Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2020

One Habit resolution

New Years resolutions and habits  Today is December 31st. Tonight 50% of American adults will make a New Years resolution. By February 28th 90% of them will have broken their resolution. I know New Years resolutions don’t work so I don’t set them. Instead I build a new habit on the first of each month. Normally I will pick a specific habit that will help with a goal I have. For example if I want to improve my mindfulness I will work on creating a habit of meditating for 5 minutes every morning. The habits I work on are very deliberate. This has been my approach for years. Keystone habits  There is another, more organic approach though. This is to build “keystone habits.” I first learned of keystone habits in Charles Duhiggs excellent book called “The Power of Habit.” The idea is you build an initial habit that will then trigger more habits. For example the keystone habit of walking 10,000 steps a day develops in to going for a 5k run to going to the gym and lifting weights. This year I

A better alternative to New Years resolutions

Every January half of American adults create “New Years Resolutions.” They resolve to make good changes like going to the gym every day, losing weight or being happier. Sadly studies have shown that 90% of those people give up on their resolution by February! I believe the reason people fail is they are resolving to make a huge change for an entire year without a way to actually achieve the change. So, if you are one of the people who would like to make a change for the good, what should you do? My suggestion is that instead of making one big resolution you more than likely won’t stick to, resolve to make six smaller habits through out the year instead. Research has shown that at least 40% of our daily actions are based on habits and routines, not newly formed decisions. If you concentrate on forming habits throughout the year you can make changes that will stick. Researchers at MIT found that a habit has 3 parts – a reminder, the routine and a reward. The reminder is what triggers you

How to do the 5MX Moving Exercise routine.

5MX is a routine of 5 Mindful Exercises. It was inspired by the Canadian Airforces 5BX exercise program in the 1960s. Instead of focusing on cardio 5MX involves gentle stretching exercises and mindfulness however. I created the 5MX because I wanted something simple that I could do which would give me the benefits of yoga, tai chi and meditation but I could learn and do anywhere without going to a class. The 5MX routine only takes 5 minutes and its a great way to start the day. Anyone can learn 5MX and it can be done anywhere. Doing 5MX will help you feel calm and relaxed and ready to take on the day after doing 5MX. The exercises in 5MX combine physical movement and mindfulness. They help you be aware of your body and help with concentration. Mindfulness has been shown to measurably improve ones mental wellbeing. MX 1 1. Stand up straight, feet in a slight V and hands by side with palms facing forward. Close your eyes and slowly breath in through your nose paying attention to the sensa

How gratitude can help in challenging times

There is a saying - “every day may not be good, but there is good in everyday.” But is that true even during challenging times like a global pandemic? I’ll be honest, I used to think gratitude was some airy fairy rubbish. I want to share a personal story however that suggests there might be something to this gratitude thing. A personal story. In 2009, after our second round of Invitro Fertilization, my wife became pregnant with twins. (The first round a few years before was very successful and resulted in our daughter Grace.) At the 4 month ultrasound, the one where they tell you if you should paint the nursery blue or pink, we learnt that one of the boys was healthy but the other had a serious birth defect. If he lived to full term then he might only be with us for a few minutes or a few hours. We were referred to the High Risk Pregnancy Team at our hospital. We were also assigned a Genetic Counselor who explained my sons condition and what our options were. My son had a condition cal

How to restart a habit

  Until June this year I had a great morning routine. I'd get up, have a large glass of water, do my exercise routine, meditate, write in my bullet journal and work on one of my blogs. I had been sticking to these habits for well over a year without any problem. I'd never miss more than one day in a row, and even that was rare. These were solid habits and they made me happier and healthier. This was a well ingrained routine.  Then in June I got sick. For two months I wasn't well enough to do my normal morning routine, so I stopped. It wasn't a conscious decision, I just wasn't able to exercise or meditate. I also wasn't waking up at the same time. Slowly, I got better and better and now three months later I am feeling back to normal. My morning routine however did not return to normal. As I started waking up at my usual time again I fell in to a lazy routine of getting up and just surfing the internet. What happened to me is not unusual. Many people develop stro

Be Happy. Go For A Good Walk.

