Hi friends, how many of you have heard it takes thirty days to bust a habit? Three months? One year? Well, I disagree with ALL of them and I’m about to bust the myth that in order to be successful in living a healthier life you have to BREAK your bad habits.
Let’s start with the definition of a habit:
Habit; a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.
I like that it is described as a settled practice. Something we’re comfortable with and something that is regular in our day. Now that we’ve got the definition, let’s expand our thoughts on habits. Habits are not black and white. They are not good or bad. They simply are loops in our brain because that is how the brain networks. The phrase, “we’re creatures of habit” is a phrase for a reason.
It’s only natural to form habits from infancy and up. It’s helpful for kids to brush their teeth so we teach them that habit. It’s helpful to educate ourselves with nutrition and exercise and mentality knowledge because it is HELPFUL. But knowledge is only one part of it. When it comes to overriding and older habit, we first have to learn.
Get curious! What IS it about this new habit that you want to learn? Do you desire a deeper relationship with food? Do you crave for food to not rule your life? WHY do you want to learn this habit? What is it really, dig deep, that is driving you to want to practice this new habit?
The first step is knowledge and curiosity and the next step is practice. You were taught to brush your teeth twice a day. You practice this daily and if you’re like me and skip it once in a great while…your teeth feel yucky (especially in the morning, hello bad breath!). I do not like the feeling of fuzzy teeth so I’ve worked on remembering the benefit of brushing (AND flossing) my teeth. The desire to not have fuzzy teeth in the morning has (over time) outweighed the desire to not brush/floss them.
Most of us start trying to eat healthier and move more with the desire to lose weight. What if we instead desired to change habits so we feel better? Feeling better is personal, subjective and becomes your own definition. It might have a side effect of weight loss, sure, or it might not. You might be desiring to BREAK a habit because you believe it’s influencing the scale. But you might find more desire in associating your habits with how you’re physically FEELING. Are you still here? Following along?
LONG story short. Instead of breaking a habit, associate a new one with a positive feeling. I’m working on making sure regular exercise continues to be apart of my routine. I associate the habit of exercise with feeling positive about myself and feeling the relief of some stress. If I ONLY focused on exercise to change the number on the scale, I absolutely will not stick with it. Or if I The scale is finicky. It changes in weird (and frustrating ways) but feelings…those we CAN work with.