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5 Steps to Build Healthy Habits Without Struggling

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5 Steps to Build Healthy Habits Without Struggling

Building Healthy Habits Without Sacrificing or Struggling

Willpower comes and goes. 

Motivation ebbs and flows. 

Healthy habits help us grow. -Me.


The idea of using habits to change lifestyles is not a new concept. It can actually be traced back to research into how to help people quit smoking in the 1900s. The author of Tiny Habits, BJ Fogg of Stanford University and the author of Atomic Habits, James Clear lay out the idea in really simple, easy to follow guidelines that actually take the reader through the steps of using habits that already exist within their lives to create new habits that ultimately lead to incredible results like weight loss, lower blood pressure and overall improved health. If you’re reading this and think it already sounds way too simple to work, I hear you. There is so much content out in the world that says that healthy living is all about sacrifice and struggle, doing more and eating less and of course logging the whole painfully difficult process on social media.  


I’d encourage anyone interested in this subject to check out the previously mentioned books, but if you’re into summaries, stick around for some tips from Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg.


There are four steps in Mr. Fogg’s book but I added a fifth step which actually comes second because I feel like it’s rather important. His four steps which I will go into detail about momentarily are: 

  • Choose a tiny behavior.

  • Find a good spot.

  • Create a recipe.

  • Rewire your brain.


My bonus step which actually comes second is to choose a goal you’re ultimately working towards. Let’s see how it all flows together.


Step 1: Choosing a tiny behavior

Right now I want you to take a good hard look at your average day and pick out all of the habits you already have. Anything you do consistently counts; wake up, brush teeth, bathroom breaks, start coffee maker, feed pets, drive to work/ home, turn on the television, wake up kids, etc. Write them all down. These are now your “anchors”.


My Step 2: Consider your ultimate goal

Next, I need you to take some time to consider what exactly your goal is going to be. This might feel like a step one sort of thing but, wait for the magic. Now, it can be easy to say things like lose weight, be less stressed, eat better but those are super broad and our thought process right now is to think small, think tiny. Work backwards if you need to. For example, if our big goal is to lose weight, we need to find baby steps to get us there. A baby step might be to workout but that’s still a pretty big leap so what if we think smaller and start with waking up a tiny bit earlier? 



Step 3: Find a good spot

Now consult your list of anchors. Where would a new habit of waking up a few minutes earlier fit with an anchor habit? Well if you wake up to an alarm, set it five minutes earlier than usual. See? Tiny. You might be thinking, what good is 5 minutes going to do? I’m so glad you asked, we will come back to that. For now just understand that your new habit MUST fit in with a current habit. 


Step 4: Create a recipe

In Tiny Habits, BJ Fogg encourages readers to think of their new habit with their anchor habit in a sort of recipe order like this… “After I (anchor here), I will (new habit).” Examples could be: 

After I (turn off the car) I will (exhale and relax my shoulders for three seconds)

After I (put kids to bed) I will (lay out workout clothes)

After I (feed the dog) I will (log out of social media)

If we’re sticking with the waking up earlier habit, it could look something like: 

After I (get in bed) I will (set my alarm for 5 minutes earlier than last week)


Step 5: Rewire your brain

“Emotions create habits.” BJ Fogg. 

Are you more likely to repeat an action that makes you feel good or something that makes you feel terrible? The answer is obvious so now our goal is to make ourselves feel as awesome as possible IMMEDIATELY after we accomplish our new habit. Notice that immediately is capitalized. That’s how important it is. The moment you accomplish your task you have to congratulate yourself. Make a big deal about it. Get silly because the more positive of an emotion you can attach to your new habit, the more likely you are to repeat it tomorrow and the next day until it becomes as automatic as the anchor behaviors you listed earlier. 

Now to go back to the part where you thought I was crazy for saying waking up only 5 minutes earlier would make any sort of difference in your life ultimately. Well, think of the tiny habit as a seed. When you’re planting a seed it doesn’t just sprout into a giant oak, right? You have to plant it at just the right time, wait patiently and take care of your little seed so it will grow into a big strong oxygen maker. Habits are the same. Plant a tiny habit at just the right time near an anchor habit you’re already comfortable with and keep up with it until you’re ready to either add more tiny habits or take the next step which should be just slightly bigger but that’s a topic for another day. 



Anjelica Haberlein

GoTimeTraining ACE Certified Personal Trainer

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