How a Simple Little Marketing Tip can get you Fit

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I recently picked up a book.

It wasn’t about fitness or nutrition or the most recent bodybuilding fad. Nothing related.

It was a marketing book and a good one too – Marketing in the age of Google. It’s all about the beauty of search engines, the reasons behind why people search for what they do, and how we can leverage that to create stronger, more engaged communities online.

So how is this of any relevance?

Author Vanessa Fox mentioned a key character in the search world – Gord Hotchkiss  – who has given us a fascinating insight into the way searchers view and click on search results. He’s the one who came up with this:

Search Engine Heat Map - it identifies what searchers look at when they are presented with search results. The red areas are looked at most frequently, followed by yellow areas and then blue areas. Based on the heat map, searchers are most frequently looking at the top 3-4 search results on the results page.

In the book, the author referenced some of Hotchkiss’s work that I found to be really interesting.

“He describes how our brains use cognitive shortcuts when performing mental tasks. As we learn a behavior, we internalize it and perform that behavior on autopilot so our brains are free to concentrate on other tasks. Up to 45 percent of our daily actions are done by habit, without conscious thought.

Really?

45 percent of our daily actions are done by habit?? No conscious thought?

That’s insane!!

Almost half of the things we do we don’t actually think about doing it. We just…do it!

So I started thinking a bit. How can I utilize this powerful little mind trick to help people get fit? How can it be leveraged to help people get in the gym, eat right or simply live a healthy lifestyle?

Here’s what we can do…

We need to create habits – good ones. We need to initiate positive, healthy behaviors that we can learn, internalize and perform on autopilot.

Here are my 4 tips to creating a habit. Read them, learn them, USE them.

1 – Make it 30

Most experts agree that you have to perform an action for 30 days straight in order for it to become a habit. The first few days are going to be tough. Get over it. The first couple of weeks are going to test you. Fight it. Before you can push an action into your subctiontious mind, you have to let it sit and fight through the conscious one. You’ll have to think – focus. If you can stick through the 30 days, the action will become a habit.

2 – Restructure your Environment

Before you venture onto your thirty day adventure, you need to restructure your environment. This means removing all temptation. If you’re trying to build a habit of eating healthier, get rid of all the garbage in the fridge, the pantry, the garage or wherever you like to hide your ‘good stuff’. Get rid of it. If you’re trying to build a habit of exercising more often, have your training gear in open sight, get rid of the things that make you lazy, and fix up your home equipment if you have some. Only once you have restructured your environment can you have a good chance of succeeding your 30 day challenge and developing your habit.

3 – Develop a Trigger

This is a unique habit-creating technique that I’ve seen a lot of experts rave about. And for good reason - it’s powerful. A trigger is something personal to you that you use to initiate an action you want to create into a habit. Say you want to build a habit of getting in the gym more often. Maybe your trigger can be a cup of coffee. Every time you want to go to the gym, you drink a cup of coffee beforehand. Over the 30 days of doing this, every time you drink a coffee your mind will subcontiously be ready for the gym – and your body will follow. Nothing crazy, but you get the idea. Get yourself a trigger and use it.

4 – Get it on Paper

I truly believe that to create a habit there needs to be a constant source of motivation. Without motivation you’re dead in the water – the habit will be kicked to the curb before you can snap your fingers. One of the best ways to motivate yourself is to get a piece of paper (and a pen) and write down WHY you are choosing to develop this habit and the CONSEQUENCES that follow if you don’t follow through with it. Write it down. Make it BIG. Put it somewhere you can see every single day (especially during the 30 day challenge). Read it out loud. Motivation is the drive behind action.

The mind is a powerful thing. It really is. And yet there is so much we don’t know about it. So much we take for granted.

If it is true that 45 percent of our daily actions are done by habit, then why not create good, healthy habits that become part of our subcontious agenda?

Why not put health-conscious habits on auto pilot, so we do them without consious thought.

Well, that’s the idea. And I want you to try it.

If you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it, I encourage you to do one of two things:

  1. See that little facebook share button below? Yea, the blue one? Click it. Share this post with your friends. Help me spread my message.
  2. If you have any cool tips on developing good habits, share them in the comments below. If you have any tips on getting rid of BAD habits, share them in the comments below. If you want to say hello, check out my About page!

Thanks for reading!

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Comments

  1. Hi Srdjan,

    These are some great tips on creating healthy habits. Reminds me of what Tony Robbins teaches in “Personal Power”(I believe that was the name of the book) on how to use visualization, imagery and emotions to create positive changes in different areas of your life.

    Ray

    • Ray, I’ve always been a fan of Tony Robbins but I don’t recall reading that book. I’ll have to pick it up and see if I can find some cool techniques. I think there are many powerful tricks we can use to create positive changes in our lives – we just have to learn how to use them.

  2. I studied Psychology in college and back then textbooks said it took 21 days to break an old habit and thus create a new one. I have read other books lately that point out that it takes 30 days… things have changed and maybe this points to us becoming almost robot-like and finding it more difficult to break from the old.

    I always tell anyone to develop a plan in order to create a new habit. So with fitness, for example, I think it’s best to create a schedule when you are going to workout and what you are going to do and then stick to it no matter what. Forget about “making up” a workokut if you missed it the day before. If you teach your mind that your upper body needs to be worked on Mondays for example, then your mind will force you to workout on that specific day.

    I think I need to check that book out.

