In Better Than Before, Gretchin Rubin talks about the importance of monitoring the important behavior that you are trying to make a habit. She says “self-measurement brings self-awareness. And self-awareness strengthens self-control.” It’s so true.
Food journaling is always an interesting experiment. It’s not something I do routinely. But I’ve tried it intermittently in the past and I always learn a lot…mostly I learn how much I’m eating. That kind of sudden self-awareness does bring with it a sudden surge of self-control.
The Seinfield productivity calendar idea is a smart way to monitor. You write an X over the day on your cal when you do your habit. The idea is to write an X every day so that you don’t “break the chain”. This method isn’t particularly motivating to me. The thing is, you’re not suppose to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And I’d do just that…if I missed a day, it would easily catapult me into feelings of failure and I’d just stop tracking all together.
But I recently figured out a way to make monitoring work to my advantage. Like I said in my last post, I’ve been doing a really tough kettlebell program. It’s one of those “simple but not easy” programs.The only lifts are presses, squats, cleans and swings (all with doubles) done over and over again. It’s repetitive and gets boring. I thought for sure I’d be sick of it a few days in. But that wasn’t the case.
I just finished the month long program today and really, really enjoyed it. Ya know why? Because there was this nifty little chart included to track your progress. Every week, I’d compare my numbers to the week before to see how much better I got. And every week, I got better. Even if I didn’t feel like pushing hard on a particular day, I would tell myself I had to at least match, preferably beat, my number from the previous week. So I pushed. I progressed. I felt incredibly satisfied.
I learned that monitoring my progress is key for me. It’s not enough to just mark that I worked out; I have to mark what I did and how well I did it. It’s kind of crazy that I’m just now figuring this out (I’m no newbie to working out). But I’m so happy for this discovery because now I know how to keep my momentum going, whereas in the past, I would just go through the motions and do the bare minimum.
So how can you monitor your behaviors in a way to help them become habits? Some people find accountability from a partner helpful. There are lots of apps to track behaviors too. Coach.me is a one I’ve tinkered with and it’s pretty cool. Fitbit, Jawbone Up or any kind of step counter certainly makes people more active. Do whatever you need. But know you’ll be more successful if you monitor what is essential to you.
For any fitness nerds that care about the specifics, here’s the workout…it calls for using your 5 rep max for presses. I used a pair of 26 lbs. bells.
Day 1- Dbl. Press, Dbl. Squat – 1-2-3 ladders for 25 mins., rest as needed
Week 1- 42 reps of each
Week 2- 48 reps of each
Week 3- 60 reps of each
Day 2- Dbl. Swing, Dbl. Clean – 2-4-6 ladders for 20 mins., rest as needed
Week 1- 60 reps of each
Week 2- 72 reps of each
Week 3- 72 reps of each
Day 3- Dbl. Press, Dbl. Squat – sets of 3 for 25 mins., rest as needed
Week 1- 33 reps of each
Week 2- 39 reps of each
Week 3- 45 reps of each
Day 4- Dbl. Swing, Dbl. Clean – sets of 6-7 for 20 mins., rest as needed
Week 1- 54 reps of each
Week 2- 67 reps of each
Week 3- 75 reps of each
Day 5- Dbl. Press, Dbl. Squat – sets of 2 for 25 mins., rest as needed
Week 1- 28 reps of each
Week 2- 40 presses, 30 squats (weird leg pain)
Week 3- 50 reps of each
Day 6- Dbl. Swing, Dbl. Clean – sets of 8 for 20 mins., rest as needed
Week 1- 64 reps of each
Week 2- 72 reps of each
Week 3- 80 reps of each
And then Week 4 was a different format and only had 4 work days:
Day 1- Dbl. Press, Dbl. Squat – sets of 3 for 25 mins. – 51 reps of each
Day 2- Dbl. Swing, Dbl. Clean – sets of 10 for 20 mins. – 80 swings, 90 cleans
Day 3- Dbl. Swing, Dbl. Clean – sets of 6 for 20 mins. – 72 reps of each
Day 4- Dbl. Press, Dbl. Squat – sets of 4 for 25 mins. – 56 reps of each
That’s a lot of reps total in a month with decently heavy weights. I kind of amazed myself because I haven’t worked out hard consistently in a couple years. And not heavy either. But I feel like my body remembered that it use to be very strong and it tapped into that. It feels good to progress backwards, in a sense, towards a place you used to be. A place that feels like home.