Lifetonic January 2022
Designing Healthy Habits
Happy 2022 dear friend!
This Lifetonic comprises a combination of both James Clear’s Atomic Habits and BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits, two books on behavioural change that I read last year to support my health coaching certification.
Whilst people tend to traditionally focus on setting lots of BIG Goals for a new year, we’re going to reverse engineer a bit and think about establishing tiny habits that support just a few goals that you might want to work towards this year.
On that note, if you are setting goals, I’d recommend setting no more than 3 – 5 for the year. Anymore than 5 and research indicates that there is a greater likelihood of not meeting them as we become overwhelmed with the changes needed to drive them!
I typically set 1-2 per Quarter and then review these at the end of the Quarter, either dropping, refining or adding a new one all depending on how I am progressing within that first Quarter. Stay flexible with this process – it’s more than fine to change your goals and course correct as you go – no black or white thinking please!
If you’re new to goal setting, start small and think about just setting one goal for the year. As with anything, you want to set yourself up for the best chance of success to really try and ingrain the habits needed to get you there – not leave yourself feeling demotivated and like you’ve failed!
You’re habits are the small, tiny steps that are going to lead you down the path of success to reach your goal! So if you’re goal is a cake, think of your habits as the ingredients to make it! This is normally where most people get stuck – they don’t create the small things that are going to facilitate the big change.
On that note, I’ve created a Goal Guide to help you with all of this! You can use it to note down your high level goal and then use the section ‘tiny steps,’ (habits), to note down the small actions you’ll need to help you reach your goal (your ingredients).
So, for example, say your goal was to complete our 28 day pilates challenge, you’d note this under ‘My Goal,’ tie it to a ‘why’ (you’ll recall I’ve said having a why is a really powerful way to motivate you) and then note down any little steps that are going to help you make it onto the mat for the next 28 days.
Here are some tips to help you think about what those little intentional steps might be…
Stack your habits.
Experts say that the best way to form a new habit is to tie it to an existing habit. So I encourage you to look for patterns in your day and think about how you can use your existing habits to create new, positive ones.
For many of us, our morning routine is our strongest routine, so it’s a great place to stack on a new habit. Your morning coffee, for example, can create a great opportunity to fit in 10 minutes on the mat either before or after it (you can link this to point 5 below….). Similarly, when you are brushing your teeth, you might choose to fit in a couple of pilates squats or stand on one foot to practice balance.
B.J. Fogg, is the author of the book “Tiny Habits,” (the book I mentioned at the beginning of this lifetonic) and a Stanford Behavioural Researcher. He notes that big behavior changes require a high level of motivation that often can’t be sustained, which is often what perpetuates the on and off the wagon approach to fitness.
He suggests starting with tiny habits to make the new habit as easy as possible in the beginning. Taking a daily short walk or doing a 10 minute Bodytonic or for example, could be the beginning of an exercise habit. Or, putting an apple in your bag every day could lead to better eating habits.
In his own life, Dr. Fogg wanted to start a daily push-up habit. He started with just two push-ups a day and, to make the habit stick, tied his push-ups to a daily habit: going to the bathroom. He began by, after a bathroom trip, dropping and doing two push-ups. Now he has a habit of 40 to 80 push-ups a day.
Do it every day.
Habits take a long time to create, but they form faster when you do them more often, so start with something reasonable that is really easy to do. You are more likely to stick with an exercise habit if you do some small exercise — 10 minutes of pilates, one minute of breathe work, a brisk walk — every day, rather than trying to get to the gym three days a week. Once the daily exercise becomes a habit, you can explore adding on to this, including things like intensity.
Make it easy.
Habit researchers know we are more likely to form new habits when we clear away the obstacles that stand in our way. Leaving your pilates mat somewhere you can see it is one example of this as is laying out your workout gear the night before, so as it’s a no brainer just to slip into it in the morning. Choosing an exercise that doesn’t require you to leave the house — is another way to form an easy exercise habit. Hello Lifetonic Club!
Remember the coffee stacking example in point one? Rewards are an important part of habit formation. When we brush our teeth, the reward is immediate — a minty fresh mouth. But some rewards — like weight loss or the reduction in back pain from doing pilates — take longer to show up. That’s why it helps to build in some immediate rewards to help you form the habit. Rewarding yourself with your morning cup of coffee straight after your pilates routine can help reinforce your new habit and keep you motivated.
That’s it! Your Goal Guide also includes a Habit Tracker that will help you to monitor your progress. If you’ve been in The Lifetonic Club for a while, you’ll know that we love to tick off our progress because it’s a great way to visually see the progress we’re making, which in turn can help to keep us motivated and inspired.
Here’s to a year filled with tiny habits that support us in becoming the healthiest version of ourselves.
See you on the mat for our 28 Days of Pilates Challenge.
Love Julie x
P.S. Join me for our January Q&A this month, where I’ll talk you through how to complete your very own Goal Guide! You can sign up to join the call but following this link which will also send you a reminder closer to the time of the call.