One of the biggest challenges as a healthy person is sticking with a goal long enough that it becomes a habit. For most of us, habits appear to be a test of willpower. We read about a person who has lost weight or started exercising and we wonder "Why can't I be like that? Why I can't I have more willpower to stay away from that?"
The secret to their success isn't willpower. It's habits.
The key difference between you and a person healthier than you is the habits they have integrated into their healthy lifestyle.
The trick is knowing how to get these habits to work for you. Habits run off systems that most of us don't even pay attention to. As we live our lives, we engage in activities like brushing our teeth, exercising, or eating a bag of greasy potato chips. While doing these activities, our brain develops neurons that reinforce that habit. So, eating an extra piece of cake when you are feeling sad becomes our behavior.
Guess what your brain turns to the next time you are feeling sad again?
Breaking this cycle of unhealthy habits begins with starting a new cycle of healthy habits. The problem is most of us lose motivation to continue a healthy habit because our brain is stuck on the old, unhealthy ones.
The powerful thing to remember is that you can change habits. You hold the power to choose between an apple or doughnut. The way to choosing the apple begins by winning the battle with your habits. You can win that battle easier with these tips:
1. Make healthy habits automatic. One obstacle many people have in trying to get healthy is remembering. We might forget to exercise or eat because the new habit has not set it. One way around this is to make it automatic. Keep a reminder in your email, phone, or even Google calendar to automatically remind you to work out or practice your new healthy habit (like meditation).
2. Make it easy to be healthy. Make it harder to be unhealthy. Another big problem in adopting healthy habits is the comfort. We like unhealthy habits because they serve a purpose in our lives. The way around this is to change the "comfort" level of a habit. Want to exercise consistently? Put your clothes beside the bed the night before. Want to eat healthier? Remove unhealthy food from the kitchen or change your route to work so you won't be tempted.
3. Keep mementos. Another way to jog your memory while trying to keep a healthy habit is to find a memento, something small that can help you remind you of your new healthy habit. For example, let's say you want to start running but don't always feel inspired. Take a picture of something that does inspire you and put it nearby your running gear. Put the image on your smart phone so you see every time you use your phone.
4. Rack up easy wins first. The biggest mistake people make in trying to become healthy is to go after big, vague goals like ("eat better"). Chasing after these goals requires a lot of energy and willpower, which you may not be ready. Why set yourself up for failure? Instead,win at small things. Instead of trying to "eat better" try something a little more specific like "eat 1 more serving of fruit for 10 days". Chasing a goal like this provides focus and urgency. It also is a great ego booster.
These are only four ways but there are plenty of others? Have some additional ideas or need more help in getting started? Contact us