Habits. What are habits, and what are they good for? 🙂 Mostly we think of habits as bad, right? Well, according to Tchiki Davis, MA, PhD, habits are defined as routines that are practiced regularly. So, if we are doing something right, we must have good habits too... right? Bare with me here. 🙂
Habits and Health
Most of my clients come to me because they don't like where they are with their health and or fitness level. Often, weight loss is at the core of their goals. Just as often, the desire to lose weight is urgent. We want it now, right? I'm not a fan of the extreme or fast-fix approach. Diets for example, they all work... if you stick to it... and you stick to it for however long you want to keep the weight off, but what happens when we go back to eating birthday cake, bread and ice-cream cones on hot days?
It's a Lifestyle
My approach to forming good and healthy habits is to find a lifestyle that keeps us in line with our goals. Finding small strategies that you are willing to incorporate into your lifestyle is what will enable you to see the changes you are looking for over time. This is the underlying thread to my whole approach to fitness and nutrition… it’s a lifestyle. Not a quick fix. I believe that if we are willing to make small changes we can maintain, the weight will come off and stay off. We also need to consider, "What am I willing to change? " as opposed to “What should I change?”. Should is something you think society expects, willing is something you want for yourself. At least that's how I see it : ) At the end of the day, in order to see something change, we need to – you guessed it right -- change something and for that to happen, consistency is key!
How I learned about Atomic Habits
Recently, I was listening to a podcast from Unlocking Us, by Brené Brown. She interviewed a fellow named James Clear, the author of the book Atomic Habits. While listening, I was a bit stunned. My mind kept repeating the phrase "That is exactly what I teach! I felt like I had already taken a page out of his book, minus the academic research he has put into his work.
Just a while ago, I was just sharing my "strategies" with one of my members, looking for the right fit for their individual goals. James Clear uses the word habits instead of strategies. He really pulls it all together: Chasing the goal, wishing and hoping for a change in our bodies and health, does not really bring forth change. We need habits. Habits that are in line with our goals. If your goal is to lose weight and be thin, James advises to ask yourself what a thin person would do. Eat? Behave? What are their habits and how can you incorporate them into your lifestyle?
Do you need to pack an apple and nuts to eat on the way home from work to keep you from eating leftover chocolate cake while you make dinner? Or, do you need to workout before you get home and get settled on the couch? Maybe, you need to walk everyday on your lunch, or you might need a fitness class to keep you moving.
Ideas for simple changes
Way back in 1990 when I initially started to change my habits, the first new habit I implemented was putting out a veggie platter on the table before I started making dinner. That way I would avoid wolfing down something like cake that is not in line with my goal, and I am less likely to overeat at dinner. Another habit that I still practice today is to eliminate the butter from my peanut butter on toast. Why do I need both? I didn't even notice the change. 32 years x 100 calories per day. That is 1,168,000 calories I saved for something I don't even miss! Or more recently, I decided I needed to up my water intake. So, I put a glass in my bathroom and made sure I drank it before heading to the kitchen. There, I have another glass of water while my bread is toasting. This way, I already have a good amount of water in my body at the start of the day. Even before I have my coffee. I still like toast with PB and jam and I'm not giving it up. Maybe I should but I'd rather give up something that I don't love and won't miss as much as my one slice of toast with peanut butter and jam. 🙂 “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”
― Aaand, if you don't buy a ticket, how can you expect to win? : ) What are you willing to change in order to see a difference in your life that moves you closer to what you REALLY want? ::)
I am happy to help you change and form new habits
I highly recommend that you listen to part 1 & 2 of this Brené Brown podcast.
It will help you move toward any goal, not only if you want to lose weight. The habits is what we need to focus on, not the goal. And then, you may be inspired to read James’ book Atomic Habits or the summary with just the nuggets. Annie brought me a copy. It was written for people like me, BIG PRINT, and LOTS OF HEADINGS : ))) If you want some help sorting out your goals, habits, or strategies, just give me a shout, I'm happy to help you achieve whatever your goal is.