Habits vs Willpower
I wonder how you are all doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Those promises to exercise more, eat healthy food, take care of your wellbeing that were made in January have very likely stated to wane already even though we are just into February.
The reason behind this, studies show is that for you to stick to change, you need to make the actions habits. They need to be part of your everyday life and routine in the same way as brushing your teeth or loading the dishwasher.
Willpower is strong when you take a decision to make a change (after Christmas feeling bloated, overweight and generally unhealthy you decide to cut down your calories, get some exercise). However the willpower and motivation will weaken as time goes on. The initial spurt of enthusiasm dies down and you find your 3 times a week at the gym dropping to one, or no visits at all; or your healthy home cooked meals becoming replaced by shop bought or takeaway food.
To succeed in making changes that last you need new actions to become habits which may also replace old or ‘bad’ habits.
Tips for starting new habits:
1) Make it easy – start small so that you know you can do it.
2) Increase your habit gradually – tiny gains add up over time.
3) Break the habit into smaller chunks as you build up
4) If you miss or fail get straight back to it – a fail one day doesn’t mean overall failure.
5) Be patient – it has to be sustainable otherwise you won’t succeed.
6) Link actions to existing actions – ‘when…then…’
To increase exercise / movement:
Do 5 x press-ups or squats or crunches everyday (or all 3)
Increase by somewhere between 1-5 reps every week
When your reps get higher, break it down and do 2 or 3 sets through the day to reach your total.
If you do this every week for a year, you’ll be up at over 50 reps of each exercise every day as a minumum.
When I am about to get in the shower then I will do my exercises.
Not all habits have to be increased though. Some examples of habits to help you towards a happier, healthier you:
Drink a glass of water on waking to increase fluid intake.
Park at the far end of the car park and walk to wherever you are going to increase movement.
Use the upstairs bathroom instead of the downstairs one to increase movement.
Replace crisps with nuts for healthier fats in your diet.
Get up ten minutes earlier to make a healthy breakfast.
Read a book for 20 minutes instead of looking at your phone every night before turning off your light to help with good quality sleep.
Write a meal plan for the week and shop for it – to ensure balanced nutrition and maximum variety of foods through the week (and less wasted food).
I found a great website (which I based lots of this item from) with loads of helpful information about habits, how to form them and how to break bad habits (more on that for my next post). Check him out at: https://jamesclear.com/habits
For help in working out what the healthy habits you could benefit from, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org