I’m sure you’ve heard this time and again, but one of the most important and longstanding pieces of health advice is to be consistent. For many people a lack of consistency can be the biggest hurdle to achieving real, long-term change – and it is with the arrival of the new year that we often find refreshed motivation to exercise, eat better, and try other ways (there’s usually a list) to incorporate improved wellbeing into our lives.
Don’t get me wrong – that burst of motivation is refreshing and well intentioned. However, motivation fluctuates, and it’s consistency that will see us through the year with tangible changes to our health.
To help set yourself up for success, there is an interesting concept called ‘habit stacking’. James Clear eloquently breaks this down in his book Atomic Habits, explaining how it involves pairing an activity you already routinely do with a habit you are trying to build.
An example James provides of how small and easy habit stacking can be is meditating for one minute after you pour your coffee. A simple method for you to be consistent with your health goals in 2023, whatever they may be, is to break them down into small steps that can be built into a habit over time – and connect them with habits you’ve already established, to get momentum going.
To understand why building on existing habits is so powerful, Clear explains the concept of ‘synaptic pruning’. Research has shown that the average adult has fewer neurons than an infant, because the brain ‘prunes’ connections between neurons that are less frequently used and builds on the speed and efficiency of the connections we use more. This is also the biological process underpinning how we learn, and it helps explain why the way we usually do things requires the least amount of energy.
Building on my last blog post on maintaining health over the festive period, developing healthy habits and a better microbiome are certainly top of mind for long-term healthy habits. While including supplements in our diets is a wellbeing activity that can easily slip as motivation wanes, it’s becoming increasingly important as the average diet packs less of a nutritional punch. As Scientific American put it, “each successive generation of fast-growing, pest-resistant carrot is truly less good for you than the one before.”
Bee pollen is known for its nutrient density, and our potentiated pollen is more bio-available than raw pollen for maximum absorbency. NatureBee’s Power Pollen is exceptionally nutrient-rich, with its high levels of proteins, amino acids, lipids, minerals, fatty acids, fiber, and vitamins playing an important role in helping you build and sustain a healthier gut. Tying this back to habit stacking for health, you could try adding bee pollen to your breakfast routine! Eventually you won’t do one without the other.
How else can you build on existing habits? During the festive season people around the world change the way they value eating. Meals become an opportunity for celebration, where we pour energy into making food and freely give our time to others while we eat. British food writer Bee Wilson wrote in The Guardian that “unhealthy food, eaten in a hurry, seems to be the price we pay for living in liberated modern societies.”
Perhaps this is the place to start next year. You already eat several times a day, but how do you eat? You could try eating more slowly when you sit for your next meal and build that, through repetition, into a habit. This is one of the simplest changes you can make for your health and carries the lessons learned from the slower, more relaxed pace of life over the holidays into this next year.
What habits will you be stacking to set yourself up for your healthiest year yet?