Through analysis of my own habits and research over the past 6 years, I have found that being able to sustain habits is a crucial element to enjoying a healthy lifestyle or not as the case maybe.
We all generally default to the habits we form in early years, those that we observe every day in childhood. We are then inclined to mentally beat ourselves up for not being able to break unhealthy habits that we have been following for 20 or more years! As a species we can be extremely tough on ourselves and if we are not able to stick to a diet or exercise plan, then outwardly we may make an excuse but inwardly feel useless, and label ourselves as undisciplined, weak, lazy and so the list goes on. Forgive me for the generalisation that was maybe just me.
Charles Duhigg explains in his book ‘The Power of Habit: why we do the things we do’, that an understanding of the nature of habits and the triggers associated with each one allows us to practice new routines in order to form new habits. This has been my experience in forming healthy habits not only for eating and exercise but also for problem solving, thinking positively and many other factors which are important in leading a healthy, happy life.
After years of trial and error and self-punishment (I am not even joking!), I have come to realise that making the smallest of changes gradually is the best approach to breaking a bad habit or forming a new healthy habit or doing both. As a society we want everything to be quick and happen now, one of the main reasons diets did not work for me was that I wanted to lose lots of weight by next week, and if it did not happen then I gave up. Does this sound familiar?
It is the small things you do every day on a consistent basis that will make the big differences. You have the choice to eat the extra chocolate biscuit every day for 1 year gaining 6 pounds in weight, or you have the choice to reduce your daily intake by 60 calories (same amount as the biscuit) in a year and lose the 6 pound. This is just a small example and, of course, this can be magnified. Think about this and examine your day, you do not have to starve yourself to attain your goals, but if you are willing to make one small change each day in 30 days you will notice a difference.
30-day habit challenge
It has been proven that it takes between 21 and 30 days to form a new habit, are you willing to give it a try? We would love you to pick a habit from the ideas below or think of another habit that will improve your life in some way. It helps to declare your habit challenge to make it feel like an actual commitment, so feel free to declare it on our FB page (passion8nutrition) or on our site as a comment. Also, you must write it down. It is exciting setting yourself a challenge so enjoy it!
1. Do you take sugar in tea/coffee? If you do, aim to reduce the amount each day for 30 days e.g. 2 sugars – reduce to 1.5, 1 sugar reduce to half or if this is too difficult at first reduce to three-quarters.
2. Do you sleep less than 7 hours each night? This is detrimental to your state of mind and preventing an enjoyment life. If this is a life choice and you generally have 6 hours, for example, aim to go to bed an hour earlier for the 30 days. It helps to have a routine at bedtime and avoid too much TV.
3. Do you exercise? If you have been unable to start a routine exercise plan, commit to walking/running ten minutes each day (preferably at the same time every day e.g. after dinner or every morning before breakfast).
4. Have you been through a tough time or find it difficult to think positive? Commit to spending 5 minutes when you wake up and another 5 minutes at bedtime to list 3-5 things you are grateful for. Just the simple art of focusing on looking for the positive will have a surprising and wonderful effect.
5. Do you skip breakfast? – There are conflicting views on whether eating breakfast affects your health or weight, but I find that a healthy breakfast is a wonderful way to kick-start the day, and evidence shows that in general people within a healthy weight range do eat breakfast. Check the site for breakfast ideas e.g. banana and unsalted nuts, porridge, Bircher muesli, smoothie or eggs and commit to eating even a very small serving every day for 30 days.
6. Do you eat a sugary snack at a certain time each day (at slump o clock)? Try swapping the sugary snack for a healthy habit e.g. a little walk, a drink of water, a handful of nuts etc.
7. Do you eat less than 3 servings of vegetables a day? Include one more serving of vegetables each day for 30 days
Take the habit challenge and if I can help with anything at all please get in touch.
Lots of love and health