Healthy Habits can become automatic, just like brushing your teeth
Habits. We have healthy ones that serve us and others that absolutely don’t. When we admit which is which and commit to change, it’s only crazy-hard if we choose to see it that way. (Yep, I’m pulling the Mindset card!)
I believe that when we keep telling ourselves we don’t know how to change a habit, it keeps us in excuse mode where results can’t happen. And… it also keeps us with the heavy baggage of guilt and shame because we are out of integrity with ourselves (believing one thing but doing the opposite).
Before you read on, please know that I share my own life lessons and beliefs. I am still working beside you, and am far from finished, myself!
I hope you’ll keep your mind open and that my suggestions can be helpful no matter how far along you are or aren’t. If you’re not healthy or as healthy as you’d like to be, will you make becoming healthy/healthier a priority?
Tell me if this sounds familiar… You go for all-out perfection, I’m fixing my life, right now! Lots of rules, commitment, and determination starting tomorrow! By day 3 it turns into overwhelm and slip-ups. You quit because, with this goal, there is no room for imperfection, you’d rather stop and then regroup. That is all followed by a serious disappointment with yourself. And so the cycle goes. It’s a terrible feeling, right? A little bit of hopeless mixed with losing self-trust. Again.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned the meaning of starting small. It helps to build belief and momentum, two key elements of moving forward. I hope you will trust this process and not try to wing it. When we skip steps for fast results, it often leads to no results. Think simple, dig deep, and be patient!
I invite you to try this if your way’s not workin!
* Write down the habits that you have now that you know are unhealthy and are holding you back from being your best you.
Write, write, write! Include home, work, your peeps, places you go, food, drink, activities, lack of movement, TV, etc. Don’t just say it, write it down. Seeing your thoughts in your own handwriting has absolutely been proven to make a real difference and you will need it later. Here is where you get brutally honest. Here is where you can change guilt into responsibility and create real change. Oh… and by the way, no judging- just the facts please. (Doing this from a place of compassion is really important. How would a trusted friend or loved one share your blind spots with you?)
This next one is super important to keep things doable…
*Choose only one habit at a time.
This feels slow, but I promise it’s key for focus!
If there is one habit in particular that you know affects several or all areas of your life, try to go big and choose it. If every day for breakfast you stop for a Starbucks and a donut on the way to work, and it sets you in motion for more sugar, feeling bloated, tired and eventually lazy, it’s probably a great one to change sooner than later. If every night you stay up too late and drag yourself out of bed the next day, that’s another way of starting your day that most likely keeps you from your best you. If you are struggling financially but are hooked on internet poker every night, that may be a really important stressor to get under control a.s.a.p!
We all have different stuff, and it affects how we feel about ourselves and our lives. If we eat crappy, we feel crappy. If we are sleep deprived, we can’t function correctly. If we have money woes, it can create a ton of fear.
This one is BIG. It will save you energy during your habit transformation!
Now it’s time to really accept what you’ve discovered and admitted out loud on paper. For a greater impact, read your words out loud. Remember, no judgment. Are you feeling more determined than ever and you’re sure that you are sick and tired of being sick and tired? Just in case the secret word makes you roll your eyes, I will preface it with this statement: willpower can waver with the wind, we’ve all experienced that. Willpower can out the window the second we feel a little worn out or stressed out. It’s just so easy to start again tomorrow. Or not, even worse! Willpower is a great muscle to strengthen, but it tires easily and doesn’t work long term.
*Decide is the secret word! The battle with your willpower will continue unless you decide that you will follow your lead, do what you say, and change or create a healthy habit.
If you are serious about this, I want to encourage you to look up the FULL definition of the word decide. Really, do it. Nuf said.
I hope you will copy my sticky note from my bathroom mirror that says STRUCTURE LIBERATES! It’s a great reminder that self-discipline is not restricting, it’s freeing. And… selfishly, I would be honored if it made you think of my encouragement, I’d love to sit on your shoulder opposite the little devil that whispers in your other ear!
In order to get creative for the rest of the plan, don’t let past experiences keep you stuck. Get out of that box…
*Take your one habit and write several different scenarios that can help you either cancel out the unhealthy habit, modify it initially, or replace it with something better.
Before you start, picture yourself sitting across the table, you as the mentor. Design your plans like you are advising a friend who has come to you for help. They desperately want to change their habits, they’ve laid out their truths, and you believe in them. This is a more objective way to jolt your thinking pattern and you will be amazed at your answers! I often do the opposite too; I think what would so-and-so advise me to do if I asked for their input? It’s a great reminder that I usually have my own answers if I slow down, search, and trust.
I’ll use the above examples; instead of taking the time to be in line at Starbucks and start the day sugary, pick only 1 day that you’ll stop and on the other days, save money and use the time to whip up some protein before you leave (could be a shake, eggs and veggie scramble, nut butter on super grain toast). If you’re the Quick-Getter-Upper, and doing the morning scramble because of chronic late bed time, change up your bedtime routine by one hour/night- get through your before bed routine earlier with some planning so time doesn’t get away. Instead of playing on-line poker, read a book about investing and start a dream/vision board or play a game that doesn’t involve money. These are just some simple and generic examples, but you get the idea.
If your reasons for change aren’t big enough to pull you yet, but you’re still reading, here’s an added step… Gear up, baby!
**Go back to your list and get detailed. Details keep denial further away. Details keep it real. Details are about putting fear aside and getting what you want. Keep writing until you’ve got it all captured! Leave space so you can come back to add more as it comes to you! See it, feel it, taste it!
Write 2 lists, a Pros and a Cons. What are you missing out on if you put off a healthy lifestyle? Who will be affected by your ways? (Ex: sluggish from food=moody and lazy, tired from not sleeping=impatient and foggy, spending money poorly=unfair to family, etc) Can you handle the regret of the outcome if you don’t change? What does your life look like when you become the person you want to be? What great things will come when you are at peace with yourself? Who will benefit when you are your best you besides you? Who will you be setting an amazing example for? Get extreme and don’t leave anything out…
*Make sure you celebrate all small wins (in a healthy way), they are the foundation for the BIG ONES!
This is so critical. If you don’t stop to acknowledge yourself even with the little gains, it can cripple your momentum. Just think of the things you look back on that you are proud of and tell me the feeling it’s left you with. Kapeesh? 🙂
I will leave you with this. We will always have ups and downs and mistakes along the way. (I have experienced lots of these!) None of these things define us as a person unless we create a story saying it’s so. Keep working towards the things you want, the healthy habits add up and compound when you stay the course. You will get you there. As the awesome phrase goes, we are looking for progress, not perfection! If you slip- acknowledge, forgive and get right back on the horse; keep failing forward, my friend!!!