Habits shape your entire life. What you do everyday and the person you are stems from habits you have created, good and bad.
When you learn how to change your habits, you can change your life.
Habits are meant to make our brain work more effectively, so we can go on auto pilot during daily actions and behaviours we do often. These habits free up our brain power for other things. This can work in our favour but it can also hinder us because like I said above, both good and bad habits get formed.
Habits are neural pathways created in the brain through repetition of this feedback loop.
Breaking bad habits
First step is becoming self aware. You need to become aware of all 3 parts of this loop.
The cue doesn't only trigger the habit but it causes anticipation for the reward. To break an unwanted habit, you will need to interrupt this loop and replace the routine with a new habit that also gives you a reward.
So how do you form new habits? Here are tips to help you get started:
The power of small changes
If you want to make a change, start small. You want this new habit that you're forming to be incredibly easy to do. From there, you can build on that small change slowly over time.
Example: You want to start drinking more water because you heard 2L a day is good for your health. You currently don't drink much water outside of your 3 cups of coffee during the day so aiming to drink 2L right away would be difficult. Instead, start with just one glass of water each day for the first week.
Tie something you want to do with something you already do.
Example: Since your morning coffee is already a habit, try to set a glass of water beside your coffee pot to help remind you. In the morning, as your coffee brews - drink the water!
2 day rule
Expect that you might have days that don't go as planned but that's okay! It takes consistency, not perfection to form a new habit. Look back, learn from it and get back on track the next day! What made doing the new habit hard and how could you set yourself up for better success tomorrow? Track your consistency using a print off calendar and make it a goal to never miss your new habit 2 days in a row.
Set your environment up for success
Make it as easy as possible to do the things you want to do and harder to do things you don't.
Example: Want to eat more fruit? Set a bowl out on your table and make sure it's always full. Having a hard time stopping yourself from eating an entire pint of ice cream each night? Get it out of the house so you have to walk to go get some. More often than not this inconvenience will help you to say no.
The foundation of sustainable weight loss is built on healthy habits.
Healthy habits are something I work on with all of my online coaching clients. The same habits you create to lose weight will be the same ones needed to maintain it, so look at weight loss as a lifestyle change not a short term goal with an end date.
Here are some habits you can start working towards today to improve your health:
- Get ~8 hours of sleep per night
- Eat protein with every meal
- Eat fruits or veggies with every meal
- Drink water
- Strength Train 2-5x/week
- Daily walk
- Daily de-stressing activities
How can you break these up into small do-able actions? Can you tie them to something you're already doing? Is your environment making it easier or harder on you to be successful?
Stop relying on willpower and start forming healthy habits instead!