Workout of the Day
TESTING DAY – Please follow prescription and report scores. We use this data to track our athletes’ progress.

In 15-18 minutes, build to a heavy, but not 1-RM, Clean & Jerk
(this is a warm-up and skill practice session, not part of the testing);
and then,
“Minute to Win It”
Complete as many reps as possible in 60 seconds of:
135/95 lbs. Ground to Overhead
(snatch, clean & jerk . . . it’s all good)

Optional Finisher – Plank Series
Hold the following positions for 45-60 seconds each, with no rest between positions
Front Leaning Rest (plank from hands)
Plank from elbows
Side Plank Left
Side Plank Right

An apple a day . . . does this invoke pleasure or pain?

Breaking Bad…Habits
Written by George Economou

Habits…the day-to-day behaviors we find ourselves doing nearly automatically.  Maybe you drink a glass of water upon waking, or go straight to brushing your teeth.  Maybe it’s making a cup of coffee or smoking that first cigarette of the day (mmmmm, tastes so good).  We’ve all got them, and I’m not going to judge anyone on good or bad habits…unless, of course, you ask me to.

Today’s post isn’t about building new habits – check out if you want help with that – but, rather, it’s on breaking habits.  Again, good and bad are all relative terms, so just consider these techniques available for breaking any habit.

Giving credit where credit is do, everything you read from here on out is my interpretation of things I’ve read/heard in various Tony Robbins books and podcasts, and odds are he took these ideas from someplace else also and did a better job at packaging them.

All it takes to break a habit is a manipulation of the concept of pleasure and pain.

Here’s the idea – virtually every decision we make is either in an attempt to bring us pleasure, or to avoid pain:

  • Take out the trash – avoid the pain of having to smell a nasty trash bin.
  • Procrastination – avoid the pain of having to work!
  • Hitting the snooze button – the immediate pleasure of 5 more minutes of sleep.
  • Meal Planning – avoid the pain of not having food available when you’re hungry.
  • Having a glass of wine – the immediate pleasure of a soothing drink.
  • Go to the gym – could be to experience the pleasure of completing a workout most people would never attempt, or it could be to avoid the pain of feeling like a sedentary sack of potatoes.

Analyzing your own decisions is actually a fun little exercise and may give you some insight as to why you’ve been doing the things you’ve been doing.  Be forewarned, you may not be thrilled with what you find out about yourself.

So how do we use pleasure and pain to get the upper hand on breaking a habit?  You either need to find a way to make sure that not continuing your habit gives you lots of pleasure (a reward) or make it so that continuing your habit gives you so much pain, it outweighs the short term pleasure you receive by doing whatever it is you’re trying not to do.  Check.  Clear as mud.

I’ll use me as an example.  I used smokeless tobacco for eight years…something I now consider a bad habit.  I started as a sophomore in college, for reasons that cannot be covered in this blog post, and kept on for five years in the Marine Corps.  I knew it was bad for me, and that it was placing me at a higher risk for cancer, but that wasn’t enough pain to outweigh the pleasure of throwing in a big ole’ pinch of Copenhagen long cut.  Then, in the middle of a hot Fallujah summer day, I decided that I needed to quit.  Actually wanting to stop was a good first step, but nowhere near enough to help break a chemical addiction…this was going to require some serious leveraging of pleasure and pain.  Since I’ve never been really good at rewarding myself, I took to the path of pain.  I reprogrammed my brain so that every time I got an urge to throw in a dip, I had to imagine biting into an apple and losing all of my teeth.  This may not sound painful to some of you, but it was a recurring nightmare for me.  It had to be a STRONG mental image, so I forced myself to feel the crispness of the apple, to feel the looseness of my teeth, and even to TASTE that copper-like flavor of blood.  I made it as VIVID and INTENSE an image as possible because it was the only way I could fight off the urges.   Believe it or not, it worked…cold turkey, on deployment.

Now, will this work for you?  I can’t make any promises, but there’s really only one way to find out.  My challenge to everyone reading this today is two-fold:
1. Run the little exercise on yourself and see if you can figure out why you make the decisions you make.
2. Pick a habit and manipulate pleasure or pain to illicit some kind of change.

Feel free to share your bad habit and propose a strategy or maybe seek some advice from your fellow Invicti.

  • courtland

    Great post George (and fun training session this morning). It is worth adding, I think, that adopting a related habit to help reinforce your main goal is often advantageous. For example, my primary habit goal lately is to get sufficient sleep (~8 hrs). Taking up the 6 / 7 am classes has helped reinforce the need to get to bed earlier, and I tend to have my last caffeinated drink of the day before noon.

    For me the expectation of that well rested feeling upon waking (as opposed to the foggy irritable one when sleep is in short supply) is the pleasure that I am trying to use to elicit a healthy increase in sleep hours.

