Feel Better Fit

Feel Better Fit

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Science Of Forming A Habit

How are habits formed? How long does it take to establish them? It takes only three weeks to train the body into a new habit or thought pattern. That’s right! Repeating a behavior for twenty one days will establish a new “habit”. After that, the body will not have to make a concentrated effort to follow through. Hence the name for this blog - 21 days

Here's the scientific basis of the 21 day theory:

From the Aristotle blog:

"Dr Maxwell Maltz wrote the bestseller Psycho-Cybernetics.
Originally a Plastic Surgeon, Maltz noticed that it took
21 days for amputees to cease feeling phantom sensations
in the amputated limb. From further observations he found
it took 21 days to create a new habit. Since then the '21
Day Habit Theory' has become an accepted part of self-help

Brain circuits take engrams (memory traces), and produce
neuroconnections and neuropathways only if they are
bombarded for 21 days in a row. This means that our brain
does not accept 'new' data for a change of habit unless
it is repeated each day for 21 days (without missing a day)."

This quote is referenced from a blog that is no longer online - http://www.aristotle.co.nz/library/series.aspx?seriesId=61

However, Maxwell Maltz book is available from Amazon. I found this quote on the blog entitled A Secret of Transformation:
"the 21 day concept comes from Maxwell Maltz MD, who wrote a mega-successful book in 1960 called ‘Psycho-Cybernetics.’ This book was a pivotal influence on many self-help gurus, and one reviewer on amazon says: “This book effectively condenses the entirety of the self-help field.”" Italics added

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

21 Days Update - The Start of Something Much Bigger

My 21 Day challenge and this blog began on Valentine's Day, February 14th, 2010. It's been 4 1/2 weeks, 32 days. Although I expected to start a good habit, I had no idea the magnitude of positive impact it would have on me. Every area of my life seems to have started an overhaul of spring cleaning! My work, my relationships, my home, my health, my emotions and my spirituality have been super charged with confidence and energy.

I didn't realize this at first. Truth be told, I was a little worried because my original "habit" started to change and transform but the transformation was for the better! As I added the strength training, it was with an attitude of "slow and easy". Surprisingly, I've done much better than I expected and have not only kept jogging while adding the strength training, but have raised the bar a bit.

The fire was lit. Many things were changing for the good but the most important change and the one that empowered all the others was a sense of confidence and determination to "Better My Life" by taking care of me! When we commit to making our needs a priority, we find other areas of our life begin to transform for the better. It requires a little bit of "selfishness" or so it seems, but ultimately what we do for ourselves, if reasonable, starts a fire that warms others. We begin to see the potential of a future harvest for the seeds of personal growth we have sown.

For me it started a few days before the 21 Days Jog/Blog started. I sat up in bed one day and said, "I want to feel alive again!" "I've been struggling with too many things for too long." So I thought back to a time when I felt better and I seriously considered what elements had changed in my life. I realized that I had not been making my choices with strength and power as I had in the past. My fire had gone out and my confidence was under attack continually. In my pathetic state, the "strong me" inside was trying to get out and the "scared me" was getting in the way! I HAD to do something. I wasn't going to give up until I felt "Alive" again! So, calling on my spirituality, I stepped out in faith and with much prayer and determination, set out to uncover and "spring clean" areas in my life that were out of sync.

My health and fitness were formerly at the top of the priority list and that's where they have been returned to! The biggest factor in all this is my faith that if I am doing what I should be, everything will work out right. "Right" isn't necessarily what we expect, but if we change our perspective to one of "watch and wonder" what will happen next then God's grace will be sufficient!

A few days after this decision to "get back my old fire", I visited my daughter who suggested that I start writing a fitness blog. As she pointed out, "Mom, you can only help a small number of people, as a personal trainer, but think about how many people you can reach online with your knowledge and experience!" And so began this venture.

Listen to the "still small voice" within you. It takes some effort! It may require delving into areas you would prefer to avoid. It may require saying "no" to some things and saying "yes" to some others. It will not necessarily be all good and fun. Will power must be enlisted for positive change to take place. Put up the fight against discouragement. Take a stand to be a better you! Stand in the confidence that your determination will pay off not only for you personally but for everyone in your path!

