Let’s face it. The reason we exist as a business is because people find it hard to get themselves to the point where regular exercise and healthy food choices are their default or ‘go to’ pattern, for life.
Most people are looking for help to achieve this ‘non-negotiable’ habit as I like to call it. We are simply a tool to help them get more of that healthy, strong, fit, vibrant, energetic and calm feeling they long for and know they will enjoy if only they could be consistent with the health and fitness thing. If you haven’t achieved the enviable behaviour trait of being on health and fitness autopilot yet, then it is fully worth pursuing because literally your life, but more important to that, the quality of your life depends on it. After all, who wants a long life if it is not one you can enjoy. The field of Medicine has been great in prolonging our lives but preventative health care, the industry I align with, is where great things will happen.
It is however not easy ‘disrupting’ the behaviours that lead to long term ill health. The easy option of eating badly and doing very little is simply too easy to take! So how do we put up with the short term discomfort of making different choices and doing different things for the long term pay off?
Without further ado, let’s get to my top 5 mental tricks to get you to the hallowed ground of – “The life time habit of exercising regularly, calming the mind and consuming nutritious foods”
When it comes to change….
- More often than not we use ‘all or none’ thinking. The answer is to shrink it down. Make the step so small and so easy that you are 99.9% confident you can do it without too much trouble. E.g. It would be great to think that we could all exercise 30, 45 or even 60 mins a day right? It is literally only 3.5% of our time if we do 1 hour of exercise 6 days a week. But hey who actually does this besides a very very small percentage of the population? When you start to think that only 6 hours of exercise per week will do, you will set yourself up for failure from the get go. Let’s break it right down to what you are 99.9% confident you can do. Whatever that turns out to be, 20 mins a day, 10 mins every second day, or 5 mins twice a week! Remember it is a start and that is your very first concern. Without a start, literally nothing happens. Well at least nothing that is good when it comes to health improvement!
- Use game methodology. Why do this? Because games are fun and they distract you. You can get so focussed on the game you forget what you are actually getting done. A classic method we use to great effect with clients is the “Put the colourful X on the calendar” game. The idea is to start a chain of X’s on the calendar and then get as long a run as you can, with out breaking the chain. You are allowed to put an X up on the calendar when you do one of 5 healthy habits we usually set as behaviours worthy of an X – which will be individualised to suit where the client is at on the journey. You will be surprised at how something so simple can start to get you doing things simply to be able to put an X on your calendar and continue the pretty ‘chain’.
- Make an appointment with someone else. You see we are quite capable of letting ourselves down but not usually someone else. Don’t underplay guilt or the mental tendency to avoid it by setting up something you won’t easily get out of.
- Don’t enter the inner conversation. As soon as you start the internal dialogue about whether you should or shouldn’t do that session you said you would, you are in trouble. The answer. Act like a robot, no questions, no internal debate, just do it!
- Similar to number 3. But make the stakes high. When you commit to something publicly you will tightening the screws on getting the job done. No one likes to look bad and not do something they said they would. Check out John Bear and The Blackmail Diet for an ingenious way to ensure compliance. He set up a legal contract that compelled him legally to donate to the Nazi Party if he didn’t achieve the weight loss goal he set by the end of the year. It worked!