The first thing I ask clients who want to change a particular behaviour or reach a certain goal is why.
Would you know the answer to this? What is your 'why', your motivation or your purpose for wanting to live a healthy life or to make lifestyle or nutritional shifts?
Finding your why is ALWAYS the first step in lasting behaviour change.
Also the more emotional your why, the more likely it is to cause massive shifts in your life. ⠀
That's why me telling you to eat certain foods or exercise when you don't feel like it or really care is not going to work. But us going deep and really tapping into your motivation for why you want to eat well, move more and take care of yourself can be powerful stuff.
Ok, so you've identified why you want to change a particular behaviour...great! Now what do you do? After you tap into your motivation you need to start to work on habit training-this is what's going to make your new lifestyle choices stick.
Although the common idea is that a habit is formed in 21 days, research shows that is actually the minimum amount of time required and it is different for every person and every behaviour, but a few clear things the research points to are that:
- You need to practice the behaviour regularly (consistency is key)
- Helps if there is a reward in the beginning (eventually the behaviour itself becomes the reward but starting off you may need an extra incentive)
- Tracking behaviours is helpful in the start
- Plan your day so you can easily include the new behaviour(s)
- Have a strong why and motivation for why you are doing this new behaviour
- Link your new behaviour to a strong existing behaviour (for example-if you're wanting to drink more water tie it to something you easily do on a daily basis, such as brushing your teeth. Brush your teeth. Drink water. Repeat consistently). There are many examples like this. The key is finding your existing habits and working off of those.
- Mindfulness plays a role and there are many exercises that help work on this habit formation
Changing a bad habit is often harder than adding in a good one, but there are still strategies to make it easier. Identifying triggers and coming up with new pathways in your brain when exposed to these things is how we can begin to break bad habits.
Habit training is such an important piece of my nutrition programs and really helps address the 'doing' part of behaviour change. It is fine to 'know' what you should be doing but actually implementing these changes is a different story sometimes.