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Flex Your Habit Muscle in 5 Simple Steps

By Abra Pappa for NutritiousAmerica.com

For great abs you do sit-ups and for stronger legs you do lunges, but when you are looking to adapt a habit like consistent healthy eating you snap your fingers and hope everything will change over night. Sure change can temporarily occur when you are on a short term “diet”, but what about when the diet is over? Are you sticking to those healthy eating habits? Or do you go right back to your “old, unhealthy” habits?

One of the biggest obstacles in weight loss is creating life-long, sustainable healthy eating practices. So let’s exercise those habit muscles, medically called habitious muscularous healthivious (just kidding), so you can get in the healthy groove without having to execute brute force or willpower. It’s as simple as 1-2-3-4-5. In the same way you squat to get the best butt in town you can follow these five simple steps to exercise the habit muscle and create sustainable healthy habits.

5 easy steps to flex your habit muscles:

1. Pick ONE habit that you would like to change. Just ONE. We often have a tendency to want everything to change overnight… stop eating fast food, fried food, and sugar, exercise every day, wake up at 5 am, etc. etc. This is unrealistic. Sure, short term you may be able to stick to some of those goals, but certainly not long term. So in order to work the habit muscle choose one healthy habit to start with.

2. SIMPLE. This is an exercise, remember, so let’s start with something simple to work that habit muscle. Drinking more water, flossing your teeth, making your bed, staying off Facebook. One simple habit to work the muscle, then we can move on to some more challenging habits.

3. SHOUT it from the rooftops. Don’t just write down your habit, but tell everyone you know about your new habit. Hold yourself accountable to others, encourage them to check up on you, it is the best reminder to keep the habit going. Sure it may sound silly to say, “Hey coworker will you ask me if I made my bed today?” but it’s exactly this kind of accountability that can help keep you on task

4. COMMIT to 30 days. There is conflicting data about how long it takes to form a healthy habit some experts say 21 days, some say 30 days, some say 66 days; I say commit to doing something everyday for 30 days and you are in good shape. With that said, if you do squats every day for 30 days you may have a firmer behind, but if you stop exercising completely for the next 6 months you will very quickly lose that muscle tone, so best strategy is to commit to 30 days AND set the intention to continue the habit once the 30 days is up.

5. Form a TRIGGER. A trigger is a ritual that you engage in directly before your “habit.” It’s something that you can link to your new habit. Maybe you begin making your bed as soon as your alarm goes off, or, every time your phone alerts you of a message it’s your new trigger to drink a sip of water, or putting toothpaste on your toothbrush is the trigger to floss your teeth. Linking the new habit to something you already do or a cue that already exists in your life will help to make the new habit stick.

Remember this is an experiment, looking at it as such helps to take the perfection pressure off. See what happens in 30 days, be a scientist. Observe. Collect data. Remember, experiments can’t fail, they just produce different results.

November 2nd, 2011

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