How Developing “Keystone Habits” Changes Everything.

habit change dietIt’s an important point to make..

And one that seems to be almost completely ignored.

We’ve been going about this dieting thing all wrong.

Millions will go on a “diet” this year, but few will attempt to use any tested, proven habit change techniques.

Why is that?

We all go through the same tired diet routines that, far too often, lead us right back to where we started.

If you think about it – the foods we choose to eat have enormous impact in how our lives turn out.

In fact, it may be one of the single biggest factors that determine how happy our future-selves are..

Let that sink in for a second, because it couldn’t ring more true.

Getting control of your eating habits, is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

Deep down, I think we all know it, but here’s the problem –

The way you eat is one seriously reinforced habit system. 

It isn’t easy to change these, not one, but  multiple habits that have been reinforced for years on end.

That’s the way habits work. The longer you have them – the stronger they are.

Think of them as cables made of strands of wire.. and go through the drive through for that burger, and those fries that you can smell for 2 miles away..

You’re laying down another strand of wire.

Making that habit stronger.. and literally making thicker, the strand of neurons responsible for said habit.

Just like the cable.

OK, tell me if this sounds familiar…

You do tons of preparation before a diet – Researching, shopping, prepping, cooking.. but when it came down to that “first day” when “everything was going to change”.. you just couldn’t stick with it.

It seems to happen time and time again, and that’s when things get really hairy, because then, you not only need to break bad eating habits.. now, you need to break a failure habit.

The good news is – it’s not your fault. You just need a smarter plan than the usual – “OK.. Tomorrow, I change absolutely everything about the way I eat!”

We need to merge effective habit change techniques, with the recent movement to eat more in line with how we ate as we evolved.

We now know more about the “science of habits” than ever before. We know about how breaking a habit down into it’s three parts – the cue, the reward, and the routine lets us , more easily form and break habits.

We’ll talk lots more about habit formation in a future paleoIQ newsletter, but for now, we’ll talk about how developing keystone habits can help in your Paleo dieting efforts.

Keystone Habits, and Why They’re Important.

To understand why it’s important to develop keystone habits, it’s first important to note that, as recent studies have shown, we all have a very finite amount of willpower. Meaning that any time we’re making life changes that are hard to make, at some point… we simply run out of willpower, or “habit fuel”.

That’s going to be somewhat of an issue, when attempting traditional diets methods. The whole concept of starting a whole new set of eating habits at once  is flawed. You couldn’t be more set-up for failure.

With this flawed approach, failure becomes the norm, and eventually a habit of failing is formed. You’ll know if you’ve developed the nasty habit if – deep down – you expect to fail before you even start.

Too much change at once is a recipe for failure, luckily, that’s exactly where keystone habits can help. Keystone habits allow us to work around our resistance to multiple changes, by acting like “triggers” in a line of habit systems, or like the first link in a “habit chain”.

By strategically developing a keystone habit, and then building off of it, you’re setting yourself up for a string of small wins. These small wins will build momentum, and provide positive feedback, both are crucial in effective habit change.

A keystone habit is a repetitive action used to trigger a string, or chain of habits. It doesn’t matter how big or small your keystone habit is.. it only matters that you know you can follow through with doing it everyday, and that you can use it as a platform to build other habits around.

Taking the First Step (Start Small).

By now, I hope you see the power in developing keystone habits, and how beneficial they can be in your dieting efforts. If so, you’ll probably want to put this to use right away -When starting out, the best advice is to pick simple, easy actions to from the first link if your habit chain..

For example – You may develop the habit of:

  • Drinking a glass of Agave Apple Cider Vinegar Tea every morning at 7 a.m.
  • Doing 25 push-ups as soon as you wake.
  • Making a protein shake as soon as you get home from work.
  • Having a salad every night at 8 p.m. for your late night snack. 

A basic “starter strategy” is to start with just one keystone habit in the morning, and after a week or so – add in another keystone habit in the evening. Just remember, to keep each additional habit small and simple. The point is to make sure you “can’t fail”, allowing you build a habit of winning rather that failing.

Once those initial keystones habits become ritual, and no longer require your precious willpower, then add secondary links to your habit chains.

For example, you could:

  • Run for 20 minutes after your Agave Apple Cider Vinegar Tea at 7 a.m.
  • Make 5 eggs directly after your 25 push-ups.
  • Etc.

With a little strategic effort, you can develop multiple habit chains allowing you accomplish your goals without so much internal resistance. This is a much more effective way to take the plunge into the Paleo diet lifestyle, but can also be used in many other ares in your life.

It’s important to be patient in this process.. this article isn’t titled “How to use keystones habits to make dieting easy”.. Long term, effective habit change takes effort. We all know there are no short cuts.. but it’s far easier to strategically build habits than to attempt massive, overnight change.

Hopefully, this sparked some ideas that you can use in your quest to live the Paleo diet lifestyle. A great first step would be to share some of your personal keystone habits in the comments section below.

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  1. When ever I need to make changes after falling off the wagon I start with exercise and then add in the dietary changes. More vegetables then cutting back the undesirables. I keep my new additions delicious and tempting.

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