“Let habit be your champion”
“How you do anything is how you do everything”
“Consistency is king”
What is consistency? To me, it is repeated actions done to the best of our abilities. These actions are so firmly ingrained in us that they become what is most often referred to as habits.
There are hundreds of clichés and sayings about setting, making and breaking habits. The reason there are so many of them is because they are such a hard thing to set or break. It takes will-power and a desire to ignore immediate gratification in order to satisfy your long-term goals.
How do we set habits? In terms of creating good behaviors, first you need to start with a goal. I talked about goal setting and the SMART framework in my “New Year, New You?” blog post so I’m just going to assume you’ve read it and if not, please do so. All goals need to be action-oriented (the “A” in SMART) therefore, in order to start setting habits you must take some sort of action, whether it be adding something into your daily routine (going to the gym) or taking something out (smoking). Repeated behaviors cannot be set through osmosis, YOU must DO something!
Starting is the hardest part of consistency. Like Coach Robby mentioned in his latest blog post, it’s easy to put something off until tomorrow, it’s much harder to get off your ass and do it. A good analogy is like rolling a boulder up a hill, it’s going to suck and be hard work. If you stop for even one moment that boulder is going to start rolling right back down and crush you. Eventually you are going to crest that hill and the boulder is just going to keep on rolling with little action on your part. What you have to do is take each day, each moment at a time and buckle down and take care of it. Then you need to keep doing it over and over and over and over until you start doing it without thinking about it.
When I was at my old job there was a point where I was offered the opening shift at the gym. We used to open at 0530 so I would have to be there at 0500 to make sure the place was up and running by the time people wanted to come in. I am not a morning person at all, ask anyone that knows me well, but it was more hours and higher pay so I said yes. It was also a better fit with my school schedule. I found myself in a position where I needed to be up at 04000 in order to shower, eat breakfast and get to work. I had to get in the habit of going to bed at 2000 so that I could be a halfway decent human being to the people that were in the gym at 0530. It took some getting used to, but eventually after a month or so it became second nature to me to go to bed at 2000. I even started waking up before my alarm went off.
That’s the key to consistency: decide to make a change and how you’re going to implement that change, and then do it. There can be no results without consistency. You want body composition changes? Consistent proper nutrition habits are the key. Yes, it may be easier to stop at the BK lounge on your way home from work, but in the end it’s far better for you to make that meal at home. You just need to dedicate yourself to it (if you need help staying away from fast food joints ask anyone who’s taken my Nutrition Seminar about my Burger King story).
You can’t quit smoking by having a cigarette every time you have a craving. You want to get stronger? Show up at the gym, we’ll help you get stronger, but you better get on a set schedule. Three days one week, one the next and two the week after aren’t going to get it done. If you want to be consistent, if you want to succeed at anything (work, school, gym, nutrition, relationships) you have to take a close look at yourself and decide: how bad do you want it? What are you willing to sacrifice in order to accomplish your goals? Eventually, it won’t seem like you’re sacrificing anything because you will be so set in your new ways, and you will have accomplished your goal. Believe me, there is no better feeling than accomplishing something you never thought you could do.
There’s another great piece to consistency that often gets overlooked as well: a support system. With an awesome support system of family, friends, coworkers, and most importantly (for those that have them) significant others, you can accomplish anything. Is a drug addict going to quit while still hanging around other users? Probably not. Are you going to be able to cut out the junk food if your significant other is sitting on the couch next to you face first in a half gallon of ice cream? Maybe, but it’ll sure be a hell of a lot easier if they don’t eat it, or at least don’t eat it in front of your face. How are you going to get to the gym at 0515 if your friends are keeping you up until 0300? Establish some ground rules with the other people in your lives, it will make staying motivated and focused a lot easier. On a daily basis talk to the people that interact with you most and use them to help you be accountable. Come up with a plan. Develop a step-by-step progression that will get you on the right track.
Once you have conquered consistency you can move on to intensity. It doesn’t matter how hard you work at something if you’re not doing it on a regular basis, whatever it is. Next month we will talk about intensity. Until then, start making those positive changes in consistency so that, next month, you can apply yourself towards increasing your intensity.
In health, Coach Brett