Stacking Habits

Having the right habits in place is important to our businesses and our lives. When it comes to breaking old habits or creating new ones, one thing that can help is to use existing habits as cornerstones to change. The idea of stacking habits is when you add a new habit directly after something you already do habitually. “When I do “X”, I will then do “Y”.

To use this you first have to acknowledge those things that you do automatically throughout your day. Say your alarm goes off in the morning, what do you do first? Second? Third? In example, I know I 1) get up, 2) go to the bathroom, 3) make myself a cup of coffee, 4) sit down and read emails, then 5) go through social media, yada, yada… Once you have created a list of your habits, you can start to tack on an additional task in the appropriate place.

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Say, you want to start writing a blog. Your evening routine is to eat dinner, clean up the dinner dishes, watch tv until 11pm, brush your teeth, and go to bed. You could stack writing into that schedule. “When I finish cleaning up the dinner dishes, I will sit down and write for 30 minutes before I turn the tv on…” You’ll have to keep reminding yourself for awhile, but this will soon become habit.

That’s to add a new behavior. You can also stack habits to help break or change bad habits. Maybe you come home from work and, before you even change out of your work clothes, immediately snack on chips or some other junk food. You could insert a behavior to help break that one. “As soon as I get home, I will go to the kitchen, take 5 minutes and eat an apple, then change my clothes, and then, if I still want chips, I can have them. The fact is that once you’ve cut your hunger by having an apple, and stalled the routine further by changing your clothes, you will find yourself in more control and be less likely to want the junk food.

By linking a new behavior to something you are already doing (stacking habits), you create an anchor for the new behavior and are much more likely to stick with it then if you just tell yourself to do the new behavior at some random point.

Try it out. I’d love to hear how this works for you.

 

Drop the Negative Self-Talk

“Arrgh! I just blew my diet! I can’t do this! It’s too hard for me. I’m such a loser.” “Working out is too hard. I’ll never be able to keep it up!” Have these statements or something similar ever crossed your mind? We can be very cruel to ourselves when it comes to our inner voice and just because it’s us giving the verbal abuse, doesn’t make it any less damaging than if it was someone at home or work dishing it out. Just like abuse from an external source, this kind of negative self-talk can have some pretty serious effects on an individual.

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Some of the harmful effects include:

  • increased stress and anxiety
  • increases feelings of depression
  • decreased self-esteem
  • limited success in whatever you’re trying to accomplish (let’s face it, you’ll talk yourself right out of trying)

We are what we believe ourselves to be. So, don’t diminish yourself. Change is difficult and you will have ups and downs. Expect that. It’s part of the process. However much you do, it’s more than you’ll be doing if you quit and every little bit helps. Tell yourself how well you’re doing as you challenge yourself to change. Be your own friend.

Note: maybe you start a negative self-talk jar (like a swear jar) and every time you talk down to yourself, you have to put in a dollar. Save the money up to do something that makes you feel good about yourself.

 

Will You Ever Change?

Change is hard. Change can be risky. Trying to change means you risk failing. It’s easier to stay on the same path. You know that path, and there’s a certain amount of safety on it. But, is that direction the one that will take you where you want to be?

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To change where we are, we need to change what we are doing. Before you make changes, however, you need to clearly define where it is that you want to be, what you want to accomplish. This vision quest, or clearly defined vision of the future you, dictates what needs to be done to get you there. This could be a task like completing a hike or a competition, or it could be getting off/staying off medications.

Next, you need to believe two things.

  • First, you need to believe the change is possible. Obviously, if you think that it’s impossible you won’t work for it. This is like saying you want to levitate (I think that would be very cool, btw). How hard are you going to work toward that?
  • The second belief is that the change is worth the amount of work it takes to achieve it. Here again is the question, if it’s not worth all of the work required to achieve it, how hard will you work?

Now, if you’ve attempted to reach this goal before, and failed, identify the obstacles that you encountered last time and pre-think solutions for them, because they are likely to show up again.

Lastly, you need to have a plan and it starts with what initial step is required. That may be researching your options for a place to work out, or a shopping list for healthy foods to buy and have at your home or office, but determine that first step and take it.

Change can happen for all of us. What’s holding you back?

Challenge Yourself!

