The Magic Pill is not Magic at all

The “Magic Pill” is not magic at all

  

As we have all dived into a new year, with it has come a ton of marketers that are promising quick results in “half the time” this year. There are so many businesses and companies out there that are spending millions and millions of dollars to buy your eyes and attention so you will purchase that next “quick fix” – the next “magic pill” that promises to get you to your health or wellness goals.
 
 
It almost sounds too good to be true… because it is.

The more money they spend on advertising the next pill, potion, supplement, or shot, the more money they make – AND the more people they lead down a path that is not sustainable.  After spending over 15 years in the health and fitness industry, and working with thousands of clients, I can confidently say there is NO magic pill.  There is no quick fix that will target that “stubborn belly fat” or that will magically improve your strength, endurance, sleep, or “fill-in-the-blank”.  What all of these amazing marketers are not telling you is that the real magic pill is having consistency over time and the discipline to stay the course.  

Actually, I have an equation for creating sustainable healthy change over the long term:

CONSISTENCY + DISCIPLINE + DESIRE = SUSTAINABLE RESULTS

My advice is this: stop throwing money away at the “next big thing” or some crazy supplement that your co-worker started to take and is telling you about.  Start investing in your daily healthy habits that will build consistency over time.  Have the discipline to do those few things every single day. 

Now, I will admit this equation above is simple, but not easy.  How do you start to build consistency?  By building small habits (Check out my article here all about how to make an “implementation intention” and to start to build consistency).  Small habits then start to lead to “routine” and this is really the secret sauce. 

The more unconscious we can make our habits then lead into a daily routine, the more success we will have.  The more habits we can “stack” upon each other, the more likely we will start to “run downhill” as I like to say (Check out the easiest way to “habit stack” here!).

Next in the equation is discipline.  Can you remember a time in your life when you had a specific goal that you were working towards, and you had to get a little uncomfortable to achieve that goal?  Maybe you had a goal to run a marathon and getting up every other morning to run a new distance got you a little uncomfortable, but you built the “discipline muscle” and did it every day because it was going to get you closer to your goal of running a marathon.  

Or maybe you were studying for an important final exam in school, and you knew you had to hit a certain grade to make the grade you wanted in that class.  So, what did you do?  You probably scheduled out time in your day (time you thought previously you didn’t even have) to study and work on the problems you knew were going to be on the test.  And then you succeeded.  

Discipline is a valuable character trait, and when combined with consistency, it can help you become unstoppable in accomplishing any goal you set in front of you.  

Lastly, but definitely not least is desire.  Desire is probably the strongest part of this equation.  If you don’t have a strong “Why” as we call it in the gym – a strong reason for WHY you are actually doing what you are doing, then it will be difficult to follow through with the consistency and discipline to get you there.  

Here are some questions you can ask yourself that will help lead you to your “Why”:  

  • Why is achieving this goal so important to me?

  • Why now?

  • What would happen in my life if I made this change, and achieved my goal?

  • What would be the consequence in my life if I did nothing, and made no change?

These questions will help you dig deeper, peel the onion and understand just why it is so important for you to make a change in your life.  It is usually because the consequence of staying the same and doing nothing at all is more harmful to you than making the change.  

Build up your “desire” muscle strong enough that even when you do fall off the wagon, you can quickly jump back on. 

So next time you pull out your phone and see some fancy ad for a new fat loss strategy, or a new pill that is guaranteed to melt fat off your body, think back to all of the things that you have control over.  You have control over your consistency (your daily habits), your discipline, and your desire.  Nobody can take those character traits away from you! 

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Habit Stacking

 

Habit Stacking

We are creatures of habit, this is true.  What else is true is the fact that we also create multiple “habit stacking” cycles during our days without even realizing it.  You decide what to do next in your day based on what you had just finished doing.  Here are a couple examples:

  • Going to the bathroom leads you to wash your hands
  • Washing your face at night leads you to brush your teeth, which leads you to flossing (hopefully!)

These are important habits that we all do every day.  It is also important to note that no behavior above happens in isolation.  Each action becomes a cue that triggers the next behavior.  This is the “secret sauce” behind habit stacking.  Using this connectedness of each behavior, it allows you to take advantage of what you already do and “stack” a new behavior on top of your current ones to help make them stick!  

The BEST way to do this is to identify a current habit you already do every day and then stack your new behavior on top.  This is what B.J. Fogg, author of “Tiny Habits” calls the “Tiny Habits recipe” which is essentially habit stacking.  

Habit stacking is a very special form of implementation intention (what we went over in part one of this blog, FOUND HERE!).  Instead of pairing your new habit with a time and location, you pair it with a current habit you already do every day.  

The habit stacking formula is: 

After [current habit] I will [new habit]

Here are a few examples:

  • Meditation – After I set my coffee to brew in the morning, I will meditate for one minute.
  • Exercise – After I take off my work shoes, I will immediately change into my workout clothes. 
  • Gratitude – After I sit down to dinner, I will share with my family one thing that I am grateful for that happened today in my life.

The real key here is to make sure you are attaching your new habit/behavior onto something you are already doing each day.  Once you get good at stacking one new behavior onto a current behavior, you can start to string together many small habits.  This may lead to a morning routine that looks like this: 

  1. After I set my coffee to brew in the morning, I will meditate for one minute. Then…
  2. After I meditate for one minute, I will write my to-do list for the day. Then…
  3. After I write my to-do list for the day, I will immediately begin my first and most important project for the day. 

See how stacking habits on top of what you already do (setting your coffee to brew) can actually turn into a positive new routines?!  

