While we are a fitness facility, fitness is the service and the business is people. We are here to help make people better, and make better people. Much of that coaching, in both nutrition and training, is based on adapting behaviour. And that is based heavily on habit formation.
Habits are the small decisions and actions you perform daily. What you repeatedly do ultimately forms who you are. Therefore, if your nutrition is poor it’s a direct result of bad dietary habits.
Likewise, if your nutrition is on point, it’s a direct result of good dietary habits.
Habits are thought to be developed through a 3-step loop.
- Step 1 is a trigger – an event or action that reminds you of and initiates a habit. Example: Becoming “snacky” between meals.
- Step 2 is the habit itself – the behaviour you (repeatedly) perform in response to the trigger. Based on the above example: Eating a sweet treat.
- Step 3 is the reward – the benefit associated with behaviour. Following on with the example: Energy levels and mood are lifted for a bit.
You can layer any habit, dietary or otherwise, onto these three steps. While people may display the same behaviours (habits), their triggers and perceived rewards will all be different depending on their personality traits.
How rewards are perceived are especially different between individuals. For some, the reward from that sweet pick-me-up is better energy levels for the next 40 minutes. For others, the reward is more psychological – a comforting feeling. Either way, the reward keeps refueling the behaviour.
So how do we improve dietary habits? I think that reverse engineering the 3-step loop works like magic.
- Start with the reward. What will your reward be for eating better? Improved performance, losing body fat, greater self confidence, fitting your wedding clothing perfectly, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There are many, but you have to pick one to three rewards for YOU.
- Now look at what habits you need to change and develop in order to get you to that reward. This will again be different for everyone, but make them relevant to the reward. If you know what the benefit will be, it motivates you to maintain the habit.
- Find a trigger that initiates the required behaviours. Triggers can be a time, location, event, emotion or other people. Set an alarm for each meal and snack. Associate the work canteen (location) with bad food to prevent you from eating there. Post-exercise (event) is a good time for a more high GI meal or snack.
Emotions are typically triggers for bad behaviour (like comfort eating) so implement an exercise behaviour for when you’re feeling down. The people one is more powerful than you realise, so surround yourself with people who are at the very least supportive of your goals.
There’s a fourth step that I think fits in under the rewards step – visualisation. Visualise how you will feel when you attain the reward. “I will feel [insert emotion] when I lose some body fat.” It’s a well proven method.
It’s all a bit easier said than done, though. And that’s exactly why we run lifestyle challenges. Sure, we teach you a bit about good nutrition, but more importantly, the challenges are a method of instilling better (sustainable) lifestyle behaviours. So, if you need to tidy up your health and fitness, sign up for the Summer Lifestyle Challenge. If you’ve done a challenge or two but feel like you need more individually tailored advice, we do have one-on-one nutrition coaching too.
Whichever route you choose, “I struggle to eat well” is the poorest excuse you could have for not optimising your health because all the tools you need are right at your finger tips!
Almost everything is new to your mind and body when you start out on your fitness journey. As long as you are taught and understand the importance and benefit of the skills you’re being introduced to your progress on all levels feels exponential. The kilograms, meters and reps just keep on coming. In time the gains still come, but at a much slower rate. And in time you also discover where the holes in your fitness lie.
Strength comes quickly for some. Others get strong quickly but struggle to move sub-maximal loads quickly. There are the gymnastics ninjas who have little trouble getting inverted, and those who seem to be just built for endurance-based activities. It has a bit to do with genetics, a lot to do with what methods of training you’re exposed to, and even more to do with what you like doing. Yes, you typically like doing what you’re naturally good at, but you often do some things because it peaks your interest.
What needs to happen when you’ve passed those early stages of learning–when you’ve discovered the holes in your fitness–is a little bit of give and take. You need to sacrifice further gains, and possibly a bit of regression, in your strong areas in favour of covering the holes in your fitness.
No more gains? Going backwards? What the…? Yes, but only in the stuff you are really good at AND in favour of developing a more balanced fitness.
The good thing is that you don’t need to change much in order to cover those holes up. There’s no need to specialised programming and lots of time in the gym. A bit of individually tailored programming may certainly help, but all you need to do is keep turning up to sessions regardless of the workout, and apply yourself more at the stuff you suck at. Confront the discomfort experienced in the things you’re not as good at, hang out there, and keep turning up.
