If we want to take care of our body and our health and be happy, adopting healthy habits is a key piece for our goal to be successful. Discover how you can develop new healthy habits for your body and effectively change the harmful habits you already have.
Adopt healthy habits and share them with our online community. It doesn’t matter what it is or what your individual goals are; We help you get it and bring you all the advice and inspiration you need to find your way to a healthy lifestyle.
It’s 5:30 in the morning. The alarm sounds. Radiating motivation, you jump out of bed and start training. Afterward, it’s time for your well-deserved green smoothie before starting your super-productive day full of energy. After enjoying a dinner loaded with protein and fresh vegetables, and doing a short meditation session, you go to sleep for 8 hours and do not wake up once during the whole night.
Okay, maybe this story is a bit ambitious. But getting even a couple of these healthy habits can’t be that hard, right? Of course not! The truth is that changing bad habits requires a lot of willpower, but if you really want to do it, we promise you that you will succeed. Really.
Before you dive into this project, take a deep breath and think carefully about how you are going to carry it out. The key to adopting healthy habits and getting them to stay with you for a long time is being able to see the value they have for your life, your body, and your health. To do this, you first have to understand how they can be adopted and how they work. Are you ready? Let’s start!
What is a habit?
Habits are customs or practices that are acquired after repeating them frequently and that become automatic; they develop according to the situation of each person and have their origin in external situations.
In other words, a habit is an action you do automatically when you’re always in a certain situation, whether it’s automatically reaching for a piece of chocolate or going for a run in the morning when you’re still half asleep. Everything you do without stopping to think when you find yourself in situations that you experience on a regular basis is a habit.
According to psychologist Bas Verplanken between 30 and 50% of the actions we do during the day are habits. And it is a very smart thing since the development of habits saves our brain many neurological and cognitive resources. It could be said that thanks to them, the brain works in energy-saving mode.
Why is it good to have habits?
Because they help us structure our daily lives and offer us security. Its function is to make our lives easier: anything we do because it is well internalized in our day-to-day life saves us energy and time. Imagine if you had to decide every day whether to take a shower or brush your teeth or even remember what to do to put one foot in front of the other. It wouldn’t make sense, would it?
However, this has a small catch: the brain does not differentiate between good and bad habits, and depending on the actions you internalize, you will adopt good or bad habits throughout your life.
If you have adopted healthy habits, you will have no problem being physically active and eating a healthy diet. You do it without thinking about it; it’s easy because it’s routine. But if you’re used to eating fast food or reaching for a poke bowl at the drop of a hat, it’s because your brain has stored these actions as “good . ” Whether your conscience thinks that these actions are good for your body and your health or not is another matter.
Following healthy habits makes us happy because, by definition, they are associated with our personality and the image we project of ourselves. We behave according to our principles and values. This creates a sense of internal balance, which makes us feel happier.
However, unhealthy habits have the opposite effect. They create an internal disharmony that conflicts with our principles and against which we must fight. In the field of psychology, this condition is known as cognitive dissonance.
How do we develop a habit?
In „autopilot“ mode; is how we function, according to the author James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits”, both good and bad habits, according to a certain neurological process that is repeated over and over again. Within this context, habits have 4 properties or characteristics.
Cue (trigger), desire, response (action), and reward.
Signal: alarm clock sounds
This signal triggers a certain behavior, usually unconscious. Such behavior may be spatial, emotional, temporal, mental, or external in nature.
Desire: After 8 hours of deep sleep, we are eager to reactivate the circulation and get moving. We are looking for that reward.
Desire is the basis of the motivation that makes us look for the next action. Many times unconsciously, this is an important impulse of a real habit.
Response (action): You lace up your shoes and go running outside in the area where you live.
The action is your habit and it can be an active behavior or a thought.
Reward: A generous breakfast after having practiced the action of doing sports (in this case, running).
The reward generates a positive feeling, which supports the concept of habit.
These 4 properties contribute to creating the so-called “habit loop” in our brain. The greater the frequency with which these habits occur, the greater the link between signals and actions. Habits are so strongly automated that we are not consciously aware of the signal or trigger, and actions occur without our realizing it.
To build new habits it is important to understand these structures and internalize them within ourselves. If we manage to break the cycle mentioned above, we can avoid our bad habits effectively and continuously over time.
In this sense, the most important step to change our habits would be to identify the signs and develop new habits through a new desire or internal motivation.
An example: we have all suffered from what is called chocolate after a large meal.
Would you like to avoid going to sweet desserts in the future as soon as you finish eating? Just because you forbid yourself/or a certain action doesn’t mean you’re going to pick up that habit in the long run.
Instead, what we recommend is to focus your mind on the signal or trigger in question, as well as your reward. From this moment you can establish as a reward to take a walk outdoors and get some fresh air. If you manage to focus your attention on moving your body a little. It will be much easier for you from now on to react to the signal with another type of action that is much more beneficial. The more times you react in this way. The greater your desire to achieve the new reward (a positive feeling), which will increase your motivation. If this process is extended over time, the habit will end up becoming a routine. Until you reach that point you will need, yes, a certain dose of discipline.
Why is it so difficult to adopt healthy habits?
The answer is very simple: because we are programmed to stay in our comfort zone. It is a familiar, comfortable place where we feel safe. Why should we get out of there? It is a very complex mechanism researchers have discovered habits. Are so engraved in our brains that it is very difficult. To fight to change them only with our willpower. What we have to do is reprogram our entire brain and this is something that takes time, patience, and discipline.