Torres column: Repetition makes it easier to develop good habits
“Changing is always difficult, but once we believe that we have the ability to find a comfortable balance on our new lifestyle, the new habits are automatic.”
— American Council on Exercise
Positive habits lead us to our success in life. They do make us happy. They give us health, knowledge, wealth, peace and a long life span. On the other hand, negative habits destroy us, make us miserable, steal our health and kill us faster.
Last year, I went gun shooting for my first time. It seems easy, but when a real gun is handled for the first time, it is scary. I learned the safe way to handle a gun. I remember, my friend, a deputy (sheriff), telling me to pull the “slack” on the trigger and then slowly squeeze the trigger, among other movements. Then he said that if I continued to follow every direction step by step, my brain will remember all the muscle movements and I will create “muscle memory.” He added that, in the future, it will be easier for me to shoot many shots consecutively without a problem.
Many thoughts went through my head when he was teaching me. I remember that every change in my life followed the same pattern. I used to smoke, drink, be sedentary, eat horribly and others. In the beginning, it was hard to drop these negative habits and learn new positive ones, but little by little it became easier. Now I do not practice any of these negative habits, and I successfully changed them for good ones.
I have clients that have been with me for more than three years. Their goals, like many of us, are to be healthy, lose weight, shape their body, fight diseases, have more energy… Their testimonials tell me the same. They struggle in the beginning, but once their body starts getting results by practicing the new habit over and over again, the new habits become easier, automatic.
Once we acquire “muscle memory,” our body and mind ask for the new habit automatically, and it becomes easier. However, notice that it works the same way with destructive habits. To start smoking, for example, the body rejects the smoke. We even cough and dislike it. We don’t like the smell and we feel drugged. Nevertheless, every time we do it, it becomes easier.
A great psychologist once told me to find all the destructive habits I have and fix them one by one, to exchange a bad habit for a good habit. Many people tend to replace a negative habit with a negative habit. Make sure, if your goal is to be healthy, to replace a negative habit with a positive habit.
So remember that in the beginning of acquiring a new positive habit, there will be movements and efforts that seem useless. Practice every day, and every day it will be easier until minimum effort is required. In the long run, it will pay off.
Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs and author of the book “Lose Weight Permanently.” His column appears on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month in Body & More.
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