March 17

Building a habit streak

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Today I am writing about the importance of building a streak of success. When you’re building new habits, it can be quite difficult to remember them. Overall, you know to remember what you’re actually trying to do on a day to day basis. But it can be hard to maintain motivation, maintain your actions, without having some kind of sense of reward. James Clear talks about this in Atomic Habits where he talks about having some kind of reward for your habits, a sense of reward, making new habits rewarding in some way or another. Because we’re talking about losing weight, we’re talking about health and fitness, this reward probably should not be food based or drink based like ‘oh cool I’ve been good this week so I’m going to reward myself with x food or drink’.  This is what a lot of slimming clubs and similar can recommend but you can get yourself into the habit of having a cheat meal on weigh-in day.  Or you say  to yourself that you have been good this week ‘so I deserve to have muffins or a cookie or a pizza on Friday’ or whatever.

 

We shouldn’t be rewarding our streaks, our successful habits with food, but there should be some sense of reward with us building new habits and sticking to the things that we’ve said we will do. This could be putting money away in a bank account for a holiday or for something later on. Whether you say, ‘okay I’ve done X amount of steps this week so I’m going to treat myself to a new pair of trainers, or a raincoat because we live in Britain and the weather is always crap’. A way that I like to reinforce good behaviours, with myself and with my clients is to physically have a tick/cross box, and you can have this on your calendar. you could have this on a piece of paper that you carry with you or a notebook or a journal that you have with you. If you take a training journal to the gym for example this can work really well to have a habit section. I know that James Clear sells a habit journal, although I haven’t used it myself I’m pretty sure it would be quite similar in the way of ticking things off that you are planning to do.

 

So what my advice would be is having some kind of physical thing that you can tick boxes on. What this does is gives you something to do, once and for all, it reminds you of the habit that you’re doing. If this is on your kitchen fridge or a kitchen cabinet or kitchen noticeboard something that you see very, very regularly to remind yourself of it so much the better. At the end of the day, you can go and provide a tick, or a cross on the habit or habits that you are trying to achieve that day. So let’s say that you’re trying to do 10,000 steps a day, you would simply go up at the end of the day, check your Activity Monitor, and then provide a tick, or a cross on that habit wall, and your goal is to build a successful streak of habits. I am learning French at the moment, through an app called Duolingo. Some of you may know of it, many of you probably know of it. And I think I’m on a 180 day streak or something ridiculous like that. So you know that every morning I’m going to take at least two minutes to do at least one French lesson because I don’t want to break my streak, because of how long it is, if you have the same mindset regarding your fitness habits, then you want to keep the streak alive. You’re going to find yourself doing things that you didn’t think possible. But remember, when you start new habits, keep them small, keep them easy to give yourself the best chance of success possible, then therefore you are more likely to get a green tick, rather than a red X on that habit at the end of each day.


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