As you are well aware, the human body is a machine that constantly responds and adapts to stressors and stimuli. Habits, whether they are considered good or bad, are the body’s way of addressing situations that present themselves over and over again. Unfortunately, when we continually put ourselves into similar situations, our brain recognizes the pattern and changes the response from something we have to think about, to the sensory motor loop. In other words, our brain will automatically react to a stressor or stimuli without us even being aware.
Just like every athlete’s body is different, each of us have habits and idiosyncrasies unique to the lives we live. As December is coming to an end, it’s a good time to reflect on our daily routine and the habits we have formed throughout the course of the year. The True Athlete knows there is always room for improvement, and a check-in with #1 is necessary in order to reach fitness and training goals. Looking for some guidance on this one? Take a look at True Nutrition’s list comprised of a few great habits to pick up, and a few filthy habits to kick in 2017.
Habits to Start
1. Tracking – Meal prepping and tracking workouts
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Meal prep! Pre-making your meals will not only save time later in the week, but will also help you maintain a disciplined diet. Avoiding meals from fast food chains that do not fit into your macros will help provide a positive foundation geared for better workouts and faster progress towards your goals. Don’t wait to start! Go to the store and grab some glass containers!
Additionally, it’s time to start tracking your workouts. Keeping a record of the number of reps and the amount of weight you are putting up for each exercise is critical for progression. Trying to remember your numbers week after week is not only a waste of time, but can lead to disorganized workouts that are unfocused. Taking full advantage of your time in the gym every day is paramount!
2. Changing up your workout routine
Shocking the body with different exercises is a great way to push through plateaus. If we continually train a muscle group by doing the same movements, our bodies will adapt which can make reaching strength or fitness goals more difficult. Constantly switching up the exercises you do to train different parts of your body is a great routine to get in the habit of in 2017. If you keep track of your exercises during your workouts, switching it up will be that much easier!
Stretching is something too many athletes do not take seriously. The benefits of stretching your muscles before and after your workout far outweigh the time commitment that it requires. Aside from increasing your range of motion during exercise, regular stretching will decrease soreness, increase strength, and aid in maintaining good posture, just to name a few. Overlooking the importance of a good stretch can lead to injuries that take months to recover from. Don’t be too cool! Get down on the mats and reach for those toes!
Habits to Kick
1. Leaving your weights out
It’s simple. After you’re done with a set of dumbbells, put them back where they go. There’s nothing worse than finally getting an open bench and having to go on a scavenger hunt through the gym to find the 75’s left in a corner not being used. It’s a waste of everyone’s time. Don’t be that guy.
2. Skipping leg day
As cliche as this sounds, stop skipping leg day! The benefits from training such a large muscle group are endless. Whether or not weight loss is your goal, training legs will burn more calories than other workouts due to the sheer size of the muscles. Developing your hamstrings, quads, and calves will not only help with balance and endurance, but can also work to speed up your metabolism. Furthermore, if you only train your upper body, the unbalanced look will undoubtedly be noticeable. Walking around with sticks for legs is an unhealthy recipe for injury.
Now that we’ve established a few habits to pick up and a few to kick, it’s time to put it into practice. A study conducted by Phillippa Lally, which has since been published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, concluded that it takes 66 days for a behavior to be recognized by our brain and executed by habit. With that said, it is clear that changing the habits we may have formed over the course of the year does not lie along the path of least resistance. It will take most of us over two months to completely change the way we do things. A True Athlete never shies away from a challenge though. We are in this together to be the best versions of ourselves possible. Stay focused and stay mindful.
Yours in health,