Habits are a secret weapon of weight management. We talk about changing our behaviours, BUT the real magic happens when those behaviours morph into habits.
What's the difference? Habits are automatic. They do not require mental energy to start. They rely on a cue. When I get in the car, I buckle my seatbelt. The cue is getting into the car and the response is buckling the belt. The more we can turn health behaviours into habits, the easier our changes will be to sustain. We want your health behaviours to be as automatic as buckling up your seat belt.
I firmly believe in understanding how things work and sharing that with others. I find that I am far more apt to adopt something if I understand the reason behind it. To that end, habits are built out of a four part loop that include - cue, craving, response, reward. According to the work of Charles Duhigg and Nir Eyal these four parts are what make up every habit. So back to the seatbelt example:
Cue - I get into the car
Craving - I want to feel safe
Response - Put on seatbelt
Reward - I feel safe and more relaxed when driving
This all happens at breakneck speed, but our brains move through each step each time.
When we want to form a new habit, we often need to create a new cue. One recommendation is to make the new habit obvious, and by that I mean make the cue obvious and make the response easy to follow through. Let's use a health related example. I want to establish a walking after dinner habit. So let's make the cue obvious. I leave my untied runners by the dining room door. This reminds me that after we are done clearing the table, we go walking. They are untied so that the follow through is easier.
Another way to set up a habit to be obvious is by linking it to a well established habit. After I brush my teeth, I will stretch for 5 minutes. After I eat my meals, I will track my food.
This week play around with making a new habit obvious and see what happens. If you put a glass by the sink, will that give you a cue to drink more water? If you tie chopping vegetables to unpacking groceries will you begin to automatically pull out a cutting board and knife as the grocery bags come in? Only time and consistency will tell. But when you are able to master a few health habits, you better buckle up because progress will come fast and furious!