The topic of the day is How to build the habits that will bring you closer to your long-term goal.

Why is this important? Because results come from small actions performed consistently over a long period of time. If you transform those little actions into habits, it becomes much easier to incorporate those changes into your life. That’s how the real makeover happens.

What exactly is a habit? Well, a habit is a recurrent pattern of behaviour acquired by frequent repetition. In other words, it is a way of programming an action into your brain. That means that it becomes automatic. You don’t have to think about it. You just do it. And saves you a lot of energy that can go into more important activities.

Besides, if you are not thinking about it, you will be less likely to talk yourself out of it. Have you ever noticed how much self-talk we do? We are constantly talking ourselves into and out of things. Now, when you build a habit, you eliminate choice from the equation because the action is already integrated in your routine. It is like brushing your teeth. You don’t ask yourself every morning, if you are feeling like brushing your teeth (at least I hope not). You just do it.

Common knowledge says that you need to practice a behaviour for around 21 days for it to become a habit. But it may actually take up to two months to build a strong habit. So how can you do it?

You will certainly need more than will-power. You will need a strategy.

It is important to understand that habits always happen in a cycle. First, there is the trigger, something that reminds you to act in a certain way. Second, there is the behaviour, the action in itself. And third, there is the reward, the feel-good sensation that assure our brain that performing the activity was definitely a good idea.

To create a habit you must have all those components.

At first, it will be a conscious decision.

The easiest way of doing this is linking the desired behaviour to an existent habit (which will work as the trigger). Therefore, every time you perform the existent habit it will remind you to start the desired behaviour. For example, let’s say you want to create the habit of having your multi-vitamins every day. If you link this behaviour to your breakfast, every time you have breakfast you will remember to have your vitamins. Makes sense?

The next step is including a reward after you have performed the desired behaviour. Please, don’t skip this step because this is how the behaviour becomes a habit. The reward phase helps releasing the feel-good chemicals that imprint the behaviour in your brain. It transforms the action from a boring chore into something you WANT to do it again.

Now, by reward I don’t mean something big. It can be as simple as ticking a box on a accountability chart. You can create your very own rewards program by using a simple chart in which you tick off every time you practice the planned action. Once you have completed it a certain number of times, you can redeem it for a big reward (a massage, a dress you had your eye on, or anything meaningful to you).

This can really make a difference in your weight-loss process. There are several behaviours associated with fat loss that need to become part of your daily routine. I will go through them on my post.