The ‘30 day challenge’ has become very popular, and people are applying it to all kinds of things, particularly around health and fitness.
One of the most respected business and marketing gurus is Eben Pagan, and he recently produced a video series on productivity, and how forming new habits ties in with this 30 day benchmark.
The part that resonated the most for me, was the concept of Habit Gravity. He used the analogy of NASA’s Space Shuttle firing off from the launch pad, and requiring an incredible amount of energy to escape Earth’s gravity.
Once orbit is achieved, the booster rockets can be jettisoned, and the Shuttle coasts into space using momentum.
This is similar to the way that we consciously try to implement positive habits into our everyday lives. We have initial optimism, but often experience setbacks several days later, where ‘something’ will upset the routine, and it can be a struggle to get back on track.
This can even turn into resentment, even though we’re aware that this will do us good! This is where we feel the weight of ‘gravity’ pulling us back to our default behaviours.
There’s some debate about this, but it does seem that we have limited reserves of willpower.
There’s so much distraction and noise out there these days, that experts advise focusing on one new habit at a time, rather than spread yourself too thinly and lower the chances of success.
First we form habits, then they form us!
The 30 day milestone is often considered to be the point where the energy required for willpower fades away, and routine takes over.
When it comes to healthy eating and exercise, I enjoy not only the benefits, but the foods and workouts themselves, and I do realise that this isn't normal when compared to most folks!
It’s important for fitness professionals to appreciate that they may be working with someone who has never enjoyed exercise, or finds the prospect of progressive lifestyle changes to be daunting.
I like to set myself new physical challenges, not only to prevent the body from energy conservation (it will try to find the most efficient method of moving) but as a reminder of the mindset required.
Cold hands, warm heart?
A real challenge is to find something that is just past your comfort level, but will have a positive outcome.
I listen to various health and fitness podcasts, my favourite being Ben Greenfield’s. He’s a true biohacker in the quest to optimise his performance, and often discusses the benefits of cold thermogenesis.
This is where you subject yourself to a mild cold stress, to boost resilience and strengthen the nervous system. In fact, there’s a huge list of benefits, such as improving circulation, lowering blood pressure, enhancing immunity and increasing fat-burning metabolism.
Over the past couple of years, my tolerance to cold weather has mysteriously worsened, to the point where I’ve been getting painful blisters on my fingers and toes. This is likely due to Raynaud’s syndrome, which has no definitive cause or standard cure.
Cold showers might also help with this, so I've marked the next day in my calendar to begin, with the goal of turning this into a new habit by 30 days if I feel benefits.
The plan is to do it first thing, to get it out of the way and take advantage of the refreshing wake up call. We’ll see how this goes, and find out what else I can learn from this!