Need to Change? Make it Fun!
Use the “Buddy System” to make needed changes stick.
WE HUMANS tend to be complicated. All the other animals simply act in accordance with their DNA dictates, or some pretty straightforward environmentally/socially based inputs.
But we humans have this ID, EGO and SUPEREGO stuff. We’re kinda self-aware (on a good day). We also possess some sorta consciousness (on a real mighty fine day). All this makes us loopy (on any given day).
Let’s apply this to the subject of fitness.
We have these amazing, self-adjusting bodies that – as long as we nourish them and let them rest enough – will automatically repair, replenish, grow, move. But somehow we often manage to screw things up.
We overfeed the body, keep it stressed by lack of sleep and caffeine, and allow it to stiffen from misuse or non-use. By the time most of us are 60, we are dependent upon a cabinet full of pharmaceuticals, have lost significant lean muscle mass, are overweight, slow moving, and are starting to bend forward due to an inflexible spine.
Even when we learn what we need to do to repair ourselves, we simply keep on doing what’s behaviorally entrenched regardless of the consequences. So, if told by a doctor to “eat right” or “exercise”, perhaps a faint-hearted attempt is made before the exhausting prospect of changing behavior upsets the apple cart. Back to square one.
In Jane E. Brody’s New York Times piece, To Keep Moving, Look Beyond the Physical, she recounts a statement made by Michell Segar, a motivational psychologist:
“My research suggests that we have misbranded health behaviors such as exercise. The ‘health’ and ‘weight-loss’ brand of exercise doesn’t create desire in people to exercise on a daily basis. It makes the behaviors feel like a chore and a ‘should,’ which undercuts our desire to do them.”
In other words, to make a new behavior stick, we need to fool ourselves. We need to make it fun and social. It cannot be made to be perceived as a chore, but as a fun gift to ourselves.
I often write about the value of the “Buddy System”. Especially when trying to doing something new, hard, or complicated, you dramatically improve your success quotient if you begin the journey with a friend. It’s not important if (s)he is a newbie like you or experienced. Rather, what’s important is that you have someone to join you in the adventure, and hold you accountable when your discipline falters.
So, if you want to change your diet, do it with a friend. Do a cleanse? Grab a friend with whom you can giggle over the number of bowl movements you’re experiencing each day. Exercise? Get a group together for a vigorous walk, or yoga classes, or weight lifting.
Make it social. Make it fun. Just make it happen!