How to Form a Good Habit

Charles Duhigg: What studies say the number one best way to start an exercise habit is to give yourself a reward that you genuinely enjoy.  So most people, when they start exercising, this is what they do.  They say, "I'm going to go to the gym and my reward is going to be that I went to the gym," or, "I'm going to let myself have some kale chips or a salad or something."  Something they don't actually enjoy.  But a habit is a cue, a routine and a reward.  That reward has to actually be rewarding for it to develop neurological patterns.   

So here's what studies say is the number one way to start an exercise habit, eat a piece of chocolate after you work out.  And what's amazing about this is that--if you like chocolate and chocolate is genuinely rewarding--what's amazing is that, and I did this myself so I can attest to this, you will only eat that piece of chocolate for like the first week and a half.  You'll set up a cue, running clothes by your bed or you lace up your shoes before breakfast, something to trigger the behavior.  You go on your run or you work out then you come home and eat a piece of chocolate or right after the workout you need a piece of chocolate.  And your brain will begin encoding. Your brain will eventually enjoy exercise for exercise sake, right, endorphins and endocannabinoids will create a sense of reward, but it doesn't know that at first.  You have to trick your brain into forming this habit by giving it chocolate or something it genuinely values and enjoys.  And after a week and a half your brain will have learned that it likes the intrinsic rewards of exercise.  You won't even want to eat the chocolate anymore because you'll feel healthy right?  We all know this that, like, once you start exercising you eat better because you feel so good, but at first you have to trick your neurology into accepting the pattern.  And the answer is, eat a piece of chocolate. 

 

Directed & Produced by

Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd

 

Here’s how not to put yourself on an exercise regimen: by making a firm resolution, gritting your teeth each day through a 45 minute workout, then grimly enduring a salad.

Apple CEO Tim Cook calls for graduates to overcome "political noise" and algorithms

Cook's commencement speech at Tulane University urges students to take action.

Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a commencement speech at Tulane University on May 18th.
  • Cook cautioned the graduates to not get caught up in echo chambers and algorithms.
  • He acknowledged the failures of his generation.
Keep reading Show less

Why the south of Westeros is the north of Ireland

As Game of Thrones ends, a revealing resolution to its perplexing geography.

Image: YouTube / Doosh
Strange Maps
  • The fantasy world of Game of Thrones was inspired by real places and events.
  • But the map of Westeros is a good example of the perplexing relation between fantasy and reality.
  • Like Britain, it has a Wall in the North, but the map only really clicks into place if you add Ireland.
Keep reading Show less

Behold, firm evidence — at last — that ultra-processed food causes weight gain

Junk food causes weight gain, but it's not just about the calories.

Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
Surprising Science

We know we should eat less junk food, such as crisps, industrially made pizzas and sugar-sweetened drinks, because of their high calorie content.

Keep reading Show less