Maybe this sounds like your mornings too…
I’d roll out of bed 15-20 min before I had to be up. My kids have always been into early mornings. It was always mad dash to get everyone out the door on time. No wonder I was crabby, exhausted, and spent the rest of the day trying to catch my breath.
What if your day didn’t have to start like that? Wouldn’t it be great if you could enjoy a hot cup of coffee and a little time to get your head in the game before everyone else was up, and the world was knocking at your door?
You can start your day fresh, with more peace, and a lot more calm. The trick is to carve out time for yourself before the busy of the day sets in. But this, like any other habit takes some practice.
Let me guess, at this point you might be thinking to yourself, this is great for the early birds. Perhaps you already feel like you don’t have enough time, let alone add one more thing to your list.
Here’s the magic: Once you develop the habit, you won’t have to think about it. In fact, you’ll be so stoked on how you’re feeling after spending some time filling your cup, you’ll be too excited to get up and get the day going.
I think one of the reasons, people aren’t more excited to get up and at ’em is because the day is too chaotic. If my days felt like that, I wouldn’t be too happy to get out of bed either. In fact, I wasn’t.
When I’d roll out of bed, I was immediately reacting to life, instead of calling the shots. And if you’re not setting some intention behind your morning routine, then you’re likely in the same boat I was.
Another thing that may be tripping you up are some of the other habits you’ve got, that you’re not ready to get rid of just yet…like late night Netflix binges or hours of mindless scrolling.
I had some habits that definitely had to go, if I was going to be able to get my butt out of bed earlier. While I thought watching hours of TV or scrolling my social media was recharging my battery, I noticed I didn’t always feel better or more refreshed.
Often, I’d wake up the next day feeling drained and exhausted.
On the rare occasion I would get out of bed earlier than usual, I found I had so much more time to get ready.
The days I had actually taken the time to read my bible, journal, spend time praying or meditating I had a different head space.
You might be on board to give this whole morning thing a try, but not sure where to start. It’s ok, I didn’t either.
I read the book Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod as a recommendation from a friend of mine at the time.
The book helped give my mornings structure. I used it as inspiration, and just kept tweaking until I found what worked for me and the time I had.
My mornings these days consist of going through my daily devotional, read a personal development book for about 10-15 min, journal some thoughts that came up or things I’m wrestling with, meditation/ prayer, and then I visualize my ideal day.
Here’s the thing to realize though, having a great morning starts the night before. Not only is it important to look at how you’re starting your day, but also how you’re winding down the night before.
If you’re finding it hard to get up a bit earlier, you may wanna take a look at your bedtime routine, and make some tweaks there.
Remember, it’s not about massive overhaul here. Instead, look at what small change you’re willing to make. And then intentionally practice it…daily. You also don’t have to wake up hours earlier. Try waking up 10-15 minutes earlier at first, then you can bump it back as needed.
As we know perfect doesn’t exist–this goes for our sleep as well. There are days when you may do everything ‘right’, and still don’t sleep well. This can make getting up early much more challenging than it might already be. Just do what you can. Maybe you cut a few things out, or shorten the routine up a bit. That’s ok! Just do what you can.
Any time I travel, or have a change in routine it can be hard to stay with my morning routine. Again, decide what you can do even when you’re short on time or out of your element and do that. Think about it like this, what would the minimum be that you could do to still feel energized and excited about your day be? Do that. Then when you get back into your groove, you can adjust again.
I never thought changing one little thing, like how I start my mornings would have had such a profound impact, but it has. I don’t feel like I’m running the whole day trying to find my groove because I create my groove first thing in the am.
You will feel like you’ve found extra time in your day, and it’s because you have.
If you constantly feel like you don’t have enough time, it can be tempting to avoid adding one more thing in, but I just want you to try it. If you don’t like it, you can always go back to sleeping in 😉
Starting day with intention makes it easier to be intentional throughout the day. Keep in mind freedom comes from having structure without being harsh or rigid. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do it perfectly or you miss a day here or there. However, to create new habits, you have to commit to consistency.
