Humans are without a doubt the creatures of habits. 40-45% of our daily behaviors are habits. So, if you change
your routine, you will change your life. There are so many well-known studies which explain why it takes you
21 days to develop a new habit. Today we would like to take a closer look at this topic and review, in particular,
what habits will make you a healthier person and how to develop them.
There are a lot of people who think wonderful great thoughts. They believe that “I deserve this, and I can have
this”. But they do not do that one thing, and it causes a great deal of problems. They do not take consistent
action every day. They just have tons of bad habits, and they do not have time for the good ones.
Habits are by definition automated behaviors that we repeat over and over again, always in the same context
or environment. They run in our subconscious mind, so, we are not even aware of the repeated patterns. We
just have done it so many times that we stopped noticing them long time ago.
Your Brain Is Turning Off
Remember how you drive a car. It has probably happened to you that you arrived somewhere, and you could
not even remember how exactly you got there; when you woke up in the morning, walked into the subway and
now you are at your desk, having zero idea what happened in between. When you swore to do homework, but
ended up watching “Suits”. By the way, if you need homework help from Rabbits, we are here for you. Or when
you decided to have a salad that morning, but waited till lunchtime and ordered a hamburger, just like you did
It is because all of that has become so habitual to you. This is because your brain is kind of turning off. But how
can you trick your brain in those instances? Let me give you an example.
Imagine for a minute you have a “cookie problem”. Every day you go up the tenth floor of your office where
they cook delicious cookies. You put a little note on your computer’s monitor that says “Do NOT eat the
cookie”. Then every afternoon you manage to ignore that note, go upstairs and get a cookie. And when I say
you, what I actually mean is me. At some point, I was wondering why I, as a grown-up, sometimes a very good
content writer, have this difficulty resisting cookies? The answer lies in the habit loop.
In neurology there is a term “habit loop”. What does it mean? Every habit has three components. There is a
cue, which is like an automatic trigger for a behavior to start. Then there is a routine, which is the behavior
itself, and finally a reward that helps your brain remember the pattern for the future. For years everyone
focused on the routine. But it is the cue and the reward that influence how habits function.
Let’s take exercising as an example. There was once a German experiment where they took the third of the
audience and offered them to choose a cue like always putting their running shoes next to bed or jogging with
the same group of friends. When they got home, they could eat a small piece of chocolate. Six months after the
experiment, researchers found that around 60% of those people were more likely to exercise regularly, and
they stopped eating chocolate. So the habit loop really works.
Change the Habit
How do you change the habit? Premeditate cues and rewards. By figuring out ahead of time what triggers you
are going to see (i.e. a cookie), you can prepare yourself for resisting the temptation. You have to be specific.
Saying I am going to lose weight does not work. Saying I am not going to eat that cookie today does not bring
you success. Instead you should say that at 4:20 in the afternoon, I will not go to the cafeteria. I am going to
stand up and walk over to someone’s desk.
How does it work for me? Instead of eating a cookie in the afternoon, I am thinking about watermelon in my
fridge that I will eat after work. It is healthier, and it is tastier. I reward myself with a piece of juicy watermelon
for not eating a cookie in the afternoon. Why shouldn’t I?
It is time to talk about specific habits you can develop to make yourself a healthier person. Try them yourself
before you pass judgement on whether or not they are helping you.
Now you are probably thinking “Oh, wow, genius, that is such unique advice! I never knew that getting good
sleep would be a healthy choice!” But hear me out. Not only is it important for you to get the right amount of
sleep in terms of hours, but it is equally important to go to bed at the same time before midnight and wake up
at the same time every morning. You should remember that a delicate hormonal balance exists within your
body, especially when it comes to sleeping.
When you have an irregular sleep schedule, your body just does not know when to release the hormones that
make you feel sleepy or awake at the correct times. That is why someone who sleeps for many hours but does
not have a routine, tends to feel tired and out of energy during the day. No joke, falling asleep (before
midnight!) and waking up at the same time every day will skyrocket your productivity.
You shouldn’t oversleep on your days off either. It may be tempting, but it can also result in irregular sleep
patterns and bad mood. Once you get into the routine, you should stick to it.
Let’s say you ate at 7 or 8 pm in the evening, you wake up 10 hours later, and your body needs fuel. Your body
needs to feed off something. Breakfast gets your entire day started. Studies show that people who skip their
breakfast are 50% more likely to become overweight. The secret is that when you sleep, your body does not
produce enzymes that are needed to burn fat and lose weight. When you eat something in the morning, the
enzymes are literally turned on. Eating in the morning reactivates your metabolism and lifts your mood up.
Too many people overlook breakfast and wait until lunch, they have snacks instead or eat huge portions of
spaghetti in the evening because of that. Eat filling, delicious and nutrient-dense breakfast that gets you
started for the day. It can be porridge with raspberries, bilberry, almond and honey or omelet with goat cheese
and veggies. Just try it.
Forget about this word and drink water for 21 days. Coffee is like tobacco of modern times. In the 1950s
consuming tobacco was considered fashionable and socially acceptable. The same thing happens today with
coffee. People ask me all the time “How can you live without coffee?” I just order tea, that’s how.
Coffee creates hormonal changes, it spikes up your adrenaline level. That is alright if you are going to work out,
but if you drink coffee every single day, you are prone to increasing both your adrenaline and cortisol levels
chronically. Fat deposition, premature ageing, fatigue, high blood pressure. All these are the consequences of
regular coffee consumption.
And sometimes it is so precious to see the reaction of a bartender and your friends when you order green tea
- One Activity a Day
80% of people lead a sedentary lifestyle. They sit in the office, subway, car or in lectures. It is time to fix it. I
suggest you to do just one physical activity a day. It is all about spending more time on your feet. It can be 7 km
walking, 15 min of tennis, a long or a short swim. What do I prefer? Just 3 min in a plank position before
breakfast. You do not need to take a shower to wake yourself up, just try to stay in the plank position for just
one minute at first. It will give you the boost of energy. Plus, after 2-3 months your six-pack abs will thank you.
Stopping to eat sugar for 21 days is the most challenging thing I have ever done. The average person consumes
around 20 teaspoons of sugar every day when the daily limit is 6 teaspoons. In just one year it translates into
about 66 pounds of added sugar for one tiny person. Why does this happen? We just do not care about the
content of the products we consume. There is plenty of sugar in ketchup, juice, bread, etc.
How will you feel if you stop eating donuts and cookies? You will overcome a serious addiction, increase your
brain power, your skin will look younger, and you will lose about 6 pounds. Wouldn’t you want that? Believe
me, there is nothing more challenging, but at the same time rewarding than this.
Habits are like the prequel to happy life. Develop healthy habits every day, and you will understand one golden
rule: if you see it in your mind, you can see it in your mirror and hold it in your hands.