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Develop a Perfect Posture Habit in 3 Steps

Develop a Perfect Posture Habit in 3 Steps

Developing a perfect posture habit leads to greater confidence, health, and attractiveness. But how do you develop that habit? What is a habit?

According to Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit, a habit is defined by a Cue, Routine, and Reward. The cue is what sparks the habit, the routine is the action you go through, and the reward is what you go through the routine in pursuit of.

How Do You Develop Habits?

Here’s an example: say you have a habit of sleeping in every day. The cue in this case is probably your alarm clock going off. The routine you go through is hitting snooze and getting back in bed. And the reward is the cozy warmth under the covers that you can only experience right after waking up.

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That would probably be considered a bad habit, but the same methodology can be used to understand good habits. Imagine exercising: your cue could be leaving your clothes out the night before and seeing them when you wake up. The routine is going for a run or to the gym. And the reward is the feeling of satisfaction and fatigue that comes with a good workout.

Going back to the sleeping-in habit, what do you do to change it? You usually have two options: find a new cue that you can react differently to, or find a new routine for the same cue that gives a similar reward. The first works sometimes, but the second is much more effective and easier to adopt.

In the sleeping-in case, you’d need to find a new routine that can be a response to the alarm going off and that still provides cozy warmth. Some options could be getting in a hot shower, or having a hot cup of coffee or tea. It’s not exactly the same, but it will usually suffice.

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Good posture is tricky though…it doesn’t have the obvious cue-routine-reward relationship that sleeping in does. Bad posture is simply something we do all of the time. So, how do we fix it?

Let’s Build a Good Posture Habit

When there’s no clear, existing cue-routine-reward relationship we have to create one from scratch. It’s difficult, but it can be done. It requires identifying the routine we want, then finding a reward that can make it worth doing, then finding a cue to start the whole thing going. So let’s get started.

1. Find the Routine

This is pretty easy. You want good posture, so the routine is fixing your posture. That means pulling your shoulders back, making sure your head is up, making sure your lower back isn’t arched, and then keeping it all in place for long than a second or two. It can help to look in a mirror while you do this a few times to learn how good postures feels.

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2. Find the Reward

This is where it starts to get tricky. I’m going to assume that you don’t want to carry a bag of Oreos around and give yourself a cookie every time you fix your posture–that would just lead to a new bad habit. So how do we reward ourselves for good posture? I see a few options:

  • Similar to exercising, it actually feels really good to stand up straight.
  • There’s the mental benefit of knowing you’re looking more confident and attractive.
  • Keep a checklist going of how many times you’ve fixed your posture, and try to beat your record each day.

But ultimately you’ll need to find what works best for you. So long as it’s motivating and keeps you doing it.

3. Now Find the Cue

This will be the hardest part. There’s no clear cue for posture since, ideally, it’s something you’re doing all of the time. Getting out of bed has a clear cue, not having dessert has a clear cue, but posture? That’s tricky.

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In order to solve this, we’ll need to make up our own cues to spark the perfect posture habit. We can do this two ways: through event associations or through environmental associations.

To base your habit on an event, simply pick something that’s going to happen frequently that you can peg the good habit to. In this case, you might pick:

  • When you sit down, check your posture.
  • When you’re standing in line waiting for something, check your posture.
  • When you get up to get a coffee or tea, check your posture.
  • Walk to the bathroom and back with perfect posture.
  • When you check your email, check your posture.
  • Set an alarm to ping you every 15, 20, or 30 minutes to remind you to check your posture.

You can also pick an environmental cue that you peg the habit to, such as:

  • Become sensitive to other people’s posture; when you see someone slouching, correct your own.
  • Take a moment to recognize what it feels like when you slouch, become sensitive to that feeling and correct it throughout the day.
  • Keep checking that you’re sitting back in your chair and not slouching.

Of these I think the event association is best. It’s easiest to remember, and you’ll constantly be cued to check your posture. Pick a few of the event cues, write them down, remind yourself of them every morning, and as you keep correcting yourself you’ll find you need to remember to do it less and less. You’ll quickly develop a habit of perfect posture.

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Nat Eliason

Nat is the founder of the marketing agency Growth Machine. He shares lifetyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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