Make it easy on yourself to win the day, by winning your mornings.
Think about the first time you ‘knew’ you needed to lose weight.. or even thought about losing weight? Chances are you were pretty young. And if you weren’t the one struggling with your weight, you knew a woman you who was and still probably is.
Here’s the truth: you don’t need to lose weight to feel what you want to feel about yourself.
But, you must to take care of yourself like you matter.
Which is something I don’t see women doing very often. For many women, their needs get pushed to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list while they are busy taking care of everyone else. After a while of neglecting themselves, they forget who they are. And they don’t like what they see when they look in the mirror.
This is usually when the typical dieting behavior kicks in. The fantasies about what life would be like if they just lost those last 10 pounds or if they were a bit more “toned” fill their minds.
They try to beat their bodies into submission via strict diets aka “healthy lifestyles” and crazy workouts.
A new way to ‘self-care’
Weight loss is highly celebrated and elevated in our culture. Comments like ‘you look good, have you lost weight?’ only further the idea that weight loss = health and that health looks a certain way–no matter what it took to get there.
Instead of following the traditional model of health that focuses solely on weight loss and fearful thoughts around food..
Move your body.
Talk to yourself like you love yourself.
…before you’ve lost the weight.
Do it from a place of compassion, love, and a desire to take care of you the way you take care of others. Not because you fear that looking a certain way will be the only way you can earn love or acceptance from others.
Do it because you know and believe you were created for a purpose and you can’t do it if you are exhausted, and are beating your body up with lifestyle choices that aren’t serving you.
Your mind needs a makeover
1. Give your thoughts a makeover. Notice the words you use to talk about yourself and your body.
What kinds of feelings or emotions do those thoughts evoke for you? If it’s negative, you gotta change that pronto.
2. Change your thoughts- first notice the thoughts you think about yourself NOW, what result is that producing for you?
Then choose new thoughts to think. Yes, you get to pick what you think about. You don’t have to be at the mercy of the mean girl living between your ears.
3. Take care of yourself NOW, not when you’ve lost the weight–what does YOUR healthy lifestyle look like?
Instead of following someone else’s plan for your healthy lifestyle, create your own. There are many ways you can move your body–find a way that works for you.
And aside from a few key nutrition habits, you don’t need to follow a meal plan or specific diet despite popular information found all over Google.
Prepare for battle
We are immersed in diet culture, there is no denying it. Depending on how steeped in it you are, you may have a hard time shutting the inner diet police down. The thoughts and feelings of inadequacy or disgust because of your weight, size, or shape will mostly likely creep back in.
Stand guard against those thoughts.
Here are some strategies you can use to wage war against the diet fueled thoughts:
- Write out the new thoughts you want to think about yourself. You can put them on post it notes around the house or in your car.
- Come up with new ways to describe yourself that have zero to do with how you look.
- Talk to yourself as if you were talking to someone you really loved.
- Remember you don’t have love the way your body looks, but you don’t have to hate it either. Practice body neutrality.
- List out what your body can do now, and what it allows you to do.
As you continue on your journey of leaving the weight obsessed world behind, you will find you’re less stressed, life feels less chaotic, and you’ll have more energy for the things that you *actually* care about.
You’ll be making choices about your body, food, eating, and exercise from a place of care rather than duty, obligation, or penance.
You won’t be eating better or exercising in order to feel good enough, you’ll be doing those things because you already know you are..
If you’re ready to make the next move in your life, and you’re not sure how to start, I’ve got you. The Mindful Eating Project is open now, click the link to fill out the application!
Fitness. For as long as any of us can probably remember, we’ve been working on improving our health or our fitness in one way or another. Usually in the form of ‘cleaning up’ our diets, cutting calories and entire food groups, and working out until we couldn’t walk the next day.
Fitness once represented a healthy ideal about the ways in which we ought to take care of our bodies. However, it seems there is much more to this word than seemingly meets the eye.
