With the 10 week Huringa challenge kicking off and a few other future challenges in preparation right now, James and I thought that this weeks article would be a great time to tackle the topic of sustainability and behavioural changes.
In the current world of fitness trends we often see these 6-8 week challenges that are pretty strict and aim for an over all goal of losing as much weight as possible amongst many other aesthetic changes. These challenges revolve themselves around our physical appearances only and often come with nutrition plans that involve foods and meals that you wouldn’t usually eat. I know these things because I can’t even tell you how many failed challenges I’ve been through in the last few years. The goals are unrealistic and not sustainable. If you’ve also done one of these challenges before you’ll know that it is really common for us to excessively binge out on foods that we’ve craved after the challenge which leads us back to quick weight gain OR worse, people such as myself who fail before the 6-8 weeks is done due to the nutrition side of things being so strict that you fail altogether and you find yourself dreading the last weigh in knowing that you cheated yourself.
We believe that what people don’t realise or really think about before throwing their hard earned money at a commercial challenge is that with one simple goal such as ‘weight loss’ or ‘muscle gain’ should come a whole bunch of other complimenting goals. These should be considered as necessities in order to achieve that one particular goal. If the goal has relation to behavioural changes such as addictions or fitness relations then there needs to be goals in place to create an overall lifestyle change. (Wow how many times do I need to type the word goal?)
On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic and natural for us, 66 days to be exact . This can vary widely depending on the behaviour, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit. This is why with challenges such as our Huringa one, we aren’t expecting these huge dramatic aesthetic changes but rather focus on your overall lifestyle, ensuring that your goals and after challenge maintenance is sustainable as well as a change in your every day behaviours. This is why we use apps like ‘My Fitness Pal’ because you literally just log your food in and hold yourself accountable for what you eat and how many calories each food is worth. There are obviously big differences between a chocolate bar and a banana but that is on you and you decide what you consume daily with a target that cannot be breached. Study also found that missing one opportunity to perform the behaviour did not materially affect the habit formation process.” – so don’t be to harsh on yourself. Stuff happens. Life happens.
This research is important but we shouldn’t let it bring us down. I know its going to be tough and it’s natural. We need to understand that self-control is a psychological skill and we need time to let these skills develop. So here are some of our key tips to help develop these new behaviours in order to smash out these lifestyle, training, nutrition etc. goals!
- Understand that if downfalls happen then don’t let it affect your overall long terms goals.
- Behaviours change as a result of a process and not an event.
- Embrace the journey – understand that journeys are very different lengths and will take different amounts of time. The important thing is to start that day 1 and let the process begin. You can have multiple journeys happening at once too.
At the start we will require higher levels of self-control and this mean that’s the process will be a conscious one. So yes the start will always be tough but understand as time goes on the behaviour will become more grooved into our brain and the process become more automatic.
We want you to live as authentically as you can, we want you to feel good and develop your overall behaviours so you are enabled to lead a lifestyle that you ideally want as well as smashing out those gym and nutrition goals. Sustainability and maintenance are both so crucial team. Quick fixes aren’t the answer, leading one lifestyle and then dramatically changing it and cutting out all these things suddenly isn’t the answer either. If you want a true dramatic change, then think long term. Slow and steady wins the race.