The results in your life are a reflection of your habits.
According to habit guru James Clear:
“Habits are the small decisions you make and actions you perform every day. According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviors on any given day.
What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.”
While our habits make us, we make our habits. That’s where our power to create shifts and even dramatic transformations lies.
The power of creating keystone habits.
Your keystone habits are those that all the habits in your life are built upon. Think of them like the foundation of a house that supports all the floors that rise above it.
Without keystone habits, the structure we depend upon to make our lives run according to our dreams and goals can collapse in a heap of disappointing outcomes.
But, with an intentionally built foundation in place, we can more easily and efficiently reach our goals.
Your keystone habits support other routines that lead to a cascade of positive actions. They propel you forward with less effort than you’d have to expend if you had only willpower to rely upon.
The essential characteristics of Keystone Habits.
Keystone habits help you do the next “right thing” more easily. They jump start a cascade of other behaviors you want to program into your subconscious mind.
They minimize decision fatigue and rest the willpower muscle.
Think about designing your environment so it’s easier to do what you want and harder to go astray.
Here are some simple characteristics of keystone habits that set them apart from the rest:
- Keystone habits make it easier to start smaller new habits.
- They are small enough to avoid overwhelm so they build your confidence.
- Keystone habits make positive behaviors feel natural and unforced.
When you’re ready to undertake a big goal like weight loss, establishing and practicing a series of keystone habits bolsters and supports your efforts.
You’ll expend far less mental energy and be on your way toward your weight loss goal.
Keystone habits that set you up for weight loss success.
Here are some of the keystone habits that make it easier for me to stay on track in all areas of my own weight loss journey. Especially since I’ve been in maintenance for over 2 1/2 years.
- Make Your Bed. In his book, Make Your Bed, Admiral William H. McRaven, shares life lessons he had learned during his Navy Seal training. He stressed the importance of creating routines beginning with the keystone habit of making your bed. If you can accomplish this one habit first thing in the morning, you’ll find you’re inspired to stick to other habits throughout your day. You’ve launched a positive habit streak!
- Exercise Regularly. But not with the mistaken belief that it alone facilitates weight loss. As I’ve said before, unless you’re a competitive athlete, exercise does not demolish fat. Movement of some kind is for the sake of your brain and body health and well-being. A landmark study has shown that exercise facilitates the desire to make a variety of other positive changes. Like making healthier food choices, being more productive, smoking less, spending less, and feeling less stressed. Exercising even as little as once a week is enough to kick start these other changes. Even starting with just five minutes at a time can help establish a regular exercise habit.
- Create a Doable Food Plan in Advance. Just taking a few minutes to write down everything you plan to eat during the next day has many unexpected benefits. And if you can’t start the planning in advance aspect of the habit, then write down what you did eat at the end of every day. Then you can begin to notice patterns in your food choices and how much you’re eating. Remember that you are a study of one. Losing weight is always a try and tweak process. In studies, those who journaled their food intake began to eat less, make healthier choices, and commit to weight loss. Increased awareness leads to better results.
- Shop with a List. Only buy what is on your list. Time your shopping when you are not hungry. Think about shopping the perimeter isles where the whole foods are displayed.
- Organize the Pantry and Refrigerator. Stock only with foods that are part of your food protocol. Remove all foods that are not on your list. If others with different preferences share your pantry or frig, try to organize by shelf. Keep your items at eye level. Store the other foods in baskets or containers that don’t attract your attention.
- Prep Food in Advance. Over the weekend and on Mondays, I organize and cook food for the coming week. It’s my goal to assemble meals from these choices. There may be things that I still need to cook on the day of, but I know what’s coming up on the menu and what I need to prepare at the time of the meal. I rarely ever stress out about the question what’s for dinner.
Practice visualization to help install a new habit.
Imagine yourself performing the keystone habits you choose to make it easier for you to follow them. See yourself in the act of doing each keystone habit.
Visualization has been shown to support improved performance in all areas of your life. According to an article in Scientific American,
In fact, visualizing movement changes how our brain networks are organized, creating more connections among different regions. It stimulates brain regions involved in rehearsal of movement … priming the brain and body for action.
Habits of thought can support your efforts or undermine them.
Actively changing your mindset to root out negative thinking and cultivate a more helpful point of view changes EVERYTHING.
Shifts in negative, default thinking patterns build an attitude of confidence, adding motivation to make other positive habits easier.
It can be as simple as focusing on what you can do, rather than on what you can’t or aren’t yet ready to do. Then. thanks to that simple shift, you’ll be instructing your brain to seek evidence of all the ways you’re making choices to support your weight loss goals.
Now you’ve got a positive reinforcement loop running on repeat!
Creating keystone habits elevates your awareness and intention to the next level.
Let your keystone habits establish a solid foundation so you can layer on even more desirable habits.
I’d like to help you maximize your ability to create the keystone habits that support your weight loss goals. And, equally as important, help you extinguish those habits which undermine your good intentions.
Let’s talk about what’s possible for you. Schedule your free Strategy call with me right here.