Creating Long-Term Healthy Habits

1.       Specific is key; - Choose a specific goal rather than a general healthy concept. For example ‘doing 10 minutes of cardio 3-4 times a week’ is preferable to ‘getting fit’. It’ll be much easier to formulate a plan on how to achieve this, as well as measure your success along the way and keep yourself accountable.

2.       Don’t ‘stop’..’swap’; Stopping a bad habit is in fact even harder that trying to create a new one. This is because it requires a lot more energy to be mindful and stoic enough to resist doing something you usually do 24/7. You’re more likely to break the habit by swapping it out with a good one when temptation arises. For example, rather than ‘no more sugary soft-drink’, stocking your cupboards with a healthier alternative to ‘swap’ when the cravings hit will likely be more successful.

3.       Silence of the Plans; Once you’re set on a goal, don’t tell anyone. This may seem counter-intuitive, you would think that announcing your plans would keep you accountable and be a strong motivator. It turns out that peer-pressure is not as strong a motivator as our positive reward system. This reward system gets activated when you start achieve your goal or see progress, and it’s a big incentive to continue whatever you’re doing to succeed. When you tell other people about your health plans, you often get a positive reaction, encouragement from friends and/or likes on social media. While these are confidence boosting, you’re brain’s positive reward system is actually buzzing before you’ve even started. This actually de-motivates you to hunt for the reward from achieving your goal. Studies show that the more people you tell the less likely you are to achieve a goal. So keep it hushed and save the bragging for afterwards.

4.       Find a Queue then Do; The best way to turn a healthy behaviour into a habit is to queue it with something that you already do regularly. It will act a natural reminder until the behaviour becomes integrated into your routine. It’s the same way that washing your hands after going to the toilet has become second-nature, your brain forms an association between the two actions so much so that you often go into auto-pilot walking straight to the basin after you’ve done your business. An example would be if you wanted to drink water first thing in the morning, setting a plan like ‘drink a glass of water after waking up and going to the toilet’ will integrate it into your routine and have you hydrated from the get-go.

5.       Harness your (will)power; Willpower requires energy, and therefore can be drained allowing you to let your guard down for bad habits to sneak back in. Over time the willpower required to perform your healthy behaviour goes down as it’s becoming a habit, but in those early days mustering the willpower to keep you going with it can be draining. You have a finite amount of willpower, and this can be drained by life-things - especially say, at the end of a long, stressful day when you’ve got a cold.. the likelihood of you letting your behaviour slip because of waining willpower goes up. We have two tips to combat this;

1.       Put your particularly difficult tasks earlier in the morning when your energy stores are at their highest

2.       Eliminate any willpower-sapping choices you need to make on the way to performing your healthy behaviour. For example, before you start a workout you may need to; ‘Choose your clothes, fill your water bottle, pack your gym bag, make a pre-gym snack’ - all require decision making, and although small tasks they each require willpower to complete.. which can drain those willpower- energy stores before you’ve even gotten to the gym and make it that much easier to stay home and watch netflix. Eliminating these choices by pre-packing your gym bag and choosing your outfit the night before and having it ready to go is actually a proven way to increase your chances of getting to the gym.

We hope this tips help! Looking forward to seeing you all crush your goals in 2019 and beyond!