What are your habits?
Do you eat the same thing for lunch, go through the same exercise routine, and fall into bed at the same time each night?
Or maybe you’ve made a habit out of eating whatever looks good, avoiding the gym, and staying up as late as possible.
John Dryden famously said, “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”
Confucius said, “Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.”
And Aristotle noticed that, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
It’s pretty clear that the habits you adopt will shape who you are.
When it comes to your body, the two habits that define your physique are your eating and exercise habits. In fact, everyone that you know who is in great shape has dialed in these two important habits.
If you aren’t happy with your body, then simply adjust your eating and exercise habits. Here’s how to adopt a habit:
Making a Habit
Use these seven steps to create a life-improving habit.
1) Decide on the ONE habit that you would like to develop. It’s tempting to pick up 3 or 4 healthy habits, but choosing just one new habit is realistic and doable.
Here are some healthy habit ideas:
- Do not eat after 7pm each night.
- Bring your lunch to work instead of eating fast food.
- Exercise 4 times a week after work for 45 minutes each time.
- Only eat fruits and veggies as your afternoon snack.
- Get up early and exercise for an hour each morning.
- Work with a personal trainer 3 times a week.
2) Write your new habit down on paper. Also include your 3 main motivators for developing this new habit, the obstacles you’ll face, and your strategies for overcoming these obstacles.
Here’s an example:
- My new habit is to work with a personal trainer 3 times each week.
- My 3 main motivators are 1) to feel confident in my bathing suit this summer, 2) to have more energy, and 3) to fit into my skinny jeans.
- The obstacles I will face are 1) not having the energy to go to my session after work, 2) not having enough money to pay for sessions, and 3) not having my spouse’s support.
- I will overcome these obstacles by 1) doing my workouts before work instead of after work, so I have more energy, 2) cutting down on frivolous spending to ensure that I can afford it, and 3) asking my spouse to join me so we can get in shape together.
3) Commit fully to your new habit, in a public way. This could mean posting it on facebook, or simply announcing it at the dinner table. Put yourself in a position where you’ll be embarrassed to give up on your new habit.
4) Keep track of your progress. You could keep a detailed journal or simply make a check mark on each calendar day that you successfully exercise your new habit.
5) Keep yourself publically accountable. This means either status updates on facebook or verbal status updates at the dinner table. Your friends and family are in a position to offer you support, so don’t shy away from those close to you.
6) When you fail, figure out what went wrong so that you can plan around it in the future.
7) Reward yourself for your success.
Once your new habit becomes second nature, usually in about 30 days, feel free to add a second habit by going through the same 7 steps.