The principle of forming rituals or habits is a popular one in the self-help world and is commonly used to help those who want to increase personal productivity – yes, even weight loss. I agree with many of my mentors … The tactic of forming rituals is vastly important to making the achievement of success easier and faster.
I do disagree, however, with the premise that the two terms “habits” and “rituals” can be used interchangeably. I believe the two terms are entirely different, and they should be used differently as an integral part of your plan to lose weight and look great.
If you haven’t guessed by now, the two terms are steps 1 and 2, but first, I would like to define the two terms as they appear in the dictionary:
ritual – any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.
habit – an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.
Do you see the difference here?
A ritual, to me, is a customary act, created for a select set of circumstances, such as in religious acts. However, a ritual can always be changed and updated, and there is no real end result.
A habit, on the other hand, results in the involuntary formation of continued action after a set period of time.
There is no guarantee if you create yourself a nice daily ritual that it will automatically form a habit for you. There are plenty of factors that could cause you to give up. I’ve been there, and it’s my job to make sure you know what it takes to avoid this danger.
So how do you execute the plan using these as your first two steps? Let’s break it down:
Step 1: Create the ritual. Look, I don’t want you spending too much time on this. If we dabble too much in the countless amounts of information at hand, we quickly fall into a deep zone of analysis paralysis, which is the act of continuously looking for a better answer or solution without taking any definitive action.
Therefore, take just 15-20 minutes of your day today to sit down and hand-write out one daily ritual to get you moving toward better health and/or fitness. You can always change or update your ritual down the line to better suit your needs. For now, we must focus on action!
Your daily ritual should look something like this: “Every day, I will wake up at 6:30 a.m., wash my face and brush my teeth, have a hot, lemon water, put on running shoes, stretch, and go for a 2-mile run.”
Or, in less descriptive terms:
[frequency of ritual (every day)] + [initial action (wake up) @ time (6:30 a.m.)] + [set of steps (wash face/brush teeth, hot lemon water, shoes, stretch)] = [end result (2-mile run)].
Step 2: Form the habit. Contrary to the 21-day habit theory many self-help gurus preach, I believe it’s actually a 60-day process for your mind to get fully used to your new ritual and make it a habit. If you’ve followed your ritual for 60 straight days, it should feel totally natural.
The habit you have created has finally fully taken form at this point. You should feel as though things are happening automatically. Putting on your running shoes and doing your pre-run stretch won’t be a daunting task anymore. You will just do it, with much less resistance than you experienced in your first few weeks.
The next phase of this step is crucial: using your willpower to overcome the rare low-energy days, or better yet, using it during your workouts.
Willpower is a funny thing. In the beginning, without even knowing it, you were using it to simply get up earlier than normal and get right to your workout. Once that process becomes a habit, you don’t need your willpower for it anymore. It’s a habit!
For example, you’ve automatically put on the running shoes and stretched, and you are now out for your run. The willpower you have can be used to help you increase your intensity. As a result, you could improve your pace by 15 seconds each mile.
Using your willpower in this way is both inspiring and beneficial. Now that you have more energy, less mental resistance, and presumably less weight to carry around, your exercises will feel easier. You will get through a workout still feeling like you accomplished something great, still challenged, and still tired, but it will not be as tough anymore.
Step 3: “The Healthy Addiction.” I am aware the word “addiction” is tied to a negative connotation, so I preface its explanation by adding the phrase “healthy” to it.
What does all of this mean? Once you hit a certain mark in your journey, you will naturally begin to feel something different about the way you are going about doing things. This new feeling is actually your brain accepting your new lifestyle and feeling good about the results you have achieved.
When you miss a workout or cheat on your diet on a regular diet day (not a cheat day if you have one), then your brain will now make you feel uncomfortable, or even guilty, about the mistake. Not only that, but your brain will crave a workout and begin to want you to eat healthy foods like greens and plenty of water. Once you get to that point, you’ll know, and things will be so much easier!
So during this time, I want you to really hone in on what you want to improve upon in your current regimen. Imagine what you will look like and how you will feel at the end of the next 30 days. Share your current results with your social media network, amongst your friends and family, or even your coworkers. You should be proud to have made it this far!
The habitual practice of your ritual will stick from this point forward. Again, there’s always a chance you fall off the wagon, but the chances are far less once you’ve arrived here. That will be the difference between fit now and fit for life.
Leave a comment below to share your ritual with me. The beginning of your newest endeavor is all too inspiring, so I hope to see plenty of comments pouring in.