What Is Habit Building?


Yesterday’s blog post kicked off our habit-building series. If you missed it, you can snag a peek here.

I like to think of habit building as placeholders you keep throughout your day. The easiest way to build new habits and kick old habits that no longer serve you to the curb …

Is to take a look at all the placeholders you have in your day and find out which habits you want to replace.

According to Charles Duhigg in his book The Power Of Habit building, the more and more automated our behavior becomes, the less our brain has to work. He talks about what is called the habit loop:


  • Cue (trigger to automatically start behavior)
  • Routine (the actual behavior)
  • Reward (what you earn from the behavior)

Until recently, much of our talk about habit was based on routine. Say you wanted to stop smoking, so the suggestion was to not smoke. Right … easy as pie.

Newer researcher suggests that the cue and reward are the key components to modifying and changing habits. Once your cues and rewards are in sync, which happens in the part of the brain known as the basal ganglia, it goes on autopilot. You start craving the reward at the end and you don’t have to think so much about the behavior.

That’s why when we try to change a habit into something we absolutely dread, we are less likely to stick with it. We get stuck in paralysis trying to talk ourselves out of that thing we don’t really want to do.

Ergo … the failure of NY resolutions.

The brain is lazy by nature because it consumes so many calories. Your thinking brain, or the neocortex, consumes most of the energy the brain needs. By the age of 35, most of our life is on automation based on the habits we’ve built and stored in our basal ganglia.

From your morning routine, grooming, going to work, the foods you eat, the conversations you have (yeah, we repeat the same stories and have our own catch phrases for a reason), and the route you drive to get to work.

Our entire life is based on a series of habits. The premise of building new habits is about changing the cue and reward, but keeping the routine. 

Let’s say you left the dentist office, and for the tenth year in a row he lectured you about flossing more than twice a year (ie: the two times you come to his office).

You decide to buckle down and do it! You think about the best time to floss. You could floss in the shower, but that might now happen.

You know you should floss when you brush. If you leave the floss in the cabinet, the likelihood of you remembering to floss when you brush is pretty close to zero.

But if you place the floss in the same jar as your toothbrush, that changes the cue. Now you are triggered to floss every time you brush because the floss is right there.

Maybe at first your gums bleed because you had the habit of not flossing. After a few days, your gums stop bleeding and they look healthier (reward).

The behavior stayed the same. You are still brushing twice a day. You modified the behavior a bit by adding in flossing, but you didn’t have to overhaul your entire life.

The same goes for your health and fitness goals. We are going to talk more about how to apply habit building directly to your fitness goals tomorrow.

Stay tuned….



P.S. Habit-building practices are part of what we are doing in New Year, New You. Our system will help you establish healthy fitness habits because we will send cues to you each day that help you chase that reward—feeling amazing after a great workout and healthy meal!

It’s not too late to sign up and still get the early bird BONUS Mindset Mini Course! The bonus goes away tomorrow, so act fast. You can sign up here.


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