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!


Hack #1Achieving Tasks (Create the environment)

Hack #2: Learn To Play

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

Increased Risk of Fall Begins at 40! | Posture Doctor

You can determine how good your balance is by measuring the length of time that you can stand on one leg. The following table shows the average balance time by age group in a study conducted at a Japanese health institute.

One of the main health concerns with aging is falling, which is often related to poor balance. In fact, many studies show that people begin to have balance problems starting at just 40 years of age!

Balance Exercise for Beginners – 30 Ways to improve your balance in 30 days

The older we get, the weaker our physical body and sensory abilities will be, which is why we need to consider our balance right now! In Japan, more than 7,000 people a year die from falling accidents, which already exceeds the number of traffic accidents.

Test your balance

You can determine how good your balance is by measuring the length of time that you can stand on one leg. The following table shows the average balance time by age group in a study conducted at a Japanese health institute.

Average time with eyes open

20-39 years old: 110 seconds
40-49: 64 seconds
50-59: 36 seconds
60-69: 25 seconds

Average time with eyes closed

20-39 years old: 12 seconds
40-49: 7 seconds
50-59: 5 seconds
60-69: less than 3 seconds

If your balance time is below average, then you’ll have higher risk of falls, or slipping and tripping accidents. In the above study, women tend to lose their balance more than men but only by a small margin (1-2%). From this study, it is also evident that there’s a sudden significant decrease in the ability to maintain balance among middle-aged people (40 years and above – arg, that’s me!).

The soles of our feet have sensors

The skin throughout our body has a significant amount of  tiny pressure sensors or mechanoreceptors. Some areas have few pressure sensors, while other areas have thousands, like on the soles of your feet.

The pressure sensors on the foot soles provide information to the brain to help balance our body. As we get older, the sensors get weaker and the soles of the feet lose sensitivity.

Poor Blood Circulation Can Disrupt the Pressure Sensors

People with poor blood circulation are twice as likely to be in a falling accident. Poor circulation leads to colder body temperatures, causing the pressure sensors on the soles of the feet, to lose sensitivity. The lost sensitivity is a little bit like soaking our feet in ice cold water for about 3 minutes and then trying to walk – can’t feel much!

Pay attention to your forward-moving foot

If our forward-moving foot hits something, our body will be off-balance and this can cause a stumble or fall. It is common sense to always have our eyes on path and watch where we are going but often we are miles away and lose track of the present moment. Walking is a great opportunity for being mindful – hence why many Buddhists practice walking meditation. Our lack of mindfulness is not the only problem. Here are the other two major reasons why we stumble while walking:

1. Our forward-moving foot is pointed down

If our foot is pointed down while making a step, then we are more prone to falling. To avoid this, our forefoot or toes should be flexed upwards as shown in this image. This can be problematic, if like my mother, you have a foot drop. A foot drop is often the result of nerve impingement from a worn spinal disc (L5 to be exact). There are now simple devices that can be worn inside a sock, to help lift a foot drop during gait.

2. You walk like a pendulum.

The height of your step can greatly increase your risk of falling. To prevent this, your forward-moving foot must be higher off the ground (at least 5 cm) while the knee is raised; as shown on the image below. When we get older, the balance information transmitted to our brain – from specialized nerve endings – communicates rather poorly, compared to when we were young. This leads to ineffective movements, and makes it hard to maintain the foot higher off the ground.

How to Prevent Falls, Trips and Slips

1. Keep Your House Uncluttered

There are a lot of things in our house that can contribute to clutter, and clutter can cause trips and falls. Always make sure to put away or store personal belongings and check for upturned carpet edges, children’s toys or dogs, in my case!

2. Stretch Your Feet and Ankles

You might think that your feet do not need exercise or stretching compared to other parts of your body, but in reality, feet stretching exercise can really help your feet maintain balance.

3. Keep Your House Warm and Ensure Adequate Lighting

Cold muscles and pressure sensors work less well and are less responsive to signals. Decreased temperature will also cause our muscles to have less strength and less flexibility, which can lead to accidents. Always try to keep your house warm or wear proper clothes and footwear, especially during winter. Since most falls occur indoors, make sure your house has adequate lighting.

4. Wear compression socks

Imagine being able to improve our balance by +30% almost instantaneously! Proprio6 have actually designed – and have a patent pending – a sock that will do all the above and a bit more. My lovely friend Patrick has been working away at this for a couple years and I’ve been wearing his socks and love them!

How do compression socks work?

Compression socks stimulate proprioception. Proprioception is the sense of one’s own body parts during movement. Without proprioception, you couldn’t touch your nose with your eyes closed. Proprioception is why, when you go to pick up your mug of coffee, you don’t overshoot the mug. You are able to put your hand directly onto the handle, because your nerve receptors tell you where your hand and arm are, relative to the mug. That is proprioception.

We use proprioception every second of every day, but we don’t yet use ALL of our proprioception to the maximum.

This is where Proprio6 socks and sleeves come in. They tap into the reserve of unused proprioception that we all have inside of us.

In the case of Proprio6 socks and sleeves we stimulate the mechanoreceptors (our pressure sensors) around the arch of the foot and the ankle and this sends a message back to the brain – in particular the part of the brain called the Cerebellum – to SWITCH ON proprioception. The result is IMPROVED BALANCE.

Everyday Benefits

One of the biggest problems today is tired, achy, swollen, heavy feeling legs. Proriosox will improve your balance, circulation and posture!

Medical Benefits

As diabetes rates climb each year, Propriosox brings a unique advantage over traditional compression hosiery. Proprioxox improve gait, posture and blood circulation, while helping to prevent venous pooling (varicose veins) and improve balance in diabetics.

Athletic Benefits

Propriosox help improve the athletes balance, strength, form, agility and speed virtually immediately. Use Propriosox while training and playing, for maximum results.

Further Resources > Travel Exercise – Best workouts for car or plane