Thursday, January 5, 2017

21/90 Habits in Training and in Life

By now you have easily caught on that the 2017 January Tabata Challenge is going to be posted and talked about daily. In these daily posts, which are journal entries more than articles, I am hoping to accomplish three primary goals.

First, to pass on important information. For me, if I understand the why of something, then it is easier for me to get behind it. If that “why” can help motivate some of you, then fantastic, it is vital.

Second, learning is awesome! It is. Learning is a lifelong process and is a sign of growth. Both of which go hand in hand with exercising and the fitness lifestyle.

Third, and most importantly, is the creation of a habit and lifestyle. This is where the 21/90 Rule comes into play. A long, long time ago, in a training center far, far away a coach with a mounting tension headache that was nearing migraine proportions was trying to impress upon a group of young would-be athletes that to change a habit take 21 days.

No matter what that habit is, it takes 21 days to change it. Your running form. Your lifting technique. Not smoking. Changing your eating habits. Everything, habits take 21 days to form. Some smart guy, or gal, expanded on that with the very real fact that it takes 90 days to make that habit a lifestyle.

With that in mind, I am reposting a piece I wrote last February on making habits stick.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, a manager, worker, student or other making new habits is a difficult and trying task. It is something that successful people seem to have made look easy. It isn’t, though, is it? How do professional athletes and elite forces make new habits? They build muscle memory. Your brain is your best muscle. Or, at least, it should be.

By actively using the steps outlined below you can be pretty certain that you will have new habits in place and benefiting from them. It won’t be overnight, not in the least.  New habits are instilled, on average, over about 21 days. This time frame is based on the observations of a plastic surgeon from the 1950s.

“What can a plastic surgeon from almost 70 years ago know about making habits?” Good question. He noted that his patients took an average of 21 days to get accustomed to the change. Be it their nose, cheekbones, an amputation the time to get used to the change was around 21 days. I am inclined to agree with that timeline.

Making Habits Stick

During the initial habit making you will go through the following phases. There are the Glory Days. There is the Rough Run. Finally, it begins to settle in to a comfortable habit. The Glory Days are the first several days of the new habit. Everything feels new and exciting. The Rough Run comes after the new car smell has faded. Then there is the Comfortable Habit. This is when you are doing just what you set out to do in the first place. It feels good. Good results are coming in.

Visualize what this new habit will look like. See it so vividly in your mind that you can feel and taste it. Bring in all of your senses when visualizing the success of the new habit. Elite forces like Navy SEALS and Army Special Forces do this with their training and making new habits. Top rated athletes practice this. They play each step of the game in their mind before getting onto the field. Martial artists do this to help solidify their techniques. Research shows that by visualizing your actions and the success of them actually makes the neural connections necessary for the new act. It also does trigger some physical adaptation for it, as well.

How does one get through the Rough Run? Linking personal positive rewards as a way to mark hitting the milestone.

Link Positives to making new healthy habits. Treat yourself to something that involves as many senses as you can to reward yourself. Something I like, and miss from my days in Europe, is sitting back with a cappuccino. I use them now as a reward for achieving a set goal and for making new habits. Cappuccino smells wonderful. It tastes grand. It even has its own feel in your mouth. The sound of the milk being frothed is the audible cue that things are great.  Even seeing the foam reminds me of those late afternoon coffees sitting near the curb or a heater in a cafĂ©. This is the sort of thing that brings all of you together to celebrate your achievement.

Sometimes life will knock you out of the new track before it becomes a healthy rut. At these times you have to head back into your healthy habit as fast as you can. As fast as you can without stressing out, that is. Close your eyes and breathe deeply for about 12 breaths. That will take approximately 2 to 3 minutes if you are breathing fully and deeply. These breaths will not only help slow you down, but they will flood your system with more oxygen. The higher O2 content will feed your brain. There you have it, you are reset and ready to reengage.
Visualize the new habit as a regular attribute or action. Breathe deeply. Refocus on the goal. Then, with your mind calmed, cleared, and full of O2 step back into your habit. After the 21 days are done you will find that coming back into the track is easier and that getting knocked out of it is less perturbing.

No comments:

Post a Comment