New kind of Pepsi Challenge for you.

ImageOkay, so this is really fun and I’m pumped to share it with you (insert me “eeeeeeek!”ing with you).I have a challenge for you. Inspired by the Pepsi Challenge (from years ago).

No, I’m not having you drink Pepsi and Coke (sorry :)), but what I am challenging you to do IS going to give you a new way of understanding and thinking about food, habits, why you choose what you choose, AND how to start ridding yourself of the habits you don’t want and increasing the habits you do want. Plus a really cool story to share at parties and make awesome friends.

I’ll get to the new challenge in a minute, but here’s the really cool story to share at parties…

Years ago, Pepsi implemented the Pepsi challenge which is simply a side-by-side taste testing of unlabeled Pepsi vs. Coca Cola. What Pepsi found, and mass marketed, of course, was that a substantial majority of people chose Pepsi over Coca Cola.

What later research found though was…

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  •  1) in the first sip people chose Pepsi as it is sweeter and less carbonation, but for a whole can of soda, the public majority chose Coke.
  • 2) when the brand labels were presented with the samples (meaning you knew which product you were sampling), people chose Coca Cola majority of the time. Even if Pepsi was labeled as Coca Cola people chose the can labeled Coca Cola. This means brand (or the memories associated with a brand) trumps taste.
  • 3) both drinks trigger a dopamine (feel good hormone) reward response in the brain BUT when a soda (Coke OR Pepsi) was combined with the Coca Cola label (think classic red and white swoosh), an additional response in the part of the brain (ventromedial prefrontal cortex) that provides a warm fuzzy feeling was additionally activated. Scientists believe this is because the memories and nostalgia we tie to the Coca Cola brand.

The “so what?” for you:

Our memories, experiences, and the ways we experienced past warm fuzzy feelings dictate how much we’ll enjoy a food, activity, place, person, brand, etc. now.

Example: I grew up with a family who has only owned and will only own Toyotas. Even if another car drives better or receives better ratings, I will always think Toyota is the best car. It’s my childhood, the information/beliefs that have been instilled  in my mind, and a brand recognition that has been there since I was born. It triggers my Warm Fuzzy Feeling Prefrontal Cortex.

This Warm Fuzzy Feeling correlation doesn’t just relate with brands though. It can relate to foods or activities that have generated those Warm Fuzzy Feelings in the past – like certain foods your mom gave you when you were sick (7-up and Saltines for me), the confetti cake you always had on your birthday (yum!), the music or environment you ate in growing up (I still like eating in front of the TV), or drinking wine while watching the sun set (trips to Europe making me feel indulgent and grown-up).

People, places, things, experiences, etc. are able to “excite our nostalgic emotions, and those emotions influence our preference” (and our choices and habits).

We don’t gravitate towards foods or activities we associate with upset, frustrating, unhappy time/places/people. Think of a food that made you sick and throw up… for me 100 tootsies rolls when I was 5. I won’t touch a tootsie roll today. For some people… it may be thai food, sea food, or tequilla ;)

What this means for you is that NOW you can have 1) increased awareness of how past nostalgic emotions are influencing your preference (say for that slice of chocolate cake like you used to have on your birthday, versus a bowl of berries that your mean Aunt Lucy made you eat and you despised) AND 2) you have the ability to create new Warm Fuzzy Feelings associated with habits that you DO want to improve.

Eat healthy food and instill new healthy habits WITH people/places/things that make you happy, optimistic, relaxed and more in love with life.

Your Challenge:

  1. Think of someone, something, or some place that every time you are around it/her/him, you leave a little bit happier, optimistic, and more in love with life. If you don’t have someone or something, join us, let’s be friends. :)
  2. Select your new healthy habit you want to implement. Ideas….having more romance or adventure in your life, eating more greens, slowing down while eating, thinking more positively, ditching the 3pm sugar grab, waking up earlier, dancing on tables more, staying in better touch with your friends/family, walking outside, etc.
  3. Finally – Choose your person, thing, or place from step 1 and add that to/do that with the new habit you are trying to implement. Build this warm fuzzy memory muscle and watch your habits (easily) transform over time.

For example…

  • Trying to slow down while eating? Add your favorite music, person, window view, napkin, candle, or pretty cup to your meal. Remove the people, places, and things that make you feel anxious and rushed.
  • Trying to exercise more? Add your favorite person, book on cd, lululemon gear, time of day, music from your favorite trip/memory. Remove the boring gym treadmill, music you associate with the high school weight room (unless that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling??), and people who complain about working out, people, or just life in general.
  • Trying to ditch sugar? Get a 5 minute message at 3pm every day, save your favorite part of work to do at 3pm each day, or eat carrots while talking with your best friend on the phone.

Bottom line: Instilling new healthy habits WITH people/places/things that make you happy, optimistic, relaxed and more in love with life triggers the warm fuzzy feeling later when doing it and thinking about it and makes you gravitate towards it – just like you do Coca Cola. ;)

Take Action: Comment below when you do this challenge, I would love to know what you discover AND maybe someday I’ll create the “Katie Challenge” and make pins/badges you can wear around ;) Until then….

Create new warm fuzzy feelings and watch your desired habits improve…

Update: My favorite response from this post was… So I think what this is saying is I should eat broccoli while having sex. LOL :)”. My reply – “absofreakinglutely!”

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