Nudge Theory: cues to help change habits and patterns for better outcomes

Create, design, and continually hone a“healthful-nudge” architecture in your life.

Have you ever heard about the “ Nudge  Theory?” Essentially, small cues influence our conscious choices and this can be intentionally designed, or can exist without our realizing it.  We may be making bad decisions because we are unaware of cues, or bad decisions can result because we are not creating cues.The idea I am proposing is to leverage this Nudge Theory in our own lives for wellness and anti-aging.

Strategic product placement:
You’re about to leave the drugstore after picking up a prescription. You need AAA batteries for your television remote- but you completely forgot. Fortunately, as you waited in line at the register, you noticed the stack of batteries. So you were "nudged" into remembering to buy these after all.

We can consciously and strategically, create an environment for ourselves to trigger healthy habits just as the marketers have learned to design their spaces to get you to remember to buy things you have forgotten you needed. 

The Nudge:  In order to have the positive outcome of purchasing much needed batteries, the marketing department made a conscious choice of increasing sales by positioning the batteries at the checkout where you will be sure to see the batteries. Increasing visibility will set off the impulse to buy the product. The purposeful architecture or design of the product placement, successfully influenced you into buying an item that you needed even though you were just going to pick up some meds.

We can help our positive outcomes my using the nudge concept in our home, our work place, and of course the car, that mobile home I spend so much time in.

Here are  6 NUDGES that I personally use in my life to spur me on:

1. Place your walking shoes at the front door, or at your workplace to remind you to take a walk and make it easier for you to accomplish the walk.

2. Stash a set of workout clothes in your car at all times to encourage you stop by the gym even if you hadn't planned on it.

3. Pre-cut vegetables and fruits and place them in the containers and zip-lock baggies, leave them ready- in the fridge  for snacking, I especially need this for my Netflicks-binging; I have a bowl of fresh berries washed and ready to grab. 

4. In your refrigerator: keep whole foods options visible and organized, easy to reach and ready to grab and go.  Keeping the fruit, yogurts, veggies easily accessible will give you the cue to make better food choices.

5. Read health blogs frequently to help nudge you through the reluctance or avoidance. We all need to remind ourselves that we have a lot at stake in following through with these nudges.

6. Avoid "sloth-clothing." What I mean by that is, at home, avoid putting on shapeless over sized clothing. Instead, put on work-out gear- nice athletic- wear that make you look feel active and put-together.  It doesn't matter if you are not the size you aspire to, not at all. Merely wearing athletic gear is a huge nudge.Shapeless clothing tricks you into thinking you are skinnier— my clothing feels loose ...right? Fitted, attractive gear keeps that cue alert for wanting to maintain physical health whereas those ugly stained sweats and t-shirt puts you in the wrong frame of mind.

We see this dress-cue is used at many prep schools and public schools; students wear nice shirts, trousers, skirts etc. to keep from getting too casual and lax in the classroom environment.

Stack your habits: Start with one achievement ( yeah! I ate a bowl of berries instead of chips) then add and complete several achievements at a time (I took a ten minute walk at work, because I had my shoes there). 

Creating your own "nudge" architecture will help your transformation.

Why Brain Nudging Works; your brain’s automatic system versus the reflective system

Have you ever pulled into the parking lot of your work place, and not remembered a single thing about leaving the house nor the 25 minute drive you just took?

Can’t remember closing the garage door, total amnesia about the stop signs where you thought to look both ways before deciding to advance, or the green, yellow and red signals you obeyed to avoid hitting pedestrians and cars, the accelerations that took place when you decided to pass a slower driver?   , …

I made a lot of life-death decisions on my 25 minute route and sometimes I can hardly recall one single minute of the commute!! That would be an example of the The automatic system” of our brain. This part of the brain is fast, unconscious, able to think” quantumly”--meaning that this work area of the brain can handle many processes at the same time- like swerving away  from a pot-hole before you can even think about it.

If you decided to change your routine that morning, choose a different route because the traffic flow indicated a jam-up ahead, and you thought about what alternative route you could take, that would be an example of the “reflective system” of your brain. This brain work area is conscious, sorts through problems analytically and takes time and energy to reach conclusions. You generally remember the actions.

If you are deciding to create a better lifestyle change, you would be using the reflective part of your brain. You are gathering information how to make the changes; better health information allows for better choices.

Creating an architectural nudge environment works with these two brain functions. 

The 'reflective “nudges” you design in your life: strategic food placement in fridge, strategic workout clothing in place in areas you have high accessibility and visibility, reading resources to keep you updated and informed---will encourage your "automatic" (unconscious) workings of your brain to form new, fantastically healthful habits.

"Nudges" are an important feature of The Training Table and creating these gentle pushes towards my desired outcome has made all the difference.

If you are still reading this entry are possibly deciding to create a better lifestyle change. yo u would be using the reflective part of your brain. You are gathering information how to make the changes; better health information allows for better choices.


  1. I am a student of Mrs. Loewenstein and I, for one, am super impressed. This article was intriguing, alluring, and full of context that made me want to continue reading. I would definitely give this article a "must read" rating. I am a very forgetful person and am very exited to use these Nudges!
    Keep writing!

  2. I am new to the site and love the nudges. I have a been a college and high school basketball coach and used visualization in my coaching drills. The article was right on point in a common sense way that anyone can use. Very Nice.

  3. It is good to have a plan for your future, this post is actually really helpful if one wants to make himself fit for a long time. Nice post and keep sharing more of your knowledge!


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