January is the time to set impactful goals for the year. Are you ready? Following through on health goals for a full 364 days is hard work. It’s a lot easier to tell yourself that you’ll get started tomorrow and skip the gym. It’s hard to choose between grabbing a pizza or mustering up the energy to cook a healthy meal for yourself after coming home from a long day of work. If you want to create a health plan for yourself it’s important to set goals that will lead to easily adoptable and sustainable habits.
At Total Health and Fitness, we want to help you reach your goals and develop long-term habits that will keep you happy and healthy. Our health fitness programs are easy to implement in your daily routine. Forming healthy, sustainable habits is important which is why we want to offer a selection that you can add to your routine. These small changes can make a world of difference to your health and help you achieve your resolution goals.
How to Build Sustainable Habits
You may be wondering if there is a key to building sustainable habits that are easy to keep. New York Times business writer Charles Duhigg explored the science behind habits in his book The Power of Habit. In an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air, he explained that every habit begins with what is known as a “habit loop.” The habit loop is a psychological pattern that is a three-part process. The steps of the process are:
- The Cue – The process begins with what is known as the cue or trigger. The cue sets the habit into motion, as your brain goes into automatic mode. Habits are triggered by another action, so if you’re looking to start a new habit, pick an activity that you perform regularly. If you’re looking to add more fitness to your daily routine, you can use your commute home from work or your first cup of coffee in the morning to trigger yourself going to the gym every day. Want to drink more water? When your alarm goes off, pour yourself a glass of water to drink or refill your water bottle every time it’s empty.
- The Routine – The second part of the loop is the routine, or the actual behavior or habit itself. It’s important to commit to this new habit so you teach your brain to just automatically do it. This can take some time–up to 66 days according to research– but it’s definitely worth the patience.
- The Reward – The third part of the loop is the reward. This takes place after it is performed and reinforces the habit. Once you’ve completed the task, reward yourself. You can treat yourself to a smoothie, a healthy snack, a nice walk, or anything that would help to positively reinforce this new habit.
Creating habits has been traced to a part of the brain known as the basal ganglia. Neuroscientists have found that this area also plays a key role in the development of memories, pattern recognition, and emotions. As a behavior becomes a habit, the basal ganglia take over making the behavior automatic, putting the decision-making part of your brain to sleep.
Duhigg explained to Fresh Air, “In fact, the brain starts working less and less. The brain can almost completely shut down. … And this is a real advantage because it means you have all of this mental activity you can devote to something else.” He continued, “You can do these complex behaviors without being mentally aware of it at all.”
Easy, Sustainable Habits You Can Adopt
- Eat Breakfast – Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Choosing a nutritious breakfast starts your day off right, and really sets you up to make good food choices for the rest of the day.
- Drink Water – Water is essential. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it helps to increase your energy, increases your metabolism, and is the secret to beautiful skin.
- Get Outside – It can be hard to get outside sometimes, but getting fresh air is great for you. It can help relieve stress, reconnect you to nature, and helps you get into shape.
- Eat Your Veggies – Not only do they taste good, but they’re good for you too! Vegetables are jampacked with vitamins and nutrients that have a lot of health benefits.
- Get Your Body Moving – Whether you workout at home, the gym, or with a personal trainer, getting your body moving is good for you! Exercise is great for both your physical and mental health.
To learn more about how Total Health and Fitness can transform your lifestyle, contact us today.