Coaches Chat - Whitney Reese Discusses Creating Positive Habits In Chaotic Environments

01 Apr

Whitney Reese is a very principled and systematic thinker. She doesn’t just ask what 1+1 equals, she asks why it is that 1+1 = 2. It doesn’t matter the topic, if Whitney has thought about it, she’s studied it down to the first principles.

Building habits are no different. We’re currently in a global lock down due to the Coronavirus, Covid-19, and many people face extremely different lifestyles than they lived just 7 days ago. The amazing clients we work with in fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle are no different. They want to maintain the balance, energy, rhythm, and purpose through this lockdown that they enjoyed when their lives were flowing normally.

Many people who aren’t working with a coach, though, have found that they are struggling to find inspiration in this chaotic time. And, the longer they “sit around” the less inspiration they feel. 

That’s why I wanted to ask Whitney what often brings on these feelings and then how people can implement positive habits more effectively even in this difficult landscape. 

Why do people feel stir crazy, and why is it difficult to build positive habits?

Whitney tried to keep it fairly simple for my feeble brain, so she didn’t go overly deeply…

She said that it only takes somebody 5 days for a disruption of rhythm - say not being able to workout like normal - makes the body feel different.

Additionally, as humans, we pay attention to what we feel in the moment. “I didn’t get a good night's sleep. I don’t feel good.”  We’re hardwired to pay attention to those feelings, and we also shift our human essence to think about them.

When you combine the stir craziness at 5 days with the tendency for us to think about what we’re feeling, you have a recipe for us to “want” to binge watch Netflix.

Also, triggers are often what prompt us to do habits. If we had good habits built in certain areas of life, fitness for example, and now that trigger can’t be fired because of being locked down, a new trigger may fire such as “eating salty food.”  This is hardwired, so don’t think it doesn’t apply to you. The more we think about what we’re feeling, now more than ever it’s likely not something super inspiring, the more difficult it is to fire what we’d likely consider ‘high quality habits.”

Said another way - “the longer you don’t do good habits, the harder it is to begin a good new habit.”

Most new habits take 21 days to solidify in, so a system needs to be created to ensure that the right habits are the ones that continue to be felt/triggered.

How do you build quality habits during a chaotic time?

Whitney laid out a wonderful framework of 4 points for this:

  1. Identify the feeling
  2. Identify a trigger
  3. Identify 1, only 1, habit you can commit to do very consistently as a habit
  4. Identify the reward that you, not somebody else, finds compelling

Example of this in play:

Step 1 - Identify the feeling

Whitney mentioned one of her clients had low back issues - she had surgeries as a teenager. Right now she’s on lock down, so her active standing/walking lifestyle has turned into sitting and taking calls at home.

Step 2 - Identify the trigger

For Whitney’s client, her feet would go numb if she sat too long

Step 3 - Identify the habit

Every 30 minutes, Whitney’s client would get up and walk a lap in her home and do 10 air squats.  It didn’t matter if she was on a call (headphones possible), she got up and did the work. 

The goal was to get ahead of the curve and ahead of the trigger by walking around consistently. She set a google reminder every 30 minutes, and she put it into play very effectively.

After 5 days, she didn’t need the timer because it was becoming engrained through consistent implementation.

Step 4 - Identify the reward

Whitney’s client used the feeling of no pain - which she built into her awareness during the day - as the strong reward for her to continue to do this. This was absolutely meaningful enough to Whitney’s client for her to want to continue the habit.

When you put simple and repeatable actions into place, you will see your momentum shift, and you will feel your body make the habit the normal. Best of luck and hang in there during this challenging time.

Thanks so much for reading. Leave any comments below or check out the other content to continue to progress yourself forward.

Whitney Reese IG

Jim Crowell IG


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