gives you more energy tonight and tomorrow.

But that’s how this works, your subconscious defends itself, blocking any challenge to the simple habitual patterns it’s following even when they’re intellectually wrong. It doesn’t like change. Even if it’s good for you. The simple habit of lighting up your sugar reward centres and embalming your receptors in sweet sweet dopamine is its happy place. It doesn’t have the capability (or desire) to plan long term for your health (/self-worth/ happiness). YOU have to make some waves and consciously take control for a short period and show your subconscious the possibility that the other way can feel good. You can only do this for a short time before life gets back in the way and your attention weakens enough for you to lose your grip.

You can never just take control long term, you will lose. Focus on 21 days, in fact don’t even tell yourself you’ll ‘focus on it’ for 21 days, you are going to DO it for 21 days. Then you’ll go back to normal. But in that time you’ll show the subconscious the possibility that it might not be right, that you might not NEED xxxxx for energy, that you just want it and you can FEEL better without it (subconscious only works with feelings). Now conscious you, the real you, gets a chance to win the debate.

This month hopefully you can weaken the subconscious hold on your decisions at these key moments. Hopefully when you start eating xxxxx again you will be able to distinguish from the occasional one that you should allow and the ones that you really shouldn’t. Teach yourself the difference between need and want. And use that knowledge again and again to improve the habit patterns that below the radar dictate your health and shape.

The Challenge?

For 21 days pick a food habit that conforms to the sentence:

“I shouldn’t eat this but I like it.”

And disrupt it.

Bonus Motivation

If you want to double down on emotional attachment to your goals and improve your motivation why don’t you donate the money you would have spent on sugary food to helping starving people in Africa grow their own healthy food. Teach yourself what your spending on rubbish food in a visceral way, for a week or month donate the total to people that need it. They won’t spend it on toffee yum yums, they’ll grow proper crops to feed their village. A virtuous circle if ever there was one! 

James Hardy