What are the 4 habits that you would like to change?
How we do life is basically just a series of habits. Up to 45% of everything we do is habitual. This is our practiced way of being and we do it without even thinking about it, and the reason why we create habits is to help us to not have to ‘keep recreating the wheel’. So we create wheels, a habit loop, that says when ‘A’ happens then we immediately do ‘B’. ‘A’ can be anything from the time of day (the time you leave for work each morning) to a physical sensation (yucky feeling of drinking too much coffee in the morning) to an emotional response (seeing yourself in the mirror after you wake up) to a simple thought pattern (time to get dressed).
We set up triggers, which we connect to our behaviour, which then become a habit or routine and, when the routine works we get a reward. We arrive to work on time, we stop drinking coffee to move on to the next task, we see our unwashed reflection in the mirror and we have a shower, and once that is done it is time to get dressed. That is the habit loop. We repeat it over and over and over again with repetitiveness and consistency.
We can interrupt our own habits, like for example when you wake up late and you have to cut out a couple of the morning elements, you might not feel good for the rest of the day because you didn’t get your reward, which tells you to wake up earlier tomorrow.
So then the question becomes ‘what are the habits that you would like to change?’.
What is a healthier replacement for an old unhealthy habit that still provides the reward you were looking for? This can be about what you eat and it can also be about how you eat.
Who, What, Where, When, and Why.
The key is to run an experiment to see what works for you. For example, I never understood the reasoning behind flossing my teeth. For me it just took up my time. I used to go to the dentist and listen to the dental hygienist nag me about flossing. Then what happened, eventually, was that the dental hygienist started to have to use a water pick which I HATED to clean underneath my gums. The realization hit me that I wanted to prove her wrong! That flossing wouldn’t do anything. So I started flossing. Sure enough she kept complaining, so my reward was that I felt that I was proven right. After about a year with this new behaviour of my flossing everyday, she actually started giving me praise and the praise took over as my new reward, and now I don’t only floss but I use gum picks and mouth wash! CONSISTENTLY!
Except when it is that I am late for work. That is still the one thing that I will cut out in the absence of time, but I feel bad about it, during the day, because I didn’t get my reward of knowing that I’m keeping my teeth in good order. So, right away to get back to my reward, I now go right back to my routine the next day.
So you can see how complicated it is! Just trying to get in touch with why that habit of not doing something is so powerful and the complication of what you need to put in place in order to make a new habit of doing something worthwhile as a reward.
I also forced myself into drinking lots of water. If you look up any diet plan, strategy, resolution, it consists of drinking a lot more water. Some people like to have an app where they can record how many glasses of water they drink, others make a water sheet that they were inspired by on Pinterest (basically you draw a bunch of glasses that are empty and every time you drink you get to colour in a glass), I just have a jug of water that I fill up in the morning and drink throughout the day. That is my visual.
My goal everyday is to drink the entire jug of water. This is a habit I have had for 4 months now. Do I remember to do it everyday? No, oh gosh how I can forget. I actually have to write in my day planner ‘1 jug w’ to remind myself to drink the water, even though I have done it consistently…for 4 months!
It has happened so often, even when I spend the entire day at home, that I don’t drink even one glass, and at the end of the day I will look in my fringe and make eye contact with a full, un-drunken, jug of water. No one even knows, or even cares, that I am trying to install this habit, but when I see that full jug of water I try to drink as much of it as possible, until my tummy is uncomfortable, but full, out of guilt.
Then the next day I write in my planner ‘1.5 jug w’ to make up for it. I have noticed the benefit of drinking this much water. My skin is clear, I replace food with water because there is so much of it that I need to consume there is not room for chocolate in my life! Not so, but you know….So I recommend drinking water, deciding what works for you temperature wise, taste wise and vessel choice wise, and then making sense of your new habit. As well, not feeling guilty if you aren’t perfect with the consistency of your new habit, because if it makes sense to you and has a reward for you to adopt it consistently then, you will go right back to it.
On the quest to lose 50 pounds in a year. Can she do it? Only time will tell....with the help of this blog.