A lot of your weight loss success is dependent on your habits, so today we’re going to discuss a “trick” called habit stacking that makes it easy to add healthy lifestyle changes.
Choose The Right Habits
Your habits have a lot to do with your results. If you habitually snack on cookies and chips, if you habitually drink only two glasses of water a day, but also habitually have a soda with every meal, I hope you don’t think you’re going to lose weight…
You will not! So, if you are somebody who is looking to lose some extra pounds, habit change is a great place to start. We have habits that undermine our goals, but we can also choose habits that support them.
You might not have thought about it, but if you stick with an unhealthy habit for too long, it can do your health a lot of harm. Another thing to be aware of is that if you are already making efforts to lose weight, but keep some of your unhealthy habits like smoking too much, or not getting enough sleep, you are less likely to be successful in your weight loss journey.
Habit Change: Starting Small
When we talk about changing habits to become healthier, we do not always mean that you have to go to extreme measures. Simple steps like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or drinking a glass of water before every meal can also be helpful. The idea is that whatever you do, even if it is something really small, can be helpful (just like a “small” bad habit can be harmful) if you stick to it consistently.
The Power Of Habit Stacking
And this is where habit stacking comes in.
Habit stacking is a great way to fix your unhealthy habits and build in healthy lifestyle change. In habit stacking, what you do is develop a routine which involves several healthy steps that take a small amount of time to complete. These steps are in a check-list form and you must do one before you can move on to the other. You choose to repeat the healthy habits/steps from that checklist on a daily basis.
The trick is to add only one new habit at a time, and tie it to a habit you already have. The new habit can come just before, or just after something you already do. Then, when that new habit is established, add another healthy habit to the “stack”.
Before you know it, you will have your unhealthy habits replaced by healthier ones.
An Example Of Habit Stacking A Healthy Start To Your Day
Here is an example to make things clearer:
The first item on your checklist could be attempting to wake up earlier in the morning so you can get a head start with things. You already have a habit of setting your alarm, so you set it to go off twenty minutes earlier. That’s your first new habit. You can stop there and take a few days to adjust to it, if you need to.
Once you adjust to that new habit, you add the habit of immediately drinking a large glass of lukewarm water with some lemon squeezed in it. This is a great way to improve your hydration and balance your body’s PH levels, and lemon water has other health benefits too. You may want to drink through a straw, as lemon can be hard on tooth enamel.
Now your habit stack is three deep… not just waking up at your alarm, first setting it to go off earlier, and drinking lemon water first thing after waking.
Once you adjust to those new habits, you could add a 5-minute mindfulness meditation, incorporating deep breathing. From helping you lose weight to reducing back pain, breathing exercises have a lot to offer. The oxygen that we breathe helps break down fat molecules.
Now your habit stack is four deep… but there’s room for more, as you’re still less than 10 minutes into your day. In fact, you’re still ahead by more than 10 minutes, since you got up earlier.
Your next new habit could be doing pushups. Be sure to keep your elbows near your body and your back straight. You don’t have to do many – keep it to five or so at first. Your new habit should be easy to accomplish, not daunting.
Another morning habit could be reading some affirmation quotes or writing in a gratitude journal, to help start the day on the right positive note. Once that habit is in place, adding in a healthier protein-based breakfast could be next.
How Does Our Habit Stack Look?
- Set alarm 20 minutes earlier than previously
- Wake up to alarm (our original habit that we tied the “stack” to)
- Drink a large glass of lukewarm lemon water
- 5 minute mindfulness meditation with deep breathing
- A few pushups
- Reading affirmation quotes or writing in gratitude journal
- Eating a healthy, protein-based breakfast
This is an easy habit stacking routine which takes less than the 20 minutes you already added to your day to complete. Do it every day, and this habit stack will become a part of your daily life. Then, if you choose, you can add more healthy habits to the checklist, or attach them to another habit.
For more information about habit stacking, read the book “Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes Or Less” by S.J. Scott.