Make More Than One Good Change at a Time – Things to Do to Improve Your General Health and Fitness
Simple isn’t necessarily easy, however, especially when it comes to establishing new health habits.
Change is always difficult. Yet as counterintuitive as it might seem, you’ll probably make more
progress by adopting a few new practices simultaneously than one step at a time.
Consider research from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In the study, half of the
subjects transformed their lifestyles significantly, all at once: they worked out daily, kept a food
journal to monitor their eating habits, and took time for stress-reduction mental exercises. The other
half went about their standard collegiate ways. At the end of the study period, the several-things-atonce
group were, of course, healthier and happier than the control group. What was surprising was
that their increase in self-esteem and their performance on cognitive-function tests increased more
than would have been expected if they had made just one big change, such as improving their diets.
The findings suggest that a few good new habits mixed together can create a positive-positive
feedback cycle. Success in one area can motivate you in other areas, and success on one day can
make it easier to do the right thing the following day.
Of course, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with lifestyle changes. Too much too soon can
lead to abandoning the whole project. A solution for tackling a few changes at a time? When time
permits and doing so makes sense, cluster good habits. In my sport, running, it’s common for people
to finish a run and do some stretching or strengthening while they’re flushed with the feeling of a good
workout. Then, while they’re still in heightened self-care mode, they’re more likely to have a good
post-run meal and try to extend their currently calm mindset to the rest of the day’s challenges. Along
the same lines, you could easily integrate self-massage, flossing , and a screen-free
bedroom into a healthful pre-sleep routine.
Inertia can be a difficult force to overcome, but once you’ve done so, it doesn’t take much effort to
keep your momentum going.