We all have them right? You tell yourself that you won’t snack after dinner, but 8pm rolls around and you find yourself sneaking some chocolate or ice cream. Just a little….so what’s the big deal? Or maybe you keep saying you’re going to cook every night and eat only healthy foods all week. But Friday comes around and you’re tired, the next thing you know, you’re in the drive through ordering dinner. What’s gives? Is it just a willpower issue? Are you weak? NO!
The problem with bad habits is that they’re just that: HABITS. Meaning, we barely give them conscious thought anymore. We just DO them. It’s the same as good habits. Do you brush your teeth everyday without much thought? Do you take your vitamins each morning with breakfast? Or maybe you already have the habit of heading to an exercise class on certain days of the week. An action becomes a habit when it flows in our lives comfortably and effortlessly. Things actually feel ‘off’ when we don’t do these things.
First, we need to build awareness around our bad habits. We can’t make change unless we know exactly what we’re doing. Start by writing them out so you can better understand what your triggers are, when you do them, and perhaps why. Without awareness you cannot make change! No one has to see your list, so don’t hold back. Ask yourself, does this habit add to the person I want to be and the goals I want to achieve? If not, then it’s probably not a habit you want to keep around.
Now that you have awareness, calling out your bad habits when they’re about to happen is really important too. If you’re about to eat a cookie even though you’re trying to stop eating sugar, say it out loud. “I’m about to eat this cookie, even though I’m trying to lose weight and this goes against my goals.” Calling it out brings attention to it and your conscious mind is now more aware. “I’m about to drive up to A&W, even though I told myself I wouldn’t do this anymore”. Regardless of whether you still do the bad habit, calling it out will allow your conscious mind to begin to see the patterns, and this will begin the process of making change. Trust me, it works!
Another key to success is to make your bad habits harder to do and your good habits easier to do. Don’t keep the stuff you’re trying not to eat around your house, and make sure to bring more of what you do want to eat in your house. Keep the healthy stuff visible. For example, cutting vegetables up and having them at eye level in the fridge, or putting a bowl of fruit out on the counter actually makes people eat more of them. If others in your house still want to keep some sugary treats around, make them less visible to you. Hide them in a container, put them in the freezer, or on a high shelf. Or perhaps they can have their own cupboard and you can have yours!
If drinking more water is your goal, measure it! Place all the water you want to drink for the day into one container, when that container is empty, you know you’ve reached your goal. Or, buy a 1L water bottle that you fill throughout the day. Once you’ve finished the allotted amount, you know you’re done. Easy peasy.
We’re lazy by nature, it’s true! The fact is that we often make choices simply because of where something is placed. Why do you think end caps at grocery stores are always filled with enticing junk foods? If you opened the fridge and saw juice or pop instead of water, or opened the cupboard and saw a bag of chips staring back at you, the chances of you grabbing those things is much higher. Willpower has little to do with it, it’s more about convenience. The simplest way to cut a bad habit is to reduce your exposure to it, plain and simple.
Another important part of good habit making is to build systems into your routine. If you don’t ever plan your meals, grocery shop, and find time to food prep, how do you ever expect to actually eat a healthy meal at home? If you don’t set out your workout gear, choose a day and exact time to exercise, and pick what activity you’re going to do, how will you ever get fit? You absolutely have to create a step by step action plan to implement the habit you want to create. After awhile, it won’t seem like so much work, it will just happen naturally.
One of my favourite ways to seamlessly add a new habit into my routine is by using a principle called “habit stacking”. You take something that you already do consistently and add onto it. Especially when it’s something you ENJOY doing. For example, I’ve been trying to meditate regularly every morning and have always struggled with maintaining consistency. That is, until I stacked my meditation habit with something else. Every morning one of the first things I do is make coffee. I love my coffee ritual! So once I pour the hot water into my French press I head into the living room to do my meditation. My rule is that I can’t have my coffee until I meditate. And the thing with a French press is that you have to wait about 10 minutes til it’s ready anyway! So now, instead of scrolling social media, I meditate. And it’s kept me extremely consistent! My reward for meditating….COFFEE! To build a healthy habit into your life, it has to be rewarding. Here’s a way you can make food prep and cooking a habit. Fall in love with audio books and podcasts! Pick a podcast episode or book you’re dying to listen to and tell yourself you can only listen to it while in the kitchen doing food prep. You’ll get so into listening to the episode, an hour will fly by and you’ll have a ton of healthy food ready to go. Now how rewarding is that?!
So, to recap: call out your bad habits and bring awareness to them so you can start to make some changes. Make bad habits less easy and enticing, and good habits easier and more rewarding. Build systems into your day so you can set yourself up for success, and begin habit stacking to really boost up your consistency rate!
What are some of your healthy habits? What are your not so healthy ones? I’d love to know! If you need help holding yourself accountable to reach your health goals a nutrition & fitness coach might be just what you need! I’m accepting clients online at this time and would LOVE to work with you to achieve your goals this summer!
In Wellness, Krista