How Creating New Habits Can Help You Get Healthy & Fit For A Long Distance Cycle Tour
I recently read the book, Atomic Habits by James Clear. I’ve heard tips and tricks for learning good habits in the past but I wanted to dive a little deeper into the topic. Atomic Habits goes into detail about the science and proven ideas behind building new habits and stopping old negative ones. I thought I would write this blog to share a few things I’ve learned that will be especially useful for getting healthy and fit for a cycle tour.
“One percent more effort everyday for one year, you’ll end up 37 times better by the time you’re done.”
#1 – Start by choosing a few small habits.
A common road block when it comes to getting fit or starting a training routine can be feeling overwhelmed by the very idea of it. Waking up early before work to ride or running ten kilometres in the evenings are not the only way to train and it’s definitely not where you need to start. It’s been proven that small improvements, even the simplest steps, if repeated can have incredible outcomes over time. In the book, the author gives an example of a real life situation where 1% improvements over time made an Olympic cycling team climb to winning success.
One percent more effort everyday for one year and you’ll end up 37 times better by the time you’re done. These changes can start as simple as drinking a glass of water every morning before you do anything else, or going for a 10 minute run once a week, or putting one less scoop of sugar in your morning coffee. These small changes will be even easier to stick with if you stack them with something else you are already doing daily. This is called Habit Stacking. A simple example would be doing a 2-3 minute stretch before you get dressed everyday. Or doing 10 jumping jacks before you brush your teeth. When you stack a new habit along with something you are already doing everyday it makes it much easier to stick to.
#2 – Find your own unique way to make it enjoyable.
The facts are that if something is not enjoyable, you are far less likely to stick with it. That’s why so often people get a gym membership and only go for the first few months. They soon stop going because walking on a treadmill isn’t all that exciting. In order to create new habits and make positive changes it’s important to make them enjoyable. Of course, riding your bike is fun but often we don’t feel motivated to go for a ride when we’re tired or had a busy week.
An easy way to make it more appealing is by picking a fun destination. You can create a list of places you would like to visit and a schedule, even start with once a week. Having it written out somewhere obvious like your bathroom mirror will help you remember and feel more accountable. If you are having a hard time deciding where to go, some examples could include a café you have never been to, a lunch spot in a nearby town, a record store or whatever else your heart desires. You can do this for running, walking or whatever activity you choose. Keep your bike or running shoes in a spot that makes it easy to grab and go. Having everything in sight makes it much more likely you will reach for them and get to it.
#3 – Change how you talk about it.
The key to this next step is to reprogram your mind. If you find yourself saying, ‘I have to train’ you should change how you talk about it by saying things like, ‘I’m getting up early so I can be strong for an incredible adventure!’ No more, ‘I have to go to the gym.’ Instead say, ‘I’m heading to the gym so I can enjoy the tour to the fullest!’ If you tell yourself that something is positive and actually change the way you talk about it, you will notice, over time, how you start to think differently about it. Going on a cycle tour adventure is an amazing and exciting opportunity, and you are fortunate enough to get to do it. So getting fit is all part of this exciting process.
If you want to make positive improvements then it will require some changes to what you are currently doing. The key to success is sticking to it. Getting to a place where you feel fit enough to do a long distance cycle tour may seem far off but with some new habits in place you will be blown away by what you can accomplish. The author, James Clear, puts it nicely, “With the same habits, you’ll end up with the same results. But with better habits, anything is possible.” Try it out. What do you have to lose? Or I should ask, what could you gain?