Carrying on from Part 1, let us look at some more points which will tell you why we are such strong advocates of habit formation and habits in general.
Why Habit Prepares You for Long Term Success
We know that habits are extremely powerful especially in the long run. But allow us to tell you why it is so!
Good habits increase productivity and reduce stress
Good habit building makes you more productive and reduces stress since habit formation is about doing things almost automatically.
For instance, imagine waking up at time without hitting the snooze button.
People who have regular sleeping patterns need not even set an alarm! We know such people from our experiences who took habit formation seriously and have achieved true fitness and health along with considerable weight loss.
Think of how much you can do with the extra time that you can save without snoozing.
15 minutes a day… almost 2 hours a week… 7-8 hours a month!
Habit/behaviour formation is all about removing the necessary roadblocks that will allow you to move toward your desired outcome slowly with minimal effort on your end.
This is not to be confused with trying to learn a new skill. This is where I think most people get confused when trying to build habits/behaviors.
They mistakenly think that building the habit portion is doing the actual work.
The habit portion is design to get you to do the activity/behavior you need to do in order to get the desired outcome.
You must decide to do the habit first and worry about becoming an expert later.
“REPETITION IS MASTERY”
Waking up early will also reduce the stress most people feel in the morning when they wake up late and are doing everything in a rush in order not to be late for work.
If you wake up early, you do things easily without a rush and are likely to get to work on time. This gives you time to plan your day or go for that quick morning walk!
However, if you are used to waking up late, you hurriedly prepare to get to work and in most cases, you are late.
The stress of being late and having a lot to do can overwhelm you and this sets a bad tone for your day, which negatively affects your productivity.
This little example here details why doing things as habits frees up time to get more done.
A word of caution here – forming habits/behaviors for the sake of forming habits/behaviors will get you nowhere.
We would rather focus on things that you are trying to achieve in your life and let those be the guiding light for the habits/behaviors that you need to change.
Good habits provide more brain energy for other important tasks
Most people who have not taken the time to build good habits use up a lot of their brain power on mundane things.
Let’s look at the same example that we saw in the last point. If you do not have the habit of waking up at a certain time and are always hitting the snooze button.
You waste a lot of time and brainpower thinking whether you should wake up or continue sleeping.
This might sound silly. But we have limited brain power like we have limited physical power. Everyone has different capacities but they are all limited.
Decision fatigue happens to all of us. Don’t you start tiring at around 4 PM or 5 PM?
It is because you are reaching the end of your brain power! (Even physical power for some.)
What we have observed is that trying to accomplish a lot of things all at once will get you to decision fatigue faster in day.
When you were learning to drive, you were thinking a lot. About the brakes, gears and accelerators!
But once you became used to driving, there was not a lot of thinking involved. Now you drive almost naturally!
This is why we tell people to form habits since they do not require thinking. You can use the saved energy on other important things like work, family, and thinking about other important things.
By building good habits, you ensure you don’t waste your brain power on small but critical tasks and even by the end of the day, your brain is still strong and capable of making important decisions.
So take the plunge, concentrate on forming habits that will make you fit and boost weight loss.
It is a big one time investment and totally worth it!
How to Build Good Habits
It is a Step-By-Step Process
You need to not just live with fact this but embrace it as well.
Building good habits is a process which not only takes time but sometimes results in failures.
If you think it will take 2 days to form the good habit of exercising and 2 weeks of exercising to lose 5 kilos, you couldn’t be any more wrong!
Below are some steps you can take to form a new habit/behavior:
Step 1: Decide on the habits/behaviors you want to build. Having too many to focus on will inevitably create a situation in which you think you are moving forward but you are just setting yourself up for failure.
Step 2: Take small steps; for instance, if you want to wake up early, start by waking up 10 minutes earlier than usual for a week then 20 the next week, 30… until you start waking up at the time you want to out of habit.
Step 3: Create some accountability for your habit.
We would like you to focus on getting the habit done as often as you can. What we are trying to do is create the path of least resistance here.
Does not take 21/28/30 days!
You may have heard of or seen articles or self-help books saying they will help you adopt a habit within 21, 28, or 30 days.
The University College London (UCL) did an extensive research study that confirmed that 30 days is not enough time to develop complicated habits.
Some habits take a lot more time to form and are usually extremely dependent on the person and the habit itself.
Some behaviors are more suited to formation of habits – the habit strength for simple behaviors like drinking a cup of tea are bound to peak faster than other more complex behaviors like performing sixty sit-ups every morning.
With this in mind, understanding that complex habits take more time to develop than simple ones, being able to do the habit consistently is what will help you build the habit faster.
What we mean by consistently is not the same as doing every single day. Most people will miss a day here or there.
That is okay. What we want to accomplish shouldn’t be that easy.
Setting a schedule for yourself to develop the habit always seems like a good idea but then you would need to develop the habit of reviewing your schedule if it is not part of your habits already.
