December 23, 2016

Forming Habits in Bitesize Chunks

by ironparadisefitness

It’s Christmas Eve Eve (I’m using artistic license to claim that as a day).  It’s 7:30am, it’s dark and a bit of a ghost town as I look out of the window of the local coffee shop.

This has to be the calm before the storm.  Surely in a few hours time as the sun rises and the nation slowly gets to grips with the fact that there’s just 48 hours to go until the big day, this place will come to life.

The car park will be filled to the brim with cars nested side by side like sardines in a tin.

Latecomers to the shopping centre will be on the hunt for that one available space out of thousands.  Like a Great White sensing a drop of blood in the ocean, they stalk shoppers loaded up with bags, trudging back to their cars to free themselves of the weight.

But are they leaving or are they heading back for round 2?  Whatever happens, one thing’s for sure.  They’re gonna need a bigger boat!

Not everyone’s a morning person, but it certainly works f0r me.  I’ve definitely been the early bird catching the worm instead of a night Owl.  I find it the most productive time of the day.

Get the gym stuff out the way.  Get the adrenaline flowing and hit the day hard from the start and don’t let up until it’s time to hit the hay.

It’s a habit that I’ve formed over the years.  And this is what I want to talk about in today’s blog.

How to form positive habits to keep you progressing forward with your fitness goals each and every day…

Tapping away on my keyboard, headphones in, and my entire iTunes library on shuffle is a perfect environment for me to be productive.

It also means I get to listen to some old gems I haven’t heard for years.

At the moment it’s a mix of Alexisonfire, Mastodon, Jimmy Eat World, Adele, James Vincent McMorrow, and the odd Justin Bieber track (the perils of letting an 11 year old girl loose with your iPhone).

I’ve had a bit of a more relaxing couple of days, spending time with the family while everyone’s got more free time.  It’s been good to unwind and take a break from the grind (although I’ve still been getting the work in).

I’ve made a bet with myself that I’ll do 2 things every day for at least the next month.

  1. Research one fitness related topic for a minimum of 1 hour
  2. Write a minimum of 500 words for the blog or a future project I’ve got in the pipeline

To keep it even more interesting and motivating I want to add a little bit of a forfeit.  Something that I’ll REALLY want to avoid and will mean that I’ll get those 2 little tasks done come hell or high water.

At the moment I haven’t come up with anything, so if any of you out there have some ideas, write them in the comment section below.

Having this little bet with myself is a great way to keep the accountability high and for me to stay engaged with my daily goals.  And ultimately, just by achieving those two little things, I know that I’m progressing very day to that bigger goal.

And that’s what it’s all about.

Turn the big dream into goals that you can achieve everyday.

…500 words done by the way ;-)…

When I take on new clients, I always adopt the approach of trying to be a teacher as well as a coach.  I want people to learn about good fitness and nutrition.  I believe it’s important that people gradually become independent and can make the right decisions for themselves on a day to day basis.

Some trainers and coaches out there might find this a bit of a bizarre approach, because my business model is effectively going to mean that my clients need me less and less as time progresses, which means less and less income for me.

But to me this is how every trainer and coach should operate.

One of the core principles of how I operate is HONESTY.  And this means putting the client first above all else.  I’m not here for short-term gains and to fleece people of their money by holding back the ‘secret formula’.  I want to build a reputation that is unique and based on transparency and trust.

I want you to have my secret formula and I want you to tell everyone how great it is after you’ve used it to get great results.

I read a book by Scott Abel a few years ago called, ‘How to be an insanely good online fitness coach’.  In the book he used the analogy of teaching a kid to ride a bike.  To get someone to ride a bike properly you need to teach them everything and let go of the stabilisers and give them the ability to do it all independently.

After they master riding a bike, they’re pretty much self-sufficient, but the trust relationship that was build will mean they may come back in the future to learn how to race a bike, or drive a car.  To evolve to the next level.

And this is how I approach my coaching programmes.  By nurturing a strong working relationship that benefits the client and creating genuine value.

So what do I teach clients apart from how to safely throw some weights around?

One of the key things I teach is to all my 1:1 coaching clients is habit-based coaching combined with structured goal setting and daily achievable tasks.

What’s Habit Based Coaching?

People have written big thick books on habit-based coaching, so I am going to only scratch the surface in the next few paragraphs, but it’ll give you a good insight into what it’s all about.

We’re all creatures of habit.  You might not think it, but we all have some form of routine that we stick to on a daily basis.

You might be like me.  Someone who’s pretty OCD and has the day mapped out minute by minute (well maybe not that extreme).  Or you might be the type of person that’s pretty spontaneous and doesn’t have any particular daily plan (or so you might think).

On first glance, you might think that those two types of people don’t share much in common.  But in reality they do.

We all have daily habits that are result of triggers.  These triggers can be both conscious and sub-conscious decisions that we make.

Think about your daily work routine for a second.

When you get up in the morning what do you do first?  Head to the bathroom?  After that, maybe you go switch the kettle and make a cup of tea and have breakfast.

You get in your car.  Which route do you take to work?  The same route every day or do you take a totally random route every morning?

You get the picture.  On some level you’re following a routine and a set of habits that have formed over time.

