The power of consistency

08.30.17 |

Small behaviours can lead to big change

The Habits of Health system recognizes that even the smallest behaviors, when repeated over the long-term, can lead to significant change. And that works both ways: Small healthy behaviors lead to longevity while small unhealthy behaviors lead to disease.

When we saw early research about the potential of habits and behavior support to drive healthy change, we knew that they would become the cornerstones of our work because of their massive potential to drive lasting results and because of how deeply habits are woven into our lives.

Medical research has come a long way since we published Dr. A’s Habits of Health, but that foundational idea has only gotten stronger as more and more experts confirm the importance of habits.

In a new study published in the journal Obesity, researchers found that study participants who consistently lost weight, week after week, were most likely to have continued on their course one or two years later. The participants who fluctuated week to week experienced the opposite.

The study’s lead author, Emily Feig, PhD, said, “It seems that developing stable, repeatable behaviors related to food intake and weight loss early on in a weight control program is really important for maintaining changes over the long term.”

Conquering the yo-yo effect

If you have read even a few pages of any Habits of Health book, all of this should sound very familiar. When you do not build repeatable behaviors (another way of saying habits), you are likely to experience the yo-yo effect. You may see some positive results, but then you slip right back to where you started. To conquer the yo-yo effect and to reach a healthy weight (and stay there!), you need to harness the power of habits, and you need a support system behind you to keep you on track.

While the Habits of Health are comprehensive, covering nearly every aspect of your life to help you create vibrant health, these are some of the key components:

  • Creating a new habit takes, on average, 66 days of consistent behavior.
  • Changing habits often requires mindfulness, practices that make you more aware of why you are making certain choices so that you have the presence of mind to change them.
  • Start small. Break big habit down into micro habits, so instead of doing 100 push-ups a day start by doing just one and gradually add them.
  • In the spirit of starting small, simplify the initial effort you need to get started by using pre-packaged meals.
  • Work with a health coach so that you have support, direction, and accountability for your journey.

When you combine these components, you create a consistency. You have the tools, the insights, and the support you need to reprogram your habits so that you can consistently move forward on your health journey. When any one of these pieces is missing, you risk falling into the dreaded yo-yo pattern.

You need to begin your health journey with consistency in mind. When you take this approach, the results follow, and those results can be incredible.