THE OBLIGATORY INTRODUCTION
I’m pretty sure I’m meant to write some exhilarating and eye-catching introduction to this blog post here, but as I can’t think of one I’m going to dive straight in.
Have you ever noticed that when you get good at something, you suddenly find yourself getting better at similar things? One small success suddenly leads to another and before you know it you’re totally on a roll.
We call these small successes Keystone Habits. Habits that create a chain reaction and influence other behaviours that continue to transform other things in our lives.
Basically they rock.
So I went wild and fashioned six potential habits in our lives that have absolutely nothing to do with exercise, nutrition or training mindset that we can practice, which will allow us to improve our exercise, nutrition and training mindset.
I know, crazy. So here goes.
MAKE YOUR BED EVERY MORNING
What better way to start the day than by making your bed. And no, not just because your mum keeps telling you to. You see, by making your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day.
That seemingly miniscule and irrelevant task will deliver a rush of pride and good feeling, something that will encourage you to complete another task and another and another.
As Tim Ferris, American author and entrepreneur, says: exerting control when you can, and reinforcing the fact that the little things matter, will set you up for success later on in the day.
And when things such as preparing meals, logging food intake and heading to the gym require a certain degree of self-control and energy, acquiring that rapid momentum early on in the day will ensure you’ll be more likely to complete these tasks later on.
Not only will you get awesome brownie points from your partner, but that wonderful act of making your bed every day also becomes part of your routine. Once that routine is set and autopilot is fully switched on, the constant need for willpower and motivation is no longer necessary.
You won’t need to think about making your bed and just like everything else fitness related, incorporating all these things into your daily and weekly routines ensure they are continuously completed without consciously thinking about it.
The value of routines is indefinable.
READ A DAMN BOOK
Read. And no, I’m not talking about your Twitter or Facebook timeline.
How long did it take you to read the last book you read? Wait, the last time you read a book was at school? Fml.
Anyway, whenever it was, how long did it take?
Weeks? Months? Maybe longer? Thought so.
The patience required to read a book is invaluable. Yet because of this instant gratification culture we’ve initiated through social media and the ability to view or complete things at the click of a button, people now struggle to tolerate the patience to see something all the way through.
None more so than achieving a fitness goal.
Whether that’s dropping dress sizes, getting leaner or learning to complete your first chin-up, all these goals take time. A lot of time. Unfortunately people just can’t get their heads around the need to stay patient with these goals.
Before they know it, they’ve already given up.
So by taking the time to read a lengthy book, fiction or non-fiction, we’re able to practice the art of patience; a skill that is proactive in nature and requires our full involvement and attention.
Remember, no-one ever read a book or lost all the weight they wanted to in a day.
MEDITATE LIKE A MONK
This is a fairly new practice I’ve added to my repertoire of non-fitness habits. I’m still crap at it and still struggle to manage to fit it in every day, but I can already see the benefit of practicing being aware of the mind. And no, you don’t have to actually be like a monk when you meditate.
How can meditating benefit us in our fitness journey though?
The advantages of meditating to health are clear to see: it increases positive emotions, improves memory and attention, boosts social connections, develops perspective and decreases anxiety, stress and depression.
However, the biggest benefit of meditating I’ve found is the ability to practice mindfulness. A key component to ensuring we experience health, fitness and dieting success.
By practicing mindfulness, you allow yourself to actually feel when you’re hungry or craving something, rather than relying on motivation and willpower to prevent yourself from rushing to the biscuit tin.
By corralling your consciousness, you’ll be able to learn to feel when you’re actually hungry or full up which will allow yourself a bit more time to formulate a strategic plan to combat it.
Honing in on physical sensations and being that little bit more attentive to your current frame of mind will work wonders when trying to perfect those nutritional habits.
TALK TO STRANGERS
Back when I was at University and talking to girls and stuff was all the rage, I read a book. A book that completely changed my outlook on how I talked, interacted and fared with other people.
That book was ‘The Game’ by Neil Strauss.
It was essentially a how-to book on improving social, attraction and seduction skills. Each day instructed the reader to embark on a challenge to improve such facets of their dating life.
