Archive for September, 2010

Trainer Tip: Creating Healthy Habits by Gary Ditsch

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

GaryOne thing Steven Covey¬† talks about that separates humans from other animals is the space between stimulus and response. When we are operating at full capacity that space is wide, but that gap can narrow, leaving an individual’s behavior simply a response to their environmental stimuli. This results in people behaving with no more intention then Pavlov’s dogs foaming at the mouth when they hear the dinner bell.

Don’t believe me? What do you do when the cell phone beeps? When facebook emails you saying you’ve been tagged in a photo, what do you do? When someone pours you a glass of wine for dinner, do you drink it? Think back over the last week, how many times did you eat food that was unplanned?

We have become a culture that lives unconsciously. We work, eat and get entertained without much cognitive activity. Stimulus leads to response. We have become conditioned to behave in certain ways and for the most part we just live with it.

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, always says to people who call in about being broke, “You don’t have a numbers problem, you have a behavior problem! Take control of your money and you tell it where to go.”

If we know our health behaviors are not leading to our optimal well-being and we are aware enough to realize that we are making decisions unconsciously, how do you use Ramsey’s advice and “take control”? How can you create a better space between stimulus and response?

Here are some ideas:

A – Slow Down! Spend 5 minutes two times a day eliciting the relaxation response. You can find more about how to elicit the relaxation response by going to: http://www.massgeneral.org/bhi/basics/eliciting_rr.aspx

As you create the ability, grow the 5 minutes to 10 and eventually to 20 minutes, twice daily.

B – Change your Environment. We are influenced by our environment therefore to change patterns and habits, often we need a change of environment. A great example of this related to nutrition can be found in the book “Mindless Eating”. If you want to eat less, use smaller plates, get smaller glasses and commit to never eat out of the containers or bags the food comes in. Simple change that will influence your behavior.

C – Use a Dot. The little colored dots that you can pick up at any office supply store are a great tool. Have a habit you want to break? Use a red dot to remind you. For example, if you want to stop eating and drinking while driving (a place of many unnecessary calories consumed) put a red dot on your steering wheel. The next time you stop to get gas, you’ll remember the commitment you made to yourself. It will give you enough pause to think about purchasing that item as you pay for the gas.

Do you have a habit you want to start? Use the green dot as a reminder.

Be Aware and Take Control of the little things!

We are a product of our daily habit and choices, whether we want to believe it or not. While many people get the “big decisions” made, they let the daily choices just happen on auto pilot. Trust me when I tell you that if you wake up one day and realize you lack fitness and need to lose twenty pounds, that didn’t happen because of one or two major decisions you made. It’s the result of thousands if not tens of thousands of actions you are taking without thinking them through.

If you are losing your personal battle because of these habits: slow down, change your environment and give yourself regular mental reminders. Create habits that lead to success.

Gary Ditsch is a personal trainer with Fitness Plus in Lexington, KY.