Four steps to create healthy habits
The best thing you can do for your brain is to follow a healthy daily routine. Learn how to create new habits today.
“Our habits will either make us or break us,” says business executive and leadership speaker Sean Covey. “We become what we repeatedly do.” And nowhere is this more true than with your health and fitness.
If you want to be your best, healthiest and most empowered self, you must look at your daily habits. Are your daily actions supporting or sabotaging your long-term wellness and vitality? The good news: with the strategies outlined below, you can forge a new habit in four simple steps.
Why habits and routine matter for your health and fitness
There are no quick fixes to your health, despite what savvy marketers or social media influencers might promise. It may be tempting to grab those diet pills or detox teas, but the truth is that long-lasting changes require long-lasting healthy habits.
Healthy habits and daily routines touch on every aspect of your wellness, but are especially important in a few key areas.
Diet habits and weight management
Low carb? Low fat? Intermittent fasting? Paleo? Keto? Mediterranean? Many people obsess over picking the right diet, and the options are endless.
However, research shows that almost all diets can help you to achieve your weight loss goals. What actually matters—regardless of your diet or the food you eat—is your long-term adherence.
In other words, habit.
This long-term behaviour, or lack thereof, is why so many people might be successful in the first few months of their diet, but quickly gain it all back when they fall off the proverbial wagon.
Exercise habits and disease prevention
Short-term exercise can provide immediate benefits, like a boost in mood and a reduction in stress.
But long-term exercise habits are linked with numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of cancer, a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a reduced risk of dementia and other brain diseases.
Daily habits and overall wellness
The World Health Organization reports that permanent, long-term changes to your behaviour—such as taking supplements, changing your lifestyle, or eating a healthy diet—are one of the most important things for your overall health.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” explains a study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. “This popular expression indicates that apples are good for one’s health. [...] However, perhaps the more important takeaway message is to eat nutritious foods regularly. The term lifestyle change inherently means that changes are made such that they can be followed for the lifetime of an individual. Implementation of a lifestyle change implies that a routine is followed and habits are formed. A healthy lifestyle includes habitual consumption of nutritious foods, regular physical activity, and consistent sleep.”
In other words, for a life of vibrancy and vitality, it’s less about what you do right now, or as a one-off. And it’s more about the habitual things you do day in and day out.
How to make a new health habit (and stick with it)
Step 1. Pick a habit you’d like to try
What new habit do you want to embody? Whatever it is, start small.
Multiple studies have found that when it comes to your health, people are far more successful turning small changes into habits. Picking something that’s too big, or which represents too dramatic of a shift in your life, can quickly overwhelm you and cause you to give up (e.g., “I will never eat meat again” versus “I’ll eat plant-based every Monday”).
Some small habits to consider trying include:
Getting 30 more minutes of sleep a night
Taking your supplements every morning
Adding 30 minutes of physical activity to your day
Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day
Step 2. Attach your new habit to something you’re already doing daily
Find a trigger in your daily life that helps to initiate the new action you want to turn into a habit.
“Attach a new habit or behaviour to something you already do regularly,” suggests psychologist Ilene Berns-Zare, PsyD. “One strategy, called habit stacking, connects a new habit with a long-established habit. For example: if you want to begin walking daily, plan to take your walk right after lunch.”
Other examples of habit stacking include:
Taking your supplements every morning with breakfast
Doing a mental exercise for brain health whenever you’re waiting for your morning coffee to brew
Adding one new healthy vegetable to each meal
Doing 10 squats or push-ups whenever there’s a commercial playing on your favourite TV show
Practising a few minutes of mindfulness every evening after you’ve brushed your teeth
Step 3. Make it as effortless as possible
Think about all the past times you’ve failed to turn a new activity into a habit.
Consider all the potential pitfalls that stand between you and your new health goals. Then, plan ahead, get proactive, and:
Make it as easy as possible to accomplish your new activity
Remove temptations or potential roadblocks (psychological or physical) that stand in the way of you and your new habit
For example, you could place your supplements on the kitchen counter so they’re visible and easy to grab during the busyness of the morning.
Or, pre-pack your gym bag. Place it in your car the night before so that you can’t use the excuse of “forgetting” your gym gear.
Step 4. Reward yourself
Make your new habit rewarding. There are two ways to do this:
Intrinsic motivation: Remind yourself of your deeper “why.” Maybe you want to get stronger to boost your self-esteem. Or perhaps you want more energy so you can keep up with your grandkids. Focus on how rewarding life will be for you if you stick with this new habit.
External motivation: Consider ways to give yourself a small, healthy reward for your perseverance. Perhaps it’s a nice meal at the end of the week if you’ve hit your gym attendance goals. Maybe it’s a fancy bottle of sparkling water every night instead of the sugary drinks you’re trying to eliminate.
“While intrinsic motivation—the internal force pushing us to engage in a behaviour—is ultimately invaluable, incentives or rewards may help with habit-building by getting a person to begin to engage in the hoped-for behaviour (such as working out) in the first place,” explains Psychology Today magazine.
Make brain health and braincare a new habit today
At Heights, we understand the value and importance of establishing and maintaining healthy habits. In fact, we recently invited Dr. Rangan Chatterjee onto our Braincare podcast to discuss practical ways to boost your brain health through healthy habits (tune-in to our habits episode here).
And that’s also why we designed the packaging for our Smart Supplement to be both modern and timeless, and something you’ll be proud to display on your kitchen counter. We know how often people set out with the best intentions of taking their supplements, but quickly forget about them once they’re stashed away in a cupboard or drawer.
When you get started with the Smart Supplement from Heights, we make it as easy as possible to turn your brain care into a daily habit:
The convenient once-a-day dose gives you everything you need for optimal brain health
Our special formulation works on an empty stomach, so you can attach your new brain supplement habit to any part of your day (not just mealtimes!)
A hassle-free subscription so you don’t have to remember to re-order
Learn more about the Smart Supplement today, and see what a new brain health habit can do for you.