Small habits may become bigger habits!
A few years ago I listened to Chatterjee podcast with BJ Fog, a behavioural scientist, called ‘The Secret to making new habits stick’. I then bought his book ‘Tiny Habits’.
I’m telling you this as the one thing I took note of and thought I would try – was dental flossing! Who doesn’t find doing the teeth a bit of a drag – a necessity, but a drag at the end of the evening?
Though my dentist had said I should floss, everyone should floss, for gum health, but I maybe did it 2x a year. It was even more of a faff than brushing teeth.
However, I loved BJ Fogg’s suggestion on the podcast – literally just do between 2 teeth a night. It may take a week to get through all the teeth, but at least they were now being done. I did this, but I think our natural instinct is, well I’m doing it now so I may as well carry on and do more.
Try it and see what you end up doing!! I ended up doing the top teeth on 1 night and the bottom teeth the next night. That is how I started. Then before I knew it I was just doing the whole mouth.
A few years on and guess what – I am still flossing every night (well almost every night).
What I am trying to show you here is, by not going full on out there straight away and trying to introduce something new. If you go full on into something new – 2 months down the line, will you still be doing it? Probably not – just like new year resolutions.
However, when we introduce something that is can be fitted into your day – maybe 5 minutes here or there, or start with a short version of what you are trying to do, the habit will probably last a lot longer. Also, you may find that what you started doing has naturally progressed and you may find you are actually doing more of it now, as it has become a habit.
Basically, LITTLE is a lot better than nothing.
Habits & lifestyle
We all know there are things that we should be doing as we know they are healthy for us. Often healthy habits are a bit less exciting – like doing the teeth & flossing, so we either do them sporadically or just don’t do them.
What I am suggesting to you, is to think about WHAT you really need to do for your body/mind, that you aren’t doing but have been told you should be or just know you would benefit from?
Just choose ONE thing. Don’t start making a long list or there goes the ease of starting a habit – you are starting off by putting too much on yourself. So choose ONE thing you want to do more of or less of.
I’ll give you some examples below:
You ache or are very stiff all the time
If this is you and you need to do something about it, then lets see how you can help yourself here without making it a massive task.
- When you get up in the morning, start with what I call the Rag doll. Twist around & let your arms flop around your body as you twist. Move from the hips and the feet so the ankles move too. Do this for 20 seconds.
- Or if you have a job where you are at your computer a lot – at home or at work. When you can – ie when not in a meeting or got someone looking at you on a screen. GET UP & start moving/shaking out your arms & shoulders. When on computers we often get stuck in the pecs and the front & upper back muscles. So you want 20 seconds to just move the upper back/shoulders & pecs. If you make a point of putting the phone down, closing the meeting or whatever you do when it is over – GET UP then & gently move the upper body. Build the habit – it is just 20 sec. You may need a trigger to remind you – put a sticky on your screen to remind you.
- Standing in a queue or waiting for the kettle to boil – perfect time to shake out/roll out the shoulders. OR maybe you need to improve your balance – stand on one leg, do some deep breaths or think about your posture.
- Just MOVE.
- All of the examples for stiffness above are literally 20 seconds. You DO NOT need to go and do a 5 or 10 minute yoga or stretch class. You CAN fit in a 20 seconds movement here and there. Before you know it, you will have done 5 – 10 minutes of mobilisers/movement in your day.
You want to start an exercise class/routine/join a gym
When I 1st became a PT I worked at a little gym. So often, the gym would be heaving at the beginning of the year and then maybe in September ( often a new time for a ‘push’ ). I would see the same people sign up for 2 or 3 classes a week or come in 3 or 4 times a week.
Guess what – after a few months I didn’t see most of those people again or maybe sporadically they came in.
Obviously, they just over pushed themselves, gave themselves too big an ‘ask’ to get to the gym 3 or 4x in a week. When before that they hadn’t been in much or done much exercise. They had great intensions BUT they had made their goals too demanding – they saw the gym as an hour of their time each time they came – time to get there, time to do a class or workout, time to shower, time to get home.
Or they over did it, their immune system went – urghhh, too much too soon. They then picked up the cold bugs & couldnt get back into their routines again.
Is this you??
What can you do if this is typically what you do?
1st thing – decide what you want to do – start running? If so just start with the Couch 2 5k. Or maybe you want to start netball or a fitness class or core class. So find the class but check when it is on & HOW long and whether you can realistically get to it.
- SESSIONS – start with ONE or maybe TWO sessions in the week.
- Check your diary for the week ahead and see WHEN you can actually fit the 2 sessions in.
- TIME – now be totally realistic. How much time do you have and can you give to your exercise? Honestly – START with a short session. Take account of the time to get to & from your session. Just 15 minutes of exercise at the start is fine, you are wanting to build a habit that can fit into your lifestyle.
- Don’t ignore the mobilising/stretching/warm ups/cool downs – or include them in your session time. As we age, they are as important as pushing it hard. So too is the rest & recovery days.
- Try to space your sessions out, especially at the start. Sometimes you may only be able to do 2 days in a row, but if possible spread them out more so your body has time to recover – that is often when it is building more strength.
- If you have a friend who wants to do the session with you – great. However, make sure you aren’t totally dependent on her/him. If they keep cancelling or don’t want to go – it may mean you then can’t be bothered to go either. So just plan to exercise with them BUT know that you WILL do the session, even if they can’t make it last minute.
I hope the above just gives you a little idea on how to realistically start a habit that will last. The biggest thing I can honestly say is START SMALL & SOMETHING IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN NOTHING.
If you want more ideas on this I always write something about new year or new starts in my January and September blogs. Here is one on goal setting