I was in my teens, when it was five in the morning, still dark outside and suddenly I heard someone’s knuckles playing a band on the door of my cupboard (90s kids didn’t have the privilege of locking their rooms). I woke up irritated and it was my dad, I don’t know if he was secretly loving it, watching us groan. My siblings and I were unaware that this was going to be a regular for a lot of months to come. ‘Wake up and do what?’ — people ask me that even today. Workout. Run up the stairs and come down twenty times. Really, you can imagine our reactions when we saw the movie Dangal.
I was the most frustrated when my dad said “You eat? You sleep? You go to school? Then you can make time to workout.” All my reasons lost to his words and do I thank my stars for it. He gave us the taste of waking up early and getting that engine started—like dark chocolate, black coffee or Beer. Something about acquired tastes, you keep going at it till you’re hooked. Either someone else is making you down it or its’ your own thirst kicking you. Now I don’t even put an alarm. Don’t need one; my desperate need to feel fit gets me up and running.
While I was on this spree I did get the habit of watching the sunrise and hearing the birds when I’d reach the terrace. You would be shocked at how disciplined other creatures are. A Barbet (bird) would come everyday at the same time to watch the sun rise. Wait on the same tree. There are other birds who follow the same pattern even today. The ancient “cock-a-doodle-doo” of the rooster crowing strong even today; if you have pets at home you’ll know they are mostly more disciplined than us. Some habits can be innate behaviours and don’t need training. The one’s that need to be grilled into our routine are the real mosquitoes (they are the new bitches), right? How do you reach a point where you don’t break it and how do you crack a habit?
Breaking it down:
MAKE BETTER CHOICES: I read in this book “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg, that you need to replace old habits with new and better ones. From smoking to chewing gum was a huge fad. Basically jump from one wagon to another healthier one. You can be creative in your own way, if you have the habit of using your phone a lot, then make sure you call people instead of text that saves screen time. Making better choices is a way of starting.
BE EXTREEMLY PATIENT: 21/90 days rule- It works, I’m on the other side of so many habits that they’ve become a lifestyle and I don’t even remember how I got here. When people ask me how did you control sugar cravings, I don’t recall because its so much a part of me now. So wait till it becomes a part of your subconscious routine. Imagine everyday’s task or practice as sticks; the more sticks you gather the harder it is to break the habit. A few sticks can still be broken. You have to collect all the practicing and training. Some habits do die hard and could take more than twenty-one days. Its how desperately you want it, its not magic, you should want that over other things.
STICK IT WITH A REWARD: Sticking to them is where people fail, because it doesn’t feel rewarding until you see the results. Until the results come forth, keep alternate rewards for every task that you complete (repeat: Complete). Don’t we say “good boy” to our pet dogs when they’ve done something nice, or give them a treat if they move the way we want them to. Our animal instincts own us in this arena of life. I was a weekend binger until I started rewarding myself with healthy alternatives on any day, that I felt I did a good job. My reward for finishing the staircase workout: I would draw a hopscotch on my terrace and skip around a bit. The book mentioned earlier has the same concept. Rewarding can be really motivating and you get to figure out your own reward, isn’t that great?
PUMP YOURSELF UP: So when people ask me to motivate them, I’m really not in a place to answer because humans are subjective beings. I look at Massy Arias on Instagram and drool over (my mom thinks it disgusting to pack those muscles). To each their own. I even put her picture on my phone-screen display. You choose your own motivation.
DON’T BE TOO STRICT: You don’t need to be a perfectionist. The stricter you are the faster you will bounce back. We are influenced emotionally and mentally by so many things today that we may not be motivated everyday. Tell yourself “It’s okay for now.” Being nice to yourself is a part of feeling motivated. We always listen to people who are nice to us, so start by being that nice person.
DISCIPLINE IS THE MAGIC: In spite of small failures, just show up and do your best the next day and the next and even after that. There are going to be good days and then horrible days, where you give up altogether. It may feel like starting from scratch, be willing to do it. It may feel like you don’t have what it takes, still show up. Keep showing up everyday. That’s discipline, I’ve dissected it for you. Then subconsciously the brain starts understanding “She’s Muhammad Ali, she’s a fighter, she’s going to keep coming back, so lets just give her this bout.”
The idea is to create space for the new habit not beat yourself into it. Be creative at rewarding yourself and just make sure it’s a reward less damaging and a habit worth keeping.