It also helps to do a little less (extra work) in the areas you’re already really good at. A lack of progress and even regression in that area in lieu of leveling other areas up is actually an increase in fitness. If your max squat numbers might be stagnant or down a bit, but your gymnastics conditioning and performances in conditioning workouts are up a lot, it means you’re fitter overall. If your endurance performance might have plateaued but your performance in sprint-based tests is up, you are fitter overall.
So as you reflect on your performances in the variety of tests we do, remember that the big goal is fitness–increased capacity in an array of time and modal domains. Keep your toys in the cot if your strength hasn’t improved because chances are your strength is already pretty good and you’ve improved in other domains.
Specialisation is for insects. Become a jack of all trades.
WHAT DROVE YOU TO JOIN CROSSFIT JOZI?
Well I got tired of the boring monotonous legs, arms. Back routine at “commercial “gyms I needed variety I needed a different challenge I needed group enthusiasm I needed a vibe and I crave the rush
After long studies and Facebook /Instagram stalking the beautiful blonde bombshell Lesley Wright, I met with her and enquired on the price and classes and the where when and how’s
And then in August 2016 took the plunge went for the interview was rely amazed at the professionalism and quality of educated staff I felt welcome immediately
Started with the 1 month intro classes with the amazing caring passionate Tia McDougall the belief that she installed in me laid the foundation that still drives me every class
I currently do Mondays and Wednesday 6:30 classes with the power Couple Lynda and Cobus McCabe, they keep it fun and challenging and constantly push me to be the best I can be but still keeping me in the best text book form that CrossFit Jozi standards expect
I also finish the week with the cardio killer Zak GI Jozi on Thursdays 6:30, always something exciting to look forward to.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A MEMBER FOR?
It’s amazing how time as passed I have been with CrossFit Jozi for a year and a month now
WHO INSPIRES YOU?
Very interesting question to me everyone inspired me that can get up and get to the gym to do the challenge
If you look at it all the “newbies” aspire to be like you so you need to be on your best form to show them they can do it as I was once in their position but on the same page I aspire to be like all the “Pros” so I need to push harder
So there is always someone to inspire you
WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHEN YOU AREN’T AT THE GYM?
Well I work for Audi so if I’m not at the gym I most probably 8/10 times am at work I love my job and passion for the brand and meeting amazing people
The other 2/10 times I’m spending time catching up with friends
TELL US ONE INTERESTING THING THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?
Hmmmmm well I’m a professional trained model have numerous awards under my belt including Mr Supreme King 2015 and Mr King of the World 2016
Otherwise I’m a pretty open book ask and I will tell
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD T.V PROGRAMME?
Shoo was quite a while ago
IF YOU HAD TO HAVE A SUPER POWER WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I would love the power of everlasting youthfulness I want to be young forever getting old scares me
WHAT WOULD YOUR PERFECT WORKOUT BE?
Well last night was an awesome work out 07/09/17 6:30 GI Jozi
Buy in 300 single skips
10 rounds for time
6x 20m sled pushes
10 x med ball wall sit ups
10x DB thruster’s alt
Buy out 1k ski erg
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE CLASS OR SESSION AT CFJ?
Every class is unique in its own way I can say in the year + that I have been here I have never done the same work out twice
But the one that still haunts me a little was 17.1 of the Open 2017
WHAT MIGHT WE FIND IN YOUR FRIDGE AT HOME?
Biltong, avocados and ice tea
WHAT IS THE COOLEST THING THAT YOU HAVE ACHIEVED AT CFJ?
Well when I started pull up were just a thing I could look at trying one even wasn’t possible now after pushing and pushing I’m proud I can say I can do 20+ chest to bar kipping pull ups PS this is just one of many as every day I amaze myself of how evolved I am and adapting to all the work outs
WHAT CHANGES IN YOUR HEALTH HAVE YOU NOTICED SINCE STARTING?