As a woman who has been on both ends of the spectrum–being extremely unhealthy to a woman who was (in every way) living the ‘fit’ lifestyle I can see the dangers on both ends.
After nearly 18 months of recovery from the mainstream fitness mindset I’ve rounded up the top 11 reasons to avoid mainstream fitness. If you’re bruised and battered from a life lived in the pursuit of ‘fitness’, it’s time your mindset got a makeover…
11 Reasons to Avoid Mainstream Fitness
- Both the problem and coincidentally the supposed solution too.
- Focuses on weight as (often the only) indicator of health regardless of what you had to do to lose the weight.
- Makes health, fitness, wellness available to a narrow number of people aka only those who can afford the time, energy, and money for the things diet culture claims are healthy. If you’re a single mom working two jobs, how in the world are you supposed to afford the latest superfood and gym membership?
- Further exploits women and takes their power. At the end of the day, many women are still chasing the fit ideal, not necessarily their ideal body. They’re slaves to food scales, calorie counting, and the next best diet to hit the market. Sadly, many women come running with their wallets open and their credit card out to buy the next fix. It’s a rare form of slavery—one in which we choose.
- Places value on what you look like and what you do instead of who you are. And in many ways promotes similar behavior as those with eating disorders.
- Promotes disordered eating behaviors–obsessive food thoughts, thinking about calories and macros, and food phobia.
- Creates fear and anxiety around food, eating, and your body.
- Adds to pressure already felt by women to be all the things to everyone. Not only do we need to ‘good’ wives and moms, we also need to do it in the hottest body ever. Maybe there is more to life than walking around in a near perfect body?
- Feeds on comparison. Which by the way, is a massive driving factor in body dissatisfaction–the diet industry knows that. If they can create a problem (flawed bodies, obesity, etc), then losing weight and getting toned are obvious answers.
- Shames the ‘before’ body and glorifies only the ‘after’ body.
- The ‘after’ photo–it’s not always better. In fact, most of your problems are still your problems even if you’re in a size 4.
Hear this, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy, there is everything wrong about the obsession we have with health, wellness, and the pursuit of the perfect body.
For many of us who have been chasing the pursuit of mainstream fitness ideals, we might be weary and feel a sense of relief at the idea of completely ditching the behaviors that drove our unhealthy obsessions around food, exercise, and our bodies. For others we might be leery of the ideas mentioned above.
Don’t abandon the behaviors you know in your heart to be taking care of you, helping you become the best version of yourself.
But 100% DO abandon the notion you have to lose a certain amount of weight, adopt a specific diet, or beat yourself up in the gym to obtain your fit lifestyle. Consume information on fitness through a critical eye, and start making decisions for yourself.
After all, only you know what’s best for you. So it’s time to step up and take ownership of that responsibility. It is truly the only way you will be able to be the woman you were created to be, and do what only you were created to do.
Is anti-diet the right way to approach health, wellness, and well-being?
Some front runners in this movement teach the WTH attitude. Which is NOT the answer either. That is the kind of thinking that keeps people stuck. In many ways it gives wrong idea about eating, and living life in general. Self-control is displayed as being a form of slavery. Instead, you’re encouraged to throw all caution to the wind, and do whatever the heck you feel like.
Instead we ought to approach our well-being from a place of mindfulness and responsibility. Sometimes it means making the hard call, delaying gratification, so you can grow into that next level version of yourself.
Throwing the middle finger up at the idea that self-control and discipline creates a sense of why even try? Apathy is not empowerment. Taking ownership is empowering–so long as you do it on your own terms. And not according to what you ‘think’ you should be doing.
You know dieting doesn’t work
You just want to be healthy, but somehow you’re still struggling to make those new lifestyle habits stick.
If dieting isn’t the answer. What is? Initially it seems like it would be the opposite–not dieting. But that is scary right? For most of us, dieting in some way is all we have known. Dieting nonsense is everywhere in our culture these days.
