The Science Behind Successful Habit Forming

So, how are we doing with that spring goal we talked about last month?

Habit formation has 4 steps: a cue, a craving, a response, and a reward.

Cue: Trigger your brain daily; let it see a reminder. Stacking habits (i.e., you always floss after brushing your teeth) can help, blocking out time that is “untouchable” in your schedule, setting out workout clothes or a Pilates mat ahead of time can all cue your brain.

Craving: A craving is what tells your brain the habit is attractive. Setting reminders (as in cues above), and initiating the habit positively can spark your brains desire to do something. This is why although running that 1-2 miles a day the first few weeks may feel so hard, but eventually your body will crave it, and miss it when you miss a day.

Response: This is the habit, or the desired response from the cue and craving. The running of 2 miles. The critical part here is choosing a habit that is attainable, you can work towards, and that you can negotiate leniency if it doesn’t happen all the way. Maybe your baby was up all night and your 2 mile run is a 1 mile run/walk. You are still working towards the habit and the ultimate goal. Feed your brain positive response cues!

Reward: Habits should make us feel good. The reward is critical, otherwise why would our brain want to do it daily? The reward can take many shapes and forms: habit tracking in a calendar can allow your brain to see the progress you’ve made. For instance, maybe it took you 15 minutes to run/walk your first mile the first 2 weeks, but now you can run a mile non stop in 12 minutes. Your brain sees that as a reward. Maybe the reward is seeing a friend once a week for a jog together, or participating in an activity more fully. Take mental or physical notes of those rewards! Most true rewards from habitual lifestyle changes take time, and we are generally an impatient society. Note the good stuff along the way!

Indigo’s addition to habit forming? 

Take care of yourself along the way and utilize the resources you have. That could be seeing us for a running shoe evaluation (or just some education on where to start with shoes), getting some true pointers on deep core strengthening to get you on your way to that power yoga class being more effective, treatment of incontinence so you feel confident on that run, or even hands on scar release of a c-section scar so you can feel your core muscles engaging better. 

Make a habit of taking care of YOU.

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