As fitness professionals, we can create all sorts of wonderful programs for our clients, but they do no good unless we figure out how to inspire them to take action and maintain new habits. One of my favorite quotes from the great yoga guru Paramhansa Yogananda is “Your trials may be great, but the greatest enemy of yourself is yourself!” In order for people to create a new habit that feels recharging, they have to figure out how to get themselves out of the way.
We commonly talk about developing a buddy system where someone or a class holds you accountable. Or we encourage people to push themselves for a small amount of time when beginning new activities which will automatically develop a habit. We set up calendars, competitions, and offer rewards for accomplishing goals. Below are five creative tips which we do not commonly think about on how to develop a recharging habit.
1. Conquer unwillingness:Do it when you least feel like it. Paramhansa Yogananda explains this in a really good way: “Unwillingness is an energy; willingness is a friend at times when it’s particularly hard; when you’re tired, busy, sad, or defeated. At such times, think of yourself as a good, noble warrior who has been driven into a corner by contemptible opponents. Don’t let unwillingness take your loyalty to do good from you; do [it] with zeal, and unwillingness will flee the battlefield.” I like to make it into a game to find the times when I am least willing. I get excited to push myself right at that moment to conquer unwillingness.
2. Impulse control:It does not necessarily work to tell someone to just stop a bad habit. If they are doing that to fulfill a need, it really helps to think of a healthier alternative for them to replace that habit. Even better, get to the root of what that need is and resolve that on the level it actually exists whether it is an emotional issue, non-supportive mental thoughts, or lifestyle choices that can change. If you develop good rapport and ask your clients enough questions, you will get to the heart of the matter and be able to direct them to where they can get the support needed to resolve the underlying issue.
3. Establish a routine:The consistency of doing the same thing at the same time of day creates a psychological expectancy in the body and mind gearing one up for their workout. Even if your client is not going to exercise every day, have them try to spend at least one minute a day on a healthy habit at the same time each day. That will make it easier to maintain the habit on the days they are exercising.
4. Do what you can do:When we look at the physical, energetic, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, making a change at any one of those layers will automatically shift the others. After changing my diet for a couple of weeks, I remember sitting in my Acupuncturist/MD’s office and talking about how I was responding to life differently. Depending on the type of emotion that changed for the better, he would declare that must mean my liver, or kidneys or another organ was functioning better. With those emotional shifts, it is easier to pick up other great new habits too. Whereas a person who deals with their emotional issues will have less harmful food cravings. Or a person who starts an exercise routine, as research shows, will naturally crave a healthier diet.
Thus, if it is too hard for someone to change one habit, but can easily change another, have them focus on what they will be successful at and that will naturally shift their other habits. It also builds success magnetism, which makes it easier to approach the harder changes.
5. A ________ workout is better than none at all. On the days when someone feels tired or unwilling, they run more of a risk of losing their new habit by skipping it, than by not doing it as well or as long. It is better for people to do something, even if not at their fullest potential, to keep the routine flowing.
There are often times when we try to incorporate new habits because the rule books say so. If the process of developing the new habit and the habit itself, does not feel inspiring, it can do more harm than good. Get creative and have fun with your clients!
Here’s why more exercise makes you crave a healthier diet: http://snip.ly/4ql9o
Habits: How They Form And How To Break Them: http://snip.ly/bys58
The Emotions in Traditional Chinese Medicine: http://snip.ly/u6uye
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