We’ve never really been taught how to eat when we aren’t operating from a diet mindset or with diet behaviors.
We all want to feel at ease around food and feel comfortable in our skin.
Whether it’s from a shallow place of wanting to look good, or because of a deeper desire we have to feel like we are lovable, worthy, and good enough.
On the surface, most of us would say we know what it takes to reach our health goals–eat less, move more. No matter how many times we’ve tried this and have failed, we still carry this as our own failure. Not the diet itself.
We try to fit ourselves into a box we were never meant to be in. We were created to be unique–that includes the formula for our healthy lifestyle too. My healthy lifestyle won’t necessarily look the same as yours, and that is ok.
About 18 months ago, I realized I was still dieting, yet calling it a “healthy lifestyle”.
I was operating by rules and restriction.
I wasn’t losing weight (long-term). I was obsessed with food all the time again. Even though I was working out 6 days a week, my body didn’t lose weight.
Maybe time to do something different
What are you currently doing? How is that working for you? If it’s not working, it’s time to shake things up and do something you’ve never done before.
I’m willing to bet you’ve had seasons in life where you’ve said screw it, and have eaten whatever you wanted, and that didn’t get you what you wanted either. While I’m not proposing that we just go totally off the rails. I am proposing we find our own happy middle ground.
Look at ditching the diet mindset in a mindful way.
Give yourself permission to eat anything you want.
Toss out the food rules.
Get in touch with yourself.
Ask yourself these questions:
What do you want to look, feel, be like?
How do you want to engage with food and your body?
How do you want to feel in your skin?
Guess what you can have those feelings now. You can have that relationship with food right now.
Diet culture is everywhere you turn
I had to overcome years of dieting and living in diet culture. Sometimes it is near impossible to sort it all out.
When I first started my own non-diet journey, I went way off the rails. Gained weight, didn’t feel good. I knew I was self-sabotaging, but this time it was my fault. You see when we diet, and it doesn’t work–sure we feel pretty bad about ourselves for failing, but ultimately we still get to blame the diet for not working.
When you go off the rails on purpose, and you initially start to leave dieting behind it will feel out of control. That is all the years of dieting and listening to the diet BS catching up with you. This is normal. No need to panic. And you definitely don’t need to go back to dieting.
It’s a slow process. One that needs practicing every day. You may get to a point where you realize you aren’t happy with how you’ve been treating yourself (which by the way can and does STILL happen when you’re dieting).
When you’re recovering from the diet mindset there is an adjustment period. It will take you some time to learn this new way of eating and interacting with food.
But it gets better.
The rebel who just wants to eat everything doesn’t have to rule your world.
Instead, you learn how to channel into your inner guide and expert. You use her to guide you to the right decisions for yourself. Of course having some key habits under your belt will help until it becomes more automatic.
Where the anti-diet movement fails you
Some in the anti-diet movement will tell you to just keep going. Eat whatever you want how ever much you want.
It’s a ‘who cares’ attitude. This is irresponsible and doesn’t empower anybody. Maybe it feels like empowerment temporarily, but not long term.
Rejecting the anti-diet mindset is as important as rejecting the diet mindset.
When you finally step into the role of expert in your own life, you take full ownership of your life and your results that is when you find TRUE freedom.
I had to teeter to both extremes to figure that out.
The ironic thing? In both extremes I was unhappy.
One is the mindset you’ll never be good enough, the other says you can be whatever you want even if it costs you your health and the ability to manage yourself in a healthy, helpful way.
Finding your own center will help you walk through life with self- control, discipline, grace and self-compassion. That, my friend is the only way to live the life you were created to live.
If you’re ready to simplify nutrition and leave dieting behind click here to apply for my new group coaching program. Space is limited, and the early bird discount won’t last long…
So you’ve been at this dieting thing a while eh? Maybe it started back in middle school or maybe even earlier. Sometimes you lose weight, and other times you don’t. Heck, you might even gain weight.
