Cue, Routine, Reward, REPEAT

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I am reading Charles Duhigg’s book: The Power of Habit.  It’s a fascinating read.  I’m learning plenty about how professional athletes, Fortune 500 CEOs, and the average guy or gal meets success at the crossroads of cues and rewards.  This has gotten me thinking about the cues, routines, and rewards I am using in my life to increase my likelihood of success in the realms of healthy eating and personal fitness.What cues have I incorporated into my life that have helped me build good habits?  One has to do with cleaning off the top of my range after washing the dishes every night.  I had a friend who had the cleanest range top in the world and I wanted the same.  I had heard that it only takes 21 days to develop a habit through repetition, so I put the theory to the test.  I wrote on an index card the words:  The dishes are not done until the range top has been cleaned.  Then, every time I did dishes, I washed off the range top.  The experts were right, after 21 days of practicing washing the range top before putting the dirty dish water down the sink, I had a habit in place. 

My range top has not been a mess one day since that time, except when I am away for a few days and my hubs takes over cooking.  He doesn’t care one whit about whether that range top is clean.  I don’t get it, but it is what it is.

Another habit I have built over the years has to do with making my bed every day. 

For whatever reason, I wanted to have one of those houses where people could stroll through, go into any room, look around and feel good about the state of my house.  Maybe that desire was more about my need for external validation than having a picture perfect house, who knows.  But in any case, I wanted that open feeling throughout my home.

To change my non-bed-making habit, I attacked making my bed with the same strategy I used to become proficient at cleaning up a dirty range top.  I did this by putting a note on my vanity mirror that said, “Your morning is not complete until you make your bed,” or something like that. 

Whenever I saw the CUE to make my bed, I performed the bed-making ROUTINE, and enjoyed the REWARD of heading off to work with a newly made bed that was going to be waiting for me when I got home at night. 

I love climbing into a bed that’s made, so this reward was sufficient to propel me forward and establish the routine. 

As I reflect on these changes I have consciously made in my life, the good habits I have built, I’m anxious to get to work identifying possible cues, routines, and rewards that could make it easier for me to get to my ideal weight. 

According to The Power of Habit, cues, routines, and rewards can be utilized to develop any number of new habits or patterns for living.  by simply identifying and practicing these three steps over and over again, I may be able to direct better habit-forming diet and exercise behaviors.  

Already, I’ve thought of a cue to help me be more motivated to exercise.  I will leave my work out clothes on my newly made bed in the morning, along with a note that says:  Your day is not finished until you have exercised. 

Here’s to another good habit born-woohoo!

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