20 Oct Healthy Habits.

Ever felt confused or frustrated over the conflicting health messages and advice around forming healthy habits? Ever felt like new healthy habits just aren’t achievable in the busy lives that we all lead? Have you slipped into some pretty bad habits? Are you eager to get your health back on track but just don’t know how? Let me help you get healthy, stay healthy and be healthy.

There are two main reasons people find it hard to kick old habits.

1. They rely only on good intentions.
The reality is it’s not enough to just want change and hope for it. So many people I meet crave changes but aren’t prepared to make any. If the choice is to change then you need to commit. Full stop. No excuses. It’s not enough to simply hope for something. The worst thing in the world is for you to make the decision to change and just sit there and sit there and sit there. It’s like the saying goes, “If you change nothing, nothing will change!”

2. They rely only on willpower.
We only have a set amount of willpower. We all know this because we’ve each reached that point in the day where we just can’t do it anymore. Willpower is a bit like a muscle. It will engage as you flex, but will eventually weaken and fail when it is fatigued. Willpower is NOT the best way to create lasting transformation. It is fine for short-term projects, like studying for an exam, or fasting but not for sustained, long term changes like those that are required for lasting transformation. But, that’s where habits come in. Motivation and willpower is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

Change can be hard.
There is no doubt about it – change can be hard but I’m a living example that it is possible. In tiny, baby steps, I’ve changed quite a few bad habits in my time and replaced them with new, healthier rituals and routines. I started running, stopped impulse spending, stopped mid-week drinking, started meditating, began meal planning, stopped saying ‘YES’ to everyone and everything, started a morning ritual, invested in my more meaningful relationships, started using ‘Affirmations’…you get the picture! It’s possible.

So what is a habit?
Habits are routine, unconscious behaviours we perform on a regular basis. They allow us to learn do something that eventually we can perform without having to think about it like driving a car or brushing our teeth or having a shower. Forming habits is the process by which new behaviours become automatic. For example if you buy a coffee every day on your way to work you have a habit. If you set an alarm and wake to exercise early you have a habit. Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form. This is because the behavioural patterns we repeat most often are literally etched into neural pathways in our brain.

Practise makes perfect.
The good news is that through repetition it is certainly possible to form positive new habits. They key to creating a new habit is to practise it often. This starts the process of creating a new brain pathway. Research has shown that on average it can take up to 60 day to form a new habit so you will need to make a deliberate and consistent effort to commit to each new habit for at least two months. After that, you won’t have to flex your willpower muscle so much. You won’t have to think about what you are doing, the behaviour will be automatic.

To change a habit you need to understand the logic.
There is a science behind the way we form habits and it’s this simple logic that will help you understand your own habits in order to change them and replace them with positive new ones. It’s important to know that all habits run on a simple loop of:

Cue – this could be a time, place, person or situation that triggers the habit.
Routine – what you actually do
Reward – what you get for doing it.

Simple steps of habit change.
Habit change is not that complicated. The steps are:
1. Write down your plan. One habit at a time.
2. Identify your triggers and replacement habit.
3. Focus on doing the replacement habit every single time the trigger happens, for at least 30 days.

For example if you want to start exercising each morning you can apply this process.
Cue – Upon going to bed, lay out exercise gear for the following morning and set alarm.
Routine – Alarm goes off, get out of bed, get dressed, lace up and head out the door.
Reward – Feel energized after completing morning exercise. (NB: You might like to set an overarching reward of a massage or a new pair of tights at the end of your 30 x days for extra incentive and motivation)

Question Time.
Are there any new habits you’d like to introduce?
How can you cue these habits up?
What will you do to create a routine?
What are some ways to reward yourself?

The initial discipline is the hardest, but momentum will build, small steps, every day and you will keep moving forward. It won’t be hard forever.

Be kind to yourself.
It can often be a challenging process. Treat yourself like a best friend. Be gentle, accepting, kind and most importantly celebrate your success. If sometimes you do slip, it’s not the end of the world. Just get back on the horse and remember tomorrow is a new day.

Help is here.
Change can be hard but it is possible. By taking control of your habits you’re one step closer to creating the life you want. I can help you break a habit and build new healthy rituals and routines into your every-day. Positive rituals and healthy habits can be the turning point in becoming the well woman you want to be.

“We are what we repeatedly do.” – Aristotle

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