I’ve dieted for over 10 years, and I’ve only lost about 2 pounds. Before you judge me and believe the lie I didn’t work hard enough or just got “lazy”. You may want to reserve those thoughts. Because if, like me, you’ve also tried diet after diet or the latest healthy lifestyle trend, you know the weight loss doesn’t always come and it doesn’t always stick around.
I’ve lost more than 2 pounds over the years (at one point up to 40 pounds). But I’ve managed to gain almost every single pound back.
I did all the things. I ate less and moved more. I tried calorie counting, flexible dieting via macro counting, weight watchers, and just about everything else you can think of.
Some of those things worked, for the short term. But most of them did not.
On the surface I lacked self-esteem and confidence
I hated the way I looked. But on the inside I was even more uncomfortable because of who I saw in the mirror. Not only did I not like how I looked. I didn’t who I was.
I didn’t show up for myself. I treated my body with so much abuse.
And Like most women, I thought weight loss was the answer. I thought if I could just lose some weight, I’d like me so much more.
The problem was that losing the weight doesn’t actually change who you are. Sure on the outside I was different, but inside I was the same girl. The only difference was I was in a body that was more acceptable to the world around me.
The praise and worship that came from being in ‘such good shape’ or being so disciplined made it almost impossible to ignore. On the one hand I felt more confident because I finally felt beautiful and like I was desirable for the first time ever (big lie by the way).
On the other hand, I was still insecure. I compared myself even more than before. I was afraid of ‘losing it’. So I locked myself in another kind of prison. This time my body wasn’t the jail cell, it was the tightly constructed rules, thoughts, and beliefs I built around food, eating, and exercise.
About a year and a half ago, as I was taking my before pictures yet again. And gearing up for my next workout program and meal plan, I realized I was getting ready to start another diet.
It hit me like a ton of bricks: IF this was a healthy lifestyle, why was I always starting over?
I hadn’t actually created a lifestyle. Stress and rules ruled my life around food and my body. The hardest part was, I knew I wasn’t really setting the example for my kids that I wanted. Especially my daughter.
My identity was still wrapped up in how much weight I could lose and keep off as well as how good I looked to compared to other women.
I said good-bye to dieting + pseudo healthy lifestyles
As scary as it was to decide not to start my next diet, I knew I had to. I was tired of feeling like a total failure every couple of weeks when I would get off track with my meal plan or fall off the wagon.
I was tired of starting over.
I knew that If I actually wanted the healthy and abundant life I was created for, I had to leave dieting behind for good.
The first step was to break the rules I’d so neatly constructed around food, eating, health, etc over the years.
Then I gave myself full permission to eat food. All the food. Carbs, fat, candy, all of it.
Remove the food rules-entirely. There were no more ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. Just foods that honored me and treated me right. Sometimes that is the cookie and sometimes it’s not.
I had to learn new behaviors around food. Not just someone else’s new rules to follow when it came to eating or food.
I went off the rails
I ate all the foods I had been so good about restricting. It was like my rebellious teen came out and ate every single thing she’d been denied for so long.
I gained weight, and I felt pretty uncomfortable in my clothes. All of the old chatter came back about how bad I looked. This, by the way only made me feel like crap in my skin.
I thought about quitting this new process.
Even though my scale didn’t work, I knew my weight was creeping up.
Then one day…My off the rails eating subsided
My weight leveled off. I wasn’t obsessing over food for the first time in years.
Eating didn’t stress me out.
I had finally taken hold of the reigns in my life, and stopped giving away my power to someone else via another diet, workout program, and ideals about how my body should look.
I’m confident and comfortable in my skin in a way I never was before. And it has zero to do with my weight, how much cellulite I have, or the size of my clothes. In fact, I’m the same weight now as I was when I first started dieting. My jeans might even be about the same size. But you know what?
I’m one hundred percent a new woman. My body doesn’t look the same. And I sure as heck don’t feel the same way about myself. That is something the scale can and never will deliver. How I feel about myself isn’t tied to my weight or what I look like anymore.
