Today I want to cover the third part of habit building; making it as easy as possible.
Why 'Easy' Wins
There is a trend, especially in the fitness industry, to overcomplicate things. You see this often in complex fitness and diet programs. Each one has lot's of information, many rules and normally requires an overhaul of some sort. This requires lot's of physical and mental energy, lot's of planning and lot's of time. All of those things put together equals resistance. The more effort you need to make a change, the more resistance will be created. It's like stretching an elastic band - you can only stretch a band so far before it snaps back to it's original state. A change that is complex and requires effort is just like stretching a band to it's maximum. There is only so long you can hold that resistance before it snaps back to reality (yes, I did drop an Eminem line in there).
And this is why keeping it easy wins in the long term. It requires less effort. Less energy. Which means it is more sustainable.
Why Isn't Simplicity Practiced More?
I'll keep this plain and simple ;)
Simple isn't sexy! It doesn't give you that big old rush of dopamine (dopamine is the hormone which floods our brain when we are expecting a reward)!
Simplicity doesn't sell as well as complexity. It's easy to look for more and more complex plans to achieve our health and fitness goals. These diet and exercise programs with 'secrets' and 'advanced methods' promise amazing & rapid transformations. They do often give you good results in the short term.
Keeping it easy doesn't give you that same buzz that a rapid, but unsustainable weight loss program will . But as long as you are consistent and keep progressing in some way, you will be rewarded with brilliant results in the long term.
And that right there is the key; make the new habit as easy as you need it to be right now, but no easier. If it is too easy you will not feel challenged. If it is too complex you will not have the motivation to carry out the behaviour. And aim to progress over time. Habit building is about practising a wanted behaviour regularly. By keeping it easy you do not have to wrestle with willpower and motivation each day. You just nudge yourself towards the end goal gradually.
Examples of Easier Healthy Habits
- Meal prep: start with meals that are a simple protein source (pre-cooked chicken), a simple carb (microwave rice), a simple fat (drizzle some oil) and easy veg (microwave veg). Eventually progress to home cooked or more advanced recipes.
- Exercise: start with a type of exercise that is easy to pick up and set a time limit that is too easy to fail at. For example, you might want to start by going to the nearest gym and aiming for 5 minutes of exercise. When this becomes the norm, try adding some time to your workouts.
- Slow eating: aim to add just 1-2 minutes to each meal each week, with the end goal being 20 minutes.
- Daily movement: start by getting off of your bus/train one stop earlier or just aiming to take the stairs instead of the lift. Aim to build these mini bursts of activity to the recommended 60 mins/10'000 steps.
Today's thought: is the lure of 'quick and easy' results actually harming you long term? Can you see how by doing everything at once in a complex manner is actually holding you back long term? Are you addicted to the initial buzz of seeing rapid change? What goal related habits can you make easier?