9 New Ways to Build Healthy Habits
Okay, okay, we all know you should exercise and eat healthy. But how exactly do you do that?
You’ve probably tried countless diets. Started (and canceled) many gym memberships. But it didn’t take long before you reverted back to your old “bad” habits.
Chances you didn't have the right approach. Your mission was doomed to fail right from the start. This is because your brain hates change as it's too costly and requires time.
However, there are a few ways you can trick your brain. Follow our 9 tips to effortlessly implement positive habits into your daily routine.
#1 How Start Habits Without Giving Up After a Couple of Weeks?
One of the most common mistakes people make is to start big. Let’s say you wake up one day and decide to completely transform your existing habits.
The problem is change is hard. We people avoid it like the plague. The more grandiose your goal, the more likely you are to give up.
Instead of attempting a complete overhaul of your life, start small. Pick a single thing to work on. Add a time limit or make it crazy simple.
Here a few examples:
- Get in your gym clothes every day at 7 pm (no need to actually hit the gym)
- Eat one apple every morning with your usual breakfast
- Get to bed 10 mins earlier than your usual time
By making something so simple you’re more likely to keep doing it. It won’t take long before it turns into a habit. Then you make it a bit more complicated.
Baby step it all the way. Here are a few examples:
- First week: Get in your gym clothes every day at 7 pm
- Second week: step 1 + drive to the gym (and immediately back home)
- Third week: steps 1 + 2 + treadmill for 5 mins
- Fourth week: steps 1 + 2 + treadmill for 15 mins
You keep adding a bit more without the risk of giving up. It’s easy and you’d be excited for next week when you make it a bit harder.
Do you have zero experience with diet and exercise?
Then check out our article “I Never Exercise, How Do I Start?“
#2 How Do You Make Building Healthy Habits Easier?
Motivation and discipline mean nothing when you lack clarity. You need to determine the exact details of each new routine you want to implement.
Vagueness and ambiguity are your biggest enemies. Let’s say your goal is to start exercising every day. That’s too vague as it fails to specify:
- where it should take place
- when it will happen
- what exercises are involved
- what the time limit is
- how long it will last
When you want to add a new routine make it super specific. Here’s a general formula to follow:
- I will do [ACTIVITY] at [TIME] in [LOCATION] for [PERIOD].
The more additional details you add the better. But it’s crucial you cover at least the ones above to avoid slacking.
#3 How To Implement New Routines with ZERO Effort?
Often we find ourselves being slaves to our environment. There’s no way you can stick to positive habits in a negative environment.
But if you make your environment work for you, change becomes effortless. Let me give you an example.
Imagine you want to start going to the gym. You have 2 choices. A large fancy gym 30 mins away from your place. A small old gym just a block away. Signing up for the first one may seem the obvious choice. Better equipment, more room, and qualified coaches.
But on some days you may feel too tired. This is when you may decide against that 30 min ride. The other gym has the benefit of proximity. You’re less likely to consider skipping gym time. It’s “just a 5 min drive”.
When it comes to nutrition habits you want to avoid stocking your home with junk food. Don’t create an environment that supports overeating. Stock your fridge with healthy foods. Then you’ll have no other choice but to eat healthily.
Bottom line: shape your environment to support your goals. Don’t let it shape your behavior.
#4 What’s The Fastest Way To Get in Shape?
Let’s say implemented all the tips discussed so far. But you’re still not happy with the rate of progress. Well, there’s actually a way to speed things up.
Starting big and going too fast is generally too stressful. However, you can leverage existing positive habits to deal with that problem. You can implement habit stacking.
The best time to add a new activity is right after you’ve successfully completed another one. Once you pick up momentum you’ll feel less resistance towards new tasks.
Here are a few examples:
- you meditate for 10 mins
- do 10 air squats immediately after that
- then go eat one apple
Once you’ve completed one thing you feel a sense of accomplishment. You want to keep feeling this way. So it’s easier to continue getting more stuff done.
The example above is very simple. But you can also stack together a few complex habits. This will allow you to progress much faster than implementing one habit at a time.
Learn more about weight loss in our article “What's the Fastest Way to Reach 10% Body Fat?“
#5 When Is the Best Time to Start a New Habit?
Related to the previous point, the order of routines also matters. Productivity and willpower go down with time. You can’t stack different tasks indefinitely.
Mental and physical fatigue are major limiting factors. You want to start with the hardest tasks first. Maybe you feel a lot of resistance towards going to the gym. Then start your day with that. Knock it off from your list quickly.
Mornings are when you’re most fresh. The more the day progresses the less willpower you have. Always order your daily tasks based on priority. Don’t leave the hardest thing for last. That’s a surefire way to fail.
#6 How to Make Living a Healthy Lifestyle More Attractive?
It’s easier to implement a new routine if you actually enjoy it. But that’s not always the case. At least not in the beginning
Here are a few ways to make new habits more attractive:
- Pair new routines with something you already like: start with the new activity followed by something more pleasant. For example, you get 1 hr of video games after completing your workout. This way you’ll get excited about gym because you’ll anticipate what comes after that.
- Join a community or a group: we humans are hyper-social beings. We love the feeling of belonging to something bigger than us. That’s why joining a community that reinforces certain habits can be beneficial. We’ll naturally strive to fit in and pick up the new habits eagerly.
- Track progress: this strategy works better the more time passes. Once you hit a steak you won’t want to break the chain. You can use a journal, calendar, or simply share your progress with friends.
The better you become at something the more you enjoy it. That’s why it’s important to focus on improving your skills. Not just going through the motions.
#7 How Important Is Social Support?
As we already mentioned, people are social beings. We bond with others by emulating their behavior. This happens subconsciously. However, you can use it to your advantage.
People in your life tend to shape your habits the most. If they have poor nutrition habits you’ll likely share that quality as well. But if you befriend people who lead a healthy lifestyle you’ll pick up on their habits quite fast.
I’m not advocating you should ditch your friends. But be aware of their influence. Is it positive or negative? Don’t forget that social support can be both direct and indirect (unconscious).
#8 Does Negative Motivation Work?
You can bolster your motivation by applying a form of self-imposed peer pressure. It’s called accountability. The goal is to put extra pressure on yourself to achieve your goals.
By posting public updates of your progress you make potential failure a lot more painful. Here are a few examples of how to do this:
- Start your journey with a friend or as part of a group – No one wants to be a loser and be the first one to quit. That strategy may also leverage your competitive nature.
- Announce your goals publicly – You can combine that with regular public updates. This strategy is similar to the previous one. The difference is your updates are not directed at anyone in particular. A good alternative if you start your journey alone.
- Add a cost to your lack of progress – This strategy may take the form of a legal contract or a friendly bet. The idea is that you pay a price for your lack of progress. No need for money to be involved. But you might need to do the dishes on days you skip the gym. Different incentives work for different people.
- Hire a coach – A combination of all 3 previous approaches. You’re accountable to your coach. But you also have a financial incentive. And you don’t want to look like a fool if you paid a lot of money and failed to progress at all.
More on motivation in our article “How to Motivate Yourself to NEVER Miss a Workout?“
#9 How To Never Fail and Build Solid Routines That Last?
Here’s the truth: you will eventually fail. It may take a while or it may take a few months. But you will have bad days. Events outside of your control can easily break your perfect streak.
That’s unavoidable and only a matter of time. But it doesn’t have to discourage you. Make sure you do your best given the circumstances.
What will keep you going is the right attitude. And one of the best ways to cultivate a positive attitude is through daily gratitude. Dedicate a specific time of the day to celebrate your small wins.
Your goal is to focus on the positive. Remind yourself how much you’ve progressed so far. This will make the process far more enjoyable. It will also keep you going when facing tough challenges.
A 1-minute daily gratitude exercise is one of the first habits you should cultivate. It will lay down a solid foundation for the more complex routines to come.
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~Niki, Fitness Mastery Coach