IMPLEMENTATION INTENTIONS - LET'S MAKE THOSE NEW HABITS STICK!

IMPLEMENTATION INTENTIONS - LET'S MAKE THOSE NEW HABITS STICK!

Creating Implementation Intentions is an exercise we use quite a bit as nutritional consultants to help new habits stick [1].


This term sounds super duper fancy, but it really just involves creating a more specific plan.

What I like to do first is add a WHEN (and maybe even a WHERE) to an action or behavior you want to accomplish.

For example, WHEN I wait for my meal to heat up in the microwave, I will drink a glass of water.

If a habit is new new, we will usually try to habit stack it with another behavior that is already embedded into someone’s everyday life.

For example…

When I pull into the driveway after work and turn my car off, I will do three minutes of box breathing.

Or

Right after dinner, we will go for at least a 10-minute walk around the park with our dog Rufus.

Generally, the more specific you can be here, the better.

Think of your life right now and try to create one of these WHEN habit-stack statements that could just help cement this new habit more easily into your life.

The more formal definition of an Implementation Intention is “If situation Y is encountered, then I will initiate goal‐directed behavior X!” [1]

AKA If BLANK happens then I will do BLANK.

We use this specific technique or wording primarily as a way to create coping plans or fallback options [2].

IF I am at a pizza party, THEN I will eat two pieces of pizza and fill the rest of my plate with a salad with no dressing.

IF I am in a rush for breakfast and just don’t have time to eat my meal, THEN I will eat a protein bar in the car on my way to work.

If life gets busy and we don’t have time to cook on a weekday night after soccer practice, THEN I will always have three My Fit Foods dinners in the fridge for the Fam.


A lot of the research here is in physical activity interventions, and it shows that these types of implementation intention statements likely do help a habit stick, especially with repeated check-ins like we offer with My Fit Life coaching [3, 4].

Under the right circumstances, these strategies may even double your chances of success [5], and a more recent study found that implementation intentions were able to independently raise step counts by 27.8% over just five weeks [6].

Try it and if you want help reach out to one of our nutritional consultants so we can help you build Your Fit Life.

#GIVEAFIT

REFERENCES:

1. Gollwitzer, P.M. and P. Sheeran, Implementation Intentions and Goal Achievement: A Meta‐analysis of Effects and Processes, in Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. 2006, Academic Press. p. 69-119.

2. Bailey, R.R., Goal Setting and Action Planning for Health Behavior Change. Am J Lifestyle Med, 2019. 13(6): p. 615-618.

3. Silva, M., et al., Impact of implementation intentions on physical activity practice in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. PLoS One, 2018. 13(11): p. e0206294.

4. Bélanger-Gravel, A., G. Godin, and S. Amireault, A meta-analytic review of the effect of implementation intentions on physical activity. Health Psychology Review, 2013. 7(1): p. 23-54.

5. Milne, S., S. Orbell, and P. Sheeran, Combining motivational and volitional interventions to promote exercise participation: Protection motivation theory and implementation intentions. Br J Health Psychol, 2002. 7(Pt 2): p. 163-84.

6. Robinson, S.A., et al., Time for change: using implementation intentions to promote physical activity in a randomised pilot trial. Psychol Health, 2019. 34(2): p. 232-254.