Impulse control is a critical factor that determines whether a healthy lifestyle is achieved or derailed too soon. This week, I'll introduce an exercise that requires significant impulse control, especially when it gets tough. But first, let's discuss a couple of keys to impulse control and how to fit them into one's daily thought process.
Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote, "The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of a productive person." After thinking about this for a minute, I realized that Covey's concept applies to many aspects of life. Career, relationships, finance, and health are the first few that come to mind. Subordinating instant gratification (impulse) to achieve a long-term goal (value) is a lesson from which that we can all benefit.
Living a healthy lifestyle is a good test case for Covey's theory. We are constantly inundated with advertisements for soda, fast food, alcohol and other "things" that feed our impulses but are counterproductive to our long-term health goals. Even if one is able to ignore pop culture influence, the peer pressure of friends and family who prioritize impulse over value can be overwhelming.
As someone who has spent the better part of his life dedicated to helping others prioritize their health as a value, I also struggle with impulse control. I enjoy cheeseburgers as much as the next guy, and I'm not immune to laziness — especially around the holidays. So, the question is: How do we control our impulses?
There are a million theories on this topic, but I use two strategies. First, I think of what I'll feel like if I make the wrong decision and give in to the impulse. For me, this is usually enough motivation for me to correct my course. Occasionally, however, I'll have to employ strategy No. 2. I think of how others might be negatively affected by my impulse, either short-term or long-term. This is extremely powerful, and a strategy that solidifies my mindset and strengthens my resolve.
This week's exercise requires a fair amount of resolve but is appropriate for all fitness levels. The Weight Plate Rolling Plank is a great way to tighten up the midsection after giving in to a few Thanksgiving dessert impulses last week.
1. Select a 45-pound weight plate.
2. Kneel on an exercise mat (both knees down) with both hands on the weight plate in front of you.
3. The weight plate should be vertical, balancing on its narrow edge. Your hands should grip the plate as if it's a steering wheel, with one hand at 10 o'clock and the other at 2 o'clock.
4. Allow your hips to drop so that you're in a modified plank position with both hands on the weight plate.
5. Slowly roll the weight plate to the right 4-5 inches, then back to the left the same distance.
6. Continue these little plate rolls for 15 repetitions, or until your abs are toast.
The discipline with this exercise is trying to roll the weight plate slowly. Moving slower makes the exercise more difficult, as the abdominals must engage longer and with more force. So, try to keep a consistent cadence where each repetition takes the same 3-4 seconds to complete. This will allow you to maintain consistency and really roast the midsection.
Enjoy, and remember — value over impulse!
Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.
ActiveStyle on 12/02/2019
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