The other day I saw a post on Facebook about a friend who did a challenge called 75 Hard. The challenge is purported to be a mental toughness challenge over 75 days and consisted of 1) following a specific diet with no cheat days 2) working out 2x/day for at least 45 minutes 3) drinking a gallon of water per day 4) reading 10 pages of a non-fiction book 5) taking a progress picture every day. The post she wrote on Facebook contained a before and after picture in which my friend looked great, as she had lost weight and was looking fit and strong. There were a bunch of comments below the post asking what her secret was…?
I don’t know about you, but I thought it was obvious that the secret was in her consistency and the habits that she put in place. You have probably heard the old adage, ‘You are what you eat,’ which is true, but if we extrapolate that to encompass all areas of our life it should read, ‘You are what you DO (consistently).’
Creatures of habits
Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American fiction novelist famous for writing the Tarzan series. In his novel, The Beasts of Tarzan, he writes,
“We are, all of us, creatures of habit, and when the seeming necessity for schooling ourselves in new ways ceases to exist, we fall naturally and easily into the manner and customs which long usage has implanted ineradicably within us.”
WOW, what an awesome quote! Now don’t quote me, but I am pretty sure this is where the common phrase came from, humans are creatures of habit. And if we dig further, according to Mr. Burroughs, it is because the need to learn and grow ceases to exist or becomes unimportant.
We spend the first 20 years or more of life learning, going to school, developing our adult personalities, as well as behaviours and habits that will generally stay with us for a lifetime. These habits are not always healthy or helpful to us and it can take a large amount of effort to overcome these entrenched activities.
It may be smoking, eating chips, hitting the snooze button on the alarm, not exercising, drinking pop, eating chocolate or candy, scrolling social media or staying up late TV binging.
For many, these habits are an escape and a form of numbing, which people enjoy in the moment. But it is the long-term consequences of these behaviours like loss in health, weight gain, anxiety or depression, that people don’t enjoy and wish there was an easy solution or quick fix to overcome.
So, what can you do?
Unfortunately, as I am sure you can guess, there is no magic solution or quick fix. If it took years for you to get into this habit, it is also likely to take a long time for you to train yourself into new habits. Take for example the 75 Hard challenge I mentioned at the beginning. They called this an exercise in mental toughness and I believe it builds discipline and consistency, which are the two most important attributes in building healthy habits. Now the challenge in and of itself may be difficult, but the real work starts on day 76, when you are done the program and are no longer accountable to the challenge. This is just like real life.
Success comes from putting in the work day in and day out. However, if you had to think about what needed to be done to reach your goals every single day you would likely fail. This is where routine and habit are so important because they become automatic and when you don’t do them you feel like you are missing something and need to do it.
Take for example brushing your teeth. Have you ever missed brushing your teeth one morning and then realize once you get to work you forgot, then you can’t stop thinking of ways you can clean your teeth until you finally do? By creating habits around exercise, eating healthy, reading and getting regular check-ups and adjustments at your Chiropractor, you will know when you miss them because your mind and body will tell you.
Beliefs –> Habits
Who you are and the actions that you take each and every day all boil down to one thing, your beliefs. The principles and values that you live your life by, are the anchors that guide your decisions. If you value family, spirituality and health, then those should be the filter through which you decide how to prioritize your life and spend your time and money.
If something doesn’t fit through the health filter, like eating a bag of chips every day, then you have to ask yourself why?
Although our beliefs are what guide our decisions, sometimes we have implanted beliefs that we are unaware of. It is these subconscious beliefs we must uncover if we want to grow and overcome self-defeating behaviours.
Perhaps you don’t believe that you are worthy of __________ (fill in the blank à love, happiness, health, joy, meaningful work, a family etc). So instead of taking actions that would move you closer to what you want and developing habits that move you forward, you continue to live this story you have been sold.
YOU ARE WORTHY
Don’t ever forget that! So, start making the necessary goals and action steps needed to create habits that move you forward in life.
Now some of this sounds really hard! It can be, but it is important to focus on planting the seeds, not the harvest. Make what I call seed goals, which are small goals that move you toward what you want in life. So, let’s say you want to lose 20 lbs, what are the seed goals you can build into your life that can become new healthy habits to help you lose the weight and keep it off? Research says that if you do something consistently for 30 days, then it can become routine and habit forming. So, it doesn’t take long to create these simple habits like eating a salad every day and taking a 30-minute walk.
To make it achievable and easier on yourself, plan ahead. For example, always have fresh salad in the fridge prepared ahead of time. This way when you are hungry, you are more apt to grab the salad over the chips.
If you want to walk more, get up half an hour early every morning to get out, rain or shine. Or have a friend meet you to walk so you have someone to keep you accountable. And if you miss a day, don’t beat yourself, no one is perfect, and I often find it is in those moments that you remember why you do it in the first place (feel better, happier, healthier etc.)
Like I said, at the end of the day it comes down to 1 thing and that is your beliefs. If you think you can be healthier, you will. If you believe you can quit smoking you will, it all depends on how bad you want it.
A mentor of mine always told me, “Comfort comes as a guest, but stays until it controls your life.” You need to step into fear and get uncomfortable, because that is where the greatest growth happens.
Start with little habits that are easy to attain and work towards your big goals that seem unattainable. Just remember, YOU ARE WHAT YOU DO!
If I can help you work towards achieving your goals in anyway please let me know. We are in this together.
Dr. Thom Green
For more information about 75 Hard check out https://andyfrisella.com/pages/75hard-info