Building new habits, especially when it comes to health and fitness, can often seem like a daunting task. Yet, once formed, these habits can become a seamless part of your daily routine, paving the way to achieving your weight loss, muscle gain, and overall health improvement goals. Understanding how habits are formed and following specific strategies can make the process of habit building a lot easier.
What is a Habit?
A habit is a behavior that becomes automatic through repeated practice. It consists of three parts – the cue or trigger, the behavior or routine, and the reward. For instance, when your alarm goes off (cue), you might lace up your shoes for a morning run (routine), and afterward, you might feel invigorated and ready for the day (reward). Over time, this loop is reinforced, making the behavior automatic.
Useful Things to Keep in Mind When Building Habits
- Start Small: You’re more likely to stick to a new habit if it’s manageable. Rather than trying to overhaul your entire routine in one go, start with small, achievable goals like drinking an extra glass of water each day or adding a 15-minute walk to your daily routine.
- Consistency is Key: The key to forming a new habit is repetition. Aim to be consistent rather than perfect. Even if you miss a day, get back on track as soon as possible. It’s the overall pattern of behavior that matters most.
- Be Patient: Habits take time to form. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate changes. It’s about long-term progress, not instant results.
How To Build Better Habits
- Start Small: The most effective way to form a habit is to start with a behavior that’s easy to perform. Make it so simple that you can’t say no to it.
- Incremental Improvement: Aim for getting 1% better every day. It might not seem like much, but these small improvements add up over time.
- Use Habit Stacking: This involves pairing a new habit with an existing one. For example, if you already have a habit of drinking coffee in the morning, you could pair it with a few minutes of mindfulness or stretching.
- Create a Conducive Environment: Make your environment as conducive as possible to the new habit. If you want to eat healthier, for example, make sure you have healthy food readily available at home and work.
- Make Attractive Associations: The more attractive an opportunity is, the more likely it is to become habit-forming. Associate your new habits with positive experiences and feelings.
- Make Good Habits Obvious: Make the cues of your good habits obvious in your environment. If you want to read more, for example, keep a book on your bedside table.
- Make Bad Habits Invisible: Remove the cues of your bad habits from your environment. If you want to cut down on unhealthy snacking, keep junk food out of sight.
- Use the Two-Minute Rule: If a new habit takes less than two minutes to do, it should be performed immediately. This can act as a ‘gateway habit’ leading to more extensive habits.
- Use a Habit Tracker: Habit trackers are a simple, effective way to measure your progress and keep you motivated.
- Never Miss Twice: If you miss a day, try to get back on track as quickly as possible. Don’t let a lapse become a habit itself.
Remember, habits are not built in a day, but daily. Patience and consistency are key in making and breaking habits. Be kind to yourself in this process, and celebrate small victories along the way.