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Body Kinetics Blog

Bridging, the Mental Kind

Posted by Ellen Karpay-Brody | Wed, Mar 21, 2018 @ 13:03 PM
Years ago my dentist and I were discussing the merits of flossing one's teeth daily. I defended my sporadic adherence, “I forget to do it, it’s not convenient, it’s not easy to do, sometimes it hurts my fingers, can I just skip the hard-to-reach teeth? Which teeth do I really have to floss?”  He smiled (with beautiful teeth) and replied seriously, “Just the ones you want to keep.” 
I paused… He went on to describe just a few of the probabilities of teeth (and neighboring gums) that aren’t flossed regularly. The menu included: (a) tooth decay and gum disease (b) oral irritation and discomfort (c) compromised health (d) time-consuming and costly repair work. 
What flashed through my mind was (1) what I would rather do with a few thousand dollars and (2) wanting to avoid the time and discomfort of additional dental appointments.  
His message got to me. Ok, I’ve committed to harder things in my life. I decided to give it a try and create the best odds for being a consistent flosser.  I used my “Set Myself Up for Success” experience with exercise as a model for helping me be more consistent with flossing. 
My plan included:
1. Decide and Commit - shift my mind and attitude
2. Prioritize - plan and allot time for it 
3. Invest in it - buy and stock what I need to make it happen 
4. Mentally rehearse - imagine/picture myself doing it
5. Build a Bridge - “attach” the new action to one already in progress 
6. Be resilient - allow for being human and rebound from the occasional misses
It worked!  
Here’s how I bridged myself to being a regular flosser: 
1. Decide and commit - I recalled what convinced me (how I felt about my dentist’s response)
2. Prioritize - I gave myself an extra 60 seconds to floss before/after brushing
3. Invest - I bought several varieties of floss (mint, waxed, non-waxed) to keep it interesting
4. Mentally rehearse - I pictured myself doing it and it wasn’t as bad as I made it in my mind
5. Build a bridge to make it regular and convenient -  "I brush, therefore I floss."
6. Resilience/Forgiveness - When (not if) I miss I figure out why and forgive myself. And, start up again. 
Perhaps you can do the same in reverse for an element of health and fitness. Can you think of some important aspect of exercise that you either avoid or can’t seem to make time for? What if you could attach or bridge it to something you already do frequently? Consider the examples below and see how they can help you conveniently include a bit more flexibility, strength, balance, and/or coordination into your body. 
Try adding one (or more) of these to an already routine task:
My Routine Task:      
When I dry-off after shower/bath…
My add on: I stretch my hamstrings, quadriceps (flexibility)
My Routine Task:
When I put on pants or shorts…
My add on: I stand on one leg (balance)
My Routine Task:
When I put on/take off a top…
My add on: I use 2 arms at once (flexibility)
My Routine Task:
When I sit and watch a program/tv... 
My add on: I get up and down 12x with a single leg or  two-legged squat during commercial breaks
My Routine Task:
When I stand at the sink...
My add on: I engage my neutral-spine posture
My Routine Task:
When I brush my teeth…
My add on: I stretch my calf
My Routine Task:
When I apply lotion, deodorant...
My add on: I use my non-dominant hand (coordination)
My Routine Task:
When I put on/tie my shoes...
My add on: I stretch my low back and hamstrings
The frequency of a routine is an opportunity you can use to efficiently add bits of flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination to your physicality. These little bits of frequent repetition can keep your nerves and muscles active and engaged without tapping into your busy life. And if you’re pondering which of these you might attempt consider the words of my dentist, “Just the ones you want to keep.” 
This Blog was written by: Ellen Karpay-Brody, Elite Fitness Trainer, Body Kinetics Mill Valley

Topics: build good habbits, tip from a personal trainer, everyday routine

Written by Ellen Karpay-Brody

Ellen is guided by "It's not what you've got.... it's what you do with it". Her fitness accomplishments span numerous mediums. Ellen parents three (3) young children, has completed numerous endurance events (8 Ironman triathlons), is a published fitness author, owned/operated a small (food) business, taught middle and high school physical education (NYC), played intercollegiate sports, and attained a B.S. degree in physical education (U of Florida). Ellen is certified by ACSM and NASM.

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