by Journey to Health Program Director & Life Coach, Patty Henry
I have noticed lately that there is a new buzz phase in the weight loss/healthy lifestyle world. Habit Stacking. I was so excited when I saw this I have been doing and promoting this for many years and now it has a name!
We all know that to achieve our goals we need to change or update some of the “not so good” habits with one that will help get us to our healthy lifestyle finish line. We tend to think of ourselves as human beings that can change our habits with pure willpower. Some can! But to make that new habit stick and become second nature to us, is much harder. I think we have all been there. Starting the day off great but then falling back into bad habits. This is where Habit Stacking comes in. It is a great tool to have in your healthy lifestyle toolbox to help you not rely on will power alone.
What is Habit Stacking? This is the fastest and easiest way to stack a new habit with something you already do. We are creatures of habit. Around 50% of what we do daily is out of habit. Think about that for just a second. We all have a ritual when it comes to starting our day. For me, I do that same actions every morning. Get up, use the bathroom, take a shower, brush my teeth, and get dressed. Then… I head for my beloved coffee pot. Normally, I do all these actions in the same way every morning without even thinking about it. So, let’s add habit stacking on to this and how it can fit into your daily activities.
For me, I already have the habit of brushing my teeth in the morning. Let’s say I want to add the habit of doing some light stretches. I would stack the two. Every morning while brushing my teeth, I would do a few sets of stretches. It would only take a few minutes to do this activity and not only are you moving your muscles, but you are activation your brain in a healthy manner. Over time, this would become a new habit that would click in your brain. It isn’t a complex behavior but a simple doable behavior that will soon become routine.
There are two other habits that I have stacked onto my morning coffee routine in the last few years, using the habit stacking method. The first one is shoes. I know you are all thinking I have lost my mind. I love to go on a walk in the morning, starts my day off well. But I can procrastinate.
Who’s with me? I can think of a million other things to do other than putting my shoes on and getting out the door. What I started doing is, at night I put my shoes in front of the cabinet that my coffee maker sits on. I literally must put them on or trip on them. In this non-caffeinated state, it is easier to put them on. No more procrastinating once I have had a glorious cup of joe.
Now, I said I had two habits in the morning with my coffee pot. I struggle with getting enough water in during the day. So, I started grabbing a bottle of water while waiting for the coffee to brew. I can get in 16 ounces of water by doing this. I make it a game. Who’s going to win – the coffee maker or me? Might sound silly and that really is okay. Now it is second nature to get in an early morning bottle of water. Starting my day off great simply by habit stacking.
I want you to think about your day and what healthy habits you want to create by stacking onto your current habits. I don’t want you to change everything at once. This of one or two new habits your can incorporate over the next month and build from there.
Here are some other examples:
- On your morning commute – try drinking a bottle of water before your get to the office and then again on your way home. This would be an easy way to get in 2 bottles of water!
- It can be frustrating during that commute to the office. Try listening to an inspirational or healthy lifestyle podcast.
- Doing laundry – take the time in between the cycles to go for a walk, or get some stretching in. The same can be done when you pick up your mail.
Let me know how you are habit stacking! Keeping your new habit simple and linking it to something you do multiple times a day, is the quickest way to making it a permanent part of your life.