Good Habits and Bad Habits

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The well-known business philosopher and personal development speaker, Jim Rohn, said, “All disciplines affect each other. Every new discipline affects all of our other disciplines. Every new discipline that we impose on ourselves will affect the rest of our personal performance in a positive way.”

Unfortunately, this also works the other way.  Every lack of discipline (or bad habit essentially) affects the rest of your habits and disciplines and will alter your performance in a negative way.

Let’s look at some examples of how this may look in different areas of your health and fitness.  I am going to just give you two examples and I have purposefully made these fairly far apart in their analogies so you can see how wide this is.  We will start with how you can see this principle in your nutrition/diet and then depart from that concept a bit and apply it to the physical act of swimming.  I could do this for any area of life as Mr. Rohn does but this blog is about triathlon, swimming, fitness, nutrition, and health in general so let’s keep it somewhat inside the box (the philosophical nature of this post is far enough outside my box as it is…).  I don’t pretend to be a business philosopher or motivational speaker like Jim Rohn or Brian Tracy or anything like that…these are just my personal musings on these subjects and I thought I would share them with you.

Nutrition and Diet 

Good Habit:  Introduce a good habit like drinking more water every day and it will likely lead to more good habits.  Have you ever tried that?  Haven’t you noticed that, when you consciously drink more water throughout the day as a new discipline that you find yourself also eating healthier food?  When you introduce a good habit like drinking more water throughout the day and you discipline yourself to do it, it affects your whole diet and your day.  You are less likely to eat a couple of donuts.  It may be as simple as just having one donut that day instead of your usual 2…but the affect is there.

Bad Habit:  Now, on the other hand, what happens when you introduce a bad habit.  Let’s say you are going along eating a fairly healthy diet and you have stayed away from those energy drinks that you used to use as a crutch for several months now.  Then, work gets tough and you are tired from the long days and you start drinking the energy drinks again.  Is that the only thing that happens?  Maybe so…but, in most cases, adding those energy drinks back into the diet also affects the rest of your diet.  Now, the donuts you also resisted for the last week start to creep their way back into the diet and then nothing seems to matter anymore.  Now, all of a sudden you are drinking less water, eating more donuts, and drinking energy drinks.  How did that happen?

Swimming

Yes, the angle here is going to be a bit different and some of you reading this may not be swimmers or may not have taken lessons from me, but just hang in there on this one.  In this case, I am talking more about actual physical connection and not mental or behavioral connections…although I could talk about mental and behavioral ones here as well.

Good Habit: When I teach swimming it is always a fun challenge for me to find a way to teach a new part of the stroke in such a way that I don’t even have to teach the part of the stroke that I would normally teach in the next step. In other words, if I teach it right and they pick it up correctly, the first habit forces them to do what I would have taught them next. For instance, if I teach them to swing the elbow around in the recovery with the right motion, I don’t even have to teach the entry and slice forward because the motion is the natural motion that comes from the proper recovery motion. If I teach them to breath at the right time in the stroke, I don’t have to teach them not to lift their head to breath…the first thing affects the rest.

Bad Habit:  Each bad habit in swimming is so closely connected that fixing just one thing can often fix several other things at the same time.  For instance, if you introduce the bad habit of lifting your head when you take a breath, you may inadvertantly also add the habit of overrotating to breath (or the other way around…you may overrotate and cause yourself to also lift your head).  As another example, if you overreach or hold your head to high throughout the swim stroke, you will likely also add the habit of excessive kicking (to compensate for the loss of fore-aft balance).

Final Thoughts

In a more over-arching sense, the principle works from subject to subject as well.  For instance, if you add the discipline of drinking more water, you will also be more likely to add some exercise (like maybe some swimming).  And, of course, it works the other way as well.

So, here is what I want to suggest…and this is the whole reason I wrote this post.  I want you to consider trying a philosophy.  Instead of concentrating on quitting your bad habits, why don’t you concentrate on adding new positive disciplines.  In other words, instead of trying to quit drinking those energy drinks, why not focus on drinking at least as much as the recommended amount of water for the day.  My guess is that the increased positive discipline in that area will affect the negative thing and you won’t have to worry about it anymore.  If you really focus on making your goal for water every day, if those energy drinks aren’t completely gone after a while, I bet they will be greatly reduced.

My personal musings on the subject.  Hope you enjoyed.

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