by Tony Gjokaj August 26, 2020 4 min read

Exercise is the ultimate habit hack. It provides you the opportunity to dive into your other bad habits and replace them with better ones.

In this post, we are going to go into Habit-Stacking, a strategy that if utilized, makes it significantly easier to optimize your health.

Let's get after it!

 

Habit-Stacking

Habit-stacking is when you take various tasks and combine them together to build a routine.

For example, drinking water at the start of your morning before your coffee or Impulse will be a good habit to start. This is because water consumption in the morning habitually invites consistent water consumption and potentially, total calorie reduction.

Habit-Stacking allows you the opportunity to build positive habits together to create a chain reaction. While you can do this for various habit-building tasks, we are going to dive into exercise and nutrition.

Exercise: The Ultimate Habit Hack

According to a behavioral study done in 2012, people who tend to be more physically active reduce their overall fat intake. With this, I believe exercise is the ultimate habit hack. This is because exercise stacks other healthier habits along with it, causing a chain reaction.

When you start exercising, a few things stack up:

Essentially, exercise and proper nutrition continue to cause a chain reaction where we make better lifestyle choices overall. For example, we start drinking more water, reading more, going outside more, and so on.

To Build A Habit Stack

In order to build habit stacks, we recommend the following:

  • Start Small. Make it a habit to stroll for a brisk walk, or go to the gym for just 30 minutes. Start portion controlling your meals or tracking your meals. Over time, you will continue to build healthy habits.
  • Hack Your Environment. If your home is filled with bad habits, try to get rid of most of them. Next time you go to the grocery store, never buy junk food. These things create huge changes over time.
  • Make An Effort To Do These Things. It's easier to make small changes in nutrition, hydration, and sleep if you continue to exercise along with it.

You do not need to create huge changes to your diet just yet, just focus on the small things you can do. More veggies, more fruits, more protein, less junk food. Pretty soon you will replace your bad food habits with good ones.

For more on portion control, read our post here.

    Temptation Bundling: The Habit Sandwich

    Temptation Bundling is another strategy you can use to create better habits in your lifestyle. As mentioned in a previous post, we call this strategy "The Habit Sandwich".

    A Habit Sandwich is when you take a task you WANT to do and combine it with something you NEED to do. For example, for every "bad meal" you have, replace the next meal with a "good one". Once you get the hand of this, for every "bad meal" you have, the next two meals will be a "good one". Keep doing this until you have consistent good habits around food.

    Additionally, you can do this with a "cheat meal" or a "free meal". This is where we focus on eating well throughout the week and allow ourselves to indulge in one meal at the weekend.

    You can also do this with exercise. If you're like me, you don't like mobility work. So while I warm up with my lifts, I do mobility work in between, extending my warm-up rest periods. This allows me to get my mobility work and get into my working sets.

    Craft Your Temptation Bundle

    Want to make this work? here's how:

    • Start with something you are super motivated to do, and then include a small task within that you're not motivated to do. 
    • After you do the habit you're not motivated to do, jump back to the habit you want to do.

    With that, let me give you two practical examples you can utilize:

    1. Say for example you love swimming but hate stretching (me). Go into the pool and swim, but work on mobility work and stretching. Leave the stretching towards the end (on the shallow side) so that you don't sink from cramps.
    2. Let's say you love working out your chest but hate working out your legs. Create a training program that allows you to train these muscle groups in one session.

    The programs I was able to stick with consistently were frequency-based training programs, like an Upper Body/Lower Body Split or Full-Body one. This is because it allowed me to train the muscle groups I liked frequently, along with the ones I didn't.

    Habits - Hacked and Stacked!

    With these strategies, we hope that you can plan out more practical ways to improve your health and fitness goals. While we can give you the keys to success every day, it's up to you to build healthy habits so that you can accomplish your goals.

    Sometimes success in health and fitness is determined by the dedication of consistent hours worked. If I spend more hours consistently working towards bettering myself with healthy habits, I will see significant changes months from now.

    Any questions, comments, or insights? Throw them below, or email me at tony@reforgedperformance.com.

    Until next time, Reforged Legion!

    Tony Gjokaj
    Tony Gjokaj

    Tony is the Owner of Reforged Performance Nutrition. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help bridge the gap between physical & mental health through fitness.



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