It’s all about habits

When it comes to exercise, regular movement and eating well, I’d like you to learn to be excellent at these things and for you to become excellent by making them habits; making them so automatic that eventually you don’t even need to think about doing them. Eventually, it’s sort of like cruising on autopilot, where you don’t have to rely on motivation so much, but instead, you just do your thing.

The easier a habit is to integrate into your life, the more likely it will stick.

So rather than talk about going on the organic Himalayan turkey diet, I recommend having a flexible approach to eating that allows for regular excess.

Willpower is not a significant contributor to habit formation - so many think that weight loss is a matter of willpower, and those who are overweight are just lazy. This is clearly untrue.

The reality is that forming habits that lead to weight loss, and to keeping the weight off, have little to do with the strength of a person’s will. In fact, taking an approach that relies heavily on willpower is a recipe for failure, because it implies that you are struggling to adopt a behaviour that is overly difficult; it’s something that you’d rather not be doing if it requires a lot of willpower.

Instead, it is necessary to look at adopting these behaviours in ways that are so easy that they can become automatic, with minimal willpower required.

The more simple a behaviour is, the easier it is to make into a habit. With the help of a personal trainer you can develop your habits slowly and effectively starting from those which are easy and fun. Weekly checks and chats about your progress will drive your motivation and more habits can be added.

It takes 21-30 days to either make or break a habit. That means starting with a single personal training session may be less beneficial than taking more sessions and continuing for at least one month to make it automatic.

Every time I get in my car, I put on my seatbelt. I don’t have to think about it at all - it’s a habit.

It is so fixed that it would feel very wrong to me not to have my seatbelt on. That is the goal with these new lifestyle habits: to make them so automatic that you don’t have to think about it any more, and even to get to the point that it feels wrong when you don’t do them.

Think how often people find it hard each time they decide to go to the gym to workout or change their lifestyle. The goal is to remove that struggle.

Changing your lifestyle as a whole is far more successful than changing any one thing. Just going low carb won’t do it. And just walking more won’t do it either.

The problem with scheduled behaviour such as “I will take a walk at 7pm” is that it requires monitoring to identify the time to engage in the behaviour. Monitoring makes things much less automatic, and you want your habits to be automatic.

It can be as simple as changing “7pm” to “after dinner”. Doing something after dinner doesn’t require watching a clock.

Be careful that you don’t reward yourself with food. There is recognition that rewards are not necessary for habit formation when a behaviour is intrinsically rewarding. That means it is something that you like doing.

Start your change now, don’t wait for summer. Book a free personal training session (limited availability ) with Michal at Sheraton Fitness. Email [email protected] or call (090 ) 6451020.

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