I am currently reading a book a week on various areas within health and Fitness results. This may range from behaviour change to binge eating or stress reduction to body image. I will try and write some more reviews of the best one I have read in due course. Maybe my favourite book of the year I picked up last month; Atomic Habits by James Clear, It is the most complete work I have read on how to create a new habit or break a bad one.
The book builds off other habit books such as The Talent Code which suggest your focus on great results should be drilled down to performing tiny actions daily or a few times per week for month after month. The cumulative results of this is a sensational compounding effect of daily actions and therefore amazing results. James writes about the 4 laws of habit creations –
Law 1 – Make It Obvious – Often when starting a habit we will forget about doing it simply because we weren’t thinking about it. So to avoid this look to make the cues to do the behaviour very obvious. This can be aided by planning when to do the new behaviour and ideally linking it to a behaviour you already do, e.g. after I brush my teeth I will plan out my meals for the day (See the 3 meal rule>> )
Law 2 – Make It Attractive – You need to have some appeal in doing the new behaviour, especially if you do not already love the action. To do this you could pair it with a fun activity immediately after or hang around people who do your behaviour as a natural part of their lifestyle. e.g. before I have a dinner I will plan out tomorrows eating.
Law 3 – Make It Easy – The initial stage of habit formation is about just getting it done regularly. To do this the task must be as simple as possible. Most new habits should be just 1-2 minutes to begin with, e.g. I will plan as much as I can of my next 3 meals in 60 seconds.
Law 4 – Make it Satisfying – There needs to be an immediate feeling of reward on doing your new behaviour. This can be by doing something after you have done it or using a tick chart box which gives that satisfying feeling upon doing an action, e.g. after I have planned my 3 meals I will fill in the tick chart then relax to watch my favourite Netflix show.
The opposite rules to this apply for breaking a bad habit. Look to make the cues hidden, make the behaviour more unattractive and hard to do. Finally make it unsatisfying if you do follow through on the bad behaviour
Habits & Fitness Results
The reason this topic comes up is because this is the foundation of the results you have achieved so far. The level of health and fitness you achieve is directly linked to the work put in, be this exercise sessions or amount of food eaten etc. While everyone focuses on the knowledge of how to do this via which plan is best type debates the reality is that it is what behaviours you do day in day out that determines results. This comes back to the habits that are the core foundation of how you act daily.
Habits are the adaption by our body to make regular tasks require less mental effort. This allowed us to be on the look out for dangers in our environment which was of the utmost importance back in our more primitive days. The problem is that you rarely choose to form your habits and they more have just happened to you. Using the framework by the laws outlined in the book you can consciously create a new behaviour patterns to support your body effortlessly. There is a lot more in the book than I have outlined here so I would suggest you get a copy.
Photo – Atomic Habits Book
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Watch me being interviewed on the BBC 1 Breakfast show discussing milk and the plans to stop milk for under 5 years old’s.