The habit loop
Now that you know what a Keystone Habit is, let’s talk about how we get stuck in Habit Loops (both good and bad ones). Habit Loops consist of three behaviors: a cue, a routine, and a reward.
A trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.
So…after your grocery trip when you immediately eat the ice cream you got and then spend 2 hours being mad at yourself about—that could have been avoiding by not buying it or by finding a healthy alternative and setting limits on how much you consume. When you get to the end of your 4 hour Netflix binge and then obsess over how your stomach fits in your jeans—that could have been avoided by building confidence in the gym. Do you catch my drift? If you focus on some big habits (your Keystone Habits), though very very hard to break and form new, you can create a ripple effect that you feel all over your life.
Are there habit loops that exist in your life? Think about a few of the bad habits you have that you want to change and break them down with a Habit Loop.
Keystone Habit: I currently have a habit of Netflix binging all night, every night.
As soon as I get home, I sit on the couch
Once we begin to recognize the things that cue our bad habits and the routines we build around those cues, it makes it a lot easier to change our bad habits into good ones! Here is our new routine:
As soon as I get home, I pack my bag to go to the gym
At my lowest, my diet consisted of cheese, bread, sweets, at least 50oz of soda a day, and 10-15 cigarettes. I was the unhappiest I had ever been, at the highest weight of my life, in a toxic relationship, and without any sense of passion (aside from being passionate about my couch time every night).
When I started my journey, I focused on all my bad habits, convinced I could break them all at once. That’s right, overnight I was going to break myself of habits I had spent the better part of 29 years routinely doing. Wanna know how long that lasted? 6 days.
So I started over. I made a plan. I said it to myself. I told people. I made a choice. But most importantly, I wrote it all down. That was my secret.
I wrote down my goals, I wrote a letter to myself reminding future—surely frustrated—me what it was like to be at the start. To know exactly WHY I wanted this. Then I wrote down the things I wanted to focus on. All of the language I used around my own habits became positive. It was no longer removing nasty habits, I was building better ones.
Stop being so lazy? Move your body more What you’re eating is making you fat? Healthy food is medicine and will make me feel better physically and mentally
My plan consisted of (what I thought to be) small parts, but it turned out those small parts became the Keystone habits on which I built (and am still building) my life on.
- I wrote down the weights I was lifting at the gym so I could see when I moved up (this created another small win in my day *score*)
- YouTube university was a school I attended daily as I learned how to do certain movements. I searched for meal prep hacks and used my now free “Netflix time” to watch content that helped me to grow and learn.
- I tracked everything (read: every.thing.) I ate. This not only helped me stick to my goals but gave me a new understanding of food and helped to rebuild a positive relationship with nutrition.
- I would practice being open and honest each day with my struggle. I didn’t hide my journey which allowed me to accept that I was human and those bad days would always come, but so would the incredible ones. This built a habit of resilience and persistence.
I still work each day to tweaks habits and become more mindful of different reactions and behaviors, but when I focus on building routines around my core needs I was able to train my brain to do them without thought or the tug-o-war emotions I had before. After 3 short weeks, I was lifting a weight which I once swore would kill me. After a month I understood proper form through my basic workout movements because of the countless videos I was watching each day. After three months I was in the best shape of my life—better than my peak performance of basketball season Junior year of High School (12 years ago). After a year my relationship with my body and my mind had completely changed, I ate healthy foods by default and no longer needed to track each thing I ate. I was able to find a balance in all aspects of my life, yet take on more tasks than I ever dreamed possible.
Connect with your humans
There’s not a single human on this planet that doesn’t have habits. As you’re learning about your habits and how to change the cycle, hop over to our Facebook Group and share about it all.