One of the best ways to boost your happiness is to get in to the habit of going for a Good Walk.

What is WOOP and how can it help me achieve my goals?

WOOP is a science based mental strategy people can use to fulfill their wishes, set preferences and change their habits. The technique is based on 20 years of research and was developed by psychologist Gabriele Oettingen. The scientific name for it is Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions. Mental Contrasting is the concept comparing your future wish with your current reality. Implementation Intentions are the practice of deciding in advance what you will do in a given situation.  WOOP is short for: W - Wish. O - Outcome. O - Obstacles. P - Plan. WISH The first step is to name a wish that is challenging but feasible. Set a time frame for the wish. Ask yourself if the wish is dear to you and if it's challenging yet achievable. Once you are done, note it down in 3 - 6 words. Pause and really picture it in your head. For example: I want to exercise more. OUTCOME Then think about the very best outcome and imagine it. What would the biggest benefit to achieving your wish

What is the one minute principle in Kaizan?

In 1986 a gentleman named Masaaki Imai wrote a book about the Japanese concept of "Kaizen." The word kaizen comes from two Japanese words: ‘kai’ meaning ‘change’ and ‘zen’ meaning ‘good’. This philosophy was first introduced by the Toyota company in the 1980's and encourages an improvement culture that gradually increases quality, efficiency, and profitability. Within the philosophy of Kaizan is the "one minute principle." The one minute principle states that you should practice a something at the same time every day for one minute. This principle leverages the power of habit to improve a little bit every day. To get started with the one minute principle, pick something to practice for one minute a day. So examples are: Meditate for one minute. Write something you are grateful for. Do one minute of pushups. Do one minute of jumping jacks. Then set a time each day you can practice this skill. Set a reminder on your phone for this time so you remember! Finally com

Five ways to be happier in one minute

Having a bad day? What can you do in 1 minute to boost your happiness? It turns out there are several things! 1. Smile. This is a case of faking it until you make it. Researchers have found that smiling makes you happier. Spend one minute smiling and you will be happier when you are finished. 2. Laugh. Find something that makes you laugh. Read a joke book. Watch a funny cat video online. Have a one minute dance party. Laughing makes people happier. 3. Sun. Go stand outside in the sun for a minute. Lack of sunlight makes people sad. Getting outside to some natural sunlight will give your mood a boost. 4. Meditate. Hundreds of studies have shown the benefits of meditation. Frequency is more important than duration. Meditating one minute every day is better that meditating for seven minutes once a week. Sit up straight and breath in through your nose and out through your mouth for the count of twelve and boom you are done. 5. Gratitude. Practicing gratitude is another proven way to boost

You are what you repeat

Introduction A few years ago I sat down one morning and wrote a poem titled “You are what you repeat.” It came to me in a moment of inspiration and I finished it in one sitting. The truth is it didn’t “just come to me in a flash,” the idea for it had been ruminating for years. I think the poem really explains a lot about why someone has the life that they do. “You are what you repeat” by Barney Matthews You are what you repeat, I know it is true, Words that you say, And deeds that you do. Words become plans, Plans become deeds, This is what determines, Where your life leads. Once is a chance, Twice is a choice, If you do it again, Will your future rejoice. Whether the outcome, Is victory or defeat, It's all because, Of what you repeat. What it really says is what kind of person you are, and what your life is like, is caused by what you have repeated. Kind people aren’t just nice to people sometimes, they are nice to people all the time. Healthy people don’t just eat

Healthy habit tips while you are stuck at home

As I write this we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and many people are under "stay at home" orders. That means havoc for our usual habits. Assuming that in a normal 16 hour waking day 8 of those hours are spent at work then that means 50% of your weekday habit cues have disappeared! It also means people have probably defaulted to their weekend habits which probably mean less exercise and more comfort food consumption. So how can you stay healthy while stuck at home? Here are a few habit suggestions anyone can adopt when stuck at home. Stand up when talking on the phone. Set an alarm to take a 2 minute movement break every hour. Take a short walk during your lunch break. Do a bodyweight HIIT exercise routine like the 7 minute workout or the 5BX . Take a Youtube exercise class like Yoga with Adriene . Stand up and fold your laundry or do the ironing while watching TV. Make a new rule: no sitting while TV commercials are on. Or even better do jumping jacks

