I got up early and happily made my way to the class. Said hello to my friends and then we started to warm up. World’s Greatest Stretch (that is code for a lunge stretch at CrossFit) was the warm-up, and I was still feeling good. We had to get a bar, and my directions were to get a 15-lb trainer bar, that is lighter than the regular 35lb bar.
Within a few minutes of the basic instructions, I was no longer feeling good as we learned a squat snatch. You hold the bar with a wide grip, jump to get the bar overhead, stretch your arms wide AND land in a squat. It is amazing how quickly the body and mind can decide something is a definite NO! Not only was it a no, but the waves of fear felt like a tsunami.
I have never done this kind of move before. Was I strong enough? I trusted my coach to keep me safe, and the bar was only 15lbs, so it was nothing crazy. I do all the moves separately? We practiced for about 15 minutes where I acted like a two-year-old, refusing to do it. I made it to the end of class and on the way out told my coach I did not like him that day. So I had progressed to the behavior of a five-year-old by then. I walked quickly out the door and was lucky to make it to my car before I started crying?
What had just happened?
This experience just happened to coincide with the recent launch of a new Prasada Wholebeing Workshop called A Biometrics Road Map. In that program, we help people look at their biometrics results and use them as a compass for navigating new habits and how to use a 30-Day Practice as the process to make that happen.
For that program, the company who had done the biometrics for our client shared a sample biometrics results for a 45-year-old male. They weren’t the results from a real person, just a sample, but the results scared me. Just like the squat snatch scared me.
Sometimes in life, we come up against difficult places. They can be biometric results that we weren’t expecting or a situation where we move into something that stretches our abilities. In either case, they test our beliefs. “My health is just fine” cannot coincide with the reality of being pre-diabetic and having alarmingly high blood pressure readings.
Moving Even When There is Fear
My desire to get stronger cannot coincide with a strong belief that a weight over my head is somehow going to injure me. In both cases, there is fear. A lot of fear. No one seems to talk about how real this feeling is. How often in these moments do we run, shut down, never go back to that class or crumple up the biometric results so we can get on with life.
In all the writing about habits that I explored as I prepared for the Biometric Road Map Workshop, three big ideas floated to the top.
#1. You have to know why you want to change, and it can’t be a big fuzzy long term goal.
In the book No Seat, by Michelle Segar, she researched why people decided to exercise. 75% said their primary reason for exercising was to lose weight or to get healthier. Sounds like a good reason right? I want to lift weights to get stronger. Yet Segar found these are not EFFECTIVE reasons and they lack the meaning that truly motivates.
So, what motivates us? For the people who exercised more, they did it to enhance the quality of their daily life—to create a sense of well-being, a feeling of being energized and centered. It provides immediate gratification which proved to be a lot more effective than a future, abstract target.
#2. Change takes courage, and then more courage to shift your identity and beliefs.
What does your identity have to do with your courage or habits? Everything according to James Clear in his book, Atomic Habits. Clear claims “Identity change is the North Star of habit change.” Habits make up about 45% of your daily activity. They support and reinforce your identity.
I have experienced numerous small injuries that have kept me from making progress in getting stronger, though it had been a goal for a few years. Getting stronger meant staying with lifting weights consistently, and shifting my mindset about what I could do as my strength increased. I had to see myself as capable of being stronger and facing the fears that had stopped my progress in the past.
#3 Daily mini habits are where it’s at. A 30-Day Practice is an excellent structure for creating a new habit.
This one I really loved. Stephen Guise, the author of Mini Habits, developed this idea that a habit is “stupid small.” It is a habit that has been “minified” so that it is too small to fail, so small that it is harder NOT to do it than to just do it.
One of his mini habits came from his failure to get to the gym regularly. So his mini habit was one pushup a day. He felt that was too stupid to fail at. And once he was down there, he might as well do a few more. The trick here is you CAN do more than that number (and the strategy is a sort of reverse psychology that you will do more), but you only have to do one to keep your streak going. This is a strategy of building the wins and wanting to see the days pile up for your success.
Brian Johnson of Optimize talks about continuing to meditate every day, and he has only missed one day in 10 years. He also had a love for burpees. His habit was to do 1 the first day then 2, then 3. Last time I read he was at 183 and was targeting 300. Now that is a lot of burpees but now it has become a daily habit and he is on a roll.
For me, after I sat in my car crying for a few minutes, and feeling the fear, I decided the only way to get through this was the opposite of what I REALLY wanted to do, which was to never do Snatch Squats ever again.
But there have been fantastic immediate rewards when I have made progress with pull-ups and deadlifts. Nope, I decided I was gonna flip this situation into an invitation, turn toward it, not away.
One Snatch Squat every day for 30 days. We were going to get to be good friends. I even wrote a note…
Dear Snatch Squat,
I know we just met and you seem very scary to me right now. You tap my deepest fears of getting injured. However, you need to know, I am not giving up. As we spend more time together, I know we are going to become terrific friends.
The Swifter Bar
I rigged up the SWIFTER bar to use at home. (This makeshift bar was very, very amusing to my CrossFit tribe!) My 30-Day Practice Road Map helped me declare my one Snatch Squat per day and identified my reward for this 30-Day practice.
I’m on day 15 today. It has not been easy. I’ve come up with all kinds of excuses AND then just make myself do it anyway. Finally, this morning, when I would not let myself have my morning coffee until I did it, I lifted my swifter bar in a Snatch Squat with EASE! I did 10 because it felt so good! By day 30 I just may have fallen in love.
That feeling of pressing through the fear, of this tiny step of progress, of this shift, was so worth it. (I even got a better workout when I have to use this version of the Swifter to mop my kitchen!)
What is the fear that is in your way of shifting a habit?
What identity threat might be underneath that fear?
What 30-Day Practice of a mini habit might you be ready to start today?
Here’s a copy of the Road Map to a 30-Day Practice to print out. I hope your new habit can provide an array of experiences like mine has.