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Episode 19: What Happened Before What Happened Happened?

Video Highlights

​Hi everybody! Dr. Eric Cobb back with you.

I hope you’re having a fantastic week!

Now, I have a really important question I am going to share with you today and this is one of those kind of weird questions, but I want to link it to behavior change.

You know in past blogs, I’ve talked a lot about the idea that Z-Health is a system – it’s about helping people change behavior or change habits most easily. Because really, whenever we look at ourselves, we are a walking collection of what we practice regularly.

So if we want to be different, we have to change what we do.

Now, there’s a lot of complicating factors in all of this, but to explain the question and really kind of the goal of today’s blog, I’m going to share with you a quick story.

​We were teaching in Denmark several weeks ago and one of the students there had this great example of exactly what we are talking about.

So, before I talk about her story, let me give you the question that I want you to ask, or remember. The question, in English is a little strange, but follow along. The question is, “What happened, before what happened, happened?” All right, let me say it again. What happened, before what happened, happened?

Now, the whole idea here is that whenever we perform any kind of habit and maybe it’s not our favorite habit; it’s something we would like to change. There were a whole host of events that occurred that led up to us maybe overeating at night or skipping an exercise session.

One of the coolest things that you can do, in terms of learning how to change behavior more elegantly, is starting to evaluate the things that come before.

The story that we were told, which was fantastic. We were teaching a course called Sustenance and Spirit, which is really our advanced certification on how to help clients make behavior change more easily regarding food and regarding anything else that they are trying to accomplish in their health and fitness life.

So, the story that we were told, it was a Z-Health Trainer who had gone through an earlier certification, and she said, “You know, I had this really weird experience.” She goes, “I went through the classes and I was doing all my Z-Health exercises and feeling tremendously better.” She said, “You know, it was actually the best I’ve felt in years. I was pain free and then I went home and went back into my daily life, my daily routine, and very quickly,” she said, “I started falling off the wagon,” in essence. She stopped doing the exercises that were obviously helping her and she started thinking about it, going, “Well, I wonder why?”

Close up of a partial entry of the word "history" in the dictionary.

What she realized was that the exercises that she needed to do were foot exercises and she had hardwood floors, so to make the exercises comfortable and pain free, she had to use a mat that she kept in the closet.

As strange as it sounds, it’s incredibly human and we all do it.

She said she realized that the inconvenience of getting up and getting the mat very often prevented her from doing her exercises. Well, she then set her mind to making sure that she got the mat out to do her exercises and that still wasn’t working. She was still forgetting to do them in the morning. Some of the analysis that we were doing in class, what she really eventually realized was that when she got up in the morning, if she left her computer open…she had a laptop…if she left it open, one of the very first things she was tempted to do when she woke up was sit down, open up her email and start reading.

If you aren’t familiar with this, you know that email can suck time, which tends to draw you into the email black hole. So through this kind of series of cool conversations about what happens before what happened happened, she started to realize that the way to fix her exercise compliance issue was not to “try harder,” to use more willpower, to beat herself up and say you need to be more self-disciplined.

The real secret was close the computer before she goes to bed at night, because then, she didn’t have to get up and see it sitting there readily available. She actually had to wait for it to boot up and all those different things. It was that simple change that really began leading to her being much more consistent with her exercises and getting the huge benefits from that.

The challenge I’m going to give you this week is to pick one habit. It could be a big one, it could be a small one; I don’t really care. I just want you to pick something to think about, and I want you to kind of take it back on the timeline and keep asking yourself, “What happens before what happens happens?”

Because, as I said, I have found this an incredibly useful concept and tool that if we stop beating ourselves up and telling ourselves we don’t have enough willpower, it actually allows us to logically look at how our environment helps create our behavior. Whenever we can start acknowledging that and seeing it, really simple, easy-to-enact changes can have enormous long-term benefits.

That’s the challenge this week.

I hope you enjoy the process.

Let us know what you find out.

I’m always fascinated to hear how you’re applying this information in your own life, so please email us, give us a call, let us know how we can help, and in the process, teach us more about what we can do for you!

Thanks!

Have a great week!

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