One of the very first challenges was to go out and make small talk with five strangers every day.
‘It doesn’t matter whether they’re male or female, young or old, friendly or unfriendly. The stranger can be a businessman in the street, an old lady in the supermarket line, a hostess at a restaurant or a homeless person.
The goal is simply to start a conversation, with no intent other than filling in the silence with a question or pleasantry.
Remember: The answer doesn’t matter. Whether you receive a long story or a cursory grunt in response, you’ve completed the mission simply by opening your mouth and speaking to a stranger.’
So, talking to strangers? Isn’t that what they teach you not to do in school? Um yes, but listen: When was the last time you spoke to a stranger? The last time you dared to strike up a conversation with someone you didn’t know?
Speaking to strangers pushes us so far out that comfort zone we’re so happy in, that nobody ever does it. That prickly, uncomfortable feeling we get when having to converse with someone we don’t know is often terrifying. We avoid it at all costs.
Often in the world of fitness, success emanates from the constant need to push oneself out their comfort zone.
The need and challenge to be hungry, to constantly track food intake, to push those last few reps out, to undertake new exercises, to overcome disheartenment and failure. All these things require that feeling of uncomfortableness; something we’re just not used to.
So by stepping out that comfort zone on a daily basis, and initiating awkward conversations with strangers, we’re practicing the requirement to push through that secure barrier we’re constantly in. Pushing yourself out that comfort zone will stand you in good stead when it comes to the world of fitness.
GET YOUR WALKING BOOTS ON
Walking is actually a fitness habit I hear the naysayers cry! Well yes I suppose it could well be. But for the purpose of this article it isn’t. Deal with it.
So walking. Walking is a habit we should all master for two reasons.
Firstly, walking can improve your mood, help you de-stress, prevent heart disease and high blood pressure, improve balance and coordination and is just pretty beneficial all round.
However, one of the biggest reasons for getting into the habit of going for regular walks, whether that be getting off the bus one stop earlier, parking your car further away from your house or just going for a 15 minute stroll every day is to harness the power of NEAT - non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
That being all the movement you do that isn’t exercise – walking, fidgeting, playing with the dog, picking your nose etc.
The crazy thing about this little nugget is that it counts for around 30% of people’s totally daily energy expenditure. That’s a lot.
So by simply getting into the habit of going for a walk every day you’ll be able to artificially ‘speed up your metabolism’ and allow your body to burn even more calories throughout the day.
GET A CALENDAR AND A PEN
I stole this one from Jerry Seinfeld, the world’s highest-paid comedian. Seinfeld once explained his method for success:
Each January, he would hang a year-at-a-glance calendar on his wall and, for everyday he wrote new material, had the exquisite pleasure of drawing a big red ‘X’ over that day.
Drawing those ‘X’s’ got to be pretty fun and rewarding, so he kept doing it. Eventually, he began to create a chain of red X’s. The idea was to never break the chain.
So go get yourself a dry-erase calendar and a pen.
At the end of each day, if you exercise, complete a long walk, or do something physically beneficial, put a big fat diagonal line through that day.
If you complete something nutritionally beneficial, put another diagonal line through it, making an X. Mastering the habit of stringing a nice big line of X’s by the end of the week will ensure you’re well on your way to success. If you find yourself with only a few X’s and a few diagonal lines, you know you have work to do.
Seinfeld said the biggest reward was getting to the end of the month and seeing nothing but a string of X’s, as it meant he was constantly improving and getting closer to his goal.
THIS ARTICLE WAS TOO LONG AND I DIDN’T READ IT – CAN YOU SUMMARISE IT PLEASE
- Perfecting habits quickly leads to success in other areas of our lives
- Make your bed every morning – small wins kick-start the day as well as initiating a kickass routine
- Read – Reading practices the value of patience and seeing something through
- Meditate – Meditating practices being aware of the mind, something critical to understanding how our body is feeling
- Talk to strangers – Talking to strangers pushes us right out of that comfort zone
- Walk – Walking improves our metabolism and is just generally pretty good for us
- Don’t break the chain – Get into the habit of marking down every success you encounter