How to change your eating habits and lose weight

The top New Years Resolution year after year is to lose weight. The first tactic people usually try when losing weight is to start exercising. Going for a 30 minute run will burn about 400 calories. That’s about the same amount of calories as a single donut. You can’t outrun your plate! Exercise has a whole host of benefits but contributing to weight loss for most people is not one. If you want to lose weight you are going to have to change your eating habits. Habit 1. Drink more water. People often confuse thirst with hunger. If you think you are hungry get in to the habit of drinking a glass of water and waiting 20 minutes. If you are still hungry then, go for it. As an added bonus, having a glass of zero calorie water in your stomach will help you feel full sooner. Habit 2. Get enough sleep. People often make up for having low energy because they are tired by eating. Make sure you go to bed at a time that gives you eight hours of sleep. Sticking to a consistent bedtime seven days

Why people fail to make a new habit and what you can do about it

Making new habits is easy, right? All you need is a reminder, a routine and a reward. Simple, huh? Research shows it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit. Studies on New Years Resolutions have found that 22% of people break their resolution within the first week, 40% after just one month, 50% after three months and at the four month mark 60% of people have broken their resolution, or failed to create their new habit. Why do people fail to make new habits? In my experience there are several reasons fail to make a new habit. They declare a wish instead of picking a habit. “I am going to start exercising.” “I am going to eat better.” “I am going to save money.” These are all wishes (and good goals) but they are not habits. A habit includes a specific action. “I will do the Jane Fonda workout.” “I will eat salad.” “I will move money to my savings account.” These are all actions. They make the initial habit too big. “I am going to run five miles a day.” “I am going to eat home

What is One Minute Yoga

What is yoga? Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in India about 2500 years ago. Recent research suggests that yoga can help with flexibility, back pain and even lower stress. Whilst most yoga classes last an hour, it is possible to sneak in a little yoga in 1 minute increments. The One Minute Yoga Routine Mountain pose. (10 seconds.) Stand with your big toes touching and heels slightly apart. Your arms are down along side the torso, palms facing forward. Lengthen the tailbone down. Lift the chest toward the ceiling, as you soften the front ribs back. Draw the shoulder heads back and down. Balance the head directly over the pelvis and the pelvis directly over the ankles. Chair pose. (30 seconds.) Stand with your feet together, weight evenly distributed between each leg. Exhale as you bend your knees, sending your buttocks behind you as you sit on an imaginary chair. Raise your arms overhead, with your palms facing each othe

What is the Noom diet and should I try it

What is the Noom diet? The Noom Diet is an app based weight loss program. It uses habits and psychology to help behaviors so people lose weight and keep it off. Coaching is included as part of your monthly fee. Noom has been described as Weight Watchers for Millennial’s. Given that Weight Watchers is one of the most highly regarded weight loss programs out there, I’d say that’s a good thing. As the author of a blog about health and habits, the Noom diet seemed like a great thing to try out. How does Noom work? The whole Noom program happens on your phone. You download the app, enter your personal details and start your free trial. (Noom subscriptions start at $45 a month so I highly recommend doing a trial to see if it is right for you.) Noom sends you daily lessons through the app to help you learn about habits and the Noom approach to weight loss. From a nutritional perspective, Noom focus’s on “calorific density.” When you join Noom you are added to a group and assigned a coach.

How to replace a habit

An alternative to goal based habits  Usually on Goalbits I talk about goal based habits, That is, starting with your goal and then finding and developing a habit to help you achieve the goal. For example if you want to lose weight start a food log habit or if you want to be happier start expressing gratitude. There is an alternative however, if you are already aware of an existing habit, it is possible to simply replace it. Your goal, if you wish, is just to replace one habit with another. How to replace a habit Identify the habit you want to replace.   For example snacking while watching TV in the evening. Every habit is preceded by a reminder (or a trigger.) In order to be able to replace the old habit you have to identity what prompts you to start doing the habit. What time do you normally do this habit? Where are you usually when you do this habit? What are you normally doing right before this habit? Who else is typically with you when you do this habit? How are you usually fee

