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Habits are my jam.

That’s the best way (currently) to describe how much I like habits, specifically healthy habits.

Because they work in the background without us even noticing (most of the time), they make an incredible ally for our health when we set up healthy habits to work in our favor.

I mean an unparalleled kind of ally.

Sure, you can have the most individualized, highly specific meal plan combined with a tailored-to-you workout created by the hottest trainer out there.

But if you don’t actually eat the food or do the workouts, it doesn’t matter how great it is.

Which is where habits come in – you don’t have to think about them, they just happen! (yes, mind blowing statement here)

So if you haven’t picked up on my enthusiasm yet, I FREAKING LOVE HABITS!!!

They make getting healthy easy and fun because you can still enjoy life and live spontaneously while getting healthy.

In the hopes that the previous lines got you jazzed up about habits (combined with all this time you’ve known me), I’ve put together my top picks for habit-related books for you to do a deeper dive.

Atomic Habits – James Clear

This was my first foray into habits as a whole. I think I’d always had a thing for them when it came to my health, but I didn’t have the awareness or vocabulary to talk about them for what they were.

James teaches us that habits are the compound interest of self-improvement and gives us the 4 laws of developing habits (make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, make it satisfying).

Getting a little healthier each day, “voting” with our actions each day to become a healthier person.

And when we mess up (yes, when – not if), we just have to get right back on the wagon and not let ourselves mess up twice in a row. 

Sounds easy enough, right? 

EXACTLY!!! Which is why this is my #1 recommendation if you’re only going to dip your toes in the habit pond.

Tiny Habits – BJ Fogg

If you’re willing to go a little further into the habit pond, BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits book is my #2 recommendation.

After decades of research and coaching REAL people (not just lab rat kind of research), BJ has proven a method to behavior change – breaking it down into the tiniest action possible. So small that it’s silly not to do it.

Often habits and behavior change suck and require deprivation, but not for BJ – he understands we change best by feeling good.

So by setting ourselves up for success with the smallest “ask” possible – we’re doomed to succeed!

Want to start flossing your teeth? Floss one tooth.

Yep, just one and call it a day and chalk it up to success.

Then, when you feel like two is just as easy, go ahead and floss two teeth.

Eventually you’ll work up to your entire mouth and won’t think twice. That’s the power of tiny habits. 

The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

If you’re looking to start 2021 by going all out with habits, my third recommendation for habit books is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

While a little different than the previous two, this book provides a method of troubleshooting that I’ve come to not only appreciate, but use quite often in my coaching (and life).

Duhigg’s ideas center around a keystone habit – having one habit that can be the key to unlocking the goal you’re trying to accomplish.

For example, you want to reduce stress throughout the day but haven’t been able to do so… that is until you start your day with [XYZ] habit that gets the ball rolling and makes the rest of your choices that day go off without a hitch. 

(XYZ could be 5min of journaling, 1min of deep breathing, or taking 10min to eat a healthy breakfast)

But the real gem behind the keystone habit is it usually comes about after solving the root cause of a bad habit you may have. 

The example he uses is his habitual 3pm cookie habit – he’d go to the cafeteria every day at 3pm to grab a cookie.

After some self-experimentation, it turns out it wasn’t even the cookie he wanted (despite his cravings for the gooey chocolatey goodness) but rather it was the social interaction that came along with it.

So rather than giving into his cookie cravings, he made a new social habit for 3pm (visiting the breakroom to socialize) and that was his keystone habit for his weight loss.

Habitualize Health

No matter how far you want to dive into habits, I hope I’ve convinced you they’re amazeballs when it comes to making healthy realistic and fun.

With a little effort on the front end, we can (literally) habitualize health so it happens without us even realizing it.