How many times a day are you making decisions about your food and movement choices?
How tiring is it?
How stressful do you find it?
Are you running a constant monologue of ‘should be doing this’ and ‘should be doing that’.
Health and fitness marketing will focus on quick fixed. And don’t get me wrong, we would all love a quick fix. But most marketing messages ignore that everything we do or don’t do is really about our behaviours and habits.
So I want you to believe in yourself and that no matter what your health related goal it always comes down to your own set of behaviours and I want you to start thinking about behaviours and habits rather than focusing on the end goal.
So,What makes a habit a habit?
- Make it automatic
Well we’ve talked before how it needs to be fairly automatic; and removing the deep thinking associated with said behaviour. Of course at the beginning there is some conscious acknowledgement and for some habits however embedded there will still be some level of conscious activity. But the aim is there. Think about one of your frequently repeated behaviours and ask yourself what amount of deep thinking or emotional response surrounds it.
If you’re someone who drinks water regularly, (possibly a bad example as so many people don’t drink enough) but you’ll likely be picking up your glass or bottle without thinking about it. You just simply pick it up during the day, you know your body’s own internal cues, and it hasn’t become a chore or a pain point for you.
Why does this matter? Because without this connection to making things automatic, then your behaviour has to rely on will power alone! That’s exhausting, mentally and physically draining and painful to have to push through each day. Without a sense of ‘automaticity’, trying to lead a healthy life with a bunch of healthy habits that are causing us so much decision fatigue, with an inability to multitask, does not sound like a recipe for success.
SO how much of your behaviours are causing decision fatigue
Can you cope with the conscious decision making?
Do you know how to take the next step to make it feeling more automatic?
- Taking (Negative) Emotion Out of the Equation
It’s not easy but the key is to take the emotion out – the negative emotion out – that is associated with the behaviour.
By removing INTENSE emotion whilst that might seem devoid of human touch walking around like zombies it’s key in our role to perform multiple activities without thinking.
I want you to enjoy your workouts and eat with joy and passion, so the emphasis here is on disassociating yourself with the intense negative response. By turning off our negative emotions we can find a long-lasting pathway to forming healthy habits.
- Understand the context
There is always a link between our environment, (physical social etc). Specific cues or environments can be used to trigger a desired (or undesired action)
For some a change of context might be the very ticket to trigger a positive reaction for another situation the change in context hinders said habit.
The unfortunate thing about context is that it often goes unnoticed. As we hurry through our busy lives, we fail to notice the environments or the contexts we’re a part of, and without being aware of them, it’s much more difficult to change them. We fall prey to our rituals and repeated patterns of behaviour for the worse , which is why it is critical to develop a set of tools to ‘awaken’ our senses to the world around us and within us. Growing and developing a strong AWARENESS practice is key.
So how many times have you stated ‘i’ll start on Monday’, ‘When i’m back from holiday’, ‘when the children are at school’
There is no judgement. We’ve all made these types of comments. These are intentions. That can be great! But these Intentions when in direct conflict with our current pre existing habits are hard to crack
Let’s say you always scroll through your phone before bed, or always get a croissant from the same shop before work, or even just buy something everytime we go on a certain journey. These are strong and embedded habits, however much you might think they’re not. We repeat them frequently and they’ve become deeply ingrained in our brains.
It means if we want to change, we’re ‘fighting’ against what our brain’s default response will be. So with all the best intentions we find that we didn’t go to the gym on Monday, we still bought the croissant in the morning, and we’re still scrolling on our phones before bed.
We then possibly change our intentions or goals because this conflict or ideas/beliefs is uncomfortable and this is called Cognitive Dissonance.
Humans are naturally inclined to align thoughts, attitudes and beliefs with our actions, when they don’t align there is a state of mental discomfort. This isn’t a mad thing per se, if the conflict prompts you to make your own changes, but if it encourages you to change intention so that your actions now align with your beliefs, that you will never make the gym that next time you think you intend to go.
So what has happened in the most likely scenario is that we change our thoughts or beliefs when we struggle to modify a behaviour. We find ‘excuses’ and make ‘failure’ more acceptable (but I would also argue that deep down it hasn’t become more acceptable and we end up berating ourselves more)
Habits can be broken
Habits can be started
It all starts with taking action.
Need help figuring this out?