These are all a series of triggers and habits.  What do I mean by that?

Getting in the car at 8am on a weekday morning is the trigger to drive a particular route to work (the habit).

It’s human nature to follow the path of least resistance and often that means following an existing habit, so that you’re pretty much happens on auto-pilot without much forethought or planning.

Once you realise this is how the mind likes to operate, it becomes a powerful tool for achieving goals in life, particularly fitness related ones.

How do you put habit based coaching into practice?

Starting out on your fitness journey could be a bit of a daunting proposition.  You might have a big challenging goal that your aiming to achieve over the next couple of years.  Maybe you want to put on 10kg of lean muscle or enter a physique competition.  Whatever it may be, it could be something that takes time to achieve, depending on your start point of course.

With coaching clients I use the habit based approach to breakdown large goals into important tasks to be completed on a daily and / or weekly basis.  I would then assess the client’s day to day behaviour and routine in order to find appropriate triggers I can associate with the relevant habit.

It’s important to take some time to work out what your triggers and habits are during the day and then plan to substitute new habits where appropriate in order to create a new behaviour pattern that will eventually become second nature.

For example, if you like to leave work and rush home so you can reach into the fridge for a cold beer, put your feet up on the sofa and chill, you might want to look at replacing the habit that follows the trigger of leaving work.

It could be that you head straight to the gym instead of going home.  Replacing the urge to grab the beer with a positive habit that helps you achieve your goals.  You can then further support the establishment of that habit by removing the excuses for not adhering to eat.  Make sure you gym kit is packed and in the car n the morning.  Make sure your food is prepared and packed for the day, so you can’t use the excuse of not being fuelled correctly.

This all helps to improve your ability to adhere to your programme.  And that’s the main goal.  A good training and nutrition programme is one you can stick to.  This is why, in my opinion an off the shelf meal plan will rarely work for people wanting to lose body fat.

And to get the best results possible you need to think beyond the basic training and meal plan approach, which is where the habit based coaching method works really well.  Over the course of time, you’ll have habits that will be ingrained and part of your day to day life.  They won’t feel a chore.  They’ll become part of your subconscious behaviour pattern.  Like going to the toilet as soon as you get up or grabbing that coffee when you get into work in the morning.

Here are some examples of daily / weekly tasks that I might look to incorporate into a new client’s programme via the trigger and habit approach:

  • Go to the gym 3 times per week.
  • Complete priority lifts first in each workout.
  • Follow the meal plan 6 days of the week.
  • Have no more than 2 cups of coffee per day.

Once these tasks are set, it becomes a bit of detective work to look through the answers provided in the client questionnaire and the food diary to find all the triggers I can use.  This is an important part of the process to emphasise.  It’s much easier to work with existing triggers than it is to create new ones or remove a trigger altogether.

Let’s say that you like to have a chocolate bar at 3pm with a cup of coffee as part of your afternoon break.  In this scenario, the 3pm break is the trigger and the chocolate bar and coffee is the habit.

As a coach, I can look at that and look to weave in a variation.  For example, I could look to switch the coffee for decaf to improve the chances of a better night’s sleep.  I can also work some chocolate into the client’s meal plan, or swap it for a piece of fruit.  This way I’ve only made a subtle change to the client’s habits but overall, in terms of the bigger picture, I know that this is a positive change that will help make progress.

What’s the bottom line?

The bottom line is that to really get the best results possible from your fitness programme, you need to

  • Think beyond your basic training and nutrition programme.  
  • Look through your day to day routine and identify your key triggers and habits.
  • Identify which habits are working for you and which ones are working against you.
  • Create yourself positive habit substitutions and develop strategies to help make them stick.
  • Break goals down into bitesize pieces.

Do that and you’ll be progressing everyday to greatness!

Lastly, if you found this post of any value please like / share the post on social media and tag anyone who you think would also find it valuable.  You’d be giving me an awesome early Xmas present!

Merry Xmas,


Do it the Iron Paradise Fitness way…

Are you spending hours in the gym and following a strict diet, yet frustrated with your lack of results?

Dedicated coaching from me really will be the key to unlocking your potential to get the transformation you’ve been searching for.  Now’s not the time to spend weeks and months spinning your wheels or worse still, heading in the wrong direction.

If you’d like to learn more about the training and nutrition techniques I use to get BIG results then click this link…

On that page, you’ll see the exact approach I used to make my gains and get me into the best shape of my life.

And I’d love to help you do the same.

I’d love to help you achieve your fitness goals.  I want you to succeed and not only achieve your goals, but smash them out of the park.

I want to take the pain and frustration away from doing all of this.  Yes, you’ll have to put the hard yards in at the gym and follow guidelines with respect to your diet, but I make things simple and easy to understand.

Not only that, but I’ll make everything highly personalised so you get a programme that is truly unique to you.

If you are even the slightest bit interested in my coaching programme then it would be well worth your while to book a FREE, no obligation 1:1 call with me.  We can talk through your goals and targets, and ask me any questions you like.  It’s a great opportunity for you to find out if I’m the right coach for you.

Want to book that call now?  Then click here…

If you find this of value please like the post and tag anyone who you think would also find it valuable.




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