Why Roman concrete may be the key to building better habits

Why Roman concrete may be the key to building better habits

by Evigan Xiao 22 Feb 2020

A few months back, I read an article online that reported on how scientists had finally cracked the secret behind the concrete used to build water-based structures in ancient Rome. The significance of this discovery is one that only architectural engineers and history buffs would appreciate: these structures actually became stronger over time. In contrast, modern buildings slowly but surely deteriorated.


Without getting too technical, the kicker was the Roman concrete mixture precipitated the creation of new minerals which over time, reinforced the concrete and made it stronger. While the implications of this revelation weren’t lost on curious little ol’ me, it also got me thinking: why not take this approach to fitness as well?


The whole idea of fitness is to become better and healthier, and we achieve that by breaking down what we were in order to make way for the new and improved version of ourselves. However, the mental attitude which we adopt towards this “breaking down” is arguably more important than the act itself.


Change for the sake of change has no real long-term benefits because you only tackle what’s on the surface instead of the source. Compare it to having a nasty bacterial infection. If all you do is wipe up the pus and blood without actaully sanitising the area, will things even get better?


Being able to internalise the signifance of the changes you’re implementing does a number of things. Firstly, you recognise the reason why you’re changing and its importance. Secondly, you’re able to come to terms with what prevented you from making the changes in the first place. Lastly and most importantly, the change will come from within.


Anyone who’s gotten into fitness can attest to how hard it was to break themselves out of their bad habits. However, that’s only half the battle. There’s still the need to fill the space with better habits, which is much easier said than done. While breaking a bad habit typically means abstinence or restraint, building a new habit means the regular practice of something that feels alien to you. Not exactly all sunshine and rainbows.


But you know the best thing about good habits? They grow into better ones. Being able to wake up at 6AM three days out of a week to hit the gym can easily translate into a more focused and disciplined you when it comes to work. Saying “no” to that slice of cake, no matter how tempting, means that doing the same in the face of peer pressure isn’t that far off. Just like how seawater reacts with the volcanic material in Roman concrete to create new minerals, good habits feed into your daily life to create a stronger and better version of yourself.


Many people, myself included, refer to fitness as a journey. While the milestones and achievements are indeed important, it is the endpoint that we should concern ourselves with. Focus on building longevity together with fitness and you’ll have a foundation that will rival even the oldest of Roman concrete!