By Greg Cornthwaite – Deputy Manager & Personal Trainer at Embody Fitness
The majority of us do it, we either write down or say we are going to start fresh in the new year with a long list of ways to improve our lifestyles:
‘I’m not eating chocolate for three months’
‘I’m going to join a gym and go three to four times per week’
‘I’m going to go to bed at 10pm every night’
‘I’m going to eat healthy this year’
How many of us can actually say they have embedded a long lasting healthy habit that wasn’t just for the first few months? Some people may manage to do it, but certainly not all of us. Some studies have shown that to form a new habit it can take anywhere from 15 to 254 days!
Here are some useful tips to try that can help covert an idea into a habit…
Create cues to help to trigger a new habit
You want to incorporate a new habit but you keep forgetting to do it. E.g. You wanted to start taking a Vitamin D supplement everyday.
Solution: Put it in front of, or next to one of your current morning habits. This could be, next to your toothbrush, in front of the kettle or by your house keys.
Change one thing at a time
Problem: Wanting to change everything at once and in the end changing nothing because there are too many things to focus on.
Solution: Focus on one new habit, once it is embedded, move on to the next one. There is no rush, one new healthy habit in a year is better than none.
Plan the change
Having no plan in place on how you are going to make a change could result in failure.
Solution: Write down a plan of action and the key steps you’re going to take in order to make the change happen. For example: if you want to be in bed at 10pm every night, creating a daily bedtime routine for an hour before you sleep will help set routinely actions.
Below are two examples of actions you could implement before you settle down to sleep:
- Turn off electronic devices that emit blue light such as TVs, mobiles, laptops, iPads etc and dim the lights at the start of the routine. This should trigger melatonin (the sleep hormone).
- Prep your food for the next day, brush your teeth, stretch, do some mobility or yoga, do 3-5 minutes of meditation, set your alarm then get in to bed.
If you keep the routine in the same order, the habit will be formed quicker and will no doubt become more successful. The most important cue here is setting your first step, as this triggers the rest of the routine.
Set a reminder
I keep forgetting to do my bedtime routine and before I know it, it’s 11pm and I’m still endlessly scrolling on social media”
Solution: Set a daily alarm on your phone to go off at the time of when your bedtime routine should start then close any social media apps. Keep the alarm tone the same each time (but different to any other alarm) so your brain knows this sound means it’s time to start the routine.
Choose a habit that will last a lifetime
Setting a period of time to cut something out temporarily, but once the time is up it’s back to square one, and back to an unhealthy habit. Example; giving up fizzy drinks just for a month.
Solution: Choose a habit that is realistic and sustainable. E.g. Be mindful when you are choosing what drink to have with your meals. Replacing it with a healthier option like still, sparkling or mint flavoured water for 1-2 meals per day but still having a fizzy drink occasionally will be far more sustainable than cutting it out all together.
At Embody Fitness we specialise not only in getting rapid results, but we are also very passionate in making long term sustainable changes. We want to help by giving you the tools to be able to make these changes. Some prefer to make many changes at once while others prefer to do it slowly. Whatever route you decide to take we have the know-how and can help to advise you on how to get the results you desire.