Once you know the step-by-step process and that a habit can take longer than the ‘alleged’ 21 days or 30 days, the next step is now to determine the particular habits you wish to change.
Decide On Which Habits You Want To Build & Prioritize
One thing is clear – We all have only 24 hours in a day and there is only so much we can do!
What you do in your 24 hours day in and day out determines how successful you will be.
So your good habits must be targeted towards a goal, a target.
For example, you may want to start by building a habit of fixing sleeping and waking times.
People with haphazard sleeping patterns find it difficult to not only lose weight but also to stay disciplined and do tasks on time.
You must sleep properly to stay in proper health and, of course, to lose weight.
Let’s say your habit of watching TV after dinner is the culprit for your bad sleeping time.
So you should stop watching TV late into the night and go to bed early!
You will not only get in the habit of sleeping and waking up at almost the same time everyday but also find yourself more energised and enthusiastic every day.
So we would stress more on prioritizing. Prioritize habits that will help you lose weight and never skip them.
Give up bad habits and take up good habits.
How Habit Building Begins
As you start developing good habits, here is what you should expect:
Expect Little Progress in the Beginning
Accept this as the ultimate truth if you wish to stick to your habits and do yourself any good!
The beginning is the toughest!
This is largely because there will very little progress in the beginning. (In a lot of cases, it might not even be visible!)
More often than not, your weight loss journey is going to read ‘Work in Progress!’
But you just need to trust your habits. Ask any person who has lost weight (and not gained it back!) – He/she can testify to two things about weight loss –
- It is a slow process (almost every time)
- It is extremely tough during the beginning (8 out of 10 people quit because weight loss is not immediate!)
However, there are other effects that should keep you going.
For example, eating healthy foods will make you feel clean from inside. You will acknowledge the fact that eating right will always be more important than eating less.
Or the fact that you are following good habits boosts your confidence and improves your mindset which is important and can quicken your weight loss process.
But if you expect to lose 5 kilos within a week of healthy eating, you’ll be meet sheer disappointment.
Hence, do not expect much for the first couple of weeks or so. After the 15 day-mark you might start noticing small changes.
Patience is the key!
Accept the Small Benefits
Like we discussed in the last article, small habits make big differences in the long run. In the short run, however, there may or may not be noticeable differences.
For example, if you have been exercising for the last 5 days you should not expect to lose 5 kilos. What could be expected is a slightly more energy in you, a slightly improved flexibility and a slightly improved endurance.
Many people see no difference in their weight whatsoever and simply quit exercising after the initial few days. (This may or may not happen with you, but you have to prepare for everything!)
Perform your habits religiously and they will reward you handsomely, but not immediately; it will take some time.
Many people ask us – Kitna Time Lagega??
This is not a wrong question, but a question which doesn’t have correct answers.
How much time will you take to reach your weight and fitness goals simply cannot be calculated!
It depends on a lot of factors – your present condition, your body (which is different from everyone else’s), your sincerity etc.
So, stick to your habits and you will be rewarded in due time.
There Will Be Setbacks
As you try to form a new habit, accept there will be setbacks; the fewer setbacks there are, the faster the habit will stick.
Say, you have begun building a habit of exercising. You exercise four days in a row and feel great about it.
However, for whatever reason, you struggle to get to the gym and break the chain there.
You are likely to be very reluctant to start the habit once again due to the disappointment of not making it to the gym on the 5th day.
Such things happen during the process of adopting any habit.
What you should not do, however, is lose hope; understand that you cannot create a habit flawlessly – you will make mistakes and you will have to learn to pick yourself up and keep moving if you are to build a particular habit.
The key here is to not lose heart and continue to develop the habit.
In summary, we want to reiterate the following:
✔ Building good habits makes you more successful because it makes you more productive.
✔ You first must identify your bad habits.
Bad habits do the following:
- Delay the beginning of your weight loss journey
- Take you further away from the outcome you want
- Negatively influence your physical and financial health
- Decrease your ability to think clearly, since they only serve as a distraction tool
You also need to appreciate why building good habits increases your success in the long term. The main reasons include:
- Good habit building is all about doing things that increase productivity and reduce stress on autopilot
- Creating good habits allows your brain to have more processing power for tasks that actually need the brainpower
- Good habit building does not drain your ability to make critical decisions late in the day
- The brain’s innate wiring gears towards doing things repeatedly and therefore, habit building decreases stress
- Building habits is about setting yourself for success. This means putting you on the path of least opposition regardless of how difficult the task seems
After appreciating why good habits make you successful, you need to know exactly how to build these habits which is what this blog post was about.
So if we have managed to convey (which we are sure we have!) to you why good habits and habit formation are critical in any weight loss journey, you should have a look at our Lean Queen Program which is not only aimed at weight loss but also all-round health and fitness.