3 Tips for Creating Lasting Healthy Habits
Updated: May 7, 2020
I’ve recently read an amazing book by James Clear called “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.” This book opened my eyes to how to really create habits that stick and how to break habits that don’t serve you. I’ve been using his tips and I wanted to share a few of them with you.
But first, I loved what he said about self control not being a long term strategy. I see so many women saying they have “no self control” or “they aren’t disciplined enough.” They put themselves down and think they are weak because they can’t seem to consistently resist eating unhealthy foods or staying within their macro budget for the day. Self control is NOT a long term method for success! You are not weak or undisciplined. There is nothing wrong with you.
Our bodies and brain naturally want to conserve energy and the simplest way to do this is to do things that are easy. We follow the path of least resistance. Exerting self control is difficult and it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to do this all the time.
A better way to set yourself up for success is to make healthy choices easy and unhealthy choices difficult. That way you’re not having to constantly exert self control.
Here are some strategies that work!
Make healthy choices obvious - It may sound too easy, but having visual reminders of healthy habits keeps them in the forefront of your mind. You’re more likely to do them when you see cues all around you. An example of this would be if you’re trying to eat more fruit, having a bowl out on the counter instead of in the cupboard. On the flip side of this, if you’re trying to break an unhealthy habit, make it invisible. If you’re trying to cut down on sugar, keep it out of sight, in a cupboard out of reach or don’t buy the food at all.
Link a current habit to a new one - Clear calls this “habit stacking.” The habit you already do acts as a reminder to do the habit you’re trying to create. Take the phrase “After [current habit], I will [new habit].” I have been using this as a way to create the habit of working out more. I always feed my dogs in the morning and take them outside. So, I’ve stacked working out onto this. My phrase is “After I take my dogs outside, I will workout for 20 minutes.”
Reduce the number of steps between you and your good habit - Like I mentioned above, we are naturally primed to do things that are easy. Having a lot of steps to do seems overwhelming and difficult. An example would be if you’re trying to workout more, pick a gym that’s near you or on your way home from work.
I’d highly recommend checking out James Clear on his website or reading his book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.” He goes into more detail, has more tips and has great stories illustrating his points.
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James Clear's book called “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” is a great book to read if you want to create consistent habits and break bad ones. You are not weak if you can't seem to stick with your habits and exert self control. Exerting self control is difficult and it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to do this all the time. Some strategies from his book that work are to make healthy choices obvious, link a current habit to a new one, and reduce the number of steps between you and your good habit.
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