Changing habits using Fred
All about Fred
My piano students know Fred well. Fred lives inside them. He's their automatic pilot.
When they play something incorrectly, Fred learns very quickly and then Fred can take over and play that passage for them.
This is vital to playing a new piece. It's vital for all of us. We have to have that automatic pilot so deal with every day routines, or in their case playing passages automatically so they can concentrate on other things.
Can you imagine going for a walk and thinking "now I have to put my right foot forward...now I have to put my left foot forward". We just do it without thinking. We've taught Fred how to do it so we can use other parts of our brain to decide where we are going etc.
So Fred is a quick learner. He takes over routine actions. Sometimes they teach Fred the wrong notes, or the wrong timing, and they have to take control of Fred for a while to teach him a better way. But if Fred has learnt this section incorrectly for a long time, he doesn't like change. He has to scrub out what he has learnt and relearn it again. He's resistant, because the way he was used to doing it was easier and we always tend to go for the easiest way out. It makes sense.
So I go through their piece. We work out what sections Fred can play beautifully, and which sections they have to play. The parts they have to take control of to reteach Fred.
I tell them that I can teach them, but I can't teach Fred. That's their job. Fred wont automatically play the section correctly unless they've taught him over and over again. And yes, Fred does learn quick, but relearning is harder for him. It's easier to write on a plain piece of paper and read it back, than one that has to be rubbed out first and written over.
So they go home and their job is to teach Fred what I have taught them. They have the intellectual understanding of how the piece needs to be played, but they have to put that into practice in their piece.
It's no good just expecting Fred to be able to do, just because they want him to, or because they've done it 3 times. They have to teach him so well that Fred just does it.
It's the same with us and food. Food is rewarding, and our Fred is used to grabbing it automatically if we are in a certain place at a certain time, or during certain emotions. He's our automatic pilot. We just let him do and then wonder why he's done it, when we know it's wrong.
We have to take control of Fred. We have to stop and say "hang on mate...wrong move...this is how we do it". At the beginning it's hard because we are so used to letting him take over once he's been primed, but we have to take that responsibility back from him, to stop him going into the next action and completing the whole routine.
Think I'll continue in another message. It's getting too long
Last edited by KD : 11th April, 2010 at 10:12 AM
So my students come in the next week and open up their music. We may discuss which parts Fred can play and which parts they are playing because Fred hasn't learnt it sufficiently yet.
We'll discuss how their parts need more conscious awareness. How they may need to slow down at that point. What they are going to do. Which note, which finger, which rhythm. And they play, then they take control from Fred when they get to that section. Of course...should add that they are ultimately in control of whole piece...it's not completely mindless, just like us going for a walk and doing the right foot, left foot thing.
But they have to plan it. They have to know where it is that goes wrong, what they are going to do about it, and then do it. No long talks with themselves over why they should or shouldn't, they just need to do it to get the results they want.
But they have to plan, and they have to practice to teach Fred. It doesn't just happen because they know what they should be doing.
It wont happen because I've told them, or because they've read a book on it, or had a pricey lesson They still have to teach Fred themselves. And they have to want to. And they have to be patient with him. And they have to be strict with him and not let him bully them around.
But once aware of what he's doing, and knowing we want something different, it's just a case of doing it. Teaching Fred so he can do that bit without us having to think too much about it.
I did write an introduction to this subject, all about how the brain wires itself to make it difficult to stop at one portion of food, but I ended up deleting it when I merged and moved the post. D'oh. So will just an precis it now
I don't believe that in every case (well, certainly hardly ever for me anyway), there has to be an obvious reason why we start with one item of food and then before we know we've eaten much more than intended. Why we focus so much on food regardless of whether we are hungry or not.
I'm aware that people search for reasons, usually wondering if they were lonely, or bored, or sad, or happy, but often I think it's stimulated just by our environment or a particular food ingredient which sets off a chain...It sets off Fred.
I quote from Dr Kressler
Dr. David Kessler, former FDA commissioner and now professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, and colleagues discovered that rats fed solutions containing various combination of sugar, oil and vanilla were attracted to the sugar solution, but the main driver was when fat was added to the sugar. They also found that the combination of sugar and fat increased dopamine activity in the brain. Dopamine helps focus attention. According to Dr. Kessler, a dopamine increase is triggered when high fat, sugar and salt foods are consumed, forming pathways in the brain. These pathways are sometimes initiated when one is in contact with a stimulating food. To make matters worse, the dopamine raise caused by trigger foods stays elevated- it does not level out as it does with other stimuli. This increase in dopamine makes it hard to keep the food temptation out of one’s mind, contributing to overeating.
I believe that using food in the past for emotional needs started the imprint in our brains. It taught Fred that this = that = this = that and woohooo a rush of dopamine. And sometimes we aren't sad or lonely or whatever, but other things fit the bill. We are in that same room, or we have that particular taste in our mouths, or it's 'that' particular time, or just something very small that sets off the pattern. It's called cue induced wanting.
So we end up with this pattern of behaviour, which isn't a personality defect rather than a learned pattern that we've practiced so many times we do it without thinking about.
By taking conscious control over Fred, we can change that pattern and learn a new one. If we are right handed and lose our right hand, we can learn to use our left hand. It might not feel natural for a long time, but we can do it.
Oh my goodness ..... thank you sooo much for taking the time and the trouble to post all this. It makes perfect sense (as you always do!) And it's a great deal of food (sorry!) for thought! I have been thinking about the weight management coach course I went on and how I felt after it and how pathetic that I couldn't put these things into practice but you've even covered that!
I will be having a stern word with my Fred and working on changing the 'automatic' responses.
Thank you so much again xxxx
- Rep Power
I am going to come back to this as there is a lot to take in but it does make perfect sence...I wish I could make it a sticky on my brain. LOL!
I'm pleased it help clarify things for you. Knowing intellectually what we have to do doesn't mean it's going to be easy...more about in a minute.
Originally Posted by JanD
I have to admit that it isn't for me. Maybe it is for some people, but I think a lot depends on how much we use Fred, how long we've used him, what sort of personalities we have and how we use our brains.
Originally Posted by KD
I'm a thinker. I can't remember a moment in my life where I wasn't thinking. My husband isn't a thinker. He goes through his day with huge blank emptinesses. He appears to enter a black hole inbetween activities.
Perhaps it's something to do with our gender, our multitask abilities, because I don't think one thought in a moment of time...I think many things. My head goes from one thing to another constantly, and then back, and then forward. I complete a thought when I've been back to it many times. I rely on Fred constantly to get me through my day so that I can spend it thinking.
I fall into bad routines and habits very quickly because my Fred is a bad Fred Anything that gives me a quick reward even if I may self destruct in the long run, is learnt by Fred in seconds
And Fred has so many routines to remember, he fails me at times. He drives me to the shops, when I intend to go to the work for example. This never happens with DHs Fred. His is a good Fred. When DH wants to drive to the work he starts to drive and hey presto his Fred takes him to work. He doesn't spend time outside the supermarket wondering why he's ended up there.
I wake up in the morning and start thinking. In fact, I'm thinking in my sleep and my body wakes and I'm still thinking. I go downstairs and I'm thinking "what do I need to do today, what shall I have for breakfast, how can I get out of the ironing"...and it goes on and on. Needless to say, frequently the thoughts of food come into my day as I need to think about what I'm going to be eating.
DH gets up, does his thing with the teeth, shower and breakfast, the head turns off. A few hours later brain awakes because of rumbling tum and he thinks "Lunch". Gets the first thing that appears at the front of the fridge...eats and turns off again.
It's bound to be harder for me to stop the thoughts of food, because I think so much. If I had his ability to just turn off my brain, it would be a hellova lot easier!
Wouldn't it just? I read this section all the time KD and am glad to find out about Fred, he lives here too, with me...need more time to think, but thankyou, I so need this now. xx
KD, what you've said is spot on!
As a musician I think that way about music and my practice (changing deep rooted bad habits), but had never looked at changing the way I eat in quite that way. Giving it a name is brilliant too. My Fred definitely is being re-programmed.
What you said about the constantly thinking rings true for me too, my boyfriend is quite happy to sit there doing nothing and thinking about nothing, if you tell him something he'll just take it at pretty much face value. In my head I just can't stop constantly going through what I'm doing, what I should be doing, when I'll next be eating, what I've forgotten, questioning anything and everything plus some more random useless stuff all at once.
Usually, in the past, on the rare occasions I'm not overthinking anything and everything, I'd end up wandering into a shop to get a chocolate bar, or on the drive home from University I'd end up in the McDonalds drive through, or even just when making dinner for myself I'd cook what I would for me and my boyfriend, then eat it all! And thinking about it, I get urges to eat a certain times of day, because I 'should' eat then (and often did regardless of when or if I was actually hungry).
Thank you for making me stop and notice.
Brilliant post KD Thankyou!!!
I hate my Fred at the minute, he is not my friend!!!
Fabulous post!! I think you should do a little book of all these things. I could then open it at any time and have instant inspiration! Thank you so much for taking the time to post this!!
Now if I'm walking near a shop I can shout out "Shut up Fred" I may get some funny looks but I won't get that bar of choc!!
Lol! Love it! x
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