Saturday, June 25, 2016


Plastic surgeon Dr. Maxwell Maltz wrote a book in 1960 called "Psycho Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life" It seems that the idea that it takes 21 days to form a habit came from him and this book based which was based on his observations of his patients and himself. He said "It requires a minimum of 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and for a new one to jell." This book went on to sell more than 30 million copies and the "21 day myth" spread like crazy and can be found in many self help books from the 60's up till today. Based on a 2010 study by Phillippa Lally published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes on average 66 days before a new behavior become automatic. This study proved the 21 day theory wrong. Somebody else somewhere said it takes 90 days for a behavior to become a lifestyle. I was too lazy to do the research. 

I don't know that there is a specific amount of time that applies to EVERYBODY to make or break habits. As a personal trainer and somebody who struggles with body image issues, I'm constantly thinking about how I can motivate my clients and myself to make changes to accomplish our goals. Recently I came across an article called "Side effects may include... leaness" by Ryan Andrews and had a light bulb moment. I would love to say that myself and my clients are working out and struggling to eat right for health reasons, but THAT for the most part would be a lie. The majority want to look good both in and out of their clothes. I find that for the most part, it's my clients over 50 that are more likely to focus on health and quality of life. When I really think about it, it's kind of depressing. But like it or not, it's the world we live in.

I'm 42 now and the older I get, the less I'm willing to suffer for my appearance. I mean I have been beating myself up my entire life every time I look in the mirror and I'm tired of it. Like most of us, I'm hyper-focused on my flaws instead of embracing my assets. As a personal trainer and fitness instructor, I have placed an additional pressure on myself to be perfect. How can I motivate others if I don't look good myself? And everyday I go to work and listen to people who are actually as close to perfect as you can get, struggle to lose 2-3 lbs and tell me how fat they are. They 100% believe it with every ounce of their soul and my heart breaks for them. I know first hand how heavy that mental weight is to carry on a daily basis.

In Andrews article he says "The problem here is over-emphasizing the outcome (being lean), rather than the quality of the process, and the behaviors and meaningful actions that get us there. In fact, making "get a lean body" our only focus may lead us to do downright unhealthy things" 

He is absolutely right! Extreme diets, starvation, diet pills, laxatives, bulimia, excessive exercise etc.... I myself have tried to take the easy way out more times than I care to admit. And I have seen some or all of those things done by friends and clients many MANY times in the name of "health" and "fitness". But for me, the truth is, I wanted to be as skinny as possible. And as I type those words, I feel nothing but shame. I always do my best to steer my clients in a healthy direction and ALWAYS try to talk them out of unhealthy things to get skinny, but I don't always listen to my own advice. One thing I know for sure at this point is there is NO easy way out! There is NO quick fix! And the quicker people tend to lose weight, the faster it seems to come back the moment they stop doing whatever unhealthy thing they were doing to lose the weight rapidly.

All of this to say what I have been saying for a long time. Make small changes and be patient. I encourage my clients to only do things that they can do for the rest of their lives. No quick fixes or cutting out food groups. It just doesn't work...maybe for a little while, but not for a lifetime. I think about all the times I literally starved myself and suffered through every diet on the planet only to eventually fail and therefore feel like a failure...a big fat failure.

I'm so DONE with that nonsense. So much so, that I literally have swung the other way. I eat whatever I want whenever I want with little shame or remorse. My job has changed and I now teach 10ish cycle classes a week...and I'm hungry and tired. I reward my hard work with food and can still stay in reasonably good shape because of the abundance of calories I burn daily. Lately I just haven't been feeling good. I have had a lot of personal and job stress that comes with opening a new business. I never EVER get enough sleep. I am chronically dehydrated and eat nothing but crap. No wonder I feel like shit! My light bulb moment from that article came on a day that I was feeling especially terrible. I realized if I don't make some changes for my health very soon, my body is going to shut down and my career will essentially be over. I need to make new habits and break old ones to be healthy and FEEL better instead of doing them to LOOK better. After all...let's be honest, looking better isn't apparently enough motivation for most of us. If it was, we would all look perfect. And maybe if we start doing things to feel better, looking better will be a happy side effect.

So hear's the plan...

I'm inviting my friends, family, clients, members of the Omni Club including the Zone and Fight Club, members of Tilt Cycling and Above Barre and anybody else to participate in my #makeitorbreakit challenge. The challenge will have 3 stages:

Stage 1 #makeapromise will be days 1-21 where we promise to try to break one bad habit and make one good habit. On day 21 we will celebrate keeping our promise to ourselves.

Stage 2 #makeitahabit will be days 22-66 where we continue to make or break our habits. On day 66 we will celebrate breaking our old habit and making a new one!

Stage 3 #makeitalifestyle will be days 67-90. On day 90 we will celebrate our lifestyle change!

On day 21 when we move to the next stage, a new habit to make and a new habit to break will be introduced as we continue with the original goals. Some habit changes will be very simple for some of you while others will not. So if it is easy for you, then great! You are already a head of a lot of us! The purpose of this challenge is to make you more mindful with the things you do and put into your body. To make slow reasonable changes that you can stick to for a lifetime. I'm not trying to shock your system. Rather, I'm trying to sneak up on it. I will post the new #makeitorbreakit challenges on Facebook in my group #getinthezone Omni and on the Tilt Cycling page So if you want to get on board, "like" the Tilt Cycling page or send me an invitation to join #getinthezone Omni group where you will find many other useful articles, tip and tricks to get healthy. I will post the first habits on Sunday June 26th on these pages. We will start them on Monday the 27th....or you can start or stop them anytime you like. 

It's time to #makeitorbreakit

1 comment: