Healthy Habit Building 101

There are 3 parts to a good or bad habit: Cue (what triggers the action), Routine (the action itself), Reward (the positive result because of the action).

You have trained your brain to take a cue (you see a doughnut), anticipate a reward (a sugar high), and make the behavior automatic (nom that donut). 

Compare that to a cue (you see your running shoes), anticipate a reward (a runner’s high), and make the behavior automatic (go for a run!).

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Struggling To Build Healthy Habits
  • We tend to bite off more than we can chew, go too fast too soon, and then get overwhelmed too quickly.
  • We’re conditioned these days to expect and receive instant gratification.
  • We expect to get in shape very quickly, not remembering that it took us decades of unhealthy living to get where we are.
  • We miss a workout because life gets busy.
Your “Big Why”

As you’re determining the habits or resolutions you’re trying to set, make the habit part of a bigger cause that’s worth the struggle.

You’re not just going to the gym, you’re building a new body that you’re not ashamed of so you can start dating again.

Whether you’re breaking a bad habit or starting a new one, begin by recognizing the cue that triggers the habit. Once you recognize or pick the cue, you can start working on fixing the routine (action).
Use Systems

First, stop relying on willpower and motivation. Both are finite and fickle resources that will abandon you when you need them most.

Use systems and outside forces to make the routine even easier to build. 

Make the Reward Momentum Building

Create rewards that reward you back! DON’T reward your routine (running!) with an unhealthy reward (cake!). That’s “one step forward, two steps back.” 

DO reward your routine (running for 5 minutes every day for 30 days straight) with a reward that makes you want to keep running (a snazzy new pair of running shoes).

  1. Find a friend or group of friends to build the habits with you.
  2. Cultivate discipline with consequences: Every time I skip ______________ this month, I will pay $50 to my wife/husband/friend.
  3. Never miss two in a row.
  4. Don't pick the habits you hate. 
  5. Consider combining a habit you dislike with something you LOVE, and you’ll be more likely to build the habit.  Allow yourself an hour of watching Netflix, but ONLY while you’re on the Elliptical.
Ready to Build a Healthy Habit

Do less. Do way less. Keep your goals SMALL and simple. Only build one habit at a time.

Want to start exercising more? For that first week, ONLY go for a walk for just 5 minutes every morning. Literally 5 minutes.

Want to start cooking your own healthy meals? Just aim for one meal per day or one meal per week. Whatever works for you and your schedule.

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A step at a time

Once you have made up your mind about taking on a new habit, you might as well start getting used to it. Just remember that we have, as humans, the tendency to work better without pressure and when taking one step at a time. 

Therefore, start by creating small habits and get used to them and you will see how easy it is to build long-lasting routines that will make your life easier.

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IDEAS

When trying to build new habits, be specific by thinking about ways to measure the evolution of your action: set clear targets that can help you, when the deadline previously decided on approaches, to evaluate your progress.

There’s no magical number...

...of days to form a new habit.

Instead, habits come about gradually over time and in a non-linear fashion.

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