Training for Warriors: Preventing bad habits from taking over

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[First published in 2009. Scroll down for plain text. Part of the Training for Warriors series, by Martin Rooney*]

At a fantastic black belt ceremony held by Ricardo Almeida, I was talking to good friend and GRACIEMAG director Luca Atalla about the theme for this
month’s issue. Luca advised me that there was a 99%
chance that the theme would be a “lifestyle” issue. He
also recommended that I take my usual philosophic approach and write the article about how to develop a
lifestyle that could lead to more success. Thanks to this
conversation, I immediately began researching and piecing together this article.

Whenever I investigate a
new topic, the first thing I attempt to do is define that topic
in my own terms. From there,
I break down the components
of my definition to get a better
direction for the article. This
month posed a great challenge. I
had to ask myself, “What exactly
is a lifestyle?” and “What has the
greatest effect on making one’s
lifestyle better?” As a result of
these questions, I interviewed
people I considered successful,
read up on lifestyle management
and then looked inside myself
for the answer. I was amazed to
discover that the complex problem people have with achieving
success in life was answered by
a simple solution.

Lifestyle
The habits, attitudes, tastes,
moral standards, and economic
level that together constitute the
mode of living of an individual
or group.
A way of life or style of living that
reflects the habits, attitudes and
values of a person or group.
The habitual, integrated way
of life of an individual as typified
by his or her manner, attitudes,
possessions, etc.

After examination of the
three different definitions above,
there was one word that jumped
out at me over and over: habits.

When I talked to successful
people, whether they were athletes, businessmen, or parents,
they described their reasons
for success as the result of their
habits. To put it simply, I had
stumbled on the commonsense
fact that successful people had
habits that unsuccessful people
did not. Interesting how common sense is not so common
these days.

“Habits are first cobwebs,
then cables” Spanish
proverb

Human beings are habit
making machines. Psychological texts state that over 90% of
a person’s behavior is habitual.
That means that almost everything we do throughout our
day is in some way based on
our habits. Every one of these
habits started out as something
we uncomfortably did the first
few times, but then allowed us
to fall into a very strong pattern.
For instance, when you brushed
your teeth today, did you use
the other hand than you usually
use? Of course not. You are at
the mercy of this habit that you
have developed over a lifetime of
repetition. As Samuel Johnson
stated, “The chains of habit are
generally too small to be felt until
they are too strong to be broken.”
Now although the tooth brushing example may seem trivial,
there are many other habits that
when executed over time, can
lead to either potential success
or looming disaster.

When I ask attendees at
my seminars if they think it is
hard to eat well all the time,
they always answer that it is
very difficult. I then inform them
that they are simply experiencing what Cicero saw centuries
before: “Great is the power of
habit.” You see, it is no harder to
buy the right food and eat it than
it is to buy the wrong food and
eat it. The trouble is that in most
cases, people have developed
the habit of eating the wrong
food, which over time, becomes
more and more difficult to quit.
And whether you want to believe it or not, a lifetime of eating
poorly will certainly be shorter
than a lifetime of making proper
food choices. To underscore the
importance of habit development, know that a man might
be able to live twice as long if
he didn’t spend the first half of
his life building bad habits that
shorten the second!

Habits tell you what you
get

Now that I have hammered
home the importance of habits, I
implore every one of you to take
a look at any potential habits
that may currently be holding
you back from the success you
desire. Take a look at what it is
that you do every day that is
different from someone who has
the lifestyle you want does on a
daily basis. For instance, if you
want a strong and lean look like
a Jiu-Jitsu champion that eats
right and works out every day,
you better get ready to develop
those habits or you are never
going to get there. Just wanting a lean body or a black belt is
not enough. You must develop
the habits to achieve greatness.
You see my friends, your desires
tell you what you want, but your

habits tell you what you are going to get!
What are you addicted to?
According to the Webster’s
dictionary, addiction is the act of
putting oneself to a habit. We
must remember that we can be
addicted to good habits just as
easily as bad, but we first must
get a better picture of our habits before we can decide what
needs to change.
For many of us, it is difficult
to really objectively examine our
habits and see what is holding
us back. Great advice would
be to ask some people that you
trust to help identify some of
your habits that are helping you
and some negative habits that
are holding you back. If you
are not up for this challenge, I
have created a quick list of 5
common good, bad, and ugly
habits in the areas of nutrition,
exercise, personal development
and communication to give you
a quick snapshot of where you
are doing well or where you can
improve.

“We are what we repeatedly do”
Aristotle

Now you should understand that it is as easy to introduce positive habits as it is
negative ones. The key to habit
development is consistent repetition over time. All too often,
people back out on their promises to change their behaviors too
soon before a great habit can be
developed. Although I don’t believe there is an exact timeframe
to develop a new habit, most of
the literature cites anywhere
from 3 to 13 weeks as the magic
number. So, if you can stay consistent at a positive habit you are
trying to develop for just 21 to 91
days, you can make that habit
yours for life. Find the positive
habit you are trying to develop
and start today.

“Men’s natures are alike; it
is their habits that separate
them” Confucius

Your current habits are
delivering your current lifestyle.
I hope this article forces you to
take a deep look at not only the
lifestyle you are currently leading, but also at what you need to
begin to get to where you want
to be. This need can be summed
up as the habits that you must
develop to get there. If there is
just one habit I could get you to
develop as a result of this article,
it would be to recite the following phrase to yourself every
day 3 times when you wake up
and 3 more when you go to bed.
Start with this and develop the
habit of living by it and I guarantee you will be closer to the lifestyle that you always dreamed
of living.

The good
Eating 4-6 good meals per day
Drinking 8 glasses of water
each day
Reading for 1 hour per day
Exercising 5 days per week
Getting 8 hours of sleep per
night

The bad
Thinking and saying negative
things
Watching an hour or more TV
per day
Talking more than you listen
Skipping workouts
Never being on time for
appointments

The ugly
Drinking Alcohol/Soft Drinks
Smoking
Eating Fast Food
Sedentary Lifestyle
Spending into Debt

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny

 

* Martin Rooney is the founder of the Training for Warriors system and has trained champion fighters for the UFC, Pride, ADCC and Olympics. His TFW fitness program is used in over 175 facilities in 25 countries around the world. Information about TFW certifications at trainingforwarriors.com.

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