Using to make your new health & fitness habit stick – make it #automatic
I’ve been thinking of ways to help people struggling to make positive, lasting changes to their health and fitness journey.
Sometimes when we embark on something new like a new training program we’re not only trying to develop positive new habits, but we also trying to overcome powerful negative, pre-existing habits that have (sometimes) been in place for the last 20 years?!
Recently I read/listened to an Audio book by Charles Duhigg called The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do, and how to change.
In his book Charles explains the concept of ‘CHUNKING’ (CUE/ROUTINE/REWARD)
- you respond to a
- you perform a
- you experience a
He described an experiment that involved rats finding their way through a maze to locate some cheese. 1. There would be a click (cue) as the door of the maze opened. 2. The rats would then navigate their way through the maze, scratching and sniffing (routine) to find the cheese. 3. they would find the cheese and eat it (reward)
Electrodes were place on their little rat heads to monitor their brain activity and the scientists found that initially, the neural load was quite high (because they had to use their little rat brains to find their way to the cheese) The experiment continued and after days, weeks and months they found that rats could quickly navigate the maze, directly to the cheese with almost no neural load at all – meaning that the rats no longer had to think about it because the cue, routine and reward (CHUNK) were imprinted on a part of their brain called a basal ganglia -> It had, in fact become automatic.
Bringing back to fitness
Say you’re trying to develop the healthy habit of heading to the gym each morning (positive habit)
- CUE -> Your alarm goes off
- ROUTINE -> You get dressed and get your arse into the gym
- REWARD -> post workout endorphins, coffee or protein shake and hang time with your mates
—> Do that long enough and it will become automatic.
The initial high neural load that occurs because you spend time thinking about whether you should or shouldn’t go to training or thinking about whether or not you felt like it or didn’t feel like it, starts to disappear. This new fitness CHUNK becomes imprinted on your basal ganglia and you no longer have anything to think about – it becomes automatic.
It also works both ways though – eg. (negative habit)
- CUE -> Your alarm goes off
- ROUTINE -> You hit the snooze button
- REWARD -> your cozy warm bed
Which ever chunk (cue/routine/reward) you lean to and do on the regular becomes automatic. Habits that have been built over the last 20 years are hard to brake because they’re already store on your basal ganglia
They say it takes 21 days for a habit to form -> Just started CrossFit? Rock up to training 21 days in a row and I guarantee you’ll be well on the way to making your fitness habit something that lasts long enough for you to see results…
Read/Listen to the Power of Habit
I hope that helps you guys because it sure helped me 🙂
If you’d be interested in finding out more about creating lasting habits to become a fitter, faster and stronger version of yourself, then fill out the form below and I’ll get back to you with some options straight away…