Have you noticed it seems to be harder to break up with our bad habits than to create the good ones?
When I first started my own fitness journey over 10 years ago, I found it way easier to skip those workouts. Eat the extra serving regardless of if I was hungry or not.
It took time and consistency to create the good habits, and it seemed like I was just hard wired for the bad ones. In some ways this is true because the “bad” habits provide immediate satisfaction. Whereas, we don’t see or even feel the results of eating one salad. At least not at first.
Consistently doing what needs to be done is the only way to get from where you are today to where you want to be six months or six years from now. It can be hard though to start doing something consistently. Especially when for the most part we have either been conditioned for the quick fix mentality in the diet industry.
Success comes from doing the most important (not necessarily the most urgent) things over and over again
I think we’d sort of be lying if we didn’t acknowledge we don’t want the rewards without having to do the work.
We all want the quick fix or magic bullet on some level, even if we know that quick fix won’t last. It’s taken a long time for me to just settle into the journey, and not be so zeroed in on reaching my goals.
I am the type of person who wants to get where we’re going as quickly as possible. Whether that’s on a road trip or from one goal to the next. However, I’ve come to realize most of the excitement around reaching a goal is the anticipation of what that destination will feel like.
Not the actual goal itself. Because, let’s face it, by the time we reach those goals, we’ve likely already started setting new goals for ourselves.
We’ve got to train ourselves to take satisfaction in just showing up and doing the thing.
“Success doesn’t come from what we do every once in a while, but what we do consistently.”-Alisha Carlson
Know your priorities
We will make time for what’s truly important to us. That’s the bottom line.
There have been seasons in my life when I thought being super lean or super skinny was important to me. As a result I did whatever it took to look a certain way. A lot of my energy and time went to thinking and obsessing over food. Pinching the bits of fat that still covered my body, and working out like it was my job.
I thought I could only be happy, confident, and sexy if I looked a certain way. There came a point in my own fitness journey, when I started to loathe eating a certain way or working out for 2 hours/ day.
The tricky part, is we’ve been conditioned to believe we should always be looking to improve ourselves in some way physically. My priorities were changing, but I still felt pressure to pursue certain physique related goals. I started to feel stressed out about food and exercise again.
When our goals and priorities aren’t aligned, we will always have a hard time reaching our goals. If you’re pursuing goals that aren’t really that important to you, you will find all the excuses you need.
“Weight loss shouldn’t feel stressful. You shouldn’t feel frustrated by your goals, or like it’s a prison sentence.”-Alisha Carlson
Gain more clarity around your goals, and decide what you’re willing to do (and sometimes give up) in order to reach them.
You can create new habits easier than you think
When you stop trying to make all the changes at once, replacing old habits becomes much easier.
How many times have you started a new diet or workout program? It usually feels like you went from 0 to 100 real quick. Often making all of the changes at once is overwhelming.
Start slow. Pick one habit at a time, and give yourself some space to practice your new habits.
Pick the low hanging fruit first. Get some wins under your belt first. What is one habit you feel you can replace with ease? I like to ask myself “on a scale of 1-10, how confident are you you can do this?” If it’s less than an 8, I’ve got to make it easier.
Diet culture’s quick fixes don’t last, this will.
Creating habits through consistency seems like a waste of time because it goes so slow at first. I totally get it. Before I bought into the idea of focusing on habits and consistency, I was entrenched in the diet mindset (and sadly even mainstream fitness culture). The changes had to be quick, even if it meant unsustainable.
If you just make all of the changes at once, follow the food rules perfectly, and never skip a workout you’ll be smooth sailing. What about the rest of us?
With extreme approaches like this it’s no wonder so many women feel stuck. This start and stop ‘healthy lifestyle’ only breeds disbelief in your ability to actually ever reach your fitness goals long term.
If you’re feeling a little unsure of whether or not you can actually create lasting change, you’re not alone. I’m here to tell you, you can. It just might take a little reworking of your beliefs in yourself and your mindset.
Why do we rely so much on habits anyway?
Have you ever stopped to think about your habits? Essentially our habits are just actions we do over and over, and often without even thinking about it.
This is great as long as our habits support our goals. However, when our actions are not supporting our goals or long term vision of what we want our bodies and our lives to look and feel like, this is a problem.
Our brain uses habits to cut down on the amount of work it has to do. It wants to preserve calories, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to cut down on the number of decisions it has to make. Charles Duhigg wrote an incredible book on the studies of habits. (link to book) I’d encourage you to check it out if you are curious about how habits work on a deeper level.
This is amazing news though, because it means that you can essentially create a healthy lifestyle without it taking over your entire life.
Can you be on autopilot and still be intentional and mindful?
Yes. I believe with my whole heart you can. At anytime during the habit loop you can ‘tune in’ to what you’re doing.
I am always talking to myself (usually it’s inside my head). When I notice I’m just going through the motions, I like to check in and see if that is what I really want to be doing in that moment.
Sometimes the answer is yes, I do want that thing even if I’m not hungry or I know they it isn’t ‘healthy’. And this is ok. The quick pause to check in, allows me to make the choice from a place of awareness and control. Not a frantic feeding frenzy because I’ve been depriving myself all week.
Sometimes, I surprise myself. And the answer is no. Even if they do sound good, even if I know I can have them. This kind of food freedom was really only ever possible by removing the food rules I’d been living under and giving myself the power to choose what to eat–not follow someone else’s idea of what a healthy lifestyle should look like.
Sometimes it’s good to rebel
Everything you know or think you know about health, fitness, and weight loss may be the exact thing that is keeping you stuck on the diet hamster wheel. Going against the flow isn’t always a bad thing. Not convinced? Click the video below to see why it might be time to start questioning the ‘normal’ way to reach our fitness goals.