As a child at school I loved gymnastics. Swinging from ropes and jumping onto or over things was much more appealing than learning the three ‘R’s! I just loved moving my body – but I soon learned the trick with gymnastics is to move it in the right way, to do the acrobatics and not fall flat on your face! I joined the gymnastics club where we did drills of basic moves and once we had mastered those, we then added the magic ingredient, such as a twist, or more height.
I used to hear the phrase ‘Practice, Practice, Practice’ and then ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ – but I learned also that neither of these are strictly true. No matter how much you practice something, or how determined you are to get it right, if you are practising doing it wrong, then you just get better at doing it wrong. This is the basis of neuroplasticity. Whatever skill you practise you strengthen the neurological map for that exact way of doing things.
I remember learning a move on the asymmetric bars called ‘dislocation catch’, seriously, that’s what it was called and for good reason! You started on the top bar and swung around the bottom bar letting go at just the right moment and rotating and throwing your arms back to reverse catch the top bar again. It was as difficult as it sounds! The first time I tried there were crash mats underneath which I made good use of! When you caught the bar more than you didn’t, you could put it into your routine for the next competition. My next competition was a trial for the GB team (no pressure!!) and my coach felt I had caught enough to make it a good risk to take, as it was worth so many points; but in the warm up session I reverted back to misjudging the release and only caught it once. Not to be deterred I kept it in my routine, and did exactly what I had done 5 minutes before, released too early – but this time I flew through the air in spectacular fashion! Ending in a crumpled heap on the floor. So I spent the biggest competition of my life in X-Ray at the local hospital being told how lucky I was not to break – well, pretty much everything to be honest!
A week later my coach went on one of his regular training camps and came back with a new phrase ‘Only Perfect Practice Makes Perfect’. And this is exactly right. I had practiced doing it wrong so many times that I had a great neurological map for exactly that. Other moves that I had got right early on, even harder ones, I soon found easy. This explains why.
The way we trained after that phrase was introduced, changed: when we were learning a new tumble instead of just being thrown into the air and landing in the foam pit to allow us to ‘have a go’, we started being hoisted up in special belts on the trampoline, where we could literally be suspended in the air and do the twist in slow motion, and then be lowered down. We did this over and over until our bodies learned how it felt to do the twist. Then with this neurological map we progressed to the mats and the foam pit, and eventually just the mats. It made learning the move so much more natural.
This is a perfect demonstration of how important it is to set yourself a task of behaviour that you know you can change and be successful at, and perfect it, before adding to it. If you set yourself up to fail because what you try and do is too hard, then you perfect failure.
When I am teaching goal setting on the workshops and in my one to one sessions, I make absolutely sure that the behavioural goals you set are achievable. You can always over achieve and add more, but if you under achieve not only do you strengthen a negative map, you create a sense of failure and associate pain with the desired change. Neurologically speaking this is the worst possible outcome, for change to be genuine and permanent, you must associate pleasure with it.
I saw this on a wooden board today:
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT – SO BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRACTICE
In reality, every time you put off changing something, and do it ‘one more time’ the old way, you are strengthening that pathway and making it harder to create a new one. As you know, your brain always takes the easiest neurological route (or map), which means using the one you have accessed most recently or most often. If you take a moment now to think back over the last 24 hours – what have you practiced? In terms of looking after your body have you practiced / perfected getting the body and level of health you want and deserve? Or have you practiced / perfected doing the things that give you the exact opposite?
A world class pianist was once asked how often he practiced, he said every day for a minimum of 4 hours, never missed. The interviewer said “But you are so good, surely if you missed a day, no one would notice! He replied “If I missed a day, I would notice. If I missed 2 days, my conductor would notice, if I missed a week my audience would notice”. So if you are practicing and perfecting the things that are stopping you from getting what you want – stop it. Simples, just stop it. Now.
You may not be a world class pianist but you know what you are practising, and how often, even if you practice some things in secret when no one else is looking, YOU are always looking and your brain is ALWAYS learning – and perfecting. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
If you want to learn how to do this come along to one of my workshops. I’d love to work with you and help you change your mindset to get the life you desire.
Saturday June 29th, 2019 – ‘Colour Yourself Slim’ – join me at this one-day workshop that can transform your body and your health. BOOK YOUR PLACE HERE>>
Champneys Retreat is coming up at Champneys Forest Mere starting June 16th 2019 – choose from a 2-night or 4-night retreat where I will personally guide you through my step by step process that will teach you how all your existing behaviours were created, and how to change your mind so that you naturally want to eat less, eat and enjoy different foods, and banish cravings. BOOK YOUR PLACE HERE>>