How to Establish Habits that Stick

This month’s trainer tip comes from Helen Henry — one of our NYC In-Home PROnatal Personal Trainers. Helen has coached numerous clients through healthy pregnancies, and has a strong track record of coaching women through full and effective postpartum recoveries.  She shares a powerful tip she uses with her clients to help them establish habits that stick. Learn more about Helen, and her tip below.

What was your motivation for working with the pre and post natal population?

Several years ago, I was working with a lot of brides, and then of course a few years later, they got pregnant and wanted to continue to exercise.  I decided to get my pre and postnatal education — taking every course I could, including the PROnatal Fitness Education.  I was fascinated by what I learned and decided I wanted to work more with this population.  I joined PROnatal Fitness in 2016 as a personal trainer, and now work primarily with pregnant and postpartum women.  I feel so fortunate to be able to support women during this incredible period of transformation.

What is one tip you always give your clients?

To establish a new habit: Start SMALL. REPEAT.

I work a lot with clients on habit-change.  When trying to establish better habits, I’ve found most clients will fall into the trap of trying to go too big, too fast. For example, if you have been eating pizza every Friday night for the past 10 years, don’t expect to suddenly enjoy eating salmon, couscous, and brussels sprouts instead.

Behavior change takes time and repetition, and does not happen overnight. This is because a new behavior requires overriding the old behavior pattern, which is often very much ingrained. Even with your best intentions or reasons for change, a new behavior needs repetition and reinforcement for many months before it can feel like a natural part of your routine.

Therefore, to give yourself the best chance for success in establishing new habits, start SMALL with something you feel confident that you can consistently REPEAT. Going back to the pizza example, if you always eat 2 slices, try eating just one and adding some vegetables.  Maintain this habit for a month or so until it is set, and then set up a new goal.  Even just dropping this one slice of pizza can cut 1400 calories per month.

Follow this same process for fitness behavior change goals. If you’re currently struggling to make it to the gym at all, don’t start with a goal of working out 4 days a week.  Instead, start small — perhaps with just 30 minutes for 1 day per week.  Consider booking a class or working with a personal trainer to help you maintain this commitment.  Or, if the gym feels too much right now, select a few of these N.E.A.T activities to help you move more throughout your day (these activities have the potential to help you burn up to 350 calories per day without hitting the gym). Of course, you may be able to incorporate more N.E.A.T in addition to your workout, but that’s highly dependent on you and what you know you can repeat.  If at all in doubt, less is more.  Start small (only focusing on 1-2 habits at a time) and build success.

Little changes can have a big impact over time. Even cutting one slice of pizza per week, adding one 30 min session at the gym, and incorporating more N.E.A.T into just 2 other days could burn 5600 calories per month, which is 2lbs of weight loss.

Remember to celebrate all your successes along the way — even the smallest progress forward — and be patient.  The results will definitely come!

Interested in working with Helen or another one of our NYC in-home personal trainers?  Contact PersonalTraining@pronatalfitness.com to receive more information.