Brisk walk

Pop quiz If you want to start exercising as a way to lose weight do you think you should: (a) Take an aerobics class. (b) Go for a run. (c) Go for a brisk walk. If you said (c) give yourself a pat on the back. Researchers looking at the annual English Surveys over a 12 year span concluded that a brisk 30-minute walk five days a week is more effective than any other form of exercise for keeping weight down. Supporting this, a study from the University of Warwick found that people who walk more and sit less have lower BMIs (an indicator of obesity.) The National Walkers’ Health Study also found that walkers had lower fasting blood sugar (glucose) and a 12 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Benefits of walking In addition to weight loss, walking has been shown to: Lower blood pressure and cholesterol. The National Walkers’ Health study found that regular walking was linked to a 7 percent reduced risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Improve memory and cognitive funct

The difference between a good idea and a good habit

Good ideas I was recently researching “good habits for weight loss” for a new blog post. Some of the answers I found included: Get some exercise. Get a good nights sleep. Monitor your portions. Drink more water. Eat more vegetables. These are all good ideas. The problem is, as they are prescribed, they aren’t habits. If you truly want to implement one of these ideas in to your daily routine you have to make it a habit. Otherwise you will follow the advice for a few days and then stop doing it. What is a habit. Every habit has 3 parts. The reminder, the routine and a reward. You need a reminder so you start your habit every day. You need the routine so you know exactly what to do. You need the reward so you will continue doing the habit on a regular basis. Take the idea “get some exercise.” When are you going to exercise? What exercise are you going to do? How long are you going to exercise for? Why are you exercising. When Thens. The simplest way to convert an idea in to a habi

How a bullet journal can help you with your habits and your happiness

Introduction to Bullet Journals A Bullet Journal (“BuJo” for short) is a versatile tool that can be used as a todo list, a diary, a planner and much more. The idea of a Bullet Journal was created by a New York Designer named Ryder Carroll. It was created as a simple way to “help you track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.” It is a flexible tool that can be adapted to each person. A Bullet Journal differs from a traditional diary. It is a quick and dirty way to capture information and is not intended for consumption by anyone other than the author. It should only take a couple of minutes a day to complete. Instead of writing long paragraphs you use symbols to designate the content type and then just write a sentence or two. You can learn more about about Bullet Journals at the official website . Bullet Journals are typically “analog” (written in a good old fashioned paper book.) However you can use whatever tool works best for you. You can use index cards, a W

25 ways to boost your mood

Here are 25 proven ways to boost your mood. Drink a glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning to start rehydrating your body. Eat meals at the same time everyday to maintain consistent blood sugar levels. Have protein for breakfast to give yourself good fuel to start the day. Reduce your caffeine intake to control your hydration. Choose water over sugary drinks to maintain your blood sugar level. Eat whole grains instead of white bread/pasta to limit your sugar intake. Include fruit and veg with every meal to help keep you healthy. Avoid eating an hour before bed to help your sleep. Do bodyweight exercises like planks daily to strengthen your core. Go for a walk every day to get some vitamin D. Do jumping jacks daily to maintain your cardiovascular fitness. Do stretches before bed to help you sleep better. Practice daily gratitude to keep you happier. Compliment others to fill your bucket. Keep a Bullet Journal to get those thoughts out of your head. Avoid watching the news

Habits that are proven to make you happier

A question Guess how much of amount of your happiness that is caused by what you do. (a) 0% (b) 25% (c) 50% If you answered 50% give yourself a gold star. In case you are wondering, 40% of the rest of your happiness comes from simply deciding to be happy. Imagine what would happen if some of those habits also happened to be actions that contributed to your happiness! You could be automatically happy every day!!  Why be happy? If you aren’t sure if it’s worth the effort to be happy, let me give you a WIIFM (What’s In It For Me.) Well first off, researchers from Warwick University in England found that happier workers were 12% more productive than average and unhappier workers were 10% less productive than average. Researchers from the University College London found that happier people have greater protection against heart disease and stroke. A study in Milwaukee that the happiest people lived nine years longer than the least happy ones. So by being happy, not only will you enjoy