Change Your Habits in 7 Steps
Now that the weather is cooling down, now is a great time to get started on your fitness plan. Think of how it will feel if you have dropped a few pants sizes when everyone else is getting bigger over Winter.
There are a few keys to changing bad habits … I highly recommend that you create a plan based on these keys, before you start to implement your habit change, so that you are well prepared and well positioned for success. I have used the example of binge eating on junk food, but the same keys apply to changing any habit such as quitting smoking or missing workouts.
1. For each habit, identify your triggers. What situations trigger your binge eating (boredom, watching TV, sitting down after tea, having coffee, drinking alcohol, stressful meetings, going out with friends, driving, etc.)? Identify all of them, for each habit.
2. For every single trigger, identify a positive habit you’re going to do instead. When you are bored, instead of eating, what will you do? What about when you get stressed? When you go out with friends? Some positive habits could include: exercise, meditation, deep breathing, organizing, decluttering, and more.
3. For at least one month, focus entirely on being as consistent with your triggers as possible. That means, every single time those triggers come up, do the positive habit you identified instead of the negative one. The more consistent you are, the better the habit will form. If you sometimes do the new habit when the trigger occurs, and sometimes don’t, the new habit won’t form very well. Try to do it every single time. If for some reason you fail, extend the one-month period and try to be very consistent from that point onward.
4. Avoid some situations where you normally drink and eat, at least for a while, to make it a bit easier on yourself. If you normally drink when you go out with friends, consider not going out for a little while. If you normally go outside your office with co-workers to eat or smoke, avoid going out with them. This applies to any bad habit — whether it be eating junk food or doing drugs, there are some situations you can avoid that are especially difficult for someone trying to change a bad habit. Realize, though, that when you go back to those situations, you will still get the old urges, and when that happens you should be prepared.
5. Realize that your urges will be strong, but they will go away after a few minutes. They come in waves, but just ride out the wave. Find strategies for getting through the urges — deep breathing, self massage, eating frozen grapes, walking around, exercising, calling a friend who will support you.
6. Ask for help. Get your family and friends and co-workers to support you. Join a Fitness Group like FitterFaster. Get a workout/health buddy. When you have really strong urges or a really difficult time, call on your support network for help. Don’t eat junk food, for example, without emailing your support crew or me. Don’t eat it until you call your buddy first.
7. Staying positive is key! You will have negative thoughts — the important thing is to realize when you’re having them, and push them out of your head. Squash them like a bug! Then replace them with a positive thought. “I can do this! If Jo can do it, so can I!” 🙂
Bonus tip: If you fail (and many of you will, at least once), don’t give up. It can take many many attempts before you get control. Figure out what went wrong, and plan strategies to overcome that obstacle the next time. Keep your positive attitude and keep trying. You’ll get it eventually. This is key-do not give up because of one slip up.
And don’t let old habits sneak back once you reach your goals. If you binge or fall off the wagon, just get up and keep on going. Let it pass and move on. Every day you will be tempted, but it does get easier. The key is to move on and remember what it is you are trying to achieve