So, you want to build a healthy, new habit? Making a big life change can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Building good habits that stick just takes a little bit of focus for some giant rewards. If you’re interested in exercising more regularly, eating healthier, stopping soda consumption, or taking a long walk every day, here are some tips from Vitruvian’s expert trainers to help boost your chance of building good habits.
Have a good reason for building a new habit
We’re all guilty of telling ourselves we “should” do something. We “should” lift weights, or we “should” run three miles or we “should” eat more vegetables. But shouldsaren’t a good enough reason to change. If you’re just telling yourself that you “should” build a new habit, you’re not giving yourself enough motivation. Ask yourself what the main reason is for building a good habit. Do you want to meditate for 30 minutes a day? Don’t do it because you “should”, do it because it will help lower your stress levels. Don’t exercise four days a week because you “should”, do so because you want to keep up with your children, or your grandchildren, or whatever your actual motivation is. Determining your motivation is key to helping you stay dedicated even when life gets tough.
Know what it takes to build a habit
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg identified what he calls the “loop” of habit creation. Sticking to a good habit requires three parts: the cue, the routine, and the reward. Here’s what the loop looks like in practice:
Say you want to start exercising more regularly. You only have time in the mornings before work, so how do you build the habit? Well, the workout clothes and gym bag you have laid out the night before, or the upbeat song that acts as your alarm on gym days both can act as cues. The routine is actually going to the gym, though what your workout is and how long it takes is up to you. Congratulations! You’re one step closer to building a healthy habit–now it’s time for the reward. Don’t go overboard here–you don’t want to cancel out the effects of your hard work–but perhaps treat yourself with a podcast, a new book,or set aside a little cash for a gift to yourself at the end of thirty days.
Your reward can change on a daily basis; what’s important is that you recognize yourself for following the first two parts of the loop. After that, you’ll start looking forward to your reward and the positive reinforcement will keep you motivated!
Mentally “practice” your habit
If you want to start eating more vegetables, daydreaming about donuts isn’t going to help you get there. Instead of longing for the foods you’re trying to replace, visualize eating the healthy options. Your brain is a muscle, too. By visualizing the act of your healthy habit, you’re helping your brain build new connections to that area. In essence, you’re strengthening your commitment to your habit every time you mentally practice it.
Don’t discourage yourself if you mess up
The saying “life is what happens when you make other plans” is relevant here. You’ve gone two weeks practicing your habit every day, and then–oh no!–you sleep late one day and can’t make it to the gym first. Don’t despair! Hiccups in habit formation are totally normal. What’s important is that you don’t beat yourself up over skipping a day or two. Forgive yourself, figure out what went wrong where, and get back to it at the soonest opportunity. In fact, most people successfully build habits even when they make a mistake every now and again; after all, you’re human, and tomorrow is another day.
Building a good habit, like going to the gym a few days a week, takes work. Let Vitruvian Fitness take some of the pressure off of you.Our training is tailored to you personally, so you never have to worry about which workout you need to do. All you need to do to build a good habit here is show up and be ready to work; we’ll take care of the rest. If you’re looking to build a better exercise habit, contact us today.