Since I last wrote, I have been awash with positive feedback from my last newsletter. So many of you have been in touch to say you found it inspirational or that is gave you the impetus to make some changes. This letter is a follow-on to see how you are doing and to help motivate you to make those changes permanent and establish some new ones.
There is great research on this very topic happening at the moment. Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit explains that habit is more than a repetitive behaviour but rather a construction of three sequential components that make up the habit loop: the cue, the behaviour and the reward.
The Cue can be an internal trigger that provokes us to learn a behaviour: an example would be placing a small ball beside your walking shoes which triggers you to do self-massage before you go walking.
The Behaviour is the actual routine we commonly associate with the habit. This learned behaviour occurs automatically, free from a specific goal. It can be as simple as always putting your right sock on before the left.
The Reward makes the behaviour stick. The rush of endorphins that gives you the ‘high’ after a good exercise session makes you want to repeat the experience.
According to Duhigg establishing new habits involves 5 steps:
1 – Establish the goal and time frame:
Let’s say the goal here is to be less stiff and more flexible. The goal needs to be broken down into manageable, realistic steps. Setting one or two sessions a week to work on improving your flexibility is doable for everyone rather than trying to do a session everyday. Scheduling regular studio sessions to work on your whole body will improve your strength, fitness and wellbeing and keep you on track whatever your goal. A realistic time frame to see the benefits would be about 6 weeks but you will feel the benefits immediately.
2 – Identify motivational factors:
The internal motivation involves doing the activity for the inherent satisfaction rather than a separable consequence. The consequence of foam-rolling a stiff, rounded back feels good, but the end result is a straighter, pain-free body that moves with ease.
3 – Pick a goal orientated behaviour
Consider different goal oriented habits, then pick one. The goal is to have a body that moves with ease. You could choose to use the foam roller regularly to ‘iron out ‘ a stiff back or you could choose to focus on shoulder mobility. Either choice results in moving you closer to your goal of a more flexible body. Focusing on one habit at a time leads to greater success.
4 – Create the cue and reward
Keep the balls, foam roller etc in a highly visible area (the cue) or set a reminder alarm, then select a reward to reinforce the behaviour. Once you have established the behaviour the reward could be a new fitness top which highlights your new physique. Or just the sheer joy of moving without pain can be the only reward we need.
5 – Eliminate disruptors
Disruptors can be excuses for not accomplishing a new behaviour. If you can identify disruptors you can overcome the pitfalls before they occur. It’s not easy factoring in time for yourself particularly if you are working or involved with grandchildren duties or caring for elderly relatives. But we can only maintain that workload if we have a fully functional mind and body. Making your wellbeing a priority is key to maintaining your health.
6 – Follow up
Hold yourself accountable to your new behaviours. This I feel is an important concept. You are the boss of your body: be a good boss. Keeping a written record of your progress helps you to maintain focus and it’s a great way to keep yourself motivated.
I always give clients home work to supplement the work we do in the studio. I’m fortunate in attracting clients who are ‘enders’ and are very committed to their wellbeing, but everybody can struggle from time to time. I consider myself to be very privileged to have such a dedicated clientele. I love to hear the outcome(s) when you decide to follow the steps outlined. Your results can be a great motivator for others.
I’d like to say thank you for the trust you demonstrate in my ability in keeping you moving and pain free. Your support motivates me to become better at what I do. As always any feedback is welcome. It gives me my endorphin rush when I witness your success.