Lead us not into temptation

Ever wondered why you can’t seem to stick to your New Years resolutions?  An article I’ve just read on vox.com comes up with some interesting explanations, and also happens to be relevant to my current situation.  The article is about why some people appear to be worse at giving into temptation and changing bad habits than others.  The big question on my mind is, would the purchase of a Smart turbo-trainer finally solve my lack of ability to keep my fitness though the winter months, or have I just wasted my money?

The article (The myth of self control) suggests that the reason some people are better at ‘resisting’ temptation (so, in my case doing exercise, rather than sitting on my arse during the winter months) is not because they are exerting more will-power, but because they enjoy doing whatever it is they are trying to achieve.  The person who manages to resist eating a cup-cake when everybody else is tucking in, simply doesn’t particularly like cup-cakes.  Simple stuff.  So, where does that leave me?  It means that I don’t like getting cold and wet, and I hate gyms and that these dislikes are enough of an excuse for me not to bother. However much I might argue with my self about the merits of overcoming these hurdles, the pleasure to pain ratio is wrong.

“The person who manages to resist eating a cup-cake when everybody else is tucking in, simply doesn’t particularly like cup-cakes.”

So, why did I buy a Smart turbo trainer?  Because my curiosity was peeked.  For me, curiosity is one of my big drivers.  It doesn’t matter what I apply it to, it is one of those things that gets me up in the morning.  The keeping fit aspect was a by-product of the experiment. I wanted to understand more about my own fitness and how easy it was to maintain or improve.  What does it feel like to generate enough watts to boil a kettle?  I love that kind of thing.  I was less fussed about how my turbo-trainer sessions affected my road riding, because with the sun on my back and a quiet winding lane in-front of me, I really don’t care what zone my heart-rate is in, or how many watts I’m pumping out.

I understand what motivates me, but there is a very important factor missing, which is also mentioned in the article, and that is that one of the biggest reasons people can’t change their behaviour is because habits are difficult to change.  My winter fitness habit was to do nothing, so, was curiosity alone enough to change my habit?

“I was less fussed about how my turbo-trainer sessions affected my road rides, because with the sun on my back and a quiet winding lane in-front of me, I really don’t care what zone my heart-rate is in, or how many watts I’m pumping out.”

Having attempted changing various of my bad habits over the years, the longest and most successful was my ‘cycling to work’ habit.  When I first started cycling to work, I thought it would save me time.  A few months later I realised that it didn’t, and what’s more, there was a huge amount of faffage involved (parking and locking the bike, lugging panniers around, leaving changes of clothes here there and everywhere, showering at work, not having a decent winter coat when I needed one ….and so on), so I stopped. Years later, my commute changed and I decided to try it again, but this time I took away as much of the faffage as possible.  I bought a cheap, unattractive bike that didn’t ask to be ridden in Lycra, with flat pedals for any type of footwear, and one pannier which I permanently secured to the bike rack with a couple of cable ties.  I then cycled in my work clothes, not at speed, and didn’t require a shower when I got to work.  It was so much easier and made it much more tempting to cycle than my previous attempt.  Sometimes it was even a joy!

 

The challenge is to make my turbo trainer sessions as faffage-free as possible to increase my chances of reforming my habits. I’ve been using my trainer for 1 month and so far, the curiosity element far outstrips the faffage-free element.  This is because I am having problems ‘pairing’ my phone with the bike via Blue-tooth, and because I am thoroughly enjoying the data collection and analysis side of it.

“I’ve been using my trainer for 1 month and so far, the curiosity element far outstrips the faffage-free element.”

Only time will tell if my enthusiasm lasts the winter (and what about next?).  Being the eternal optimist, I think it will.  I’m just off out to buy a new battery for my phone, just in case it sorts my ‘pairing’ issues.

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