How to achieve healthy habits through iteration
Like never before, information and technology are conveniently at the ready — at any time and from anywhere. When considering how to live a healthy lifestyle in today’s information age, we are barraged with tips, tricks, and apps that promise to help us get healthier and become more mindful.
Many behavior change and health management programs tout high initial success rates, but over time, they are difficult to maintain. According to research, 80% of people who successfully lose weight experience weight regain after one year, 85% regain after two years, and 95% of people regain weight after three years. The majority of people who regain weight after dieting gain more weight than previously lost.1
Our individuality demands an approach to habit change that is personal, adaptable, compassionate, and repeatable to drive long-term healthy habits. It is time to shift the perspective and consider a new neuroscience-based approach to habit formation called the Iterative Mindset Method (IMM).
What is an Iterative Mindset and what role does it play in forming a healthy lifestyle?
To understand the IMM, we must first understand the word “iteration”.
Iteration is the act of refining or tweaking a process or idea through repetition. Iterations are common in the field of design and are the main method by which most designers work — if a current idea isn’t working, they repeat the process but switch, tweak, or adjust different elements until it does. Designing a healthy lifestyle also requires an iterative thought process to reframe success and maintain consistent effort for those of us seeking to make lifestyle and diet changes.2
The Iterative Mindset Method consists of a three-step cycle:
Step 1: Assess
You’ll start by choosing a simple habit to practice. Consider behaviors that you feel drawn to, find fun, or doable right now — making a point to focus on ways to bring more enjoyment to your daily routine. Choose a habit that you feel drawn to with the goal in-mind of practicing it until it becomes automatic, or it stops working for you.
Step 2: Practice
Start with your chosen achievable (often small) behavior and repeat it regularly. This creates new neural pathways in the brain and moves you closer to a long-term, automatic healthy habit.
Step 3: Iterate
Make small adjustments (iterations) or tweaks to your behaviors until you find something that works for you. If practicing a behavior one way is not working — simply, iterate until it fits your life. Iteration just means that you keep trying, learning, and tweaking your way toward results that matter to you.
This simple, cyclical thinking process keeps you in a constant state of effort toward the healthiest version of yourself.
Benefits of adopting the Iterative Mindset Method
Freedom from failure — Unrealistic metrics and goals pushed by most performance-based apps can lead to unsustainable changes that trigger feelings of failure, self-blame and learned helplessness.3 When a plan or practice doesn’t work, most people feel that it is a personal failure. An iterative mindset changes the perspective from failure to progress. When something isn’t working, this is a sign that it’s time to iterate. Through iteration, you can hit a wall, pivot, and continue moving forward. Without failure as a stumbling block, motivation remains unhindered, and you can continue your efforts, practicing and refining behaviors that will eventually become automatic healthy habits.
Health goals remain personal — Studies show that when faced with challenges and setbacks our personal beliefs and goals affect our thinking strategies and intellectual performance. With the IMM, behavior change is guided by intuition and practice is progress. You are the designer of your habits and lifestyle.
Low cost behavior change — The IMM supports people of any background or socioeconomic status because its approach is grounded in habituating simple, daily actions into true behavior change. No gym membership, tracking mechanisms, or reporting platforms required.
Build a healthy lifestyle through iteration
The IMM is a brain-science-based, test-and-practice mindset that empowers you to keep going, no matter the obstacles or setbacks. IMM can help you form automatic habits and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle while becoming more resilient, and feeling unstoppable. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, eat more vegetables, or better manage day-to-day stressors, choose a behavior to try by asking yourself, what makes sense for me? Then practice and iterate on that behavior free from feelings of failure, until you one day look back and realize that you have a healthy habit that is now automatic!
If you’re reading this and realizing that iteration is the missing piece in your wellness journey, there are tools to help. Fresh Tri’s healthy habit motivation app is free to download, so you can start practicing today!
- Spreckley M, Seidell J, Halberstadt J. Perspectives into the experience of successful, substantial long-term weight-loss maintenance: a systematic review. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being. 2021;16(1):1862481. doi:10.1080/17482631.2020.1862481
- Bobinet K. Well Designed Life : 10 Lessons in Brain Science & Design Thinking for a Mindful, Healthy, & Purposeful Life. Engagedin Press; 2015.
- Elliott ES, Dweck CS. Goals: An approach to motivation and achievement. J of Pers and Soc Psych. 1988;54(1):5-12. doi:10.1037/0022-35126.96.36.199