Training New Habits An excerpt from Turbo Metabolism

An excerpt from Turbo Metabolism

As the modern Western lifestyle spreads around the globe, so too does metabolic syndrome – a cluster of symptoms that increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other conditions. The good news: metabolic syndrome can be tamed by a sensible program of exercise, natural foods, stress management, and quality sleep. In his new book Turbo Metabolism, Dr. Pankaj Vij. MD distills a mass of medical research into a simple, effective program for vibrant health. Avoiding fads and gimmicks, he provides practical advice, case studies of ordinary people, and brief sections that debunk common medical myths. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.

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In the words of the Greek poet Archilochus, “We do not rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”

How long do you think it takes to form a habit? Many people cite twenty-one days, but that’s not enough. This time frame actually came from a plastic surgeon who said it took his patients three weeks not to do a double take in the mirror postsurgery. In fact, the average time it takes to form a new habit, according to London College University, is sixty-six days.14

Thus, it’s critically important to reset your world and to keep it reset for at least two months, so that healthy habits become the default choices. You will have the best chance for success if you follow these guidelines:

Set your ultimate goal.

Name an observable behavior that is in line with your mission.

Be as specific as possible; choose actions you can measure or quantify.

Focus on actions you can reasonably achieve.

Here are ten more things to keep in mind as you develop healthy habits and optimize your environment for success:
1. Substitute unhealthy actions with healthy actions: For the same cue or craving, replace an unhealthy food with a healthy one.

2. Schedule healthy habits and place reminders on your calendar. When will you stretch, move, express gratitude, or meditate?

3. Automate environments so that healthy choices are easy to make. For example, stock healthy snacks at home, in the office, and in the car. Keep gym clothes packed and ready to go. Also, did you know that using transparent glass bowls and plates increases our awareness of food quantities, helping us feel more satisfied with less food? Or that we eat 30 percent less if we use our nondominant hand? Try to work these tricks into your routine. This is the most important step. Automation leads to liberation from temptation!

4. Form a support group of family, friends, and coworkers who will help you stay on track, or quickly get you back on track, without judgment, guilt, or regret.

5. Identify cues and be aware of how you usually handle them, then see item 9.

6. Watch your language, and reword your options to limit bad choices. For example, ask yourself, “Would I prefer salad for lunch or dinner?” or “Would I rather exercise in the morning before work or in the evening after work?” Say to yourself, “Those cookies look really good, but they are not on my plan. I will have these nutritious almonds instead.”

7. Piggyback on existing habits. For example, do ten push-ups every time you brush or floss your teeth. Or take a vitamin D supplement every morning with your smoothie.

8. Develop and identify your “keystone” habits. In an arch, a keystone is the piece at the top against which all others lean, and a keystone habit can help support all our other goals. A keystone habit can be anything, but often it’s getting enough sleep and exercise. For you, it might be eating a good breakfast, getting a nice hug, having a good laugh, spending some time outdoors, hearing an inspiring piece of music. Even making the bed in the morning can be a keystone habit! When we lack our keystone, we may try to replace it with an unhealthy, ineffective alternative, like eating ice cream and cookies when we’re tired. Keystone habits keep us on track with our goals.

9. Plan for success by considering “if/then” scenarios. For example, if you’re going to a restaurant, review the menu online and know the best possible meal to order when you get there. If you are traveling and get hungry, then what will you eat? Pack healthy snacks so you can avoid all the unhealthy airport options. If you’re going to a party, eat a healthy snack beforehand and plan to politely decline wine or dessert.

10. Reward yourself and celebrate your successes with healthy nonfood rewards when you achieve milestones. These rewards could be going for a massage or a spa treatment, or going to the movies or a concert. You might even shop for new clothes that fit better because your body is looking better.

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Pankaj Vij, MD, FACP is the author of Turbo Metabolism. As a doctor of internal medicine, he has helped thousands of patients lose weight, manage chronic health conditions, and improve their physical fitness. Visit him online at

Excerpted from the book Turbo Metabolism. Copyright ©2018 by Pankaj Vij, MD. Printed with permission from New World Library –