Stacking Habits: Piggybacking Your Way to Success

Stacking Habits: Piggybacking Your Way to Success

I just celebrated my 54th birthday. I am actually the same weight 224 lbs that I was last year on my birthday. So obviously whatever I am doing, I'm not being consistent enough to achieve the success I want. This doesn't mean I'm a failure (I've lost weight, I just didn't keep it off) it means I'm not as consistent as I need to be. A friend told me about the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. I'm up to chapter six and I'm loving it. Today I want to share to strategies from the book (listen to the book for free at )

Implementation Intentions

Steps one is acknowledging that we need to do more than what we are doing. In some cases, it's not doing more of the right stuff, but it is doing less of the wrong stuff. It was my birthday, there was cake involved. It was my birthday, there was not one but two “birthday dinners.” Yes, I can lose the weight I put on, and I'm not going to beat myself up, but I do realize that birthday cake is the “wrong stuff” when you couple it with other wrong things like Wendy's Frosty's, Oreo Cookie Blizzards from Dairy Queen, Big Macs and more. Remember it is your birth DAY, not your birth WEEK.  So you have to acknowledge what you need to do and then set your intentions. James says this requires a behavior, a time, and a location

“I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].”

I will put my gym bag in my car before going to bed. (So you go to the gym on the way home).

I will walk around the neighborhood for 15 minutes after eating dinner.

Stack Your Habits

James also talks about instead of coming up with a new time and location, take things you already do on a daily basis (get the mail, brush your teeth, cook, etc) and tie a habit you want to do to that already established habit.

For me, my bathroom is right outside my office. I work from home. I've been doing good on drinking more water, but as you might imagine I now am peeing more. So being that peeing is a regular “habit” after I pee before I can go back into my office I can do ten pushups, ten squats, or ten lunges.

I put a pair of dumbbells by the microwave. When I cook anything in the microwave, instead of standing there, playing with my phone, I now do bicep curls.

Your Environment Counts

Put the good food on the counter, if you've brought the enemy into your house, put it out of sight. I know for me I just feel better when my apartment is clean. Right now as I write this, I can't see my desk. Coincidence? Probably not.

Little Things Add Up

When we first start any kind of health program we want immediate results (which is why many programs start you off with a ton of liquid calories to give you a boost of hope, but this often comes right back). The problem is your health journey will not be a straight line. At first, it may not move at all, and so you are doing the right things and not seeing the results you hoped for and this creates what he calls the Valley of Disappointment. So do the little things that can add up, and do more of them.

Right now as I look at my progress, I want to quit eating all food, go on a liquid diet, run a marathon, and dump a ton of weight by 6:30. We want the weight off. We want it off yesterday. Meanwhile back, in reality, a better strategy is to set up some habits to do the right things on a consistent basis.

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