Health

The Power Of Habits

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We throw around the word “habit” all the time, but have you ever stopped to ponder the incredible power of habits in your daily life?

hab·it [hab-it] noun
1. an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.
2. customary practice or use.
3. a particular practice, custom, or usage.
4. a dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality.

choose apple or donut, clean eating, eat fruits and vegetables, #fitinonlineIn other words, a habit is something we do without conscious thought.

Think about it for a second, when you put on a pair of pants do you put your right leg in first or your left? The next time you are getting dressed, try to put them on the opposite way – it is difficult!! This is an example of a habit.

Habits control so much of what we do day in and day out – when we’re not purposely thinking about it.

Now, when we first make the decision to take control of our weight (our health, our fitness, etc.), habits just aren’t a very big deal. That’s because we are so amped up about our new “plan” that we really focus on it consciously. So, we do what we’re supposed to do. We eat the right foods in the right amounts at the right times. We drink the right amount of water. We workout like we’re supposed to.

And, most likely, we make progress toward the results we want as well, right?

But then what happens?

After some period of time – it could be days, weeks, or even months – we take our eye off the ball and our subconscious patterns of habit slowly begin to creep back in.

If it was your habit to go to the vending machine and grab a bag of chips and a soda at 3pm for your afternoon snack break before you started your new, healthy plan, then I can pretty much guarantee you that, at some point, you will find yourself at your desk halfway through a bag of chips before you even realize what you are doing IF you aren’t consciously thinking about what you are doing.

Science has shown us that it takes about 30 days for a new habit to begin to form.

Does that mean once you get past 30 days you’re home free?

Unfortunately, no.

It means that you have started to develop a new neural pathway in your brain to actually “hardwire” this new habitual behavior – but it’s just the beginning.

It won’t take much backsliding at all to completely destroy this fledgling pathway and take you right back where you were before. Once you get to the ~90 day mark, the behavior has a good chance of sticking and truly becoming a new habit.

So, how do you get to the 90 day point without blowing it?

You have to put systems and tools in place that will keep the new behavior you are trying to habitualize in your conscious mind.

Let’s look at the example of the person with the 3pm chip habit. She realizes that she is vulnerable in the afternoon, so rather than leaving things to chance, she packs a healthy snack to eat at 3pm.

Then she goes a step further and sets an alarm to go off at 2:55pm that reminds her that it’s time to eat her healthy, brought-from-home snack.

And maybe she even goes a step further and leaves all her cash at home so that in the event temptation to head to the vending machine overcomes her conscious desire to eat healthy, she won’t have any money to buy chips.

Here’s another thing about changing habits that is important to remember: It can be so tempting, when we want to really make a big change in our life, to try to change ever bad habit we have at one time.

That is a recipe for failure!

Why? Well, it’s sort of like juggling… The more balls we have up in the air, the greater the chance that one is going to fall. The same holds for changing habits.

We can only focus our conscious attention on one or two things at a time. If we try to focus on a whole variety of things, then while we are focusing on “Habit A” and “Habit B,” “Habit E” is biting us in the butt!

And if we fail in one area, it can easily start a downward spiral that eventually just has us saying,

“Oh the heck with it, I quit!”

So, just choose one or two changes to focus on at a time. What we give energy to grows and the more things we try to tackle at one time, the more diffuse the available energy we have to devote to it becomes.

So, identify 2 habits that are keeping you from your health and fitness goals and develop systems and tools that will help you keep the new behavior in your conscious awareness as much as possible. The longer you go, the easier it gets.

I promise!

About Deb Cheslow

Deb Cheslow is America’s Achievement Expert. She is a speaker, a #1 international best-selling author, and peak performance consultant, working with businesses and individuals, worldwide, to help them transform, optimize, and accelerate their desired results. Learn more about Deb Cheslow at Debcheslow.com

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