Healthy Habits 101
Updated: Dec 29, 2019
Everybody has both good and bad habits. They define us in small ways every day.
It is usually the small, simple things that make the biggest impact on someone's life.
The idea behind this blog is to help you identify with your habits understand them better and help you adjust them.
If we think about how we want to be defined we can start to plan our habits, create new ones and diminish old ones. Yes, we can create our own habits. Small improvements in the right direction will change how we and others view us.
"Being healthy is not about losing weight."
Be honest with yourself, why are you putting pressure on yourself about how many kg you are?
Is that how you define yourself? Losing weight is a healthy thing to do when you are over-weight.
But, are you unhappy because you are larger or are you unhappy because of your lifestyle?
If you look deep at your current little habits and change them into healthier ones, the weight will naturally come off. You will also feel better about yourself and your lifestyle and not be subject to the downward spiral of extreme dieting or fitness trends; that is just not sustainable.
Does it matter that your 82kg and not 79.9kg? probably not it's just a number.
If you are in an unhealthy weight range, a better way to judge it is by measuring your waist and hip ratio. Abdominal fat creates the biggest risk factor of disease.
Watch my youtube video on how to work out your ratio: https://youtu.be/2chMwQYQY_4.
When creating your goals, remember to think about why you want it. It can be helpful to instead think about what you want to feel. This will align more with your core values and will help set up your most important long term healthy habits. Instead of losing weight, I might set up my goal to feel strong and independent.
Divide and conquer
Create smaller goals/achievements which will lead to your larger goal.
You can have as many as you like. If my main goal is to feel strong and independent, a small goal might be to eat breakfast.
Setting goals is helpful for keeping motivation high when starting new habits. When you set goals, make sure they are achievable.
I like to make small goals that lead up to a larger one. The smaller ones can be as small as drinking one extra glass of water per day or completing 5 workouts in a week.
The larger one could be In 3 months I want to be religiously drinking 3L of water per day or I want to be able to do 5 chin-ups continuously.
Once you find your goal, more than likely you will be going through a list in your head of all the things you already do or do the opposite which relates to this goal. There are many aspects of your life that you may consider when creating your goals. Fitness, Food, mental health, Environment, Social health, Self-care. These are all elements that could be improved, each with health benefits. A lot of these can also be intertwined e.g. food and mental health. Choosing healthier foods can change the hormones and attitudes we have, which can be mood changing, affecting our mental health.
Set a deadline for achievement. This turns your aspirations into smart goals. Smart goals are achievable, measurable and have a time attached.
If my small goal is to eat breakfast, have a think about your current morning routine, when are you going to fit this in? What are you going to do directly before? What are you going to see, touch or hear to remind you to do this? Now we have an achievable smart goal.
My new healthy habits course goes into more detail about this, most aspects of self-care and gives heaps of ideas for new healthful goals.
Once we create our goals we set a precedent. This turns into a new routine. Routine can turn into habits the more that we do them.
A habit is a set amount of actions not thought about which starts with a particular cue. Without getting all neurosciency on you, the cue is highly important. You will notice if the cue does not happen, likely you will not follow through with the task.
The transformation from routine to habit.
What makes it a habit?
An act once practised repeatedly will be done with less effort every time. This is because the wiring in our brain to complete the act is made simpler each time we do it. This is called neuroplasticity. Where the function becomes easier and the action less thought about. This is why, when we practice music it becomes more and more natural to play. The first time will generally be the hardest as it is a new act that we are learning. Even by thinking about an act we can get better at it. The signals from the brain will still be sent to the muscles in the correct pattern which enables the learning of the act. Some people call this muscle memory.
My fiancé and I have cheat day Sunday. So just the cue of thinking its Sunday and sitting down watch a movie, we both find ourselves wanting snack food. Not because we are hungry, in fact, most of the time we have just had a decent meal... then we suggest going to the shop because its Sunday and we don't want to miss out our cheat day. After all, it is another 7 days until the next one.
I am a heavy believer in balance. This bad habit has created a good habit of being healthy…ish the other 6 days of the week. So I'm essentially ok with this. We cannot be too hard on ourselves. No-one is perfect and everyone should be able to enjoy the little things in life. For this to improve, I need to be realistic. This habit won't be cut out completely but my choices of bad food can be reduced.
Remember, bad habits return.
Only add and focus one thing at a time, too much change too soon might leave you feeling overwhelmed. This will increase the likelihood of your old bad habits creeping back in. Remember with your bad habits they are habits too, you have learned them and they are now programmed into your brain. This won't ever be undone, it can definitely be diminished. The less you do it and the more you create alternate pathways the less likely it will pop up.
Evaluate your current habits into good and bad
Select a bad habit and change 1 aspect
find a Cue to remind you
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
The destination addict.
New healthy habits are your destination and by implementing them you will become the you, you were meant to be. Just, don't become a destination addict. A destination addict is someone who believes their happiness lies with a new thing. New job, partner, place. The truth is other people can't make you happy. It is hard to change our views on what we have, but it can be done.
Do u hate what you're doing or do u have bad morale at work? Sometimes the smaller changes are what really makes us happy. Remember, you don't need to be anyone else to be happy. Happiness starts with your thoughts and feelings. So start there first.
If you have been able to create a new healthy habit, or transform a bad one into a better one. Let me and others know how it went. It is never easy, so stay strong.