Personal trainer tips: The art of habit hacking

A habit can either be started as repeated behaviour or thinking that occurs regularly and is automatic. Because they are subconscious it can take some planning in order to change them.

Habits can be something as simple and biting your nails when stressed, taking your shoes off and putting them in a cupboard, eating dinner in front of the TV, smoking or drinking.

Several things can establish habits whether some of them are:

  • Stress and boredom

  • Substitute for another habit – can be bad or good

  • Triggers

  • Social behaviour – pick them up from friends or family

Habits can be both good and bad so don’t panic yourself too much about having to get rid of all your habits and ways of life! Habits take time to form and so allow yourself time to break them and replace them with a new one. It has been said that the 3’s are the hardest, so 3 hours, 3 days, 3 weeks etc. But normally they say about 21 days to break a habit completely.

Habits are patterns of behaviour so the key to breaking them is to stop the pattern. Usually there is a trigger which is environmental or situational so finding out what your trigger is will make breaking your bad habits easier.

One of the most important things to clarify before you start is what habit change will have the greatest impact on your life and start with that one. Do not give yourself too much to do otherwise it won’t be manageable. One habit at a time, one day at a time.

Breaking habits:

Identify habit – What needs to change? What will have the greatest impact on your life?

Find out the trigger – What causes the bad habit? Social circle, environment, stress?

Deal with the trigger – Find an alternative. For example, if you get to 3pm at work and you usually have a biscuit with your afternoon coffee identify that this is an instigator for your bad habit.

Develop a substitute plan - Either turn down the coffee or have a healthy snack in your draw ready to eat before you can grab those pesky biscuits!

Implement – Before you know it you have a brand new healthy habit!

A new habit is born - Don’t be too hard on yourself! Most habits have been in place for a long time so give yourself time to adjust.

One final thing, don’t put it off! The common mentality of ‘I’ll start on Monday’. Don’t fall into this trap. Start today and now. The sooner you get started the sooner you will have replaced and bad habit with a good one.

If you need help deciding what habits to change or how to do it you can always ask your personal trainer for advice. This also gives you accountability and you’re more likely to stick to changing, on top of this it gives you another level of support.

Happy habit breaking!

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