New Year, New You!
It’s 2019!!! The time of year when people resolve to make change in their lives in one way or another. Lose weight, save money, stress less, exercise more, have a better attitude.... the list goes on. Sound familiar?
People innately want to do better. Be better. But did you know that approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February? The odds are really against us there, aren’t they! So why is it that the majority of people fail when it comes to making change? The simple answer is, we have bad habits and habits are hard to break.
Simply put, habits are an automated response you do without thinking. You make yourself a cup of coffee in the morning without thinking about it, that’s a habit. You drive to work every day without thinking about it, that’s a habit. You bite your nails when you’re stressed, that’s a habit.
How do habits work? First there’s a trigger, which signals a craving. (Cravings come in more forms than just food related.) The craving then signals an action response, which provides a feeling of pleasure or reward that satisfies the craving. Then that trigger becomes associated with the feeling of pleasure or reward. Look at it like this...
Your alarm goes off in the morning, you want to feel more awake and have more energy. So you make yourself a cup of coffee which makes you feel more awake and gives you energy, which satisfies your craving. Now tomorrow you do the same thing because drinking coffee is now associated with being more awake and having more energy.
You’re having a stressful day and you want to feel some relief. So you have a glass of wine (or a beer, or a cheeseburger, etc.) You now feel more relaxed which satisfies that craving of wanting relief. So now that glass of wine, or beer, or cheeseburger, is associated with stress relief.
See the connection?
So now let’s talk about BREAKING habits. Now that you see how habits are associated with a feeling of pleasure or reward, does it make sense why they are so hard to break?? So how do we actually break bad habits? It’s not necessarily about breaking the bad habit as much as it is implementing a good one in its place. We need to re-wire our pleasure response in the brain. If we can associate a new, healthy reward to our cravings, then that’s how the “bad habit” becomes a “good habit”. Think of it this way...
You’re having a stressful day and you want to feel some relief. So you (instead of having a glass of wine or a cheeseburger) go for a walk, or take a hot bath, or go to a yoga class, etc. You now feel more relaxed which satisfies that craving for relief and you are now associating that healthier action with stress relief.
Now obviously this change is not going to happen overnight. It takes time and conscious effort to re-wire your brain's pleasure response. You have to work on actively changing your mindset. Here are a couple of tips to help you change your mindset:
Become aware of your triggers.
When you are experiencing a craving, look at the situation you are in, or were previously just in. What is it about that situation that is eliciting a craving? That’s your trigger.
Recognize the reaction, or habit, that is tied to the trigger.
How would you normally react to this trigger? What would you do? What would you say? That’s your habit. Is that reaction giving you a sustained or momentary sense of pleasure or reward? What is it about this habit that gives you a sense of pleasure or reward? Is it a healthy reaction or an unhealthy reaction? Is there a healthier reaction you can make that will still give you a sense of pleasure or reward?
Get an accountability partner.
Having someone you can be open and honest with about your struggles, failures and successes is VITAL. It needs to be someone who listens to you, understands you, doesn’t judge you, helps you to see all of your options, and challenges you to be the best version of yourself.
Work with a Health Coach.
As a Health Coach, it is our job to help you reach your goals. We are trained to look at the whole picture and teach you how to do the same. We can teach you how to look at situations in a new perspective, how to identify unhealthy habits and replace them with healthy ones. We can teach you how to lose weight and how to eat in a way that is best for YOUR unique body. We can teach you how set yourself up for long term, sustainable success.
Wishing you all the best for 2019 and beyond,
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” -Will Durant
Want to learn more? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.boldhealthandwellness.com to set up a FREE consultation. Let’s discover what has been stopping you or holding you back from the life and health that you want.