"I am hugely passionate about translating the evidence so that you can use research driven methods to make effective and sustainable changes to your health...starting today. That's why I love speaking, as it allows the audience immediate access to the most effective ways to change their health for the better."

Dr Heather McKee x Leon

Making healthy habits stick with Well Aware and Leon

What can people do to ensure they stay on the road to success? In terms of forming healthy habits and making sure they stick, do you have any tips or advice you can share on this?

In 2005, a group of researchers studied 5000 individuals who have successfully lost and maintained a significant amount of weight over at least 5 years. This research demonstrated that there was no single method that worked best for long term success. There were no individual genetic characteristics or personality types that contributed towards these peoples success. There was no particular diet that these people used that was any better than another.

In actual fact no two people in this group of 5,000 lost weight in the same way!

What the researchers found was that through trial and error these successful individuals had each honed their own system for success. They found a particular set of habits that worked best for them, and if they executed these habits consistently it lead to their ongoing success.

In other words, the study showed that the key to long term success is ultimately about finding out what works for you. Finding your own unique system of habits.

So what is the best way to do this?

In support of this, researchers at Duke University found that habits account for about 40% of our behaviours on any given day. The key is to develop a system of habits that works within the constraints of your lifestyle that will support you in achieving your weight loss goals.

The 5,000 successful weight loss maintainers got to where they are today not through punishment and restriction but through trial and error.

You can start to experiment by making small but consistently healthy changes to your lifestyle.

Focusing on small changes is effective as it helps reinforce the importance of focusing on the process of building healthy habits.

Ultimately health is a habit if you aim to build up to eating healthily or exercising 70-80% of the time, what you do the rest of the time doesn’t have as big an impact on your success. So instead of wasting your willpower on restrictive and ineffective diets, focus on building a system of habits that work for you.

 If everyone was to take one nugget of knowledge or top tip away with them today to help them get started on their wellness journey, what advice would you give them? 

Start small.

You can do this by asking yourself, what is the smallest step I can take today for my health?

For example; my clients set themselves one small change that they intend to make each week with regards to their weight loss. This is intentionally tiny so it doesn’t feel too punishing or restrictive. For example things you could do to get started with could be;

·       putting half a spoon full of sugar less in your daily tea or coffee

·       making sure all coffees you get are a size smaller

·       walking 50 more steps on your fitness tracker a day.

These may seem like insignificantly small changes but cumulatively they can have a BIG impact on your long term success. For example; if your goal is to have a smaller size latte per day, this can result in… 50,000 less calories consumed per year.

You can then work through ways to add to these small changes in a way that suits your lifestyle, slowly growing the combined effect that these changes can have, ultimately ensuring your long term weight loss success.

Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process makes a huge difference.

So why not set yourself a small goal for this week? Think about what you could do that could have a positive impact on your health, yet doesn’t feel too restrictive or draining?

Published on 1st Sep 2019 at 17:57 by Heather McKee

"Working with Heather was a pleasure from start to finish. From crafting engaging and action-based workshops, through to delivering them with a professional yet natural ease, her passion for her subject really shines through. All of the attendees felt empowered and fully equipped to build on their healthy habits!"

Sally Florey, Unmind

"We recently had Dr. Heather McKee in to speak to a group about “Small changes, big results. How to create healthy habits that last all of 2018” and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Heather was very informative and very interesting. Her interactive approach made the room feel very welcome and comfortable to ask questions. She is highly engaging with the room and her use of handouts in the room makes the process easy to work through. It is great to get some actual live practise in the room using the worksheet. Heather was very motivating and made the session very interesting for everyone. I would recommend her sessions as her steps to personal development are very thought provoking and easy to follow."

Barbara Hoey, International Financial Services

"Heather is a very natural and talented speaker who speaks with warmth and a genuine passion for her subject. Heather is always a delight to work with - very professional, engaging and a true expert in her field. Heather is extremely passionate about helping others and manages to take quite complicated scientific research and make it easy and accessible to all."

Rebecca Fairbrother, Founder, Well Aware

"Heather delivered a perfect, succinct, workshop. Heather was great - it was all digestible and really helpful. After a long day at work, a powerful hour was perfect."

Phoebe, MOS

"I just wanted to say big thank you again for the talk yesterday. I really struggle with being kind to myself, and accepting that what I do or what achieve is enough, even more so since becoming a parent (4years ago) I always think I need to do more. Putting change into practice is really hard for me, but small steps to get there! After your inspiration, I bought a little ‘happy jar’ from one of the stalls yesterday, with little notes to read each day. I shared these with my daughter this morning and she was so eager to read them with me"

Katy, Rituals Science of Kindness talk

"I attended the happy place festival today and listened to your first talk of the day and just wanted to let you know how moved I was by it. I work as a CBT therapist in CAMHS and really surprised myself how emotional I got listening to your talk. Really thought-provoking and definitely made me reflect on the lack of kindness I give to myself. Thank you"

Emelie, Happy Place Festival

"This talk, it's given me hope. I was trying to hard to be happy not realising the small joys all around me"

Sophie, The Art and Science of Kindness workshop

"Your healthy habits workshop helped me learn the habits to bring happiness into my day"

Anna, Healthy Habits workshop

"Many thanks for this and your excellent workshop Heather! It absolutely landed with me and has given me a lot to think about."

Sarah, Rituals event

"Heather presented in a very relaxed manner in a way I really felt I could relate with her. She supported me to take a completely different attitude to instilling new habits."

Small changes, big results talk, Havas

"Really informative, engaging, interactive and relevant to my everyday life, the speaker really knew her stuff!"

The Science of Motivation talk, La Salle


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Copyright ©2022 Dr. Heather McKee

Dr. Heather McKee is registered in Ireland Reg. No. 687397 with the registered address at 314 Mother Teresa House, Loreto Abby, Rathfarnham, D14 NR20, Co. Dublin, Ireland

This work is in no way meant to replace any medical advice. Dr. McKee is Non-HCPC-registered. Photography by Dylan Madden.

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