    -Sam

    • Sam, thanks for sharing those tips man. Human psychology has always been an interest of mine so I still continue to pick up some psychology books every now and then.

      You bring up an excellent point – I think developing a plan is crucial if you want to successfully create a good habit. But for the example that you give, I have one question: what happens if you do miss a workout? How do you ‘make up for it’?

      And I definitely suggest you check out the book – it’s got some really good stuff.

      • Srdjan,
        I don’t make up a lost workout and I don’t recommend it. For example, my chest workouts are on Mondays right now.
        If I miss my Monday workout then that means I won’t work on chest for a whole week.
        This may sound crazy but it forces me to go in every Monday and work on that muscle group.
        If you try to makeup workouts you play catch up and you tend to slack off often.
        -Sam

        • I see what you’re saying now, Sam. It actually sounds like a great technique for keeping yourself accountable for sticking to your workouts. I might recommend this to a few of the people I’m helping out at the moment. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I’m actually using this principle kinda in reverse at the moment. By switching my exercises, volume and tempo A LOT, I’m finding that there are no habits in my routine to fall back on. I’m having to really concentrate/focus to get through it, and the workouts have been really good.

    Enjoyed the post

    Michael

    • That’s an interesting point, Michael. By switching things up so frequently, you’re not allowing your muscles to get accustomed to one form of training. How has it been working for you?

  4. Well it’s early days but it feels good so far (good as in, tough, of course). I shall definitely be switching up the exercises I use more often than I used to in the past from now on.

    That said one of the reasons it suits me is that I am not as bothered at pushing big weights as some guys, but more about making the exercise as challenging as possible for the muscle involved, and making sure I keep my most important muscle engaged; my brain. (disclaimer: anyone who knows me would probably assert that my brain disengaged a long time ago!)

    Michael

    • Haha at least you’re honest! JK. But you bring up a great point – keeping your brain engaged throughout your workout can be extremely beneficial. I often use a similar tactic where I will use a much lower weight but truly focus on my form and the muscles that are being engaged. For instance, I’ll do a bicep curl with a really low weight but I’ll focus on fully contracting the biceps muscles at the right time in the movement. I’ve found this to be more effective at times than simply trying to heave up a heavy weight.

      Thanks for the comment man – very insightful points.

  5. You’ve made an excellent point here, with 45 percent of our actions done by habit, creating health and fitness positive habits is the right way to go to achieve health and fitness related goals.

  6. Srdjan,

    Very insightful post. I found the last couple of comments regarding muscle confusion interesting. I regularly mix up my routines to keep my muscles guessing by doing new moves or progressively increasing resistance as this stimulates growth. However, my routine itself is very regimented and planned out.

    For instance, before the start of each week, I know I’m going to do a metabolic workout on Monday, low intensity cardio on Tuesday, strength training Wednesday, HIIT Thursday and Friday, strength training Saturday, and rest Sunday. The actual workouts themselves vary from week to week, but the habit of training and the things I do prior to and immediately after training are burned into my subconscious.

    These are the little things that will open up a healthy lifestyle. Same goes with diet. I plan out the nature of my calorie intake and meals ahead of the week, including my cheat meals. This works very well because I don’t leave anything to chance and therefore, give myself a lower probability of “slipping up”.

    Alykhan

    • This is a great comment man and I agree with a lot of the things you’re saying. There definitely needs to be an element of planning in your routine – you can’t go in there with no idea as to what you’re going to be doing. You need to have some sort of structure to your week. But this doesn’t mean there can’t be any variety in the routine itself – like you said, change is necessary for stimulating growth.

      I’m curious though, what are the things you do before and after training that are burned into your subconcious. More importantly, how did you get them to that point?

  7. Srdjan,

    That depends on what type of training and what my goal is. For fat loss, I try to fast a few hours before and a couple hours after training. For muscle gain, I take BCAAs before training if I’ve been fasting and have a protein recovery drink immediately after. Also during strength training, I think about load, number of reps, and rest between sets depending on whether I’m looking to build mass or strengthen muscle.

    I’ve gradually gotten to this point where I’m constantly thinking about these things because I want to maximize my results for each workout which gets me closer to achieving my goals. If you want to achieve a certain physique, you can’t just blindly workout and hope to get there. You need to be strategic and stay mentally engaged before, during, and after training.

    Alykhan

  8. Excellent article really I definitely ‘like’ this one ( I don’t do that often).
    This gets to the heart of creating a change albeit a positive one.
    I’m a creature of habit and that is how I have reached my fitness level.
    I know exactly what I eat everyday and how and when I train. If something happen to my habit then I become very uneasy and try to make it up.
    But what it has allowed me to do is experiment and find out easily what works or doesn’t work for me very quickly eg I know if I just change say my breakfast I can see the results very soon knowing all else is the same.
    the only tip I have to get into a habit is find a reason so deep down in you, that it will give you no choice and force you to change
    Raymond

    • Hey Raymond, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I think you and I are on the same boat when it comes to being creatures of habit. I like having a set structure to my diet and training. Even for my new Visual Impact challenge, it’s been 2 weeks and I’m already in habit-mode. Everything is on auto-pilot. Everything is run by the subconcious. It’s a pretty cool feeling.

      I completely agree with your tip. It’s something I’ve been trying to promote with this blog. You truly need to have a passionate, deep-driven reason to make a change – whether it is a simple habit or a complete lifestyle overhaul.

  9. Fantastic Srdjan! Always helping us with great tips.

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