Large vs. Small Changes, pt. 2
What is better, Large or Small Changes when it comes to incorporating exercise into your life? Part 1 discussed some issues I’ve had with both of these measures.
The answer I’ve come to discover is multi-faceted. You must make a large change and a small change and if that sounds a bit confusing, let me explain. For those in the contemplative, preparatory phases of change who begin to take action, they typically want to see results…FAST. And if they don’t see the results by yesterday, they aren’t happy (but I guess that goes more to managing expectations, a future post). They also typically try to be “perfect”, sort of like me with my super-program and diet, without laying any foundational aspects.
So what should they do? One is they should create behavioral standards that are much higher then they’re currently at…the large change. If you’re only working out 0-1 times per week, make it a goal to workout 6 days per week and only focus on that (especially if you have a strong enough why, a plan and support). In doing so, you “aim for the stars” while only changing one habit. The second thing you do is to make only that one change and let everything else stay at maintenance…the small change. You workout 6 days per week, but it’s only for 30 minutes each time.
So, one is you have to create much higher behavioral standards for yourself and typically with those higher standards, you may miss at the beginning by aiming for the moon, but if you have accountability and support, you’ll land amongst the stars. The problem with the program I ran last year was that those newer and higher standards weren’t in place and so all they were reaching for, felt like mediocrity. And mediocrity is not something that gets us motivated and moving.
And unlike my superprogram, you focus on just one aspect of it. You don’t try and change your diet, your supplements (and hence your budget/priorities) and your workouts. Focus on your workouts. Complete those. Do that for three months, with higher standards and then pick another one thing to change. In doing so, you have “non-perfect” measures built in. I don’t have to eat like I’m going to compete in a bodybuilding contest next month and that’s alright. And if I miss a workout, shit I can make it up, and I know that I only have to focus on improving that. Getting to the gym consistently. Nothing else. Not a super program. Just get to the gym. Even if I have a shitty workout, I got to the gym. And that’s all I am working on.
With enough time, I will be so far from where I was originally at, that adding more quality or time to my routine or adding another day shouldn’t come off as hugely frightening and I can progress from there.
Oh and here’s one more random tidbit of information. If you are going to change ONE habit, how long should you have done it before you think it’s something you can do keep and adhere to easily and hence, it’s a “habit”? Most people say 21 days is the magic number, but I think that’s complete bullshit. Many people cite that time length, because psychologists did a study that showed if you want to change a habit, 21 days is typically the amount of time you need to change that habit. The only problem with is that, is the study they’re getting this information from was one in which they were getting people to drink 8 cups of water a day. Hence, it’s not something you really have to change your life completely around for and can for the most part, easily incorporate into your day. So if something that really isn’t that hard to do takes 21 days, imagine the amount of time for something that is larger in nature. I think the golden number I’ve heard is 90-100 days for those larger changes. If you can conquer a habit for 90-100 days, AND your mindset has changed so that it no longer takes self-discipline along with a constant conscious effort to incorporate that HABIT into your life, then I think it’s fair to say that you have obtained a new habit. From experience, it’s usually anywhere between 3 – 8 weeks where people start to get caught up in a habit change. At the beginning their “why” is in the front of their mind and their willpower can sustain them. After 3 weeks, that why and willpower wears off, they get tested (just like they did the first 3 weeks) and they start to doubt their own change and fortitude to keep it up. They start to crave the known, even though they KNOW logically, that they want to change that known. They start to revert back to their old habits out of convenience, because their emotions took over and completely forget why they started to make the change in the first place. Again, this typically occurs because the change they took on was too large for them to maintain in the first place.
So with all of that said, let me wrap this up with some points to remember:
1—Create a higher standard of behavior to hold yourself accountable to.
2—Pick only ONE aspect and behavior to change. Maintain the rest of your habits, as is.
3—Give yourself enough time to create that habit. Don’t do a New Year’s Resolution type of habit change where tomorrow you think you will transform into Cinderella and live as a princess forever. Instead, Give yourself a fair amount of allotted time (100 days) to take on that new habit.
4—Start on Day 1. When you slip up, which you will inevitably do, forgive yourself and keep moving forward. Focusing only on that one aspect, until you’ve got it locked down.
5—Not talked about in the article, but I think is still critical to success: Enjoy the journey, even if the work feels like a bitch at times. Love that bitch for all she’s worth, because if you don’t you’ll fight it the whole time and even if you reach 100 days through sheer willpower, you’ll revert back to your old ways because your mindset has never been transformed.
In the end, it’s your life and God-willing , you’ll be here in a year either way. The question is, will your life have changed for the better, or will you be in the same crappy place as you’re in now? The choice is yours.