Our daily habits define us. If our habits don’t bring us to our greater goals we will come up short in achieving the life and the body we want. In order to change and modify our habits we must understand how habits are formed. A habit is nothing more than a conditioned response to a Trigger or stimulus that cues us to perform a certain Routine which in turn gives us some type of Reward.
If we didn’t get a reward from the habit it would be easy to stop it. If we change our environment it can make change easy because we eliminate the cue or trigger that reminds us to do the bad habit. Habits are an important part of our lives, but it’s important to identify what habits serve us and which habits are out dated and hold us back.
What can we do to alter our habits and therefore change our health, fitness and life?
First, change your triggers by setting up your environment to win. If you find yourself eating too many sweets then eliminating those foods from sight can be enough to keep you from being triggered to eat them. If you find it hard to workout when you get home from work set out your workout clothes on the counter to trigger you to think about it or at least consider it.
Second, change your routine. Changing your routine doesn’t have to be something massive or extreme. Often times trying to do too much in the beginning of a new habit can prevent you from consistently executing it. A great strategy is to create the positive habit just like negative ones are created. Just how someone goes from a few drinks on the weekend to a drink every night and then a few more and then they turn around and they are an alcoholic. You can use small steps to set you up to win! If your goal is to get back into exercise or start being more active you can set a goal to just walk out your front door everyday or do 1 push up. When you get down to do 1 push up consistently everyday you will eventually just say “heck, while I’m down here I’ll do a couple more.” This is far more effective strategy than having a goal of doing 50 a day when you haven’t even done one push-up in the last month. Make your new routine so easy that you can’t talk yourself out of it. After a few weeks the routine will be set and then you can slowly and almost naturally build on the new healthy habit. This method will create almost an avalanche of positive changes in your life that all started from that small almost insignificant shift.
Third, create a reward. It’s can be so easy to get hooked in the rewards of bad habits. Drinking too much, eating too much and everything else that is not an ideal habit are very easy to do and very easy to get a temporary reward with. This is why they can be so addictive. In order to make your new routine stick you need to reinforce it with some type of reward to keep you motivated. The most powerful rewards are intrinsic not extrinsic. Once you have completed your simple, but positive new habit celebrate with yourself. Say to yourself, “This is the real me, this who I truly am, I got this, I can do it!”. Even raise your hands in the air in victory to create that winning feeling because once you start a healthy habit no matter how small you are now really winning at life. This may sound odd and weird, but speaking to yourself this way and physically putting yourself in the posture of success and achievement reinforces your positive behavior and creates a deep connection in your brain and body that your new habit equals happiness, joy and success!
Now stop reading and start doing. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, take that first step today and create just one simple healthy habit, stick to it and see it grow into a garden and positive and fulfilling life long habits.
“Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle