While I need to give myself a good 10-minute talking to each morning to get my feet to make contact with the floor, 'Super Steph' has been up for 3 hours, cycled to the gym, worked out, cycled home, cooked 23 months’ worth of meals, played 2 rounds of Guitar Hero, walked the cat, sent money to an orphanage in West Bengal and restocked her underground cyclone shelter.
Do you know a 'Super Steph'? Someone who ploughs through 48 to-do lists a day without breaking a sweat? Who achieves anything they put their mind to, and sticks at it 100%?
It's as if everything they do has been hard-wired and pre-programmed before birth! Maybe they're super humans? They make it look so easy!
Steph has a 'super switch'... the magical switch that makes her do everything she needs to do and with zest and vigor! Where is MY super switch? Tell me! I want a super switch! Maybe her dad is Tony Robbins...?
Can I be that focused and dedicated? Or am I doomed to do mortal combat with myself every morning?
I was starting to think Steph was an intelligent fembot from another planet. No one can be THAT motivated! How does she do it?
Although she IS super, Steph is not a fembot, her dad is not Tony Robbins, and Steph is in fact from Earth.
What Steph IS is a prime example of someone who has made many changes - and stuck with them. My friend used to be a highly disorganised, scatty, self-doubting and pretty unhealthy individual! She wasn't always the 'super-human' she is now! Steph moulded herself into the person she is today.
Most things we know we're supposed to do (like exercising and vacuuming) aren't things we do automatically (like yawning or pole vaulting over a cockroach). And, unlike eating and breathing, exercising isn't innate. We don't HAVE to do it to survive. OK, that's arguable - it may lead to our demise, but you get the point.
A few years ago Steph showed me how we can attain the 'super' we admire in others.
Sounds too hard? It's really not!
What do we want and why do we want it
The first, most important thing of all is to figure out what we want to change, and then give ourselves the reasons why.
Want to exercise and eat better? Why?
Because we 'should'? YES - why?
Maybe we want to lose some weight, feel better about our body image, have noticeable biceps, be better at arm wrestling at the pub, pursue a career as a jockey, be more confident, have the energy to build our own underground cyclone shelters... whatever those reasons are - we must determine what they are.
It's these goals that'll keep us going if we forget why we started!
Don't go 'Gung-Ho'
Sure, everyone says 'Shoot for the moon and you'll land on a star'. Yeah right!
A lot of the time we aim way too high, way too quickly, get totally overwhelmed and land on our butts. We can find ourselves charging head-on into something with really high expectations and great intentions, only to then lose steam, get bored or become bewildered.
Once upon a time, after a few months break from the gym I knew it was going to be a mission getting back there. Instead of going 'gung-ho' and committing to 5 days, I committed to 3. In the past, going the extreme route ended up in frustration. It was unrealistic and I'd wind up disappointed. My expectations were too much, too soon!
For me, simply showing up and 'going through the motions' was much more important at the start than having a really gruelling workout and sweating 48 buckets’ worth. If I could commit to just getting my body through the gym door and putting my name in the sign-in book 3 times a week, this would keep the momentum going long enough to reform the habit. AND, if I could get myself dressed in my gym gear after work - I was committed! I mean, I couldn't possibly go home in anatomy leggings and admit I hadn't been.
Just doing the habit we want to adopt at first is vital. The effort and time we put into it matters later.
The goal is to build up a new habit by making small, easy changes to start with. As these things get worked into our routine, they become less of a struggle and something 'we just do'.
So, while keeping the moon in sight, let's break the journey up a little!
Just do one little thing for the first 2-3 weeks! Grab a workout DVD, do the warm-up and the first 10 minutes. The following 2 weeks add another 20 minutes on to that and so on! Or take two walks around the block every day of the week that begins with 'T'. That's it!
Want to eat more healthily? Again, pick one or two small things every 2-3 weeks - buy soda water and fresh lime instead of soft drink, swap that bag of crisps for a bowl of berries.
If these small changes aren't too time-consuming and are really easy, it'll be hard for you to talk yourself out of doing them! It doesn't take long to create new habits and soon it will feel strange NOT to do them. Once established, you can build on them!
“We become what we repeatedly do.” Sean Covey
Be tactical - Have a game plan!
There's nothing more disheartening than finding ourselves sneaking back to old ways or old excuses!
Sometimes I think 'Hey! I already downloaded that software onto my hard drive! What happened?'
The software has become corrupt and I'm back to square one. Doh!
What's the game plan?
- Put health and fitness smack bang in front of you! Buy a fitness magazine and keep it by your bed or next to the loo! Commit to learning one new thing a week about your habit!
- Don't buy new workout clothes or fancy-schmancy kitchen equipment! Make your habit fit into whatever you have already. Sometimes buying whiz-bang equipment for a new interest simply creates the illusion that we're doing it! Use your rusty, manual kitchen scales circa 1973 and exercise in your Dad's raggedy old Led Zep T-shirt. It will do for now!
- Recruit a fitness buddy and keep each other accountable. It's pretty hard to leave a friend in the lurch!
- Set yourself reminders. Diarise what you're going to commit to. Strike it off when it's done.
- Make a consistent time to do your new habit rather than sporadically. This will help solidify the habit.
- Have rewards for staying on track...a bubble bath? A facial?
- Put a gold coin into your piggy bank every time you DON'T do your new habit. After a month, this money goes to charity. Tough luck!
- Once you've found your 'health and fitness mojo', try to avoid long breaks again.
Don't let yourself get side-tracked!
So start small and stay consistent. Soon these little changes will form the habit!
If it worked for 'Super Steph' (and me!), it'll work for you!
Now go and start creating your new habits for an amazing life.
Hi, I'm Zoe-Claire - long time fitness and health fanatic!
I spent my growing up years between UK and the awesome, multicultural city of Hong Kong, eating Chau Fan, riding ex-racehorses, dancing, playing rugby and trying to avoid my Mum's gym! I moved to Australia about 10 years ago to join my family and go to uni and start up a business.
I started delving into the world of nutrition, health and training in more depth about 8 years ago. I wanted to feel 100%, to give my body and my health the best chance possible, to kick my fitness goals and to keep learning! I started working hard on my physique around this time too, as competing in figure had been a long-term goal (I adore it!).
I am ultra passionate about health and fitness (and writing about it!) and love to inspire others to be too.