My whole physical mental and emotional well-being has changed I’m less stressed I can focus more I can see I have a very toned sporty looking physique I am a lot more supple and flexible and I fell more energetic
Mentally CrossFit is my meditation when you look back at a work out and all you can’t think of what you were thinking at the time you just remember silence in your head just everything blocked out finding peace in that chaos
“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” – Warren Buffett
I talk and write a lot about the importance of accountability when working towards any form of goal. Being accountable is accepting responsibility for your own actions, and having someone monitoring and reviewing your actions keeps you honest.
In the gym, coaches are the first line of accountability. You need to book for classes and they can tell who’s showing up or not. In class they teach you how to move and guide you to finding that balance between technique and intensity. You also have your fellow members keeping you accountable in the gym. Knowing they’ll be there ushers you off the couch, they support and motivate you in training, and when you’re slacking they will call you out.
There is no questioning that accountability helps. You, however, do still need to do the work. Just turning up or only eating well when it’s time for a review because your mates are turning up to class and you have a nutrition review coming up will get you nowhere. Accountability only helps when you own your actions.
Owning your actions means habitually making good decisions in and out of the gym. Habits like caring for your low back when moving any form of load, modifying the workout to your abilities, moving well AND counting properly when (you think) nobody’s watching, scheduling and turning up to your nutrition reviews, sticking to your nutrition goals even when the company you’re with don’t care, like warming up and cooling down properly.
If you don’t maintain good habits, even when your sources of accountability aren’t around, you’ll falter. And you’ll only feel the fall when you hit the ground. Hold yourself to the standard.
I take my sleep seriously. And food. Sufficient, peaceful sleep and good food keep me healthily and happily ticking over. It also makes life a bit more pleasant for those in my company on the next day 😀 We’re talking sleep today, though.
Sleep is arguably one of the most overlooked pieces of health and fitness. Yet of all the pieces, it may have the greatest influence on just about every bodily function. Our bodies are incredibly active during sleep as they undergo an array and growth and restorative processes necessary to keep the mind and body healthy.
Sleep is essential for learning. A full night’s sleep keeps your memory sharp and improves your problem-solving the next day. It also keeps you attentive and creative, fosters prompt decision making and improves your overall mood and energy. Much of this research has associated these changes in mental health to altered activity in parts of the brain.
During waking hours all body systems are exposed to all kinds of stressors. The environment, exercise, sensory stimulation, and unfortunately for some, trauma. Sleep is when the body replenishes expended mineral and energy stores, rebuilds damaged tissue (including nerve tissue which probably undergoes the most daily restoration), and grows.
Sleep deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, some of which is the result of overeating and obesity caused by an imbalance in the hormones that manage hunger and satiety. Research has also established a strong correlation between sleep quality and quantity and body composition. The mechanisms thereof are complex, but it results in excess weight gain and an inability to gain and maintain muscle.
A good night’s sleep will improve athletic performance, including speed, accuracy and overall energy. And sleep is especially important for kids and teens, and those who exercise because it induces the release of human growth hormone, an important hormone in cellular regeneration.
Getting sick a lot of late? Your immune system is most active during sleep – partly why when you are sick all you want to do is sleep! A consistent dose of daily sleep reduces your risk of getting the common cold and other illnesses and makes you more resilient to those daily stressors.
Sleep deficiency also affects your endocrine system, thereby affecting the production and sensitivity to important hormones such and insulin and cortisol.
So just like exercise and nutrition, there’s a big picture perspective to sleep. It’s essential to long-term health.
How much is enough?
How much sleep we need varies between individuals, but most of our differences in sleep requirements vary with age. Babies need the most while adults (regardless of age) need the least. Adults need seven to eight hours a day, but I’m of the opinion that for optimal health and fitness you need eight to ten hours a day.
Getting a good night’s sleep
Just as how much sleep we all need varies, so does what leads us to sleep. Our circadian rhythm is the body’s sleep system. It sets in motion the temperature and hormonal changes required for sleep and waking. If you’ve ever experienced jet lag, you’ll know what it’s like to have that system thrown out.
To help lead you to a good sleep, get as much natural blue light during the day as possible. Natural blue light is the sky! Start winding down 30-60 minutes before you plan on hitting the hay. Dim or switch of all artificial blue light such as ceiling lights, TVs and handheld devices. Have blackout curtains in your bedroom and for the light sleeper, wear ear plugs – as long as you can still hear your alarm in the morning!