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Form Lasting Habits



Tiffany Aziz, Personal Trainer on Cyno




Why do most new year’s resolutions fail?

Recognizing that you want to make a change is just a small part of the process of implementing a new habit.

New year’s resolutions = set a date we want a change to happen. (We don’t prepare for how we are going to apply this change)

This is why a large number of individuals who make new year’s resolutions don’t actually stick to them. We need to understand what has stopped us from making a change in the past and where we are in our stage of change. THEN build a habit from there.


Understanding the Stages of Change

According to the Transtheoretical model of change, there are five basic stages you'll pass through before creating a change in your life *Newer representations of the model include a 6th stage (relapse.) This reflects the fact that mistakes are part of the process and the way you address your missteps plays a big role in your ability to stick to change.


What are the chances that you're going to be ready for the action stage at exactly the same time the calendar rolls over to a new year? They are probably pretty slim. This is why new year's resolutions aren't always realistic. Figure out which stage of change you are in!


What is a habit?

A habit is a solution to a recurring problem. Our brain has made a short cut on how to solve the situation based on previous experiences (through trial and error). Habits are automatic sequences that often happen below the level of conscious thought. Our brain stores the habit to free up grey matter to make other decisions. Our brains are always looking for ways to save effort BUT needs to be careful not to make everything routine or we miss vital information.

We call this the … HABIT LOOP!


EXAMPLE: Cue: Phone (brain looks for cue/ triggers craving) Craving: You want to read the text (anticipation/desire)* Routine: You look at the phone, text (brain quiets, delivers reward) Reward: Differs by person (brain wakes up/satisfies craving)

*Cravings are the MOTIVATION behind every habit!


Ask Yourself:

· What is your habit loop?

· Are you implementing a good habit or removing a bad habit?

· Identify the cue, routine and reward through self-reflection and tracking


Try This:

  • Experiment with routines: is there a better one to bring you the same reward?

  • When creating a new habit, try connecting the routine with a reward.

  • Make a plan! Think long-term and how you can make performing the bad routine harder and good routine easier. Also, think what’s worked for you in the past.

Adopting good habits:

· Cue-make it obvious (in your face)

· Craving-make it attractive (a good craving)

· Response—make the response easy to do

· Reward—make the reward satisfying to you

Removing bad habits:

· Cue- remove the cue (make it invisible)

· Craving-make it unattractive

· Response—make the response hard to do

· Reward—make the reward unsatisfying to you


Implementation Intention

The 2 most common elements of cues are: 1. Time 2. Place (location) Create what is called an “Implementation Intention” to help with your cues. Your implementation intention should be tied to a time and place. (When situation X arises, I will perform response Y)

For example: "When I think about snacking while watching TV, I will go brush my teeth"


SMART Goals: Specific: Describe your goal clearly. Measurable: How will you track the activity? Achievable: Can you meet this goal? Rewarding: Is this goal meaningful or rewarding to you? Timed: When will you reach this goal by?


Weak: “I want to drink more water.”

Strong: “I want to drink at least 3 glasses of water a day for the next 2 months to help improve my water intake. I will track this by using my water tracking app every day. I will reach this goal on January 1st and will reward myself with a new eco-friendly water bottle when I achieve it!”


Taking small steps to self-efficacy…

The 1% factor: To make progress you need to make small changes (1% gains). At some point these will compound, and you will see a change. If we stick to 1% gains and focus on the process (small steps) then we are more likely to be successful.


Self-efficacy: Your own estimation of your skill in handling some tasks. When your self-efficacy belief on a task is high, you try harder. Less distracted, persist longer, use better problem-solving. When your self-efficacy is low, you either avoid it, become emotional, or make excuses as to why you will fail.



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