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The Secret to Looking and Feeling Great Automatically: You've Got the Power

Welcome back. I'm excited you're here taking this habit-changing journey.

I've got some questions for you.

Do you have any bad habits?

Do you have a habit of procrastinating?

You put things off, even important things? Right, the jury's still out on that one.

Do you watch too much TV?

Are your eating habits less than ideal?

Here's one: Do your play habits consist of crossing your workout off your calendar at the end of the day – as something came up – and scheduling it again for tomorrow?

Maybe we can answer that procrastination question after all.

Let's be honest. We all have some bad habits – things we do automatically, without thinking, that don't serve us or move us forward. Bad habits set us back.

You have the power to change that.

Now, how about good habits?

Do you have any good habits, habits that serve you; habits that advance your health and fitness?

It's easy to settle into comfortable routines; to develop and nurture habits steering us away from health and fitness. And most of us don't even know it.

Health and fitness is a choice. We are creatures of habit. Some habits help us stay fit and healthy. Some habits don't. The habits we empower make the difference.

How is your health and fitness habits ratio: the ratio of good habits, habits that strengthen and empower you, to bad habits that make you sick and weak and tired?

What exactly is a habit?

Kick this around and see if it makes sense: We find ourselves in a situation. We feel a feeling, an urge, what we might call a desire or craving. We want to satisfy that craving so we set a goal. We begin seeking a reward.

Let's say we're hungry. To satisfy a hunger craving we usually thoughtfully consider options – weigh pros and cons; consider healthy choices. After careful, thoughtful consideration we act. We, of course, choose a healthy salad or nuts to satisfy that hunger.

Isn't that how our decision process works? We're hungry. We thoughtfully reflect on available options so as to make an informed choice, the best choice. And after careful, thoughtful consideration we act.

Does this process make sense: we move from desire to thought to action to reward? Is that how our decision process works, typically, usually, mostly? Hardly!

What really happens most of the time is: we feel hungry, then we automatically, thoughtlessly act. We grab a bag of chips or some cookies or we venture into the freezer searching for ice cream. Then we rationalize our actions. The cookies were conveniently available; saving us time, oh, and they tasted so good. You know what I'm talking about.

We don't go from craving to thought, to action. We go from desire to action and only involve thought to rationalize our choice after the fact.

We feel, we act. It's usually as simple as that.

This stimulus-response sequence driving our lives is our habit process at work.

Thinking takes too much time, effort, and energy. We have a strategy to avoid thinking – to conserve energy. That strategy is called habits. Habits are our built-in energy conservation device. Habits deliberately take the thought out of the equation. We act to go from craving to reward as quickly as possible.

We develop habits for everything, including mindset, nutrition, and play – some move us forward; some set us back.

Let's talk a little more about eating habits. If there's anything in health and fitness we love to make complex it's nutrition. We make nutrition so complex in fact that one has to be highly intelligent and extremely well informed just to be undecided and confused.

Well, let's simplify. Healthy is not synonymous with complexity.

Your body is a wondrously adaptive system. It can survive on a variety of inputs. To thrive, however, it needs quality inputs, premium fuel. Good nutrition is a matter of providing your body what it needs to perform at its best.

You might be thinking; here's where I introduce a long list of things you eat. Not quite.

Often we make more progress by not doing certain things; by stopping things that are harming us. So, what to stop:

If you smoke cigarettes, vape, or use drugs of any kind recreationally; if you drink alcohol excessively, and by excessively I mean more than one drink per day, stop it. Stop poisoning your body. Smoking and or drinking are the first habits to break.

Stop the madness.

Getting past obvious toxins, there are other substances, foods, and drinks, we need to stop using and abusing. Remember, creating a new you is all about choosing and developing the right habits. Eliminate bad nutrition habits.

Stop the soda. Soda does you no good. Soda is full of sugar and the artificial sweeteners in diet varieties are wreaking havoc with your systems. Break your soda habit and eliminate all drinks with artificial sweeteners. If you're drinking something with ingredients you can't pronounce stop drinking it. Oh, and don't plan on substituting fruit juices for soda – fruit juices have way too much sugar.

The most nutritionally sound drink options are pure water and green tea. You have other options, but the best are pure water and green tea.

Stopping bad habits may be your biggest opportunity for improved health and fitness.

Make small changes. Adjust your habit routines. Little by little start moving in the right direction.

Since I'm giving you nothing but good news, here are two more inputs to eliminate. Eliminate anything with an artificial trans-fat as an ingredient. Typically these are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated processed food additives. Trans fats or manmade fats are killing us wholesale. Avoid anything with a trans-fat ingredient.

And one final thing.

I know, you're probably thinking, "Enough already."

Eliminate anything containing high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup, a concentrated sweetener, does not do you any good. Stop buying and ingesting anything with high fructose corn syrup or other destructive artificial sweeteners now!

To make the biggest nutritional improvement, eliminate what is harming you and your family first. Stop hurting yourself and life will automatically improve.

For nutrition habits, our first stop: stop the madness. You will be better for it. I guarantee it.

Now my final question of this session: have you played today?

Have you moved and grooved; engaged your body and spirit in the dance of life?

It's not a complete day unless and until you get out and play. Don't resist this idea. Make play a habit.

Do something you love to do, something active and engaging, every day; something you genuinely look forward to; something that excites you. Make play such a powerful part of your daily routine that you'll regret missing a play session.

Play is a crucial component of your overall health and fitness, your sanity, your wellness, and wellbeing.

Start every play session with preparation. Never go from stopped to all-out effort without a proper transition and warmup. At the beginning of every play session, warm-up and loosen up gradually.

Engage major muscle groups; those in your lower body and core. Walk or step, first slowly but then gradually increasing the pace. Get your blood flowing and heart pumping. Deliberately ramp-up your activity level.

Begin every play session with a few, say five minutes of warming up and stretching. Focus on those big muscle groups and your core. Get moving. Engage, center, and lengthen all the systems of your body. Warming up is an essential part of every play session. Stress, injury, and or worse are what you risk by failing to warm up.

Stretch too during every play session as part of your cool down. Devote about five to ten minutes to warming and loosing up and about the same amount of time to cooling down and stretching. If you want to focus on overall flexibility allocate an additional five to ten minutes or an entire play session specifically to stretching.

Warm-up and ease yourself into your vigorous, enjoyable, and engaging play session every day. Make a habit of it!

Now I have something for you to do. In this session, we talked about habits – things we do routinely, automatically in all aspects of our lives. I'd like you to take inventory of your habits.

You can do this by yourself, but it will be much more thorough and useful if you enlist some help. Observe yourself, and get some others – friends, family, coworkers – to observe you for seven days. Record – write down – every habit you engage in; all those things you do automatically. After seven days, collect those observations and compile a list of habits; your habits inventory. Sort your habits into the mindset, nutrition, and play categories. Then consider each habit to see if it is helping or hurting you.

In the next session, we're going to talk about and get started focusing on habits to propel you forward.

See you in Lesson 3.

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Written by

Scott F. Paradis