Habit: The Most Underrated Tool of Exercise
Have you ever asked yourself who you are? Or maybe what causes you to do what you do on a regular basis? Are you now wondering the reason as to why am I asking you this?
The subconscious is an interesting and powerful thing. It puts your emotions and thoughts on autopilot. Many people have goals, but they fail because they don’t understand the power of influencing the subconscious. If you don’t understand who you are or why you do what you do then you don’t understand the subconscious, and therefore, the power of habits.
Here is a cliché fact for you that you already know. Your brain is always changing. This is common knowledge. What is uncommon however is that you can manipulate this to work in your favor. If you examine the word neuroplasticity “neuro” means neurons and the origin of the word “plasticity” means “changing”. Thus, all neuroplasticity really is, is changing neurons (the cells in your brain). These cells in your brain vary a great deal from the rest of the cells in your body. A neuron takes a signal from your body, processes it and sends the signal out again as a response. Thus everything that is happening in your conscious world is just a series of signals and responses. These neurons change according to decisions that you make and what is going on around you in order to promote survival. If you start drinking soda, for example, you won’t normally have a craving for it at first. It’s not tell your brain “learns” that it’s good for you, that you start to develop a craving for it. This is how a habit starts to form. Unfortunately, it’s also the fundamental process behind addiction.
When your brain learns that something is good for you, it wants more of it and it will seek out that thing. I won’t go into the physiology behind this, but the important thing to remember is that during this process, your neurons will change by accepting and sending out more signals in response to the new thing it finds attractive. What this translates into are impulses and feelings towards those new things that cause you to take part in them. Some of the most successful people on the planet have used this knowledge to form a series of patterns that allow them to work extremely hard and for extremely long hours (kind of crazy I know).
A Habit Keeps You Going When You Can’t
The reason that these CEOs and ultra-successful people are so successful is that when they slack, their habits pick up the slack for them. A perfect example is Tony Robbins. He wakes up around 3 am every morning and has formed a habit of eating a very specific diet that helps him keep up the energy that the lack of sleep causes. Additionally, on the rare occasion that he is consistently low on energy, his body wants him to rely on one of his good habits like meditation to keep him afloat. Most, if not all people reading this post will not have an ultra-scientific and researched way of keeping yourself going through these type of habits but it’s interesting to see the potential of habits and how people use them.
Now that we explored the potential of habits, let’s explore some common things that are keeping people from their goals. Every single year, people aim to finally get healthy and begin exercising but they come short. They try every cycling class, interval class, yoga, tai chi, etc. Nothing seems to work. It’s only until they implement habits that these classes begin to stick. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect example of these poor attempts. In 2015, USNews found that 80% of New Year’s Resolutions failed.
So why is it that people fail at the gym? The answer lies in the fact that people don’t understand the psychology behind forming an exercise habit. With habits, there is a period of time where you have to go through an incredibly painful period where you have no feeling or impulse to get to the gym but you force yourself anyway. This is how a habit always starts and there is no escape for this. Unfortunately, you just have to go with absolutely no motivation. One thing that you can do to combat this rough period is to either get a friend or write a schedule that you stick to. Another thing you could do would be to get into a cycling or yoga class where you can make a friend and have an accountability partner.
The Habit Will Become Part of You
As your habit gets practiced over and over again, it just becomes a part of you. It literally becomes like brushing your teeth. Maybe not as easy, but it just becomes something that you do. Have you ever noticed the gym rats that just always seem to rave about the gym and love exercise? These people have been practicing habits for years. As you commit to the habit, exercise will become part of your identity. Nothing will sustain more Weight Loss, fat burning, and muscle building then consistency over a long period of time. This becomes the best tool for exercises.
In conclusion, this might seem like something you have already heard before. Hopefully understanding a little bit of the science behind it can convince you that there are real changes going on in your brain that can lead you to the best version of yourself. Habit is talked about a lot, but implemented little. For this reason, it is exercise’s greatest and most underrated tool.