Great week of training this week. I feel that the boxing sessions ‘wound back’ the cardio a little after the ‘master blaster’ of the week before and whilst I still sweated through them there were moments in each class (only moments to be fair) when I actually thought I would make it safely to the end (unlike last week when it felt as if death was only ever moments away!)…then of course I would have to push the mini-sleds and those thoughts were blown away! Over in the Funky gym we were all challenging ourselves with our SECOND LAST week of waves before our upcoming 5RM re-testing. I have to say I think that this current 5-rep build program we have been on in Funky has been AMAZING and I am really expecting to see some huge improvements when we retest in 3-weeks time…
Over the past couple of weeks I have re-read Atomic Habits – more to see what I missed I guess. I know this book has been ‘changing lives’ and all of that but (and I don’t want to sound like I’m just being disagreeable) when I originally read it I found it pretty UNDERwhelming. The whole ‘make small manageable changes’ stuff…I mean, I get it but I suppose I had been all caught up in the idea of ‘marginal gains’ already and, well…it just felt like it was more of the same stuff.
Anyway – as I try to remind myself all of the time just because something doesn’t really resonate with me the first time it doesn’t mean it is without value – it simply means I wasn’t really ready to take the information on board. So – I was looking for some ‘real’ guidance and reinforcement relating to the current challenge and returned to the book…basically the truth for me is I am kind of tired of doing a challenge, making positive progress, then watching most of it slide away once the challenge ends. And I know life is life and I know you can’t be 100% good all of the time but I also know that I shouldn’t have the same continuous cycle re-occuring in my life every 6-months or so – particularly when I know that cycle isn’t contributing to any positive outcomes for me!
Now for anyone who hasn’t read it (Atomic Habits) – and based on the sales numbers pretty much everyone on the planet has BOUGHT it if not read it! – there are 4x basic laws of behavior change:
Rule 1 – Make it Obvious
Rule 2 – Make it Attractive
Rule 3 – Make it Easy
Rule 4 – Make it Satisfying
On my first read through the book I missed something pretty obvious – James Clear ALSO provides the inversion of this (which – because I live in forwards backwards land means a lot more to me):
Rule 1 – Make it INVISIBLE
Rule 2 – Make it Unattractive
Rule 3 – Make it Difficult
Rule 4 – Make it Unsatisfying.
In the book he tells an amazing story about Victor Hugo who – despite ‘owing’ his publisher a book, had spent a significant amount of time spinning his wheels – socialising, entertaining and ‘pursuing other projects’. His publisher set a firm deadline for delivery of the book of just six months…and Hugo responded in an interesting way. He (well, probably his house-keeper) packed up ALL of his clothes and shipped them off – all he had to wear was a large ‘shawl’. As a direct result, he had nothing to wear ‘out’ and was able to refocus on his writing…delivering his novel on time. He had made his BAD HABIT (socialising when he should be working) very difficult through the simple act of making sure he simply had nothing to wear!
The problem with this (of course) is that the strategy followed by Hugo when he was writing ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ is the same strategy I follow every challenge – I (well, we!) get rid of all the food we shouldn’t eat from the house and simply don’t buy any more. We take the beer and wine out of the fridge and stick it in the cupboard (or the garage)…so eating junk food and drinking beer becomes DIFFICULT…but then when the challenge is over, well, I’m pretty sure everyone knows what happens – just like I’m pretty sure Hugo retrieved all of his clothes from storage and resumed his social life! So…what are we to take from this? We simply have to make it difficult for…EVER? Surely there is another way?
What I DO find satisfying about the challenge is my ‘sign-off sheet’ filling up. I like watching the classes get ticked off, I like looking at the page that shows me doing my extras and sticking to the food rules…it sort of (I hate to admit this) makes me feel like I am achieving something. Now – Atomic Habits also talks about this in terms of ‘Make it satisfying’ with a story about the ‘Paper Clip Method’. In the book, Clear tells the story of a finance consultant who makes 120 sales calls every day…or more specifically, each day after arriving at work he would move a paper-clip from one jar on his desk to another for every sales call he made – and when all the paper clips had been moved he would have made 120 calls…EVERY DAY he made sure that all of the paper clips had been moved. Whichever way you want to use – signatures on a sign-off sheet, paper-clips on your desk or ‘steps’ on your FitBit – essentially you are doing the same thing. You are tracking a positive habit.
When I look at some of the more ‘successful’ members at the gym over the past 12-years, many of them use a form of habit tracking. I see them taking photos of the whiteboard to record in a training log, I see heart rate trackers at their cells flashing red, yellow, green and blue, I see them recording their performances in SugarWOD after each session. I often wonder to myself “Why is he/she doing that? They are here all the time…they are doing AMAZING”. The answer of course is that they’ve found a really great way to remain on track with their training by simply ‘tracking’ it as a habit – this gives them a great sense of satisfaction when they look back at what they have achieved over the past week/month/year AND enables them to really associate their efforts in the gym with their ‘personal image’ of themselves…
Could I do ‘THIS’ (the Challenge) all the time? I’m not sure…the training part yes, the eating part? Well…50-50. But one thing is for sure – sticking to the rules is ‘HARDEST’ at the start of each challenge – usually by the end (and often well before then) I am in the groove and not really feeling like I am ‘missing out’ on anything. There is no doubt to me that finding a way to track my positive habits simply and easily will help me stay on track throughout ‘the rest’ of the year…
So – where does that leave me? On a search of ‘some kind’ of easy way to record my food and training that will create the same sort of ‘driver’ during the rest of the yeat that the challenge sign-off sheet provides during the months of February and October. Or at the very least, finding something ‘simple’ that will enable me to track my positive habits. I’m thinking maybe a ‘Connect4’ game where the yellow buttons are for ‘good’ and the red for any ‘misses’…what do you guys think?
See you in the gym,
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