A year form now, you will have wished you started today.


A Note From Karen

$FIRSTNAME$, do you think willpower is the easiest way to create a healthy life? 

Most people rely on willpower to eat healthy and exercise.  But science has shown that we only have a limited amount of willpower each day. It is so easy after a long day to think...do I want to exercise today? No, I will do it tomorrow. Why? Every decision you make throughout the day chips away at that limited supply of willpower that you have. Eat this cereal or eggs?  Exercise today or not?Take a sweater to the office or not? All those decisions chip away at your brain power. Your brain tires, so that by the end of the day, you are tired of decisions. It becomes so easy to eat that snack after dinner or sit on the couch and watch Netflix instead of doing something with the kids. Relying on willpower to make healthy decisions throughout the entire day is difficult at best.
 
Creating routines, so you do not even have to think about your healthy choices, is the way to go. Think about brushing your teeth.  When you create a routine to brush your teeth as soon as you dress after your shower or as soon as you finish breakfast, you no longer have to think about it.  You just do it. 

Determine what routines you want in your life that will enable you to live a health lifestyle.  Do you want to exercise everyday? Do you want to eat half a plate of vegetables at your meals?  Do you want to meditate? Whatever the routines are, create ways to develop those habits and you will be on your way to a health life.


Habits - Easier Way to a Healthy Lifestyle

When you think of habits, do you think---booooring?  For some, the thought of lifestyle habits makes them feel confined. For others when they think of habits, they think of bad habits, like smoking, eating too much junk food, or chewing nails.
 
When you hear the word habits, what do you think of?
 
Habits can be, and actually are, a good thing.
 
Google habits and you get "a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up."  No mention of good or bad because, in fact, habits, in themselves are neither. It is the result of the habit that is "good" or "bad".

Your mind likes to create habits because it makes you more efficient.  In essence, your mind is lazy. It is always trying to move your conscious thoughts into unconscious thoughts.  You receive hundreds of stimuli a minute, so your brain needs to find ways to cope with it all and creating habits is one of them.  

Think of a toddler learning to walk.  He must really focus and think about lifting his foot, keeping his balance, moving his foot, and placing it down.  Once he loses focus he falls. Within a short period of time, the entire function of walking becomes easy and something the toddler no longer thinks about because his brain moves the whole process of walking into an unconscious thought area.  Then his brain can focus on other stimuli. Think about it, when was the last time you thought about the mechanics of walking?  Try to walk very slowly and think about all the things your body must do to move your foot forward.  If you try it, you will find it to be difficult.

Habits are created within a loop.

First there is the trigger.  Something that causes you do want to do something. Say you see a cupcake sitting on the counter.  That is your trigger for your brain to say, "yum, I want to eat it."
 
There is the action.  It sends signals to your brain to look at it, pick it up and eat it.  Not a lot of thought just the action. You may notice the more you try not to think of the cupcake, the more present it is to your thoughts, and it becomes hard not to move into action.

Finally there is the reward. The short burst of sugar to light up your reward center of your brain.

All of this can be done in your brain without a lot of thought.  It can almost become automatic.  This is good when you want to create good or positive actions. This can be bad when you are trying to avoid bad or negative actions.

If you are trying to create a habit, you must find triggers that will cue your brain to do a good or positive action.  An example, you see your tennis shoes and you put them on to go for a walk.  You reward yourself with positive affirmations.  After a while, when you see your shoes, you will put them on and go for a walk. It becomes easier.  You no longer fight going for a walk in your brain.  This is the power and freedom of habits. No mental dialog or fight. 

That is a relatively simplistic way of looking at habits, but overall that is the process of creating a habit. Creating one is usually easier than changing a habit, but it still involves the same process.  If you want to change a habit you then need to disrupt this habit cycle.  You must change one part of the process.  Change the trigger, the action, or the reward. Do that long enough and you break or create a habit.

Habits formation is a fascinating process and can be beneficial to your healthy lifestyle.

Spend some time thinking about and writing down the habits you have that are helping you and hindering you from living the healthy lifestyle you want.  Knowing where you are, can help you make changes to move toward your health goals.

One of the focuses in my health coaching program is helping people develop habits that support their goals. Setting yourself up for success helps you move from willpower and struggle toward automatic healthy choices. 

Click here to talk to me about how I can help you.
 

Tiny Tip

Start creating one habit that will help you move toward your health goals.  Settle on an action you want to do. Then look for a cue. Find something that will trigger that action. When you do the action, give yourself a reward.  The reward can be as simple as a positive "Yeah" while looking in the mirror.  You may feel silly, but no one will know, and it will trigger a positive feeling.  Do not skip the reward.  If you are struggling, make your action smaller.  If you want to run a mile, shorten it to a walk, or shorten it to just getting outside.  Keep tweaking.


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Recently I posted on Facebook an article that Real Simple posted on 7 Habits of People Who Don't Stress Over the Little Things. Don't follow me on Facebook? Go follow my page, Inner Savvy Wellness and get the latest.  I post health tips, inspiration and ideas 2-3 times a day. 


Resources

My favorite books on habits are:



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