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 (RIP) 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 effortless habit 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 is not ‘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 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 marked the next day in my calendar to begin, with the goal of turning this into a new habit by 30 days.
The plan was to do it first thing, to get it out of the way and take advantage of the refreshing wake up call!
6:30 am. The shower had been running cold for about 2 minutes. I stood outside the cubicle, moving my arms in and out, trying to psyche myself up to stepping in.
I hit play on Spotify, for song 2 of the new FFS album, as the 3 minute track length seemed like a good timer for the first attempt.
I grit my teeth and slowly stepped forwards, taking a sharp intake of breath as the shivering kicked in!
I left the shower doors open in case I needed to make an emergency exit, but I tensed up and let the cold needles hit my chest and legs.
Every movement sent a new cold signal onto my skin, and was like hitting the reset button. I managed to stay in there for the song to finish, but there’s was no way I was going to subject my back to it just yet!
I hopped out, and felt good for getting over that initial fear. Tomorrow I’ll try and up the ante!
To be continued…?
At the time of writing, I’m several days in, and I’m concerned that my toes have been showing mild symptoms of my Raynaud’s afterwards. This could be what I needed though?
We’ll see how this goes, so stay tuned for the conclusion, and to find out what else I’ve learned from this!