My healthy lifestyle fits me and my life. It allows me to do all of the things I want to do because I’m healthy, strong, and have my energy back.
Hands down, the best part is I’m showing my daughter how to be fiercely herself. There is nothing quite like that feeling. I promise.
The question now is, what are you waiting for?
You’ve got one wild and beautiful life…there is no more time to be wasted hating your body for what it’s not. The time to join the Radical Self-Care Rebellion is now!
Sign up for weekly pep talks to your inbox! Fill out the form below, and I will add you to the inner circle of rebels 😉
Motivation is what gets you started, habits are what keep you going. – Jim Rohn
Motivation. We’ve all had that sudden spike to get up and take action at one point or another in our lives. For most of us, that surge of motivation doesn’t last more than a few days or weeks if we’re lucky.
Why is that? Well, as the quote above suggests, it’s a lack of habit. The motivation to create change is there, but the follow through is not. Motivation alone is not enough to keep you going when the road gets tough or when the results take longer than you expected. Habits, on the other hand make taking consistent action towards your goals not only possible, but almost easy.
Easy in the sense that when you’ve got habits in place, you don’t even have to think about what you’re doing.
Why does your brain like habits?
Your brain likes habits because the brain is all about efficiency and effectiveness. Habits allow your brain to turn off, and therefore, burn less calories because it doesn’t have to think about what to do next.
The brain always looks for ways to make things easier and more efficient. If you’ve ever had a day where you feel mentally drained, it is because your brain had to work overtime to think about what you were doing. As a result your brain was tapped in the energy department. The brain doesn’t like that.
Our brain likes simplicity. It likes routines. Think about the last time you drove home, you probably didn’t have to think much about the route you were going to take. In fact, you may have missed a majority of the drive home because you were essentially on auto-pilot. This is the power of habit at work.
The brain also likes habits, because they help you avoid decision fatigue. You are forced to make hundreds if not thousands of decisions each day-from large decisions to micro decisions. Some you may not even be aware of.
Most women meet that quota trying to get dressed in the morning. And if not then, they certainly do when they spend time and energy agonizing over what to eat. Especially if you’re steeped in diet culture or the diet mindset.
Your brain will look for every opportunity to create habits as a shortcut. This is regardless of if the routine/ habit you’ve developed is ultimately helpful or not. Hence the existence of your bad habits..
Do all of your habits contribute to your lifestyle love?
Not all habits are created equal as you’re probably aware. Think for a second about all of your habits. There is a good chance you have come up with more negative habits than good ones. That’s normal.
Bad, good, better, and best habits exist. Some serve you and the lifestyle you’re looking to live. Some don’t.
The problem lies in the habits we keep and the ones we have a hard time sticking to. If you’re wanting to create change and discover more lifestyle love in your life, then figuring out how to arrange the habits in your life is so crucial.
Beyond knowing how to arrange your habits, you need to get clear on which habits are serving you and your best self, and which ones are consistently sabotaging your hard work.
To get clear on which habits need an upgrade and which ones don’t try this exercise:
-Get out a piece of paper and list out the habits you’re aware of.
* You may have to think about your daily routine to see if you can notice some of the sneakier habits you’ve developed. For example, do you tend to plop down in front of the couch with a bag of chips after a long day of work and mindlessly binge Netflix until the chips are gone?
– Next, you’ll want to decide which habits are helping you and which ones aren’t. Rank them either using a number system or with simple terms as bad, good, better, best.
-Lastly, decide which habits you believe will help you succeed that you don’t have in place.
A common mistake many women make is they focus on, and beat themselves up over their bad habits. Instead of focusing on changing your bad habits, think about which habits you want to create.
You don’t have to change every bad habit at once. In fact, if you try, it’s a sure fire way to make sure you fail. Just think about New Year’s resolutions. People try to change everything about their lives, and then wonder why none of it stuck.
