Forming good habits

Habits are automatic behaviors that follow a pattern. Brushing your teeth before bed. Taking the elevator instead of the stairs. Eating something sweet every night. 

To reach your goal of losing weight, you’ll need to break old habits and create new ones. One of the keys to changing habits is making one change at a time, and creating reminders that keep you on track.

Knowing how habits work can help you break bad habits and build healthier ones. Every habit, good or bad, has the same 3-step pattern:

Reminder: An object, action, or event you associate with the habit you’re trying to form. For some habits you may want to create new reminders, like a note to yourself or a phone notification. You may also want to use an existing reminder for a new habit.

  • Smaller dishes for smaller portions. If you already set the table for dinner every night, switching to smaller plates can become a reminder to eat smaller portions.

Routine: The best way to make changes you can stick with is to start small. Each small success can build both your confidence and your healthy habits.

  • Eat your greens. To get into the habit of eating more vegetables, start by adding one fresh, green food each day. Pick lettuce, broccoli, peas, spinach, green beans—you name it. Once you’ve created a consistent habit, build on it by adding more vegetables each day.

Reward: When you’re building new habits or breaking old ones, it can also help to create rewards that help you stay motivated. We aren't talking about celebrating with an ice cream sundae. You can reward yourself with something like new workout music or gear, cooking accessories, or a special outing.

  • Fuel up in the morning. Maybe you skip breakfast because you enjoy having 20 extra minutes to sleep in. Your goal is to create healthier habits that also give you a pleasant reward. So try taking the time to make your breakfast the night before. That way, you can enjoy those 20 extra minutes of sleep, but you still get the energy you need from having breakfast each day.