Nothing worth having comes without an effort!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Improve Your Will Power Management!

Will Power is like a muscle, in that, exerting it reduces capacity for use temporarily. On psychologytoday.com, Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D. Associate professor of psychology at Carleton University, reports that multiple tests show participants ability to utilize willpower diminishes after a trying task.

Is it possible that the brain, like a muscle requires a period of recovery? What does this mean in practical application? How does this affect our ability to improve our diet or stick to an exercise regimen?

Establishing a habit requires will power. Much like physical energy output, the degree of the effort one can muster may be limited, especially if other areas in life are requiring self regulatory effort simultaneously. When making healthful living changes, the best choice is to keep them simple and realistic.

Small changes require less will power allowing us to see them through until they become mindless habits. Once established, willpower is no longer required and we can focus on the task of developing a new healthful change. More difficult tasks, like adhering to a new exercise regimen can be accomplished by utilizing all available resources. Limit your necessary output of self regulation by joining a group or hiring a trainer. Until the habit is firmly established, reduce outside stressors that may zap your will power supply.

Dr Pychyl also reports that will power like a muscle, may actually strengthen with use!

"Studies provided evidence that physical exercise programs led to decreased smoking, alcohol, caffeine and junk food consumption, and even reduced impulsive spending, watching television and the tendency to leave dishes dirty in the sink!" http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dont-delay/200902/self-regulation-failure-part-2-willpower-is-muscle

Gradually striving toward better activities and more healthful diet choices, you can confidently look forward to a more fit future, a stronger will power and a healthier, happier tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Good Habits / Bad Habits

Man is a creature of habit. The inherent need to establish routines in life is inescapable. Habits create structure. Structure creates a sense of well being. Having a degree of structure in life gives you the security of having something you can rely on. In a grounded environment; one with certain non-variable elements, you are suited to face the unstable, yet inevitable challenges of daily life with confidence and strength.

Anchoring behaviors can be building blocks for positive living.
Regular mealtimes
Work schedules
Group of family scheduled recurring activities
Private reading/sports/hobbies

Or During stressful times of uncertainty, they may be crippling crutches!
Comfort eating
Substance abuse
Impulse spending

Cherished, yet possibly injurious to our health and happiness we subconsciously depend on the feelings of familiarity associated with these crippling crutches. We may even find ourselves helplessly at the mercy of our “vices” when facing stress. Many times our circumstances plunge us into a life of uncertainty or instability. During those times, habits (which are very reliable and secure to us) may be our only security and comfort, regardless of whether they are good or bad.

It is vital to recognize bad habits and not dismiss them with an attitude of "well I'm just that way". As we start to understand why we do some of the things that are less attractive, we can begin to work toward recovery from the grip they have on us.

If you have struggled with gripping habits and desire to be freed from them, there are several things to do.

1. Adopt an atitude of awareness that you can escape the things that grip you.
2. Begin to develop good habits to replace bad ones.
3. Remove as many triggers to the bad behaviors as possible.
4. Get outside support to assist you.
5. Utilize faith in a higher power!

Determine to keep getting back up and trying again every time you fail. Look at each "fall" as a learning opportunity. The difference between success and failure is often a matter of perspective.

Failure says, "I can not."
Success says, "How will I do this? Why did I fall? What shall I try next?"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Habits Create Stability In Our Unstable World

Have you ever used an exercise ball? When you first sat down, were you eyeing for an anchor to grab hold of? With hands on the ball, a few bounces will suddenly give you confidence. Your brain will find your body's center of gravity and your muscles will quickly, easily stabilize on this unstable surface.

We use our muscles and the ground beneath us to maintain our center of gravity and keep from falling when standing, walking or even jogging. We learned to center our gravity at a very early age and depend on it effortlessly most of the time.

