So in my corporate days I used to have some habits that really didn’t serve me.
- Fish and chip Friday with the team
- The fry up after a leaving do on the night before
- The team coffee run.
- The bottle of wine after a BAD day at work
My story was that I did these things to fit in, yet it did nothing for me wanting to lose weight and shed that half a stone that didn’t want to shift EVER.
So many women we’re reliant on coffee to get them through the day or the same lunch each day. They had so much work to do and were so busy that their habits became more and more engrained.
You know how it is? Without even REALLY thinking about it you’ve gone and got ANOTHER coffee.
Oh and you can read the truth about coffee and weight loss here.
What is a habit?
So let’s start with some GEEKING out. Just a little so don’t worry but once you know a bit about habits you’ll know how to break them.
So let’s start at the beginning with a definition.
a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
“he has an annoying habit of interrupting me”
The geeking bit that habits are in the brain’s filing cabinet. It’s stored in the basal ganglia, that your brain run’s the day to day activities from to free up the pre frontal cortex for the “thinking” work.
Things like driving to work, walking and brathing and those repetitive patterns that don’t need as much thought or focus.
The basal ganglia stores, repeats and then replays these patterns and AMAZINGLY we can run up to 80% of our life on pattern.
We form them, certain habits are difficult to break and sometimes we forget we’re even doing them. For instance, when I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is look at my phone—a habit that I’m sure many other women have acquired even when it does not serve them.
It takes just 3 repetitions to start the process of a habit and the hardwiring to start happening.
So the not so great news is that those daily habits that do not serve us are hardwired in. The GREAT news is that we’re in control of them and we have the power to make, break or replace them.
According to a study released in the European Journal of Social Psychology, researchers surveyed 96 people over a 12-week period to find exactly how long it takes to start a new habit. The participants of the study chose a new habit and reported each day how automatic the behaviours felt. Results were analyzed and the average time it took for the participants to pick up a new habit was 66 days. While the study focused on the time it takes to create a habit, the same time and energy can inversely work to kick an old habit or substitute a negative pattern of behaviour for a healthy one.
How to Break Old Habits and Make New Ones
1.Spotting and Being Mindful
It all starts with being mindful, being aware of the what triggers you to those habits and the recipe to that habit kicking in.
In the beginning, your goal is not to judge yourself or feel guilty about doing something unhealthy or unproductive. Your only goal should be to remain vigilant and aware of when a behavior happens and how often.
2. Remove the trigger
Where possible remove the trigger, so a bad day at work is the trigger for buying the wine. How can you view that day in a different way? What have you learnt and what are you grateful for? And the recipe for creating that habit, there is also one for creating a new habit. Or getting home and talking to your partner about your day so you’re not just reacting and can share the challenges of the day.
Once you decide what you want to change or adjust, tell the people in your life of your new mission. Select a few important individuals you can trust to help keep you on the right track.
Pay it forward by helping them achieve their goals, too. When you’re in it with other people, you can hold each other accountable and celebrate your victories together. Never underestimate the power of support—sometimes you need a tough kick in the you-know-what as motivation to keep moving forward.
3. Change the results
So a habit is just a deeply embedded reaction, so the brain sees x happening and then y is the reaction.
So you know the trigger, aware of how often it happens and then you can build on this again with a different reaction. So when you’ve had that bad day at work, can you take the dog out for a walk or sit down and have a cup of tea with your partner or ring your best friend.
Ask for the support to make this new habit bed in.
4. Give the new habit A.I.R
So what does A.I.R mean? To embed a new habit it needs to be given A.I.R.
Attention – Focus on creating this new habit and embedding it, make it part of your daily routine.
Intention – Give it a why, does that bottle of wine after a bad day serve you? No so the intention is to do something that serves you in a more positive way. I wanted to lose those last few pounds and that habit was not serving me. It was not helping me get fit and healthier to help me feel more confident on dates.
Take a look inward. This is the time to dig really deep to get to the core of why you want to make a change and how it’s going to affect your life and the people in it. Think about what you want out of life and how you want to represent yourself.
Repetition – Keep repeating, this is just like the sets and reps in the gym. The habit will hardwire more and more the reaction will become more subconscious and less conscious and less effort.
Making and breaking habits takes time and effort, but mostly it takes perseverance. You might not have success right away, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get there—and if you really want to get there, you’ll get there. Believe me, it’s not easy . . . but it’s worth it. You’re worth it.
So go on, get to it and repeat after me, “Yes, I can!”
Ladies, your purpose and mission in life relies greatly on the choices you make, so get into the habit of making them count.
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