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Thursday, 13 October 2016

Unwanted habits or are they?

13th October 2016
Bad habits are like comfortable beds, easy to get into but difficult to get out of.
So the last couple of days in my meetings habits have come up, I was asked Tuesday if I believed you could get rid of a real ingrained habit forever, my personal belief on this was no, I don't think you can.  Although last night I was challenged by Aimee who said 'I stopped smoking', and I thought ah, yes so did I, but I also know I'd stopped smoking a few times before and smoked again, maybe it has been 20+ years since I've had a cigarette but I know how easy that habit would be to get back into and it only take something to trigger it.

Bad habits, and getting rid of them, usually involves giving something up, that if we're honest with ourselves we don't really want to, so with weight loss it's food or booze, usually the chocolate, crisps or crap, the takeaway that makes life easier so we don't have to cook.  The enjoyable habits that we will actually miss if we give them up, that's why it's not easy at all. 

We all want to be healthier, have more energy and enthusiasm, we know it'd be good for us to get fitter and lose some weight or if you're already at a healthy weight maintain it.  The thing is to get there we have to change our behaviour and food choices, which are habits, I think instead of getting rid of the bad habits, it's easier to start good habits and hope the one replaces another in time.

That's where it gets difficult because that's not easy, so many of us go into a weight loss plan as if it's a project, with big grand gestures of "Right here I am, I'm going to become a different person overnight, I'm cutting the crap, I'm stopping drinking and I'm joining a gym, I'll be thin in a fortnight!"  Yea whatever, that ain't lasting, instead of this approach, it's easier to make small changes you barely notice, a tweak a week maybe.  Trust me lots of small changes add up to results.

Small changes can still be hard, don't forget we've had these habits for years, most of them are pleasurable, we don't really want to give them up, we just know we should for our health, so our brains having an argument with itself in our sub-conscious for sure - can you imagine what's being said, mine would be something like, "If you drink less wine you'll live longer and lose more weight", my inner greedy bitch responds "I don't want to live longer, I'll take my chances, there's no one gonna look after me when I'm old anyway so who cares, and my mom tells me my nan lived to 90 and she was 20+ stone"  I know that latter statement is ridiculous but when I want a bag of chips and a pint of lager, it's enough to sway the decision!

Sounds like it's a pointless mission don't it!  It's now, just don't rush, accept you might do the weight loss 'cha-cha' now and again, 2 steps forward, 1 step back and give yourself a break when you do.  Think about it, our brains are lazy, when they get the chance, they fall into old ways, known patterns with take less thought and effort. 

Make the habit change sound beneficial to yourself, sell it to yourself, pretend you're a shop assistant trying to make a sale, so if you were trying to get me to drink less wine, you're selling point would be "How would you like to wake up full of life, feeling ready to take the world on when your alarm goes off at half four in the morning?"  If you were trying to sell making your own main meal to someone else instead of grabbing a takeaway, you could say, "how would you like to save £40 a month, have enough for that holiday by summer?"

It's easier to replace a habit with another one, there's nothing worse for me than sitting in the living room at 8pm at night with my dinner and nothing to drink, so instead of wine, I've been known to sit with a glass of water in a wine glass, a glass of alcohol free lager or a gin & tonic because it's only 2sp and not 6sp.  All these things help! 

If you normally have a biscuit with your cuppa or a bit of chocolate at night, if you just stop having it, you're going to notice something's missing from your routine, so again replace it with a lighter option.  When something is completely missing, we notice the gap far more than when we've replaced it with an alternative.

If it's just a matter of something is there and it's become a habit, remove it from the situation, if you walk past the cake shop on your way home and it's just become a thing to nip in - walk a different way home!  Or don't take any money with you!

Try to make your habit changes easy, focus on creating new habits rather than thinking about breaking the old ones.

I'm starting Day 1 of week 3, if I'd thought about the fact 12 weeks was 3 months, I would maybe have thought twice, but now I'm in it I'm good, week 2 hasn't been as great as week 1, I'm not sure what the scales will say.  What I do know is I need to continue to concentrate on building new habits, I tried to change too many things in week 1, got excited didn't I!   Now I've realised it's not going to be that easy, so focus on one tweak a week.  I'm thrilled I'm still doing my 30 minute walk a day, that's really made a difference, maybe because it's not about breaking a bad habit, but creating a new habit is why it's been easier to do, or maybe it's because I have noticed the fact it's made me feel better.   I was thrilled to see my weekly fitbit report had gone up to 77k steps over the week, which is over the suggested 10k a day on average.

Now to think about the next habit to work on....

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