This is the third part of the "Healthy living for club cricketers" series. To go to part one click here.
So far in this series we have looked at the cricketing reasons why you would want to be healthy and the myths that surround what 'healthy' actually is. Hopefully I have begun to convince you that the idea of good health is important to good cricket and not as difficult as you may have thought.
You may even be wondering how to go about it.
Before we get into my advice on that area, we need to clarify something.
Knowledge alone is not enough
How many overweight people know everything there is to know about losing fat yet they are still podgy?
Knowledge is the start but you have to back it up with motivation and action (you can't act unless you are motivated, so it's one in the same). The thing is, it can be hard to act in one way if you are in the habit of acting another way. If you regularly skip breakfast then starting to have a 6 egg mushroom, spinach and cheese omelette every morning might be a leap too far.
So how do you bridge the gap between knowledge and action?
Fortunately there has been a great deal of research into human motivation, especially around diet and exercise which are the key pillars of good health. The scientists have found there are certain things that make us more able to make decisions and changes to habit no matter who we are, how old we are, what our genetic makeup or where we live.
In other words, you can literally fool yourself into changing habits. Here are those tricks.
Back yourself into a corner
Choice is bad when it comes to doing something you don't want to do. Let's be honest, changing a habit to something healthier can be hard because you don't want to do it. You might look at the big picture and decide it's a good idea but when you are tired and grumpy on the way home, popping into the gym is the last thing on your mind. That's a flaw in the human condition.
So, at least at first, you need to back yourself into a corner and not give yourself a choice. What are the ways you can do that?
- Announce your commitment. We all have a strong desire to be consistent. Nobody wants to be a hypocrite. So if you make your new commitment to health public you will be forced to see it through. You can do this in a number of ways. You can start a training log online, tell your friends and family of your plans or start training with someone else (a friend or personal trainer). Anything that makes you commit yourself to someone else will work.
- Plan ahead but remind yourself why. Planning ahead stops you having to think. You can just follow the preset plan and not have to make a choice. In nutrition terms this could mean cooking food ahead of time to take with you when you know you will be hungry and near a Burger King. In fitness terms it could mean making an 'appointment' to go to the gym. The clever trick here is to not put "Gym" in your diary for that time but put your motivation down: "Gym to become stronger so I will be a faster bowler this season". What pace bowler can ignore that?
- Use Social Proof. If everyone at your cricket club trained twice a week and went to the gym regularly would you be more likely to do the same? Hint: The answer is a resounding yes. That's why Weight Watchers and Crossfit are popular: social proof. So find some likeminded people to all start on the road to health together. It has the added benefit of making you accountable to others, but getting a gang together makes you greater than the sum of your parts; whichever way you cut it.
There are plenty of other tricks you can use, like finding a gym that's close to home, and allowing yourself a 'cheat' now and again but nothing is as powerful as forcing yourself to act like in the three methods above. If there is a secret to health it's not in how you get there. It's in getting there in the first place.
But that said, I'm sure you still want to know what I think is the best way to be healthy for cricket. That's a topic I cover in the next part.
To go there now, click here