Habit Change

James Clear Talks Habits

Can anyone now can claim that they don't know what to do when it comes to living a healthier, fitter life?

So why the hell aren't we doing it then? 

We live in a time when it's downright difficult to avoid accumulating a certain amount of knowledge on health and fitness. It might just be my social media feed but it's hard to ignore the impressive assortment of half dressed men and women showing off their rock hard glutes or washboard abs. They'll even show you how they got them in 21 days if you pay them enough cash.

There have never been so many diet books and courses available and now even the government is getting in on the act  putting constraints on irresponsible fast food companies and their hyper palatable mega calorie creations. Soon Dominos large pizzas will be so small they'll send them down the phone line right to your dinner table.

We have low calorie ice cream, low fat yoghurts and deserts, zero calorie fizzy drinks and yet as a nation we are growing larger and larger every year and the growth in preventable obesity related disease seems sure to crush the NHS under it's weight.

Fitness Information is everywhere, implementation is nowhere!

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As a coach and psychology student I understand that the value isn't in the fitness information I can deliver, it's not about how many anatomy books I've read or how well I cue an exercise that makes the difference in the long run.

It's about how I bridge the gap between the person who first retains my services and the person they tell me they want to become.

I write this as New Years Eve 2018 - 2019 approaches in a day or so and it's likely that I'll hear chatter about new years resolutions. Who's giving up what or who's joining a gym or running a marathon. My new years resolution is to be more assertive.... if that's ok with you guys?

This is the time when coaches are meant to clean up and agitate the pain of their prospective new clients capitalising on their desperation and swooping in at the last minute to offer the perfect solution to their problems.

Some of the key factors that allow this sales frenzy to occur are that the solutions must be easy to the point of effortless, not too expensive and complete within 21 days. I mean if it took 21 years to become this fat then I'm pretty sure 21 days should cover it if you're a good enough coach, right?

Setting Goals or Resolutions

Courtesy of James Clear - Atomic Habits Templates

So how do we even start to change habits?

Traditionally if you wanted to start a habit or stop one for that matter you'd look at the outcome you want to achieve. I want to stop smoking / drinking / falling asleep and drooling at work etc. You'd then look at ways to stop the habit ie don't smoke / drink / drool. looking at the problem this way will usually prove to be unsuccessful or at least not as result producing as looking at it from the inside out.

Start with identity. I am a non smoker / drinker / drooler. I am NOT, when asked going to say I'm trying to give up or I haven't had a fag in ages!!!(since around 9am this morning). Your identity is established as the ideal you're trying to achieve. And this can lead you to explore what kind of person is a non smoker, who are they, what do they do and what do they say when asked if they want a cigarette? Explore this identity that you wish to assume and this examination will lead to processes. 

These processes are what you focus on. You want to lose weight or fit into a suit or dress that's currently too small? Ok, what do you need to do to make that happen? At it's simplest, exercise 4 times a week, eat smaller food portions and record what you eat for 1 month and review.

This review will form the basis of your outcome and the result, not of what you wanted but the results of the person you became to achieve those goals. 

"The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them" - Jim Rohn

You're probably thinking, yup thanks for clearing that up but I already knew that. Stop eating too much and start exercising, wow revolutionary. Ok well these are just the broad stroke principles involved and you can break them down further until they make sense for your life. A good coach can help you with this.

Four principles from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear state that if you want to adopt a habit make them - 

  • Obvious
  • Attractive
  • Easy
  • Satisfying

If you wish to cease a habit then you pretty much invert the above. Obvious becomes invisible, Attractive to unattractive, Easy to difficult and Satisfying you guessed it to unsatisfying. 

Habit change is a vast topic and one that deserves more time and space than I've put aside for this post today. However perhaps I've provoked even a small amount of thought about your habits and how you'd change them.

This post isn't meant to be a how-to of habit change or weight loss. For that you'll have to give me 21 days and a substantial amount of cash...


James Clear explains this much better than me in his fantastic new book Atomic Habits which I urge you to check out.

Another book that I've found very helpful is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg which you can buy at Amazon here>>>

You can download a habit cheat sheet from James Clear's book Atomic Habits here >>>Habits Cheatsheet It'll show you some examples of how you can weave these principles into your life.

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About the Author Stephen Devine

Steve not just a skilled Crossfit Coach, but a top-tier CrossFit Competitor who's ranked in the top 1% worldwide in the 2023 Crossfit Open! And this is despite spending six weeks on crutches following surgery to fix a broken ankle just a year ago. He's Qualified as a Crossfit L1 Coach, Crossfit Gymnastics, and is also a qualified Olympic Weightlifting Coach.

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