We all have habits that we might label good or bad.
But it seems the habits which are good for us can be the hardest to stick to… And the ones that are bad (or not so good for us) seem to be the hardest to break.
Here are some of my thoughts about breaking habits and making new ones we can stick to based on the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. And applied to health and nutrition (obviously!)
SMALL DECISIONS – YOU CHOOSE
Each day can lead to breakthrough moments where we can slowly work towards achieving a bigger goal or outcome.
But the opposite can also be true. Poor decisions on a regular basis can lead to a bigger problem over time.
The way to win is to decide on the type of person you want to be and then work towards this with small actions.
SET YOUR INTENTION AND SEIZE THE MOMENT WITH ACTION
Make your actions take place at a regular time each day so that they become something you do not have to think too much about…
Do a 15 minute HIIT session every weekday morning as soon as you get up
OR 15 minutes of calming yoga before going to bed.
If you miss a day, don’t give up just start again the next day.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
The bigger picture you are aiming for might be wanting to lead a healthy life. And have a quality of life in old age (who wouldn’t …)
Your small wins might be choosing to eat 7 portions of vegetables each day, lifting weight 3 times a week, making sure that you are up to date with your medical checks and building time into each day to relax and do something you love.
The motivation to make changes can be an issue for some people, it can be tough to change our ways especially if we have spent many years doing the same thing…
If you lack motivation, one of the best ways to sustain this is by being part of a group where you learning and can be held accountable by each other “belonging to a tribe”
Reframing how you thinking about making changes can also help. Rather than thinking that you have to do something, reframe it and think that you “get” to do something. You are making a choice that can have a positive impact on your life.
It may not be the motivation you are lacking but clarity on what you want to achieve. You may need to work out what it is that you are trying to achieve, that bigger picture. Being clear on what you want to achieve can help you break habits or create new ones.
I find that it can help to think about how you would like to feel. You can then work out the actions you need to take to get you to that feeling.
An example of this is that I want to feel strong and healthy so the actions I need to take are based on diet and exercise.
Repeating these actions over and over again tells your brain to change and the actions become a habit.
You also need to create the right environment – if you want to eat healthier, make a weekly meal plan and have a day week where you do some meal prep to keep you on track. Don’t have foods that test your willpower in the house
Key moments in the day when you make decisions can affect the outcome of your goal – cooking dinner or buying a takeaway, eating crisps/a chocolate bar because you are tired or having a bad day.
Reward yourself – Put the money aside that you would have spent on a takeaway and use it for something that brings you joy, some essential oils, a bunch of fresh flowers, some brightly coloured wool for knitting if that is your jam
Another way is to invest in a coach or expert who can hold you accountable. Scientific studies have shown that being held accountable makes us more successful at achieving health-related goals.
Being held accountable could also mean agreeing to do something that you don’t really want to do if you fail to stick to your plan of action. This may be that you say that you are not going to drink alcohol in the week and you end up having a glass of wine so you have to wash the car at the weekend (replace this with whatever it is you don’t like doing, I definitely don’t like washing the car…)
We can procrastinate on doing things forever but ultimately it is the actions that deliver results, not the preparing (the motion), the actual actions, the doing!
What are you going to change? And what actions are you going to take?
When was the last time you changed a bad habit or started a new habit and how did you go about it?