Friday, June 29, 2012

5 Top Tips for Creating New Health Habits

By Jonathan Pittam

create new health habits

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of January? Cold, naff weather, overspending in the sales, minimal daylight? Maybe none of these, but for me it's mass failure! I'll tell you the reason why... the good old new years resolution, of which a massive percentage fail to see the ground sludge of February!

This is the main time when we proudly lay down whopping lists of all of the massive changes we're gonna make because this is the year for us. Whether it be plans to start eating less, exercising more, walking the kids to school, to drinking less rose during sex and the city, these plans are rarely modest in their ambitions.

So what this post aims to help you with is how to make it easier to actually follow through on any beneficial new habits you would like to introduce into your life.

So here are 6 top tips to ensure (or at least drastically increase) your chances of success.

1. Make sure it's something you actually want to do

Let's face it, if you love to eat mars bars and the only reason you're trying to give them up is because of a nagging partner, this reason probably won't last the February sludge test of time. Who knows you may even end up binning it before that years edition of the TV times.

So choose something that deep down you want to achieve because you know it will make you feel good and will improve your life. If the thought of this new habit excites you then it's quite likely you'll stick at it. If the mere thought of it annoys you (e.g: doing your husbands ironing every sunday) then chances are it won't.

2. Start off small

The biggest plans for change can often result in the biggest failures. This may often be attributed to the fact that as with anything from a new pair of shoes to a new car, your enthusiasm levels rapidly drop off over time.

what I am suggesting is trying a slightly reduced version of the new habit first. What this will do is give you confidence that you are pretty awesome at taking on new habits and with this confidence you will be more likely to stick at your actual habit.

Let's say you want to start running 5k every Sunday, why not start by running 2k every Sunday for a month, then 3k the following month and so on. Think of it like jumping off gradually higher bungees. The chances of filling your pants are drastically reduced this way.

3. Write it down

Due to our often hectic lifestyles we often forget to do certain things, and anything that is out of our routine may be easiest to brush aside.

Writing it down has two benefits; the first being that it makes it more concrete, as opposed to being a few energy currents inside your head. The second refers to what Napoleon Hill referred to in his seminal work The Laws of Success as auto-suggestion. This is where something is constantly kept within your thoughts until over time it basically sticks there and becomes a part of your thinking. He would have described it much more eloquently but I'm sure you get the gist. So write it in big letters on your kitchen noticeboard so you see it throughout each day as you're going about your business.

4. Make it public

We all know that it's human nature to want to avoid looking stupid in front of others! Probably the main reason why most people would politely decline if asked to go on big brother, or why people stopped wearing bumbags after 1990, so yes the idea of public humiliation is quite a strong deterrent from straying for most people.

This can be used in a powerful way for our habit-forming purposes in as much as once you have set out your best laid plans you can then go and tell some people exactly what you are going to do (or not do)

Now once you have made this pledge, you will feel compelled to stick to it no matter how strong the urge becomes to get open another bottle of rose or unwrap that dairy milk bar as the consequences will be public humiliation by your friends or whoever you decided to tell.

So basically if its something you really want to achieve, go out on a limb and tell a load of people what you're trying to do.

5. Apply the 21 day method

Now whilst being far from holding up to scientific research, the 21 day method is a good number to throw up to get you started. The idea behind it is that each time you perform a new activity new neural pathways are created in your brain.

The more you perform the activity the stronger those pathways become, which is why when trying to eliminate negative habits it is often useful to try and replace them with a more constructive one. For example going for a walk every time you crave junk food.

Each time you perform the new habit in place of the old one the new one strengthens and the old one weakens. Think of it like treading grass in a field, over time your path becomes very clear, but if you stop walking it it will eventually grow over.

Obviously there are some seriously negative habits that probably are outside of the remit of this post but for every-day stuff this method is very effective.

So there you have it, 6 top tips for starting and sticking to any new habits. If you get good with this system just think how envious all of your contemporaries will be when you're making changes easily all year around, not just whilst drunk at the office Christmas party.

For more help with your weight loss goals visit us at

Jonathan Pittam

Trainer & Fat Loss Expert