Changing Your Habits

While traveling, I listened to the book “The Power of Habit” and a lot of it really resonated with me. I wanted to share some of the ideas from it that I thought could be really helpful when related back and compared to changing lifestyle habits around food and exercise.

So research and #science says that there is a cycle of; Cue-Routine-Reward that creates and keeps us in our habits (ie: cue= getting home from work, routine= opening the fridge, reward= feeling good with a belly full of ice cream).
They said that “bad habits” can never be completely forgotten…once you create that cue-routine-reward system, that cue will always trigger a craving for the reward to follow. However, you CAN re-create the ROUTINE pretty easily, and it will stick because you are still using the same cue’s to start it and getting a reward out of it. So, for example, the Cue can remain getting home from work, but instead of following the routine of opening the fridge and getting junk food, you can leave your sneakers right in front of the fridge so when you get there you can lace up and go for a run instead! (or to the gym, or Crossfit, or whatever). That way you get the reward of feeling good and accomplished still while staying on track with your health goals! Another way to avoid a developed bad habit is by creating a barrier between your cue and routine. If you stop stocking the fridge with unhealthy snacks, then when you get home from work and raid the fridge, you’ll be forced to change your routine and can therefore begin a new, healthier one.
When it comes to creating an exercise habit, it’s pretty easy to get into the routine because a reward is easy to find. Exercise naturally releases endorphins which make us feel happier; an automatic reward! Unfortunately, we can (and all probably have) created a similar feel-good association with junk food and happy-feelings. Therefore, when we make healthy eating decisions, we need to make ourselves feel good with positive thoughts, acknowledgement of our accomplishments, and awareness of our progress because of the positive actions! So when we are approached by a meal time cue, we need to create the craving for the positive reward or final goal that you have in mind for health and well-being journey. Whether it is just the feeling of being healthy, getting strong, or feeling sexy and confident, you need to crave that feeling in order to make your brain stick to your newly created routine! That way we can approach meal time with our goals in mind, crave the feelings of health/fitness/sexiness, and take whichever newly created routine will get us that rewarded feeling!
Here’s another example: If late night snacking is a big fall back of yours, it’s important to become aware of and understand your habit cue! Typically, Netflix is going to be our “cue”…followed by our routine of pausing Orange is The New Black, going to the kitchen for a snack, and sitting back down to crush 4 episodes along with the bag of chips (…or maybe that’s just me??). My reward is feeling satisfied by junk food and junk TV. Instead however, what if when I sit down for my Netflix binge, I get on the floor and hit some stretches or yoga poses while I watch. That way I am being kept occupied, using my same cue still of starting a show, and am also still rewarded by feeling good, stretched out, and relaxed after a long day!
Think of where your “cue”s may be in your life…where do you experience a setback in your progress towards your goals?  What happens first, before the negative action occurs, that might be a trigger to this action?  So much of what we do is on auto-pilot and you may need to really assess you daily routines!  Awareness and acknowledgement is so important to creating change in lifestyle, so just by becoming aware of what it is that is keeping you from your goals is a step in the right direction!  Following becoming aware, you need to have full belief in yourself that you are able to make a change and fully believe that you deserve this change!
If you have any questions or would like some help with how to address and change your habits surrounding nutrition and exercise, reach out to me under Contact!

Believe in yourself and you’re halfway there — the rest is becoming aware of cues that you can follow up with some new healthy routines and then celebrate in your positive rewards!

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