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Create the new normal to transform your body


Tell me if you have also done this…2nd January rolls around, and you make all kinds of grand plans to transform your body and finally get into the shape you want. Five weeks later, those plans are a distant memory, with no concrete action taken.

I’ve done this, and so have many of my clients.

We often blame a lack of willpower. This article explains why developing effective habits, as opposed to displaying willpower, is the key to improving your health and fitness.

Where do habits come from?

Our habits are based on fundamental behaviours in response to similar situations, to the point where they are often unconscious[i]. If we try to ‘will’ ourselves to change without systematically altering these fundamental behaviours, it is very difficult to make long-term progress.

Consider quick-fix weight loss programs. These programs address symptoms (poor eating, lack of exercise) without addressing the more fundamental behaviours that led to the issue in the first place.

Why habits work

“Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking…they follow the habits they’ve learned.”[ii]

By drilling down deeper and changing habits, we alter our own internal programming and begin to respond differently, regardless of what life throws at us. This does not happen overnight, but through systematic coaching and practice.

By only addressing symptoms, it is difficult to entrench the ‘desired response’ we want for the long term. This is where the additional work of building effective habits really pays off.

Three steps to building effective habits

To create effective habits that will help you achieve your goals, follow these steps:

  1. Decide the end result that you want;
  2. Determine the required behaviours to achieve that result;
  3. Start with the first behaviour, practice it for two weeks until it becomes entrenched, proceed to behaviour 2, and so on…

Keeping with the weight loss example, here are two proven behaviours that will immediately help achieve this outcome:

  • Eat slower (take 15-20 minutes to eat each meal)
  • Choose water first when you crave a snack

Behaviour 1: eating slower

When you sit down for your evening meal tonight, time how long it takes you to eat. If its super-fast (I was shocked when I did this experiment), you want to look at how you can slow down.

The reason why eating slower will help you lose weight is because it prevents over-eating. When you are full, your body releases a hormone called leptin, which tells your brain that enough food has been consumed. This process takes approximately 20 minutes, so if you are eating quickly your body won’t know that you have eaten enough food.

By slowing down the eating process, you are giving your body the opportunity to tell you it’s had enough.

Behaviour 2: choose water first when you feel hungry

The reason for this habit is because dehydration is often mistaken for hunger.

The trick is quite simple…the next time you feel hungry, drink a glass of water first and wait 15 minutes. If you still feel hungry, then you want to look for healthy options. If you aren’t then you’ve avoided overeating, and rehydrated at the same time.

[i] Andrews, R: Secret to nutrition success? It’s not willpower. It’s your environment:

[ii] Duhigg, C: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How To Change

To learn more about effective habits to achieve your fitness goals, contact James Staring, a leading personal trainer in Clapham, London.


James StaringJames Staring is a personal trainer based in Clapham, London. His methods have featured in publications such as Your Fitness, Hello, Healthy, Daily Mail, Closer, and many more. After giving up smoking and entering the fitness industry in 2009, James has focused on his passion to help others transform their health and fitness. However, James is convinced that most people struggle so much more than they need to in an effort to improve their fitness. Through his company, Fit to Last, which he runs with his partner, Ali Page – James has helped hundreds of men and women make small adjustments in their daily habits to transform their fitness and to love how they look and feel.

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