The Neurology of Habits – How Long Does it Take? (Posture Hack #5)

The point is, that if you’ve been successful creating a habit in one area of your life, then you already have what it takes to create another habit.

Do you ever feel like you are one of the most un-disciplined people you know? We all feel that way sometimes. I’m so committed to my health and posture, that occasionally I spin out and think I’m a lazy lump for missing even one day of Posturecise; but it wasn’t always such a solid habit of mine.

When I was in my teens, I was super active and sporty. When I turned 19, I moved away and went to university and stopped all forms of physical activity – I began drinking on weekends like you do, and barely got my degree (this was long before I went back to university to become a Chiropractor by the way).

I lived as many students do – ate pizza, drank vodka and cranberry (because I didn’t like the taste of alcohol) and smoked at parties – ugh! I can’t believe that was me.

When I finished University (the first time around) I moved to Toronto and I began having almost daily headaches. One afternoon I walked by a Chiropractic office and I took myself in. The adjustments I received from the Chiropractor literally changed my life. Not only did my headaches disappear, I began considering what life as a Chiropractor could be like.

My Chiropractor recommended AECC – as it was small (only 500 students), in a beautiful 500 year old building and 5 minutes from the beautiful sandy beaches of Bournemouth. Sold! I applied, got accepted and up and moved my life to England for another five years of study at the age of 28.

As a Chiropractic student I was increasingly aware of and fascinated by the people I met through the Chiropractic profession – Students, practitioners and the children of practitioners. They all seemed to have one thing in common: An abundance of health and positivity. This experience was the beginning of a lifelong journey for me.

Over the years in private practice I further developed my habit of natural living. I began reading about the habits and practices of people I admired. I also had x-rays taken of my spine and spent a further two years studying the bio-physics of posture. I finally understood why I had had years of headaches and low back pain.

I began making videos on posture and gradually, I added more healthy routines to my life and developed habits that would last a lifetime.

One of the first steps in building healthy new habits, was having regular Chiropractic treatment in college. I went to the student Chiropractor every two weeks for an adjustment. I began to cut out the chemicals from my life. I started using fluoride-free toothpaste, natural laundry detergent (today, I only use vinegar and salt) green cleaning products – again mostly vinegar; sulphate-free shampoo; chemical-free sunscreens and vegetable soaps for my body.

I started reading food labels (especially for added sugars) and taking on my nutrition; which meant learning to cook!

I changed the time I exercised to mornings, so I’d never be too tired to do it. Initially my posturecise goal was ridiculously simple (Hack #4). I started with just 10 minutes each morning and I continued adding more exercises and creating more posture videos. In 12 short months I’d had 1 million views!

My morning routine expanded, and I eventually created a DVD of my own personal morning Posturecise routine. My part-time posture obsession became my full-time devotion.

How To Create a Healthy Posture Habit For Life – Posture Hack #5


Think about a successful habit from your own life. Choose anything – Do you meticulously look after your nails? Groom them, cut them, file them and paint them? Are you an expert ironer? Are your shirts always perfect when you leave the house? Do you have the habit of making school lunches for your children every day? Do you write your emails from 9-10am every morning at work and never miss that time slot? I know you have at least one successful habit – What is it?

The point is, that if you’ve been successful creating a habit in one area of your life, then you already have what it takes to create another habit.

Good Posture is A Habit


The usual way of thinking is that good posture (remember that means good body symmetry) seems to be some privilege bestowed upon the lucky few with good genes or super motivation, but I tell you, that just isn’t true.

So, if good posture is largely a habit; then it is something we can learn to improve. Charles Duhigg (author of ‘The Power of Habit’) says this:


Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.


The Neurology of Habits


Habits are automatic behaviours that we no longer need to think about or make a choice about. We don’t struggle with the decision to take a shower or brush our teeth; we just do it and we trust that we will always do these things, because they are habits.

Habits are neurologically wired into our brains because we have done them over and over again, over very many hours, days, months and years. So when we create a new habit called good posture, we need to hard-wire it into the brain.

Obviously, changing some habits can be more difficult than others, because change takes time and requires repeated experiments. But once you understand how habits work, you gain power over them.

21 Days


Maxwell Maltz was a plastic surgeon in the 1950s when he began noticing patterns among his patients.

When Dr. Maltz would perform an operation — like a nose job, for example — he found that it would take the patient about 21 days to get used to seeing their new face. Maltz noticed the same pattern in arm or leg amputees; that the patient would sense a phantom limb for about 21 days before adjusting to the new situation.

