Your Inner Couch Potato- Your Greatest Enemy?

Tuesday, 23. February 2016

Your Inner Couch Potato- Your Greatest Enemy?

We've all been there, we've all heard that inner voice that says "no, stay home", "be comfortable". This inner voice prefers to be lazy, and can be very powerful- if you let it!

Good resolutions are made again and again, and again and again, we don't stick to them. Our inner couch potato is often to blame. Sometimes we encounter this voice when things start to get tough, or when our workouts don't go as planned. Then we fall right back into our old ruts, even though we don't mean to. What can you do to fight these slidebacks?

First, we must address the question of why it is so difficult to keep your resolutions. It helps to understand the psychological processes behind our choices, so we can effectively counter our bad choices. 

Today, many sports psychologists have borrowed four terms coined by an American psychologist in the 60s. This psychologist broke his experiments into groups: Form, Storm, Norm and Perform. Each term stands for a phase that a person has to pass through for a new resolution to become a new habit and a natural part of life.

The first phase is the "Form" phase. When you start with something new, like a new sport, you are full of enthusiasm. The joy you feel when discovering something new is extremely motivating, sometimes even too motivating.

Once you have the "Form" phase behind you, you enter into the "Storm" phase. At this point, keeping up your determination is increasingly difficult because the initial euphoria is gone. It is annoying. At this stage, you decide whether to keep going or just stop. If you have taken precautions, however, you can survive this turmoil unscathed.

The third phase, as the name "Norm" implies, describes habits. During this stage you simply keep going, even if you would rather do something else. This is the phase in which you often feel a sense of achievement, because you keep up your resolutions even when you rather wouldn't. You feel good.

Then you reach the "Perform" phase. Here your good intentions have become an integral part of everyday life, and have become habits. The motivation question no longer arises, as you continue to work out because you always have. 

Now that we know what the four phases look like, we can start by acknowledging a few things that will help us to get over the difficulties of the Storm phase. The basis for every success in establishing new habits is to prepare. This should be as comprehensive as possible. Write down a battle plan that is anchored in long-term goals. Formulate this concretely. The less room for interpretation the plan has, the better. You should also consider management plans. What do you do when your inner lazy bones starts to speak up? Make a plan to fight your way through. Plan in advance and check in regularly. This will help you make the right choice when the time comes.

With a few tricks, you can also find easier ways to fight that inner voice. Find like-minded people who have the same or a similar goals as you do. Working out other people can be a lot more fun, more motivating, and can help you stick to your resolutions longer. It can also help to keep diary about your experiences with your new resolution. If you are a very structured person, this might improve your chances of success. In the end, it is really about having fun. If your goals are too difficult to reach, chances are, you won't see them through.  Pick a goal that works for you. Íf you are a social person, consider group sports or workouts. If you are competitive, look for a sport where you can compete. Do not forget to change things up once in awhile. Always doing the same workout gets boring pretty quickly. You don't have to switch to something completely new, just try for a little variation.

Finally, there is good news: you don't always have to fight your inner couch potato. You can always train it. You'll need willpower to form habits, and to do so, you'll need to keep that couch potato/lazy bones voice in check. The more you succeed at your goals, the easier it is to feel good. Studies show that it takes an average of 66 days until a new habit has been established. This means that if you hold out a little over two months you're there! That isn't such a long time to stay disciplined. The more often you say no to that lazy voice, the easier it will be to keep saying no.