Author: Sean Cristea, NASM-CPT, FNS, CES, PES, BCS, Master Trainer
Throughout our wellness journey, there are times that stimuli and information will come at us rapidly and on the fly; choices need to be made. Difficult food choices, conflicting behavior, and infinite exercise options flood our decisions, making it difficult to adhere to a program. For this, we can apply the principles of the OODA loop.
The OODA loop was developed by the late Air Force Colonel John Boyd to simplify the rapid-fire decisions made during aerial combat. Boyd’s conclusion was that any conflict was a time-based problem. Whichever side could move through their OODA loop the fastest would have the upper hand. This applies to our cravings and mental toughness as well. If we can establish the “upper hand” on our weakness, we can push through any obstacle and achieve our fitness goals! Here is the basic outline of the OODA model.
Observe our situation closely. What exactly is going on within our minds? What behavior/act are we doing that isn’t desired? Observation and situational awareness are skills that anyone with fitness goals should develop. Expanding our sensory awareness field to take in more information at a conscious and subconscious level will provide us the opportunity to analyze our mental weaknesses.
Orient to the reality of our observations. Orientation is the processing and analyzing of gathered information. This is where it is helpful to ensure that our biases and tendencies do not limit our ability to see a clear picture of the actual cause of the situation. For example: “Bacon makes me hungry,” can be reoriented to: “I am hungry, because I didn’t fuel my body earlier.”
Decide on a course of action. This is where the rubber meets the road. Depending on the complexity and stakes involved, this can be a simple choice or a complex decision after analyzing multiple courses of action. It is encouraged to seek assistance when determining the right course of action.
Act. Nothing happens until the action takes place. You have made a plan, now follow through and restart the OODA loop process!
Throughout our wellness journey we will face many situations that challenge our compliance to our established programs. Instead of avoiding these situations, we can apply the concepts of the OODA loop to overcome the mental barriers and reach our wellness goals.