Let’s talk habits.
Why focus on habits? Surely there are a lot of quicker ways to lose weight and get fit in time for the beach?
Well, maybe there are. Maybe you can jump on the latest paleo / ketogenic / low-carb / low-calorie / low-food / detox diet, and also join the gym and smash out those punishing cardio sessions day in, day out, and maybe you will see some quick results. Maybe you’ll be able to strut your stuff with confidence on the beach in January in your bikini or budgie smugglers.
My question is though, even if you are successful in losing a few kilos and getting in better shape, what happens then? You work your butt off (literally :)) for 2, 3, 4 months to get that result, which is awesome, but in many cases it’s not sustainable. Are you realistically going to be able to keep doing that for the rest of your life?
Consider for a moment professional sports stars. These people are absolutely inspiring individuals who work unbelievably hard for years in an effort to reach the top of their chosen sport. Basically without exception they’re focused, determined and have an amazing work ethic.
Sadly, however, we’ve all seen the retired sports stars who, a couple of years after finishing up their competitive career, are overweight, unfit, unhealthy and generally a long way from where they were as an athlete. I’m not going to mention any names, but I’m sure if you think about it you can come up with a few.
Look, I’m not judging them. I know that they have been trained for competitive sports, and when the competition is gone, they may not know how to adapt their lifestyle to “ordinary” life. I often think that if some of those people had access to the same information and expertise about everyday health that I do, and that I share with my clients, they’d be able to better manage their post-career health.
OK, I hear you say, but even though I’ve worked super hard to get my results, I’m not eating and exercising like an Olympic athlete! Those folks are in a different league from me!
True … except perhaps in one respect.
It takes serious willpower to do the training and make the sacrifices necessary to reach the top in professional sport. But it also takes serious willpower for YOU and ME to force ourselves to get up and go to the gym when we don’t feel like it, or to continually say “no” to that beer or that ice cream. Especially when everyone else is having one!
And willpower is a finite resource. It takes energy and effort for us to exercise willpower, and we eventually can’t do it any more.
That’s why so many sports stars end up out of shape after their career is over – they no longer have the competitive drive of becoming the best, other things become a priority for them, and they no longer have the willpower to maintain their fitness and nutrition.
Most of us don’t have the incentive of an Olympic medal or grand slam title. We already have other priorities. At some point health and fitness becomes enough of a priority for us to drive ourselves hard for a period of time, but when we do get some results and quite rightly feel proud of our achievement, the incentive to work hard physically and focus on nutrition falls away a little bit, the willpower falls away a little bit, and eventually we “fall off the bandwagon”.
I know. I’ve been there.
The answer to this problem is habits.
The thing about habits is that they’re difficult to establish, but once they are they don’t take any willpower to keep up. They’re simply what you do.
Think about some of your simple day-to-day tasks. You have a shower, you brush your teeth, you eat several times a day, maybe you drive to work, maybe you have a coffee in the morning … all of these things are so ingrained for many of us that we don’t even really have to think about them. In fact, it usually feels weird when we DON’T do them.
That’s the power of habits. They dictate so much of our daily activity, and we don’t even have to think about them or in some cases we don’t even realise what we’re really doing.
Imagine if you could use that power for better health.
Imagine going to the fridge and making a salad without even thinking about it (and not even noticing the slice of pie sitting next to it!).
Imagine getting to the point where it feels weird not to go for a 30 minute jog before dinner every night.
Imagine how much healthier you could be over the long term if you start building healthier habits into your life NOW!
Of course, building the habits in the first place is a challenge that takes willpower, but only until the habit is ingrained. That’s something that I believe every one of us is capable of, and if we make the effort to do it will have an enormous impact on our overall lives.
If you want to hear more about how to build daily habits, I’ll be talking about it quite a bit here in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!
If you don’t want to wait for that, and instead want to get stuck into building your own healthy habits straight away, I can help! Just drop me an email at [email protected] or give me a call on (03) 9864 1833.
You only get one life. Make the most of it!