“Making habits, breaking habits”
A summary of the book, “Making habits, breaking habits” by Jeremy Dean to help YOU make and break eating and fitness habits.
Most of the research on habits has been conducted on changing or breaking SMALL AND SIMPLE habits…and people STILL failed at it. Habits are a lot more complex than we think. They are deeply rooted into our unconscious, where they will stay. This may seem like a long and unsuccessful road but you CAN make new habits and also break any bad habits you currently have. Knowing it will take time, repetition, and effort before attacking our habits will give us the insight to stay on the journey. Remember my last post about the book “Drive” that said humans love to chase mastery even though we know we will never truly master something. It is the challenge and the journey that we crave.
Research has shown that one of the most effective ways to break a bad habit is to replace the habit with a slightly better habit. Those who tried to quit the habit “Cold Turkey” were very unsuccessful at changing their habit. Do you want to break your bad eating habits? The way you eat is not a simple habit to break, it is a very complex habit that is usually formed at a very young age. To break our bad eating habits, like skipping breakfast, we have to replace a piece of the habit at a time, such as placing a granola bar into our car rather than laying out an entire pancake breakfast. See how we tackled our eating habits by starting with one simple change rather than quitting the habit cold turkey? Another idea would be to replace ONE meal with a better eating habit rather than trying to tackle ALL six of your meals EVERDAY. Have you ever tried to go “Cold Turkey” by saying to yourself “I am going to eat clean starting tomorrow till summer!”…..We all know how this ends….
One tip to make a new eating habit is to establish regular & consistent eating routines: eat the same foods, in the same environment, everyday. Another is to look for CUES in the environment that lead to your bad eating habits.
Why New Year’s resolutions do NOT work. When you say, “I must not eat chocolate” it actually has a rebound effect: trying not to think about it makes the thought come back stronger! Instead of thinking, “If I’m hungry between meals I must avoid chocolate”, say “If I’m hungry between meals I’ll eat chicken over a salad.”
For a behavior to become a habit you have to repeat the behavior…repeat…repeat…and repeat the behavior until it becomes automatic. As habits develop they will become more and more effortless. Can’t even think about waking up at 5am to workout? As the alarm dings every morning the painfulness of awakening and working out will become less and less difficult to do as you begin to form the habit each and everyday. By repeating the workout every morning, you are repeating the behavior in the same situation everyday which will also help working out become a habit. The morning workout will become an automatic behavior so that means even when you are tired, moody, etc. the habit will still be performed…nothing will stand in your way!
Our habits will always win over our intentions. Do you intend to go to the gym this week a total of 5 days? Look at your usual habits: currently you only go once a week…THAT will better predict your future behavior over your intentions. Why? The definition of a habit is that it is an automatic behavior. You will resort back to your usual habits unless you start making the steps to workout more days a week.
Tips on your habit-changing journey:
- Habits are automatic responses to CUES from the environment. Want to change a habit? Change your situation!
- Before you start to change your habits you not only should envision yourself completing your goal but also the steps you have to take along the way as well as any obstacles you may face. While on the journey of making a new habit keep asking yourself, “What will this new habit do for me?” This will keep yourself on track by the constant reminders of why you started this journey in the first place.
Steps for making a new habit:
-Think of the exact behavior you want to achieve in the EXACT situation. Rather than saying a time of day, I’ll run everyday at 11am, use an **event** instead, such as, “Breakfast just ended and if I have time I will go for a run or ride my bike.
-Look at your daily habits throughout the day and look for a time slot where you can put a new habit…a small break between your daily habits
-Repeat the thought or behavior in the SAME context or situation over and over again. Each time you repeat the behavior you are taking one small step towards the new habit
-The greatest gains at establishing a new habit is at the early repetitions
-Be aware of how the new habit is forming: is there a better time of day to perform your new habit? Where are the situations where you get tempted the most?
-Don’t use rewards!!! You want the habit to form WITHOUT using rewards
How to break a habit:
-Found out exactly where, when, and how the bad habit is taking place
-Use mindfulness: it increases your awareness of what your consciously doing, since habits are performed unconsciously
-The more you try to push the bad habit out of your mind the more it pushes back. An example of this would be following a strict diet and then binge eating.
-To break an old habit you have to replace it with something new
If you have had a bad day (hello Monday!) the more willpower we will need to show up to the gym or stay on track with our macros, which means we rely being more on autopilot. This is when our old habits we HAVE broken start to creep out of their caves. We have to prepare for these future situations by putting things in place NOW.