    Let’s make a fitness party! (say it like Arnold for full effect)

    • Jaimie B

      One of my new goals recently has been no caffeinated drinks after 1pm. (Green tea or coffee) That way, I can ensure to be ready-to-drop tired when 9pm rolls around.

  • Awesome post George!

    I used this as inspiration to commit to breaking one of my longest running fights with a bad habit . . . lack of sleep. I went on to Habit Forge and set myself up on a 21-day monitor. Every morning I will get an email asking if I got to bed at the time that I have committed to. I am two for two since I set this up.

    I would love for everyone to pick something and join me. Here’s the deal though, it’s better to choose a small habit/goal to tackle first. Pick something that you feel confident that you can change over the course of the next three weeks. Be diligent about attaining that goal first, and then use the momentum and excitement of goal achievement to tackle a larger goal after you’ve experienced success.

    If you want to run your goal by a coach, don’t hesitate to ask. We can probably help you refine it – make it more concrete, pare it down a bit to make it well within your reach, etc….

  • M

    Great job to the 9:30 class this morning! Marek did 10 reps at 95# after arguing that she would never be able to do that and Jessica did 9 at 65# after pretty much learning how to c & j today!

    Another shout out to my girl Katie H. in my semi private group. She fractured her tibia a couple weeks ago but hasn’t let that stop her from coming in 3 times week. Today she even said she couldn’t wait to do box jumps again! I guess you don’t appreciate what you’ve got until you lose it.

    • Great job ladies!

      Katie!!! This is so cool, and inspiring. I love the commitment you have made to your health and fitness, and it is definitely paying off . . . even despite the unforeseen setback. Keep up the good work.

  • George

    Solid work this morning for both the 6 and 7 am groups. I can only think of a few better ways to start my day than Courtland asking my to join in his fitness party.

    Not sure who else PR’d out there, but Trick went from 9 to 11 reps, and some old guys were really setting the bar high at 6am 🙂

    • courtland

      Hollywood x 16. Damn him!

  • Jaimie B

    Dear former 7am ladies — where have you gone?! I’ve been the only girl in the 7am classes lately. I miss you gals!

    <3, Jaimie

    Per George's warm up discussion at 7am this morning, I have decided to cut down on my tv and movie watching. (Although I will not give up football :P) Since I work from home, it's easy for me to get drawn into DVRing a whole bunch of crap to watch during down time or as background noise. I just changed my netflix subscription from 3 DVDs at a time to only 1 at a time, since I'm taking on more college classes. I'll clean out (ie. delete) my DVR as well.

    • Jaimie,
      You better get those 7:00 a.m. girls together. We’re prepared to make the announcement that 7:00 a.m. will be offered Monday through Friday in the very near future . . . but you better get these gals to join you so Nuno isn’t lonely on Tuesday and Thursday mornings going forward.

      • Jaimie B

        <~~~~ message is to Jen….Patrice…..Amanda Stetson….*ahem*

        • Jen Martin

          I hear you, I hear you. Sorry Jaimie! I will for sure be there on Wed & Friday! I have to admit..I was a lttle scared of going overhead today I tend to tweek my neck everytime. Excuses, Excuses, I know. I’ll make up a day this week 🙂

          I love the 7am group…we are fun!

  • Nichole

    Okay – I have to admit my bad habit. I chew gum like nobody’s business. I actually decided today, thanks to George’s post, that I am going to stop buying gum for this entire month. This will be hard, I have already tried to bum gum off of other people, but it needs to happen.

    Oh Solstice gum, goodbye to you!

    • Jen Martin

      Oh, Nichole….it’s not habit, I think they call this addition. I am not kidding…I am pretty sure I’ve seen Nichole distroy the entire pack in an hour.

      I still love you though!

      Just think of the money you’ll save.

      • Nichole

        Ummmmmmmmm did you mean addiction? 🙂

        • Jen Martin

          Yes….Man, I was so close to being funny. Then I BLEW IT with my spelling!

  • Jen Martin

    I meant Addiction! GEEZ!

  • Sarah the Wife

    So I think part of the driving force behind this blog post was George’s not-so-secret wish that I would work on quitting my “bad” habit. I have this tendency to deal with a stressful day at the office by baking. For some reason, the act of blending together flour, sugar, butter, and all sorts of other completely non-paleo ingredients is something I just find comforting, and the aroma of freshly baked cookies or cake really helps melt away the tension. It’s rare that I will eat any of what I bake. Usually I just box it up and bring it to work. But I think that while the act of baking takes away some of my stress, the temptation that ensues ADDS to George’s stress level. And perhaps the knowledge that his wife is contributing to the ever-growing obesity epidemic is somewhat disconcerting, considering his profession. So George, this is my public promise to you that I will do my best to break my habit. The things we do for love… 🙂

    • I can hear Sarah’s colleagues weeping from here.

  • Brian

    Great post George, and thanks for a terrific workout on Monday!

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