Finding your center of gravity takes no thought. It is a successfully acquired habit!

hab·it1   /ˈhæbɪt/ Show Spelled[hab-it]
1.an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary (definition from dictionary.com)

When establishing a new habit, there is a time of learning and falling, much like a baby taking its first steps. Determination to get moving keeps the child trying and once the skill is mastered, a whole new world is available. The child has learned a "habit" of finding its center of gravity and now can do it without much thought. It's time to focus on bigger and better things!

Eventually, behaviors repeated require no effort and become "comfortable". We mindlessly "fall into habits" when our conditions are unstable, unreliable or requiring extra self regulation from us (see Will Power blog entries). An example would be "giving up on the new diet" (returning to familiar eating patterns) when other demands tax us. When we are stressed or focusing intently in any area, we will search for an anchor of one type or another. Our old established eating habits mindlessly comfort while we focus on a trying task.

Once enough effort is placed into developing healthful eating habits, they no longer require thought and we naturally maintain them while exerting energy in other areas. This doesn't mean we will never go back to bad eating habits. A trigger such as family holiday feasting may shift us back into the old eating style, however with a little will power and focus, we can easily return to our "better eating habits" again!

It's best to keep diet or exercise changes simple, possibly one small change at a time until it has become mindless. If we gradually add new habits guarding them until they are firmly established, we will ultimately reshape our lifestyle and like the baby who has mastered walking, each new habit will open up for us bigger and better things!

Adopt a child-like determination in your quest for developing good habits, with the surety that once created, they will be anchors for you in an ever-shifting world of uncontrollable circumstances!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 21 - Finally Completed The Challenge!

What NOW???

I have made it for 21 days and I feel very accomplished, but I have to admit, I feel a little bit like I'm done. I know that's not a good thing.

Here's my advice to anyone using a 21 day cycle to establish a new habit:

1. Make sure you have a maintenance plan in place.

2. To make this a beginning, rather than an end, start counting another 21 Day cycle.

3. Raise the bar by adding to your original challenge in a related way.

You should increase your existing challenge to avoid losing your barely established habit or add a related challenge. This will keep you engaged and interested.

To add to my challenge, I am going to start a new weight lifting program, while continuing to jog (with or without Jasper - probably a little of both)

Keep reading and learn more about how to change your life through changing your habits.

Future Posts Sneak Peak

Kathryn's Favorite Exercises
More About Habits - Good & Bad And How They To Manage Them For Success
Helpful Training Tips
Training Myths Dispelled
Helpful Links
Debi's Delicious Nutritious Meals
And Much MORE!!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 20 Look For Flowers & Enjoy The Process Of Change!

Jasper's still mending, so I'm alone for my jog. Two things happened.

1. I was physically challenged a little. I didn't get any breaks (without Jasper to mark every sign-post). This was good for me. It showed me what I was capable of. Gradually increasing challenges is rewarding! I feel accomplished!

2. I was more aware of my surroundings. It was a beautiful day. Without distractions, everything came alive for me and I noticed the spring's first flowers. It was uplifting after such a harsh winter.

Did I lose a jogging partner or was I blessed with a chance to relish a beautiful day?

Perspective starts with thoughts and choices. I chose to accept my change and look for good in it and my thoughts followed my decision. Are there any decisions or thought changes that you can make to create a better perspective?

The bottom line is, you can't change your circumstances, only the way you react to them!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 19 - Following Through Without My "Workout Partner"

Sometimes your workout partner can't make it.

Sigh...Jasper can't make it today. He's injured his paw. I'm not sure who's more disappointed. Probably me. :-( I took him for a short walk, satisfying his desire to keep up with our new habit. Afterward, I trudged off on my jog alone. Despite my initial discouragement, I really enjoyed my private jog!

When taking up a habit that we share with others, adherence must not be dependant on those around you. Take personal responsibility for your actions.

Don't "blame" anyone or anything that changes your circumstances, allowing it to become an excuse to quit.

What are you depending on?
Praise, Companionship, Competition, Reward, Camaraderie? Motivation is good, until it becomes dependence. Eventually, we have to take off the training wheels and struggle a little if we're going to ride on two wheels. Overcoming our despondency/obstinacy will become easier if we remember that once we learn to ride a bike on our own, we are on our way to a place where we can sit back and "feel the wind in our hair".

