emotionaleating

3 Ways to Create a NEW Habit

Something funny happened the other morning.  My routine is pretty much the same every day.  I put my daughter on the bus and then head right over to the gym.  A couple of mornings ago like always I dropped my little one off, jumped in my car and 7 minutes later I was pulling into the parking lot of my gym.  The only problem was that I was expected somewhere else!!! My habit took over and without me even thinking it took me down a path I had always followed. Well I made my appointment (though about 7 minutes late lol) and it got me thinking about habits and how powerful they are.

According to Webster’s dictionary HABIT is defined as:

A behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or performance. An acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.

So many times we hear that we have to “break our bad habits.” That may seem overwhelming.  Eat right, exercise every day.  If you have every tried to quit smoking (I have) you realize that it is not as easy as just stopping.  I want to provide you with a different approach.  Instead of trying to break a bad habit shift the perspective and create a new one.  A habit that better serves your goals.  So here are the three way that I teach my clients how to create new habits.

1-Stop and think. Why did I wind up in my gym parking lot instead of my appointment?  I did not stop and think about what I had to do.  This is the first step in creating a new habit. Habit is involuntary and happens without thinking.  But if we stop for just a moment and think about what we are doing and ask the question “does this serve my goals?"it will cause us to delay the action.  For example, if you always have desert after you eat, once you are done with dinner stop for 5 minutes before you reach for the sweet treat.  Are you still hungry? Will eating this cake serve your goals.

2-Make a better choice. This is the most important step.  Creating new habits about making better choices.  We never give ourselves the time to consider a different choice (see point #1).  In that pause we can make a decision and base what we do next on that decision.  Using the same desert example.  We have decided that we are not hungry so our habit of eating a sweet after dinner does not make sense, we now have a choice.  Some examples of better choice based on some common goals:

If getting healthy is a goal I could decide to have a cup of berries instead of a slice of cake.  Both are sweet but the berries are a better choice.

If getting closer to my family and spending more quality time is a goal I could go for an after dinner walk with my family.  Or I could call a friend.

If growing my relationship with God is a goal I could say a prayer, read my bible or a short devotional

All of these choices serve my goal. Remember your goal and make a better choice.

3-Repeat: Remember habit is created by frequent repetition. If you want these new habits to stick you have to do them over and over again.  Your habit of eating a sweet after dinner may have started in childhood.  It took decades to develop!! You are not going to creating a new one by doing it once or even 5 times.  That’s where people disconnect.  In this age of immediate gratification, we give up when we don’t get the result we want immediately.  Human default is ease and comfort above all else.  When it gets hard and we feel like it would be so much easier if we just ate the darn cake!!!

That’s where the enemy waits whispering in our ear that you deserve that cake.  One slice won’t hurt.   You can worry about getting healthy tomorrow.  All lies to keep us right where we are struggling, frustrated and thinking we are never going to get this healthy living right.

Ladies please be strong!! Remember who you are!! A daughter of a king and not weak!!  Take these tips into your heart.  Take a moment, make a better choice and repeat.  I want to hear about the new habits that you are going to create and what better choices you are going to make.  Please leave a comment and share with me.

Consistency Not Perfection

I am an all or nothing kinda girl.  I can’t just do the sprint Spartan I have to do the Super.  I can’t just do a Crossfit competition to me it might as well be the Crossfit Games.  I can’t eat one chip it has to be the whole bag, with salsa, and cheese.

So when I asked on social media what most people struggle with when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle the biggest thing people talked about was staying on track.  Not letting weekends, weddings, parties and life cause them to be distracted and fall back into bad habits.

So I want to share with you the things that I do to focus on my goals while still enjoying life. I am not perfect.  I struggle too.  Many people call this balance but I don’t believe there is such a thing as balance.  Balance implies perfection and unless you are God perfection is impossible.  That’s where my helpful tips start:

1-      The definition of consistency is “logically ordered and/or following a pattern.  Agreement or logical coherence among things or parts.  Firmness of constitution or character.  What this all means is that the Majority of the time things stay the same.  No big changes.  No big highs or lows.  In the context of food and eating this means eating the same way the majority of the time.  No binges, to elimination.  I apply this to my life by going to weddings, ballgames, parties and vacations but I remain logical and don’t drink all the wine, I have a glass.  I don’t eat all the deserts I pick the one I want.  I don’t eat all the bread in the bread basket I have one slice.  Notice I didn’t deny myself the bread, wine or desert, I had them in MODERATION, enjoyed them without GUILT and moved on.  We run into trouble when we say we CAN’T have something, suddenly we desperately WANT IT.  Then because we think we can’t have it we eat much more than we should because we feel like it is the one opportunity to eat it so might as well go big or go home.  Feast or famine, all or nothing.  Not the logical patterned order that is consistency.

2-      Food does not have a soul.  That being said without a soul you cannot attach any moral labels to it.  Food is not GOOD or BAD.  It is food.  When we apply these labels some foods become bad and others good which causes us to morally judge our choices.  And when we don’t make the right choices WE become bad or good not the choice.  The filter I pass my food choices through is this:  How will this food make me feel? Is it worth it?  Will having that third drink or eating that 2nd slice of pizza or piece of cake bring me closer to my goals?  Will a bite of cake or one glass of wine serve the same purpose?  A thoughtful choice prevents and emotional reaction.  Emotional eating brings guilt and shame two things that should not be attached to food

3-      On the subject of emotional eating…. I totally get needing something sweet before bed (a square of dark chocolate usually does the trick) Or when it is that time of the month and you just need a bowl of ice cream.  It is ok.  The trouble occurs when we feel bad about it.  Feeling guilty doesn’t change the fact that you ate it.  Own it.  Have some introspection and figure out what you were feeling that caused it.  Don’t hide it or pretend it didn’t happen.  Talk about it with a trusted friend.  Shine a light on it.  The more we own our choice and don’t write them off as bad the less we will have to start over.

So there is no magic solution.  It’s not easy.  Staying consistent is hard, it takes work.  Integrity is doing what you say you are going to do.  Have integrity to yourself and your goals.  Own your emotions.  Own your choices.  Do not sacrifice long term success for short term gratification.  With food or with life.