There all kinds of “Challenges” running about on the internet. They are set periods of time in which you do or don’t do something throughout that time. Challenges can be great ways to jumpstart a program. Most people can do something difficult to attain a particular goal. However, before you jump on the bandwagon, there are a few considerations that you should take into account.challenge

  • Don’t just do a challenge because it’s out there. I saw a “30 minute plank challenge” on Facebook that was ridiculous. First, there’s no point to doing a plank for 30 minutes and second, couldn’t you choose a challenge that is more meaningful and more likely to help you reach your goals?
    • Choose a challenge that sets up behavioral change beyond the timeframe. Say you want to eat better, maybe the challenge is to eat no processed foods. For a short time this might be a good one and, beyond the end of it, you’ll be in better control and better aware of eating at least less of those food items.
    • Choose to prepare for something. Maybe you want to train for a certain event such as a race or a hike or an obstacle course. Couch to 5K is an example of that.
  • You can create your own challenge. Don’t get hung up on looking for a set program to do. Just create your own.
  • Do it with a friend. Doing things that are challenging are typically more successful if you have the support of, and share the experience with, a friend.
  • Choose a timeframe that is realistic. If the chosen timeframe is too short, it is either unrealistic to reach your goal or it’s not much of a challenge. Many programs run 6, 8, 12 weeks (don’t ask me why, but I don’t see many 10 wk programs). These lengths give enough time to accomplish something meaningful.
  • Review your success once the challenge is done. After you complete your challenge, you should take a good look at what you’ve accomplished and appreciate the effort that you put into it. Maybe it wasn’t perfect. That’s okay. It’s not all or nothing. Look at it in percentages. In example, if you meant to eat breakfast every day and you only did it half of the time, that’s still 50% more than you were doing before. Or, you were training for a running event and you only could get in 3 of the 4 miles per day that you set out to do. That’s still 75% of your goal. In both examples, good for you!

Challenges, something done or not done for a set period of time, may be a way to change your behaviors or accomplish something on your bucket list. Think about what change would be meaningful to you and set up a challenge to get yourself started.

Good luck, and please let me know if you could use some help with this.

Try This!!! It Worked For Me!?

What is probably the worst reasons to try something is because someone says, “It worked for me!” This is true with diets, exercise, supplements, or following some “guru”.

One story from my college days (yes, many, MANY years ago) is a perfect example of this. I was working in the university weight room and saw a huge bodybuilder doing concentration curls (one arm curls in which you’re seated with your elbow resting on the inside of your thigh). He had giant biceps. While curling with one arm, he held a metal pipe in the other and was hitting his biceps with it. I had to go ask what that was all about. He said that by hitting his muscle with the pipe, he was breaking down the muscle faster to build it up bigger…and who was going to argue with him, it must work, right. Whoa… big time wrong! That’s not how muscle breakdown and building works. “Well, (naysayers will say) if it didn’t work, why was he so big? Huuhh?” Well, let’s think of all the other things he could be doing. His diet was probably supplying the right amount nutrients. He was working out hard, even without the pipe. He probably had some genetic advantage, aaand… at that time, it was likely that he was taking anabolic steroids. Still, he said it was the pipe and people would surely believe him.

shake-weight-for-men-in-pakistan-Telebrand.pk_Any exercise program will give results to someone who hasn’t been exercising. It doesn’t mean it is the safest, most effective exercise program. It is just that now you’re following a program and doing some kind of exercise.

Almost all diets will give weight loss results short-term. Whether they are cutting out food groups (paleo, ketogenic, vegan) or managing when you eat (intermittent fasting) or has you track your points (weight watchers), they all will manipulate you into eating fewer calories. Fewer calories = weight loss (at least short term). (Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD, has a great post here.)

All that said, I do hope that all of our clients are saying, “Try Jiva Fitness! It worked for me!” What’s the difference? Do your research. If it’s an exercise program or a diet/eating plan, what is it based on? Is there scientific evidence to back it up. Who are the people that created it? Are they qualified professionals? Don’t go blindly into things that are in the popular news. After all, even the Shake Weight was popular for a short time.

The Final Straw

Many people go through life without feeling the need to exercise or watch what they eat. Weight gain, decreased strength, endurance, and/or flexibility, the onset of disease, these are all situations that happen gradually, many times without the individual’s notice. That is, until something happens that changes their perspective.

This final straw or moment of crisis, shifts an individual’s thinking from, “I’m fine the way I am.” to “I need to do something to change this.” If and when you have this moment, you should write it down in detail. What was going on? What did you hear and see? How did you feel? These are emotional moments and questions that require emotional answers. It is emotions, after all, that drives us. By documenting this, you will help to strengthen your resolve in changing and you will have something to turn to when your motivation wavers.

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The following are a few of the actual moments that brought clients to me for my help.

“At my last checkup, my doctor told me that I was pre-diabetic and that if I didn’t change how I was living my life, I would need to go on insulin.”

“I fell down outside my barn and I couldn’t get off the ground. It took me three hours to eventually get to something that I could use to help me pull myself up.”

“I saw a picture of myself and I couldn’t believe it was me. How could I have gained so much weight?”

“I just found out that my daughter is pregnant and I want to be around to be part of my grandchild’s life.”

To change our lives takes a change in our mindset, a shift in our priorities. When that final straw moment happens, you need to own it. You can change, and, while not knowing how to can be a problem, it’s no excuse. Find help and always keep in mind why changing is important to you and your life.

Good luck, and let me know if I can be of help. Mark