Starting a new routine

In Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, Duhigg explains that most of what you think you are deciding is actually based on habit. What time you go to bed. What time you wake up. What you eat for breakfast. How you dress for work.

You say decision. Your body says habit.

Your brain depends on you developing habits because habits require a lot less brain power than decisions. Your brain accounts for about 4% of your body mass but requires about 20% of your total glucose for fuel. When your body goes into habit-mode, your brain runs on lower power than when you’re sleeping. Your brain likes this because it frees up glucose to solve new problems. Continue reading

Take a walk!

Inspired by the recent Food Revolution Summit, I am reading Dr. Dean Ornish’s book, The Spectrum. The bottom line of Dr. Ornish’s thinking: If you want to live a long, healthy life, pay attention to what you eat. Exercise, but not to excess. And practice stress reduction techniques like meditation or yoga.

There’s no big news there, but what was news to me is how exercise helps you beyond being in better shape and maybe losing a little weight.

According to Dr. Ornish’s studies, regular exercise: Continue reading

Breaking the habit loop

taking-a-showerHave you ever noticed when you’re doing something out of habit, like taking a shower or driving to work, that you think of all sorts of things that have nothing to do with taking a shower or driving to work? That’s your brain on autopilot. You are in a habit loop.

Think about the last time you learned something new, drove a new route, or started a new job. When something’s new, your brain slows down to make a myriad of decisions. Once you’ve done something for a while, your brain shifts to autopilot.

Because your brain saves energy being on autopilot, old habits can be hard to break. And new habits can be slow to form because new habits take full brain power.

So how does a habit loop work? Continue reading

How to change a habit

Want to change a habit?

A couple of months ago, FastCompany published a great article on ways to change the habit of exercise.

  • A control group was asked to exercise once in the next week. 29% of them exercised.
  • Experiment group 1 was given the same task along with detailed information about why exercise is important to your health (i.e., “You’ll die if you don’t”.) 39% of them exercised.
  • Experiment group 2 was asked to commit to exercising at a specific place, on a specific day at a specific time of their choosing. 91% of them exercised.

Continue reading

How to form a new habit

The cool part about habits is that they’re your brain’s way of saving on thinking. When you try something new, your brain records what you’re doing and after you do the same thing multiple times, your brain says, “I’ve got it! You can run on auto-pilot now.”

That’s why you don’t have to think about how to drive every time you get behind the wheel of a car. And how when you take a shower or brush your teeth your mind can wander. How many of us come up with brilliant ideas in the shower? You can thank your shower habit for taking over giving you time to think.

New habits

A great way to form a new habit is to tie it into an existing habit. Then your brain can use some of the same cues you had for an old habit and re-purpose them into a launch pad for a new habit.

Let’s say you want to start exercising. What habit can you tie into to make this a successful launch? You have thousands of habits strung together that make up each day. What are you going to bump out or add to? Continue reading