These experiences prompted Maltz to think about his own behaviours when trying to make changes. He noticed that it also took himself about 21 days to form a new habit and wrote: 

These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to gel.

Whether or not new habits take 21 days, 30 days or 60 days to get wired into the brain is somewhat debateable,  but works for me personally. I like 21 days, because that feels reasonable to me.

So if you have created the environment (Hack #1), learned to play (Hack #2), made your goal ridiculously simple (Hack #3), have already started (Hack #4) you are ready to begin the next 21 days!

When it comes to creating a new healthy posture habit for life, I like to recommend doing some form of Posturecise daily for 21 straight days – including weekends!

Further Resources: Posturecise (Level 1) – How to create a healthy posture habit for life

Can I Correct My Posture – The Truth | Posture Hack #4

By the time we are just 25, a process called sarcopenia  has already begun. Sarcopenia is the degenerative change of skeletal muscle mass and strength. Think worn discs and bone spurs, and you’ve got the right idea.

The question I get asked the most is: How long will it take to correct my posture? The second most common  question: Is it possible to correct my posture? One of my students recently emailed me this question:

Can it really be corrected? I am 31 and just realizing in the last year how bad it is from sitting at a computer for long hours … I feel like I look like one of those drawings of the evolution of man!! Ugh. I need to fix this but how long, realistically, would this take considering how long it likely took to get like this?

Bingo! I couldn’t have said it better. If you are in your 30s and have been living for 3 decades now, how long do you think it might take? What if you are 40, 50 or 75? So should you just give up and throw in the towel because you are starting late? No way!

It is never too late to start; but the longer you leave it, the less likely you are to get BIG noticeable results. Why?

By the time we are just 25, a process called sarcopenia  has already begun. Sarcopenia is the degenerative change of skeletal muscle mass and strength. Think worn discs and bone spurs, and you’ve got the right idea.

Disc bulge

The ideal age to begin our posture correction isn’t when we have pain, make the time, or feel like it; it’s right now. TODAY!

But many people don’t address their body alignment (posture) until much later in life. Why do you think that is? Because pain is the world’s greatest motivator – no pain, no problem right? Wrong!

By the time most of us have aches and pain and spinal stiffness, the process of sarcopenia is well under way. Some of you won’t like me saying that and I know I will receive some angry emails. You’ll be upset because I’m telling you the way it is. You want to hear that it will all be OK and that no matter when you finally get around to making a commitment, it will all work out just fine.

But that just isn’t the truth. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve treated in private practice who are furious they waited as long as they did; so please take action now.

And HEAR WHAT I’M SAYING … I’m NOT telling you to give up, because you’re too old. I’d never say that, because I don’t believe that. What I’m saying, is START NOW, whatever age you are!

If you are 65, start TODAY! If you are 35, start TODAY! If you are 55 start TODAY! Watch one of my posture videos and do the exercise TODAY!

Every day we put off moving our bodies (with the specific intention of reversing the effects of gravity and lifestyle) or starting one of my posture courses, like the popular Text Neck, is just one more day we submit to the degenerative changes of sarcopenia.

Once the discs and bones are worn, it is extremely hard to realign the body. It’s not impossible, but it’s one heck of a challenge.

And by the way, I am that person with the worn spinal discs, a scoliosis (spinal curvature) and a bunion. I posturercise my body every single day and I have done for 25 years, since the MOMENT I learned about sarcopenia and saw the worn discs in my spine. I was only 24 years old.

I wasn’t willing to give up being healthy and vibrant, well into my senior years and neither should you!

I made it my absolute mission to just begin! I started TODAY, and that was 25 years ago!

Posture Hack #4: Start Today


Next week, is my final Posture Hack. You will take the start you make today and I’m going to help you develop a lasting habit before the signs and symptoms (that you may already be experiencing) take hold.

You’ll have a much better chance of improving your long-term health outcomes and you will be more likely to get the kind of long-lasting results that even other people notice!

How long will it take to fix your posture? The longer you leave it, the longer it will take!

REVIEW


Hack #1Achieving Tasks (Create the environment)

Hack #2: Learn To Play

Hack #3: The Ridiculous Reason we Don’t Exercise (It’s simple)

Achieving Tasks | Posture Hack #1

Yesterday I had a mini entrepreneurial breakdown … cue the violins.