The best way to use this strategy is to select the right cue to kick things off in the right direction.  What is great about habit stacking is that it already has the time and location of the habit built in!  But when and where you choose to add a new behavior can make a big difference.  Let’s say, for the example above, that you add that you want to add meditation to your morning routine – but your kids are up then and your mornings can be chaotic – this would not be the best time to add this new habit.  

Don’t set yourself up for failure by asking yourself to add a new behavior when you are already occupied with something else during that time.  

Final Thoughts

The best way to figure out how to add a new behavior onto a current habit is to take note of all the things you do automatically and without fail.  Brainstorm all of these things and make a list.  Then from there, you can figure out the best place to layer in your new behavior.  

For example, if you know you brush your teeth twice a day without fail and you also want to journal in the morning and at night, you could habit stack that “after I brush my teeth, I will write one thing I am grateful for in my journal.”  

Like the saying goes, this may look “simple, but not easy.”  I challenge you to give this a shot by adding only ONE habit stack to your day.  What ONE behavior do you want to do on a daily basis that you may not be doing right now?  See how that goes for a couple of weeks – you might be surprised how  much the new habit “sticks!”  We can’t wait to hear how it goes!  

Ready to learn more about how we use the habit stacking with our members at Epic Fitness, and how to make this a part of your life?  You can apply NOW for one of 5 SPACES we have left for our New Year New You Challenge starting on Monday, January 25th!  Check it out below:

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Make Your Resolutions Stick!

By: Ben S. Fogel

“This year will be different” is what we told ourselves back in January 2020. 

“I will stick with my resolution through the entire year!”

“I will workout more.”

“I will eat healthier.” 

Do these statements sound familiar?  They may, and that is ok.  I am here to tell you that sticking with a New Year’s resolution (or even a new month’s resolution, or a new weeks goal) doesn’t need to be so hard.  What if I told you if you just implemented 2 simple steps, you would be more ahead for this new year than you have in any year in the past!  Would you keep reading?!  Well, I am here to tell you that it is that easy – but you HAVE to follow through with these 2 steps first.  Deal?  Ok, here we go! 

Let’s start with a quick study to highlight step #1: 

Back in 2001, researchers from Great Britain worked with 248 people to build better exercise habits over the course of 2 weeks.  The subjects were divided into 3 groups:

  • The first group was the control group. They were asked to simply track how often they exercised
  • The second group was the “motivation” group. They were asked not only to track their workouts but also to read some material on the benefits of exercise.  The researchers also took the time to explain to them the benefits of how exercise could reduce the risk of Coronary Heart Disease and improve heart health. 
  • The third group received the same presentation as the second group, which ensured they had equal levels of motivation. However, they were also told to formulate a plan for when and where they would exercise over the following week.  More specifically, each member of the third group completed the following sentence: “I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME] in [PLACE].” 

Here were the results:

In the first and second groups, 35-38% of people exercised at least once per week.  (surprisingly, the motivational presentations given to the second group seemed to have no meaningful impact on their behavior.). But 91% of the third group exercised at least once per week – more than DOUBLE the normal rate. 

It was the sentence with the statement that they filled out that made the difference. 

This statement is what the researchers called an “implementation intention.”  This is defined as a plan you make beforehand about when and where you will act.  More specifically, it is how you intend to implement a specific habit. 

Why does this work? 

Well, there are many cues that can trigger a particular habit – like your phone buzzing in your pocket, your alarm going off in the morning – but the two most common cues that will help you implement a habit and help make it stick are time and location. 

There have actually been hundreds of studies of how the implementation intention works and how effective it is to help people stick with new habits and goals, whether it is writing down the exact time you will work out or recording the time you will go to your dentist appointment.

The evidence is clear – people who make a specific plan for when and where they will perform a new habit are more likely to follow through.  Many people make the wrong choice when they work on, say a new years resolution.  We end up telling ourselves “I will eat healthier” or “I will start to workout more” but this just leaves the habit up to chance, and when our motivation is high enough, then we will follow through. 

There IS a better way. 

You think you lack motivation, but what you truly lack is clarity.  It is not always obvious on when and where you should take action.  That is where the implementation intention comes into play. 

Follow your pre-determined plan by filling out this implementation intention statement for whatever habit/resolution/goal you would like to accomplish:

I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION]

It is that simple.  The harder part – actually DOING IT! 

Here are some examples: 

Exercise – I will exercise at 6 am at my local gym.

Eating healthy – I will eat one serving of vegetables at lunchtime at my office.

Meditation – I will meditate for 2 minutes at 6am in my kitchen.

BONUS!!  The best time to start a new habit like this is usually the first day of a new week, month or year.  Congratulations, 2021 is right around the corner and you can start with ONE implementation intention statement to start your new year off right. 

Final Thoughts

The big goal here is to make the time and location of your new habit so obvious that with enough repetition, you get an urge to do the right thing at the right time!  As writer Jason Zweig said, “Obviously you’re never going to just workout without conscious thought.  But like a dog salivating at a bell, maybe you start to get antsy around the time of day you normally work out.” 

There are so many ways to use implementation intentions in your life, and just starting with one area of your life and one statement can be a great start!  In the second part of this 2-part series we will talk about on of my favorite approaches to using the implementation intentions – HABIT STACKING!!  Stay tuned…

Ready to learn more about how we use the implementation intention at Epic Fitness, and how to make this a part of your weekly habit?  You can apply NOW for a few spaces we have left for our New Year New You Challenge starting on Monday, January 25th!  Check it out below:

Learn More About The New Year New You Challenge!