The importance of keystone habits
Instead of overwhelming yourself trying to change all your bad habits at once, start with one, and then go from there. Look back at the list you created, pick the one habit you know would have the most powerful impact on your life if you changed it. If you’re trying to improve your health, that one habit for you might be not using food for emotional comfort or getting in the habit of moving your body in some way each day.
Oftentimes when we create certain habits other ones seem to emerge out of nowhere. Sometimes all it takes is tipping over the first couple of dominos to create a cascading effect. When this happens, you know you’ve found a keystone habit. The more keystone habits you create, the quicker the results come in all other areas of your life too.
The problem is, you don’t always know which will be the dominos you have to start with. That is why it’s important for you to start with a habit you’re genuinely excited to create or are excited to see disappear as it’s not contributing to your overall lifestyle, and is definitely not creating a sense of lifestyle love in your life.
The next mistake people often make is not giving themselves enough time to practice creating the new habit. When they don’t see results in a few days or a couple of weeks, they lose steam, and go back to the behavior that wasn’t serving them at all. Be on the lookout for the quick fix mentality. Creating a sense of accountability for yourself is a smart move.
Look at creating new habits like a practice instead of a prescription. There will be days when no matter how hard you try, you’ll mess up. Dust yourself off and try again. Depending on how engrained the old habit is, it could take months to get the new habit to click for you.
Self-compassion, self-love, and grace will be huge in keeping you inspired to try again. Beating yourself up when you mess up, won’t.
Hacking the habit loop
Understanding the different parts of the habit and what you have to practice changing is helpful. This way you’re not wasting your time or energy, and can focus on what you have in your control.
Your habits have three parts. There is the cue, the routine, and the reward. The only thing you have to work on changing is the routine.
As humans, we are hardwired for pleasure. Our brains want to avoid pain because it sees pain as a threat to our survival. There was a point in time, when this was helpful, and at times still can be ie if you’re getting chased by a bear.
However, our brains in many ways are still pretty primal. Meaning the brain doesn’t do the best job at differentiating between an actual threat and a perceived threat. Think actual danger (chased by a bear) versus theoretical danger (being rejected).
Generally speaking, if something feels good or provides pleasure the brain perceives it as being good for us. While on the other end of the spectrum, if it causes pain (even if it’s emotional or mental) our brain wants to get us back to feeling good, at any cost. This means even if the habit is harmful, but provides an immediate sense of pleasure, your brain will seek that out.
Basically the brain is always looking for the reward part of the habit loop.
Let’s say you’ve got the habit of stress eating. Anytime you’re stressed, you eat. Regardless of if you’re hungry or not.
The cue might be you’ve just gotten out of a stressful client meeting at work or had a fight with your best friend. You feel anxious, on edge, upset, and end up migrating to the nearest cupboard or secret stash of your ‘feel good food’.
Looking at the scenario above the habit goes like this:
- Cue: stressful meeting or fight with best friend, boyfriend, mom, etc.
- Routine: find nearest source of ‘feel good food’
- Reward: feelings of anxiety, edginess, anger temporarily subside.
You can’t change the circumstance, and you can’t change what you’re brain is seeking (pain relief). What you can control and change is the action you take after the cue.
In the scenario above it’s easy to see that the ‘feel good food’ will only provide temporary relief. The pain will still be there after you’ve eaten your feel good food. That routine may even present other problems that you’re left to deal with down the road.
Now that you know on a basic level how habits work, you can take the habits you want to change from your list above, and break them down into the three parts that make up the habit loop. Decide what routine you want to swap in place of the current one. Then get to work practicing the new routine when the cue hits.
Focus on one or two habits to change at a time. Keep it simple, make it fun.
The power of habits will make or break you. It’s that simple. You are the sum of every habit you’ve ever had, every thought you’ve ever believed, and every belief you’ve ever held. If you don’t like what you see when you look at your life, it’s time to give some of your habits an upgrade, it’s time to give your mindset a makeover.
Hacking your habits is the first step.