Tiny habits, a recipe for success.

Running Before Walking and Making A Habit of Habits

Hi all, my name’s Tom and I will be working with James to develop all things Turn Up Training. In the proud tradition of transformation stories, I’m a long-standing ‘Turnip’, having trained with James for over 6 years. In more recent times I have been studying to be a personal trainer and will start training clients and taking classes very soon!

I will be taking over the blog from now on in an effort to provide continued educational advice that can benefit you when it comes to health and wellbeing This blog will usually focus on training, nutrition and recovery.

So for my first post, I thought it would it would be good to look at habits. We all think we know what habits are but do we actually understand how they work and why we all find developing and keeping some habits easy and getting rid of some habits impossible? If we are honest we’ve all got habits that we do want or don’t want or which make us feel guilty or bad… Which is part of the problem! So for now let’s take the emotions out of our thinking and define what we mean by ‘habits’

Habits are regular behaviours that we either do want or which we don’t want.

It’s that simple. Don’t believe me then read ‘Tiny Habits – The Small Changes That Change Everything’ by BJ Fogg. BJ Fogg is an American Behavioural Scientist and runs the Behaviour Design Lab at Stanford University in California. He has spent decades studying human behaviour and habits in particular and both James and I can thoroughly recommend his book.

One of the key ideas in the book is that all behaviour happens when three factors occur:

· Motivation

· Ability

· Prompt

So, that social media scrolling habit you wish you could do less of? The desire to keep up with your social circle (Motivation, actually Dopamine), combined with easy to use apps (Ability) plus constant update flags (Prompts) is irresistible for many people… Remove any one of those factors and your habit is often impossible to sustain.

Key take-aways from the book are that attaching emotions to habits (most-often negative / guilt etc) is both pointless and self-defeating – the habit will more likely be continued as you feel worse about yourself for ‘failing’. However, when developing new, healthier or more positive habits, starting small (actually tiny), with a behaviour that slots into your existing routine and which you actually want to do is the best way, over time, of developing the habits that you actually want.

Obviously, summarising a 200-plus page book and associated academic research into a 1000 word blog post involves some over-simplification so please get hold of this book to learn the detail https://www.bjfogg.com/

But Tom, What Has All This Got To Do With Training, Nutrition and Staying Healthy?


· Most people associate ‘exercise’ or ‘fitness’ with completing big challenges involving super-human efforts (like unicycling a Triathlon or doing the London Marathon on a pogo stick). BIG MISTAKE!

· Most people think eating healthily involves them and everyone in the family eating nothing but organic tofu and greens seven days a week… INCORRECT!

· Most people think recovery / ‘wellness’ is something to do with sitting in a lotus position for 24 hours or fasting for three weeks straight. NOPE!

Unless you actually want to and can reasonably expect to complete these behaviours then please don’t attempt them. ‘Go Big or Go Home’ is rarely sustainable and the bigger the difference between your starting point and your ambition, the more steps you will need to go through to achieve your goals (and the higher likelihood of failure) …

We are talking about making small (tiny) incremental changes that are practical, achievable and which fit easily into your daily routines.

Aged 40 I was at least 50 Pounds overweight but, perhaps even worse, I was struggling to manage the challenges that life generally was throwing at me. Without going into a long transformation story, I’m no longer four stone overweight and as well as multiple physical changes I’m hugely more mentally resilient. But I didn’t make those changes overnight. I started with one 50 Yard run, then another, then another until over time I was running most days of the week and strength training to supplement it. But I deliberately started tiny (and I hadn’t even read the book).

So, start with two or three tiny habits and they are more likely to evolve into bigger ones which are more easily sustained. Make sure that the behaviours you want to encourage provide immediate positive feedback or immediately celebrate your successes!

What does this mean for you? The following is just an example to get you thinking:

Your newly purchased Fit Bit is telling you that your daily step-count is averaging 4500 and your ambition is to increase to 10,000 steps daily… you feel defeated before you’ve even started… so:

· Park at the other end of the staff carpark, walk round the building between meetings, park further away from your kids’ school, park at the back of Tesco’s carpark and take your trolley back to the store, walk round the pitch during your kid’s football session… small changes, taking just seconds and the occasional minute but you’re getting your steps in and burning those incremental calories. You haven’t had to organise or think about any additional activities or buy any expensive kit…

· Incremental calories burned are the foundation stone of a healthy exercise regime – basically burning more calories than you need to whilst going about activities of daily living. Calories burned incidentally are arguably more useful than those burned in the gym… they happen without a second thought.

· Walking is great for improving mobility, posture and joint health and providing the basis for more ambitious cardiovascular or resistance training and is a great way to recover from exercise. Over time, you’ll smash through that 10,000 step marker and because you started tiny, embedded your new habits and developed over time, your new walking habit will sustain.

So don’t just start small START TINY AND CELEBRATE EVERY SINGLE SUCCESS! Myself and James are always happy to discuss the changes you want to incorporate in your life and to help you on your journey, please feel free to contact us!

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