Guest blogger: Melony dos Remedios
We may not realise it, but we are all creatures of habit. We eat the same breakfast. We drive the same way to work every day. We travel to the same holiday destinations every year. We drink the same double shot soy skinny latte from the same café. The list goes on and on!
Some of these habits are helpful, such as brushing your teeth every day or going for your morning walk. Others – such as that nightly bag of chips on the couch while you watch TV – not so good.
We do the same things we did yesterday, the day before and most every day for the last month. It’s estimated that out of every 11,000 signals we receive from our senses every minute, our brain only consciously processes 40. The 40 repeated boring old patterns! Most of your life is habitual.
Habits, good or bad, make us who we are. The secret is first to be aware of them and then, over time, change them. Often times we make changing habits out to be the HARDEST thing to do in the world! We get stuck in another habit – rigid, fixed thinking.
How often have you heard someone say “I don’t eat vegetables or I can’t wake up early, there is no way I’m training at 6am”? Those are all evidence of a very closed mind. Good luck making any changes with that mindset – it’s not exactly setting yourself up to succeed with closed thinking.
Ask yourself this question: do you like anything now, as an adult, that you didn’t as a child? Then you have evidence that you can change your mind, about foods, about getting up early, about whether or not the opposite sex has germs.
So how do we do it? Habit change doesn’t have to be tough. Start small. You just have to decide to change SOMETHING.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Check negative thoughts at the door! “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t you are right.” – Henry Ford
Get used to noticing your thoughts about change, and start putting them on trial. Ask yourself, “Is this thought true? Is this thought helpful?” With a little practice you can start to reprogram your thinking.
Pick one, any one! Don’t try to change too many habits at once, there is no way you can sustain that level of effort. But one? You can do that! Decide on ONE thing and do that for 30 days. It can be as simple as deciding to pack a piece of fruit everyday to replace your afternoon chocolate.
Develop a new ritual. Come up with a little personal ritual that you perform before the habit that you would like to change. This ritual is like a trigger. If you wanted to stop eating biscuits, you could drink a glass of water before you eat one. If you wanted to get to bed earlier, you could read a book instead of watching TV. These triggers will break the pattern of the habit and make it easier to change. A trigger helps condition a new pattern more consistently.
Be kind and replace the need. Habits are there for a reason, we are getting something out of them. It might be convenience, fun, relaxation, stimulation or any other personal reason. You can’t just pull out habits without dealing with the needs they fulfill. Try to figure out what need your habit is really fulfilling: for example, giving up television might mean you need to find a new way to relax, socialize or get information. That packet of Tim Tams may be a way to deal with negative feelings of tiredness or loneliness; try coming up with a different way to process these feelings, like going for a walk or journaling.
Make it doable. If your change creates more pain in your life than joy, it is going to be hard to stick to. Don’t do hours of cardio if you hate it. Find diets, exercise, financial plans and work routines that you don’t hate and might even be fun to follow.
Check ‘em off: 30, 90, 365. Put your habits through a series of checkpoints. The first is at 30 days. At 30 days you should be on autopilot, but you could get derailed with a large change such as moving house or changing jobs.
At 90 days any change should be neutral – this means running the habit is no more difficult than not running it.
At one year it is more difficult not to run the habit than to continue with it. Be patient and run your habits through the three checkpoints to make them truly part of you.
K.I.S.S. Keep it simple and sustainable! Change is hard enough without complications. Could you explain the changes you’d like to make to a five-year-old version of yourself? Your change should involve one or two rules, not a dozen. Eating one big green salad a day is easier to follow than cutting carbs after 5 pm and eating 10 % fat while increasing protein with each meal! Simple means sustainable. Complexity creates headaches!
Finally, think about why you want to change the habit. Is it because you think you should or someone told you to? Make sure the change is natural – intrinsically motivated (from inside) instead of extrinsically motivated (from outside). Stick with it and enjoy strengthened willpower and your new behavior!
So – get started – break out of the rut!
At Anytime Fitness, our caring people plus our state-of-the-art facilities combine to provide you with all you need to achieve your goals and start to feel something better. Our 250+ clubs in Australia are open all day and all night, everyday of the year, so you can come and go as you please and access a great work-out environment.
And to help you get started, we have a 7-day Free Start offer available right here in the blog .
It’s the best way to experience our refreshing difference. Conditions apply. For more information visit http://www.anytimefitness.com.au/membership/gym-pass