Breaking the Pattern

by | Sep 20, 2020 | Blog

Human beings are routine and patterned based species. We like things that are predictable and stable. This is because the more routine-based our lives our, the less cognitive activity it takes to complete a task and we preserve more energy as a result. This natural tendency to create routine is due to our body’s biological desire to self-preserve.

 

However, this also means that we are at risk of getting stuck in a pattern and routine that may not actually be good for us in the long haul. We can become so rigid and develop “black-or-white” thinking to our routines and habits, that we can lose sight of what is actually good for ourselves, what is truly necessary to complete tasks, and will actually benefit us in the long run.

 

This can be confusing because you’ll hear trainers, coaches and professionals state that “consistency is key” and YES consistency is key. You generally cannot improve a skill if you do not practice it. But when coaches say consistency, they mean Consistency as in, the type of exercise movement you do, not necessarily the duration of exercise you do. They do not want you to consistently try to keep up with an exercise routine that you genuinely do not like or that no longer fits into your daily living anymore.

 

Let’s provide an example:

Let’s say you are training for a 5k race. You train 3 days a week and hit a plateau. You decide to switch it up a bit and aim for 4-days a week for two weeks…and guess what, you finally hit your 5k goal! Now, fast forward four months and you’re still running 4-days a week since it got you to your goal before. But suddenly, you’re finding that you are no longer hitting your goals and in fact, you’re exhausted and unmotivated to keep running. Essentially, your burnt out. Rather than telling yourself that perhaps going from 3-days of training to 4-days of training helped improve your time was due to variables, such as the novelty effect (the tendency to improve when introduced to a new routine, exercise, etc.), your daily living schedule allowed you to actively participate in 4 days a week, or you were excited and had a deadline, you instead tell yourself that if you do anything less than 4-days a week of training, then you can’t reach your goals. This “4-days of training” a week has become your new “workout routine rule.”

 

Your inner dialogue may sound like this:

  • “3 days isn’t enough.”
  • “That you can’t get reach your goals with anything less than training 4 days a week of training.”
  • You start to put times to your workouts and tell yourself “you’ll only get in a good workout by training an hour each workout session.”

 

What happened was that your brain started to subconsciously create rules for itself since it repeatedly saw improvements in such a short period of time, so it did not trust to break the pattern.  That and, it is human nature to tell ourselves that we need to “do more” than “do less.”

 

However, simply because 4-days of training or 1-hour long workouts, or any other rule you have established for yourself, worked for you at one moment in time, does not mean that is now the only way to train.

 

Some questions to ask yourself to see if you’ve been trapped in the “rule” thinking mindset:

  1. What habits or routines have you created for yourself that tell you, “the workout will only count, or is “worth it”, IF I do (fill in the blank such as: workout for an hour, workout 3 days a week, run 10 miles a week, etc.)?
  2. What habits or routines may have worked well for you at one point, but no longer fit into your daily life now?

 

Your brain created a rule because first, it preserves energy that way by taking the thinking out of the planning and secondly, because we are often our own worst critics and tell ourselves that in order to “have a good workout” or “accomplish a certain task,” then we must do (fill in the blank), even at the expense of our happiness.

 

Break the rules a little. Switch it up. The only constant is change. And change can be good for yourself.

 

 

For more exercises check out our YouTube Channel:

Pulmonary Performance Institute

 

 

 

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