In the development of any habit, it's crucial to recognize the dependencies we are creating and free ourselves from them. Despite the temporary fears and discomforts we may experience, for a behavior to truly become second nature, we must conquer the awkwardness accompanying the removal of our "training wheels".

I've always said necessity is the mother of invention. Be flexible if you have to, but don't veer off path.

Use your 3 step Guidelines:
1. Celebrate Success - You have learned some important skills and come a long way already! Turn your focus away from your discouragement and Celebrate how far you have come! Don't lose the ground you've gained!
2. Learn from your mistakes. - Developing a habit requires a degree of Learning about yourself. If we aren't willing to see ourselves realistically, we WILL start to blame our circumstances or worse, those around us. Whenever you find yourself blaming, you can be sure you are not taking control of the situation and/or are being stubborn and reliant on your surroundings. Make your own choices and do what you must to accomplish your goal.
3. Keep Going Forward! - Time to muster up an extra dose of will power. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Success and failure may be a choice away from each other. Ultimately, you make the choice. Make it and Keep Going Forward!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 18 - Running In The Rain

Inclement Weather
Rushed home again for a short jog. Rain was falling gently. Cringing at the spray of muddy water from a passing truck, I decided I jog it alone today. Sitting at the front door to put on my old running shoes I heard Jasper's demanding bark. "Fine, you can go too."

I don't wanna!!!
We took a better route to avoid traffic but still got 1 1/2 miles in. My new route took me up a steep hill. I started to think about cutting it short. It seemed difficult. Then I thought more and realized it wasn't that hard. I just didn't want to do it. I was thinking about getting home quickly, rather than enjoying the moment. The rain was actually nice! The path was pretty. I was the problem!

Sometimes, we just need a change of attitude.

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...Proverbs 23:7

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 17 - Determnation is setting in!

Strongly Determined To Succeed!I remember this attitude. There was a time when I would jealously guard my workouts and jogging. I was a little selfish about it sometimes. Guess what? It feels good to get that feeling back again. Taking care of yourself IS important. Allowing the world to take your life away from you is not healthy. It's actually somewhat pathetic. Of course, emergencies like broken thumbs always take precedence. However good habits, like exercise, rest and eating nutritious food deserve a place of importance in our lives and we have to put them there!

Still stressed out about missing yesterday and keenly aware of the risk of derailing now, I was determined not to miss today! I had a very short window of time to quickly drive home and jog. I knew putting it off would be risky. It might rain and would probably be dark when I got home later....make the decision fast - do it!!!! OK, so home I fly, change, jog, change again and fly to the appointment.

Now I'm home and I am SOOOO glad I jogged! When in doubt, exercise! It's almost always the best decision. Start to guard your fitness commitments jealously. You deserve to. If you don't invest in your future well being now, not only you will pay the price but those you love will also.

I'm Celebrating a success that came very close to being a failure.

I Learned today that I'm getting too comfortable. I need to plan ahead daily or I may miss a day and I will be sorry if I do!

My confidence is growing and I am even more determined to Keep Going Forward!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 16 - Stuff Happens, Get Back Quickly! (emergency)

Allowable Exceptions and Importance of Recovery.

I spent a good part of the day getting my kid's broken thumb x-rayed and into a purple cast. I had to work before and after the unexpected event. Yes, stuff happens. It's OK. I had my son walk Jasper and although I felt really bummed about it, I skipped a day.

I'm actually glad I felt bummed, that means it's already becoming a part of my day!

It's vital to get back on track immediately should an emergency interfere with your 21 day Habit Forming Stage. Should you face an unavoidable interference, make every effort to immediately resume the task!

Sometimes a "derailing" can occur from one lost day. If it does (or has happened to you in the past) start over! Studies show that the more times we attempt something, the better our chance of succeeding becomes. Why? We have learned something to avoid or overcome in each failure. Our persistence in trying again makes the difference.

So should you inadvertently derail, remember the old adage; "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"

Learn From Your Mistakes