Keystone Habits – The Key to Achieving New Year Resolutions

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New Year Resolutions

Want better health? Want to lose weight?  Well Dr. Syleecia Thompson, serial entrepreneur and entertainment agent, says – vision, plan, execute – a seemingly simple process that anyone can craft to facilitate their goals, and for this time of year – New Year resolutions. There are an estimated 21.4% of people this year resolving to lose weight. Most, unfortunately, will not reach their goals. If it were only as easy as to follow this 3-step template and watch achievement after achievement come to fruition. So why can’t it be this easy? Habit. As humans we we are inclined to form these default neurological patterns that are governed by a trigger, a routine and a reward. Walking into the kitchen in the morning is a trigger to make coffee, the routine, followed by the reward being  the aroma and taste of freshly brewed coffee. They are hard to form and difficult to break. Nonetheless, habits are malleable. We do this by creating keystone habits where other good habits form around the primary one. For example, just going to the gym will likely make you drink more water and eat clean than otherwise.  Below are some keystone habits you should consider forming in order wellness behaviors become part of your lifestyle, and hence foster your goals to come to fruition.

The first thing in the quest to improve our health is to not necessarily add to our life, but to eliminate. Going food shopping while satiated (not hungry) is key to not having junk food in the house. This in of itself will  have an impactful effect on your will-power and food selection while food shopping. When full we are more likely to stay on the perimeter of the supermarket where we will commonly find fresh produce and lean meats, as opposed to process junk food in the middle aisles when we are hungry.

Another keystone habit is working out by gaining access to exercise equipment. Notice how I didn’t say to necessarily join a gym. Having easy access is critical to adhering to an exercise program. If you have to drive 30 minutes, look for parking, wait for machines, and then drive back, a 45 minute exercise routine will turn into a 2 hour ordeal. Critical piece here – accessibility. Working out in my office eliminates me having to drive, make excuses or be inconvenienced by circumstances beyond my control (a crowded gym).

Dr. Ivan

Buy and use a 16-20oz container and leave it at work. Drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. If you weigh 200lbs, drink 100 ounces daily, for example. Any liquid should count towards your water intake, although for weight loss, try to stick with water and not carbonated beverages or sugary drinks. In the case of a 200 lb individual, fill up you 20oz container 3-4 times assuming you will have something to drink outside of work. Water will keep you satiated, eliminating unnecessary snacking, and keep you hydrated in order to optimize your workouts. But most importantly, having a designated container will trigger the routine to drink more often.

Find friends or exercise partner(s) that have like-minded resolutions and who will keep you accountable and earnest with your lifestyle modification efforts. Knowing that someone is waiting on you will put the onus on you to arrive at the gym. Once there, just being in a gym atmosphere, you are likely to do something productively.

Lastly, when going to the gym I want you to eat the frog. This means that I want you to do the very hardest thing first and then everything else thereafter. Because I am a big advocate of squats and deadlifts, and training each body part at least twice per week, I would like for you to warm up first, and then start squatting or deadlifting, each on separate days. This will ensure, at the very least, that you are stimulating your body with compound exercises designed to build muscle and lose fat.

Good luck, happy new year and start forming some keystone habits!

Written by Dr. Ivan Hernandez

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