6 Tips for making good habits for life

For many people, regardless of religious practice, Ash Wednesday heralds the beginning of Lent and a time when we think about giving something up that we believe to be ‘bad’ for us.

40 days and 40 nights, denying ourselves something that we, or society, have demonised, safe in the knowledge that at the end of the 40 days we will be allowed to take up that habit again but this time with a vague feeling of smugness.

But what about instead of giving something up, we take something up? And what about it lasting longer than 40 days, but perhaps the rest of our lives? Create a lasting change in your life.

Could you do this? And what would it be?

Tips for making good habits stick:

1. Start Small
Change is hard and if we set our expectations too high from day one, we will ultimately fail or give up because we are not reaching our goals quickly enough. Big change takes time and requires a tremendous amount of will power. Start small, so that it hardly requires any will power e.g.

  • Instead of starting a whole new diet, add a vegetable to every lunch, or change your breakfast routine every other day.
  • Don’t try to go from zero gym classes a week to five, pick two and build up gradually.
    Make it a habitual behaviour and then the effort can be increased.

2. Get Hooked
When you are properly invested in a project, it’s hard to let it go. A great strategy is to create a visual reminder of the progress you are making and effort you are putting in. Grab a calendar, get a marker pen and every day you complete your goal you can mark the calendar. Within a few days you will have a chain that you won’t want to break. Keep the habit – don’t break the chain!

3. Get Serious
If you want to succeed, get really serious about your new habit – set clear intentions for when and how you are going to complete this new behaviour/habit. Vague intentions such as ‘I’ll try to eat fish three times a week’ won’t make you succeed.

Research has shown that you’re much more likely to follow through if you’ve decided beforehand exactly when and where the behaviour is going to take place. Link your habit to an existing behaviour, for example, “After I leave work, I will go straight to the gym” or “Before I eat breakfast, I will do five pushups”.

Schedule your new behaviour – put it in the calendar and make space for it just like you would other important events. Even set reminders/alarms on your phone to make sure you don’t miss it.

4. Celebrate Small Wins
Rather than beating yourself up for a lapse, celebrate and reward your progress – this is crucial for motivation. If you are trying not to ’Break the chain’ then reward yourself after a set number of days completed.

Whatever the milestone that you reach and no matter how small the reward, you will experience feelings of achievement and pride which in turn spur you on to continue and create bigger successes. Just be sure that you are not rewarding the good behaviour with something bad, for example, don’t reward your new healthier food habits with a cake or a takeaway dinner. (Unless you’ve already built it into a calorie deficit balance)

5. Get Support
Having a good supportive network is vital in enabling us to achieve things that we might fall short on as individuals. How little or how much support you have from family, friends or colleagues is key.

Research has shown that we tend to feel the same way, and adopt the same goals, as the people we spend the most time with, so having the right people around you with a similar goal or outlook will dramatically increase your success.

If your family or friends can’t share your enthusiasm for change it’s time to create a support group who inspires you and will pick you back up when you fail.

6. Be Accountable
We’ve all been there and made a resolution to start a new healthy habit – be it running, swimming, a new gym class etc. You’ve set the alarm clock for 6am and within seconds of it going off you’re already going through reasons why not to go!

  • “I’m really tired.”
  • “Is it even healthy to work out when I’m this tired?”
  • “I could go to the gym after work”
  • “I could go to the gym tomorrow morning instead.”

And that snooze button it pressed quicker than you can say ‘Stop making excuses!’

But then, you remember that you’ve promised a friend to meet at the gym for 7:00 am. Or you’ve made a bet with another friend that you’ll owe them £20 every time you don’t get to the gym before work. Or perhaps you’ve made a declaration on social media or your blog to stick to your workout for 40 days and without that gym selfie “did you even workout?” That snooze button suddenly became much less appealing.

By pre-committing this way, you can add an extra layer of accountability that makes you push through even when it’s hard.

If you want to make health and fitness your good habit, come and speak to one of our expert trainers and we’ll design a plan that you can stick to and make a habit for life, not just for lent!

Call 020 7352 0598 or email bookings@lomaxpt.com

360 YOU Assessment:

If you’re new to fitness or want to take your training to the next level, our 360 YOU Assessment is the best place to start! Whether you’re looking to lose weight, tone up, build strength or simply prepare for a holiday or event, the 360 YOU Assessment is designed to set goals and determine a plan of action to achieve them. During this one hour session, a Lomax Personal Trainer will take you through a workout to assess your fitness levels and create a bespoke plan to get you on track with your training.

Book via the Lomax app, call 020 7352 0598 or email bookings@lomaxpt.com to book your 360 YOU Assessment.

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