FOCUSED HEALTH AND FITNESS HABITS – AN OVERVIEW
“Habit is the intersection of knowledge, skill and desire” (SC p47)
Our personality and life is basically a composite of our habits. Our habits are basically a composite of our actions. Can you see where I’m going with this? Our habits relate directly to who we are, what we are doing and where we are going in life and with our health and fitness. Our habits are internal and external and strongly impact our results and lifestyle.
“Habits are powerful factors in our lives. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily express our character” (Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People). Forming Habits is like laying bricks to build a wall. You lay a few bricks per day and soon you have built a house… or a prison. Once you have built this house it is pretty hard to knock down but it is possible – habits can be changed. Habits are learnt and therefore can be unlearnt or replaced with new learning. But it does take tremendous effort and commitment to break a habit. You may need a sledgehammer to knock down some walls and get some perspective from outside of your house or prison.
I remember as a kid going around and around in my friends’ small circular swimming pool to form a whirlpool. We would go around and around in the same direction with the water trailing behind us – building momentum. We would go as fast as we could until we nearly couldn’t keep up with the pace of the whirlpool that we had created. And then we would try and change direction and get swept away. Sometimes we could stand and hold or maybe we had to hold the edge until slowly we could resist the flow. Slowly the water would slow down and then we could slowly start to move in the opposite direction – building momentum again in the direction we chose to go.
That whirlpool sounds a bit like life to me… I’m sure I didn’t realize it at the time – it was awesome going around that pool as a kid but sometimes as adults we pursue one direction or one set of habits for so long that it seems we may never be able to change direction. And the direction we are going may not even be heading to a place at which we wish to arrive.
That is why this health and fitness approach begins with philosophy and principles and healthy mind before healthy body. We need to have the awareness and mental openness and strength to reflect honestly on ourselves before we can make lasting change. We need to take responsibility, develop pro-activity, belief and conviction of mind before we develop greater health, fitness and lifestyles and continue to improve our mind along with our body.
Like a whirlpool – this can become a “happy circle” of continuous improvement or a “bad ride” of self destruction, frustration and drowning.
If you are happy with your direction you just need to keep that momentum going towards your happiness and goals – stay in that pool or that mind-set and just keep using it. If you are not happy perhaps you need to change direction or get out of that pool altogether and discover new oceans. Habits can help you to accomplish this. Especially habits based on wisdom, sound principle and natural laws.
Something I have always said to my personal training clients is “We are here to help you change your habits”. People have some funny ideas about what personal training is or can be – and whilst occasionally we do get to kick some ass – great personal trainers help people develop their lifestyle habits which include movement, eating, resting and thinking.
I believe the best way to change habits is to use the philosophy to results continuum in relation to natural laws and principles and your goals. Some people really won’t ever get anywhere without first addressing some of their beliefs at the philosophical level. Some people need only change a couple of actions and they are on their way to success. The continuum helps you to reflect on which aspects of yourself you need to improve and gives you strategies for improvement.
Focuses 1, 2 and 3 are all about the mind. As you strengthen your philosophy, beliefs, attitude – you are building a foundation for success and creating positive momentum to your goals. You do not just have to rely on willpower because you have some deep mental and emotional alignment with where you are heading. When you change your philosophy to be in alignment with your goals it is like creating an autopilot to head towards your goals, you don’t have to constantly battle yourself and steer yourself because you are already on track.
As Stephen Covey says “Private victories precede public victories”
Focus One: Focus your philosophy – is about taking initiative in your life by realizing that your decisions (and how they align with true principles) are the primary determining factor of your health, fitness and lifestyle (and every other area of your life). It is about recognizing you have the ability and the duty to set or re-set these underlying and over-riding influences on your life.
Focus Two – Focus on attitude is about developing your mental fortitude. It is about self- discovery, values and health & fitness goals. This chapter is about deciding how you want to think, who you want to be and why..
Focus Three – Focused action is about execution. Now that you are getting clearer about what is influencing you and who you want be – this chapter is about what you are going to focus on and do to become that person. It is about transforming mere thoughts into actions based on priorities and importance rather than emotions and history. This is where self-disicplines come into play.
Focuses 4 and 5 are about taking physical action with your movement and eating. As you become stronger mentally, emotionally and even philosophically you will want to make your body stronger. Establishing your exercise with habit 4 gathers momentum, provides a foundation and puts you on an upward spiral towards your goals. Movement promotes feelings of positivity (thus supporting the first three habits) and also encourages you to be mindful of your eating thus supporting habit five. Habit 5 is about nourishing your body – rather than punishing it with the foods you choose and the principles you follow.
Focus Four – Focused Movement
This chapter is about movement and a holistic and balanced approach to an exercise lifestyle. It is about the 3 keys to movement – flexibility, strength and fitness and why, how and when to train these faculties.
Focus Five – Eat naturally
This chapter is about food and eating it. It is about what food is and what food is not and how to apply principles to your dietary preferences so that you can enjoy your food and better health, fitness and lifestyle.
Focuses 6 and 7 are about balancing your energy levels and lifestyle choices which includes creating balance and clarifying values which lead you towards continuous improvement. Reflection on one’s lifestyle and even life choices can obviously have a major impact of your health and fitness. This section is also about your relationship with the world and people close to you and even your relationship with yourself. These habits are about reflection and choices thus leading us back to habit 1 and completing the circle of “better health, fitness and lifestyle”. The Focus habits are based on wisdom not just knowledge. The difference between knowledge and wisdom is that wisdom has been applied by its professor. Using the Focus habits will enable you to develop your own wisdom.
Focus Six – Rest and relax
This chapter is about maintaining health and wellness through passive strategies rather than aggressive efforts. R&R is about taking a long-term approach to your goals and achieving your dreams in a sustainable way.
Focus Seven – Reflect and renew
Focus 7 is about continuous improvement. It is about going full circle and continuing on an upward spiral.
Each chapter of this seriess with a discussion of the principles behind the habit. We then present you with different strategies for applying the principles. Please note that the strategies are not the principles – if you can find a better way to apply the principle then that is what you should do. The strategies are a summary of what I have found to work with my clients in the real world and are largely supported by scientists and philosophers.
Next in series = Focus 1 – Philosophy