You see, I’m a Chiropractor yes but also an entrepreneur. I run the entire business myself! Well, that is mostly true. I have a videographer who helps me with big projects; a remote IT guy I’ve never met, an accountant in England and Canada and that’s the lot!

By the way, this story is shortly going to relate to my  Top 5 Posture Hacks, so bare with.

The problem with being a creative entrepreneur is that NEW is always attractive. This entrepreneur can suffer boredom, perfectionism, the I’m not making a big enough difference in the world dilemma, the what is my purpose inquiry, and the business blues.

Yesterday I decided I needed to re-visit the Back To Basics of running a business and this is where your posture enters the story. I’d hit a wall. I was drifting and procrastinating and not getting the job done. Sound familiar?

Not living up to my business potential is not OK with me and I’m guessing, not improving your posture, is not OK with you either, but it happens. You viewed some of my videos, maybe you’ve read one of  my books or started one of my courses and now you find yourself back to where you were, before you found me.

Guess what? That’s ok … you’re human. You’re in a rut and I’m going to help you out.

So instead of watching something on Netflix last night, I reached out for support. I started reading blog posts and watching videos. Turns out there is just a few (wink) of us business men and women who have hit a wall!

You know that saying that goes something like this:

When you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up?

I know, it’s a little cliché but it’s true. I’m guessing that like me, you aren’t down and out and right at the bottom, but merely in a rut – lacking motivation and needed a good dose of inspiration to revive your commitment to your health and body alignment (posture).

After an hour of web research and finding some pretty fab videos, I started writing …

text

I made a plan and I’d like to help you do the same. So I’m going back to basics and it occurred to me, that going back to basics is exactly what is needed for those of you who have fallen off the good posture wagon.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share my Top 5 Posture Hacks. When it comes to my posture, this is one area of my life that is always working and I’m going to tell you exactly how I make that happen.

Let’s start at the beginning. When I first began this health journey (about 25 years ago), posture wasn’t even on my mind. Chronic low back pain and headaches was on my mind. I didn’t know it at the time, but chronic back pain and headaches is often a sign of incorrect body alignment, or poor posture.

It would take me many years of Chiropractic treatment and about 7 years of study to understand how the structure of the body could go wrong and exactly what was needed to ultimately re-align my body (good posture), restore body confidence, reduce and ultimately eliminate my chronic pain.

Posture Hack # 1 – Create The Environment


Environmental cues are the objects in your surroundings that cause you to behave in a certain way.  Your decisions are largely influenced by what’s around you:

  • There is a TV in your bedroom, you go to bed watching TV.
  • You spend your free time with friends who gossip and you find yourself gossiping and feeling lousy.
  • Your kitchen is a cluttered mess; you eat a lot of ready-made dinners.

I’ve been wanting to meditate for years and have dipped in and out but have never been successful creating a daily meditation habit. When I looked around my house, there was nowhere that I wanted to meditate. There was nothing in my environment that called me to meditate. I decided to change that.

I took one of the smallest corners in my house and transformed it. I went out into the woods and found a beautiful log – a very large log – and dragged it out of the forest on my scooter.

Over the next few weeks, I cut, sanded and sealed and added legs. I bought a small rug, ordered a beautiful purple meditation cushion, hung two favourite paintings and a wall hanging – weaved in the Congo from Palm.

I now have a beautiful meditation corner and it is an absolute pleasure for me to sit quietly and meditate. It is no longer a chore!

We often think that achieving a task is just about getting out there and doing it. We believe that if we desire it, we will find a way to achieve our goals.

But our environment dictates what we choose to do. If you have objects around you that are distracting and leading to undesirable outcomes, then it becomes hard to make the right choices.

On the flip side, having an environment that only has desirable objects(like my beautiful meditation corner), that compels me to do what’s important to me – meditate.

So if you want to work on reducing pain, improving your body confidence and fixing your body alignment (posture), take a look around you and see how you can make it more convenient to do so.

Often, we think that change comes from within. We believe that achieving a goal is about changing ourselves. We often fail to consider how optimizing our environment to make better choices can make a large impact on our actions.

Design Your Surroundings to Encourage Action


Try some of the following ways to create an environment that calls you to Posturecise:

  1. Choose an area of the house that will become YOUR area to posturecise
  2. De-clutter the area
  3. Paint your space (check out my vibrant laundry room colour below)
  4. Buy yourself an attractive new workout outfit
  5. Put speakers in your area, so you can play music
  6. Hang an inspiring fitness poster or painting
  7. Add plants

What are you adding to your new space? I’d love to see a picture when you’re finished!

The Ridiculous Reason We Don’t Exercise | Posture Hack #3

If you like to make lists or set goals as I do, then this will definitely help you. Even if you only think about setting goals but never do, this will help you too.

Recently, I asked why it is that so many people fail to exercise, and this is what you told me:

  1. Overwhelming to find courage and time
  2. Because results take too long
  3. The busy-ness of life takes over
  4. Too tired
  5. Aren’t motivated enough
  6. Too much effort
  7. Too lazy
  8. Seems like hard work

You gave many answers but I wanted to group these eight reasons together, because they demonstrate such an obvious theme. We lack time, it takes too long, we’re busy, tired, overwhelmed, unmotivated, lazy and it all just seems like hard work!

Today’s Posture Hack should solve this problem for many of you; because it’s ridiculous.

If you like to make lists or set goals as I do, then this will definitely help you. Even if you only think about setting goals but never do, this will help you too.

A few days ago I was talking to a friend at a high-school reunion. The same group of 10 women have remained friends since we were all in concert band together.  One friend was telling me about completing her PhD and that since this qualification, she no longer teaches (which she loved). She now commutes 3 hours a day, to the University of Toronto, to do a job she hates.

We started to talk about her daily schedule, and as you can imagine, with a dog, two children under 18, a job at the University and a 3-hour commute, there isn’t much time left for exercise.

She told me that perhaps she just needed to set a goal. I agreed, that that might be helpful. She then suggested her goal should be to run a marathon. So, did I celebrate the professed goal? Absolutely not!

My friend barely likes walking,  and now she’s going to set herself up for a massive letdown, because her goal is absolutely ridiculous. Ridiculously outlandish for her lifestyle and history with exercise.

ATTAINABLE


Most business coaches love to talk about attainable goals: “Make sure that it’s possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will only demoralize yourself and erode your confidence.” Sounds reasonable right? It is reasonable; but what the heck are attainable goals, if you are starting from ground zero?! Half a marathon? 1-hour walk 4 days a week? 30-minute walk 3 days a week? You can see the problem here. Attainable goals are still somewhat cryptic.

RIDICULOUSLY SIMPLY


When I talk about goals with my posture pupils, I like to talk about ridiculously simply goals. So ridiculous in fact, it is almost impossible to fail.

Imagine this: You don’t drink water; you know you should, but you don’t – other than the 5 cups of coffee you consume daily. An attainable goal might be: Drink 1 litre of water a day; or 5 glasses a day; or 3 glasses a day.

A ridiculously simply goal might be to pour yourself 1 glass of water a day and bring it to bed to drink first thing on waking, before you brush your teeth. I’m guessing most of you would easily accomplish this goal.

HOW TO BEGIN


Choose your favourite exercise from one of the courses  you are enrolled on (or choose a favourite posture video of mine) and do it daily. And ONLY do that one exercise, every single day for one month.

Perfect your technique. Do it so well, that you start to notice parts of the exercise you might have glossed over. Maybe you notice you’ve been holding your breath. Or you notice you haven’t really thought about the exercise at all, because you’ve rushed through it, in an effort to complete a long list of exercises. Or maybe you notice you body melts into the movement even deeper than ever before, because you are so completely focused on your one daily exercise task.

Whatever you do notice about the exercise, after the first few days, week or month, I’d love to hear about it. What do you think about this week’s hack? What exercise will you choose? Will you commit to making your exercise goal ridiculously simple?

Hack #3: Make your posture exercise ridiculously simple


10,000 of you have enrolled in one of my Posture Exercise Courses . How many students do you think complete all the course lectures?

By the time most students get to the last section of  my best-selling course Posturecise (Level 1), you can see the active students have dropped by 70% and the number of students completing the lectures drops to roughly 15%. This isn’t some anomaly. This is exactly what I find across the board in all of my courses. In fact, this is pretty much the industry standard.

I get it! Life takes over, enthusiasm wanes and goals are long forgotten. Human nature. But I don’t like to see my own goals disappear, any more than I’m guessing you do. So I make my goals ridiculously simple and I believe that is why I’m a successful goal setter. Over time, my goals get juicier, because I’ve learned that I don’t let myself down.

REVIEW


Hack #1: Create the Environment (Design your surroundings)

Hack #2: Learn To Play (It shouldn’t be boring)