Habits are all around us. Most of the things that you do on a daily basis involve following some sort of habit.
We eat the same foods, shower and get dressed in the same way, walk the same route to work, play the same sports or use the same workout routines. Our whole lives consist of a series of habits.
But why do we use so many habits?
Habits keep us safe, they tell the brain that “we have done this before so it’s OK to do it again”. Habits take up less mental capacity, and the more we stick to our regular habits the less brain intensive they become. Habits get easier and easier!
We all know how hard it can be to change a deep ingrained habit. The brain and body is less willing to give up a habit that has been entrained.
Our ability to develop habits can work to our advantage, especially when it comes to developing our health and fitness. 30 days and you can entrain your brain to developing a new habit.
Here is my simple 5 Step Guide to developing any habit:
# 1 – Choose Just One
Don’t overwhelm yourself by try to do too much at once. Start by choosing just one habit to develop. If your goal is to lose weight then choose just one aspect of fat loss that you can focus on and develop into a lifelong habit. So you may choose to eat a better breakfast, start an exercise program, join a fitness class or hire a Personal Trainer.
# 2 – Keep it Simple
Once you have decided on what habit you would like to develop you next need to simplify. Don’t try to change too much at once. So if you choose to start an exercise program, just begin by performing one or 2 exercises before you shower every morning. If you are looking to improve your diet and lose weight then try to avoid bread for breakfast. Develop one habit at a time. Try to do too much and you end up being overwhelmed and doing nothing.
# 3 – Model Somebody
We all hear about goals like losing 7lbs in 21 days or running a marathon but these goals can set you up for failure. Rather than thinking about individual goals try to model somebody who has achieved what you want to achieve. So if you are trying to develop a nutritional habit think whether your Role Model would eat that or drink that. If you are thinking about skipping a workout, ask yourself how many times your Role Model skips a workout. Find a good Role Model and be inspired to do what they do.
# 4 – Develop Routine
Habits are all about routine. The more you stick to the routine the more the brain develops a habit and starts to make it a “No Brainer’ for you. So give your habit a chance. Exercise at the same time each day. Begin by performing the same exercises each day. Eat breakfast at the same time each day. I’m writing this Blog post at the same time as I write everyday. Start a routine and stick to it.
# 5 – Stick to the Schedule
Habits are simple, you just need to stick to the schedule. Forget about the results and focus on the schedule. Get yourself a calendar and cross off each day. Never break the chain. If you are running short on time one day then do less exercise. Just don’t break that schedule. The longer you can keep going the easier it will get and the more of a habit you will develop.
For more on developing habits I can highly recommend the The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It’s a great read and probably the best overall summary of cutting edge information on Habit Development.
Want to develop an Exercise Habit?
My 12 Week Essential Bodyweight Program includes a daily workout of only 1 or 2 exercises per day and all using no equipment.