Tips on Creating & Maintaining a Habit
...Continuation from previous post. Read below
Breaking habits: “Habit Loop” (see attached PDF)
1. Trigger or Cue- recognize the trigger for the bad habit
-Need to change the environment the habit is forming in
2. Routine- behavior itself
3. Reward- something your brain likes that makes you keep doing it
Tips to Creating and Maintaining a Habit:
1. Reduce stress- a good amount of bad habits are coping mechanisms. --> Go into #2
2. Use a positive or healthy habits to override the bad habit:
--> Similar to the bad habit, we have to perform this new habit over and over again
--> Analogy- Old “muscle of habit” becomes weak, while the New “muscle of habit”
3. Make conscious decisions to engage the Prefrontal cortex:
--> Old patterns creep back in when we stop paying attention, become distracted, or stressed.
4. Consciously remind yourself the benefit that this will provide for you in the future:
--> Research shows that using positive self-reflection such as affirmations, positive self-talk & visualizations of the future significantly help in establishing new habits
5. Celebrate small victories- no I don’t mean with a cupcake (if you're doing this during Whole30). Science has shown that rewarding yourself throughout the process of a habit change will not only create the habit faster, but will be more enjoyable throughout the process.
--> Focusing on the present instead of the long-term goal reduces stress and increases success and happiness
Choosing a new habit that is fun and rewarding will help the habit form easier and faster.
Whole30 Example- If you wake up every morning with 2 Equals & cream in your coffee, and once you start Whole30, that habit must stop, you’re not even going to want to wake up in the morning! You’re associating pleasure with that cup of coffee that you cannot have. Instead, wake up doing something you enjoy. Give yourself a few extra minutes to stretch, listen to music, meditate, or exercise. Take that time for yourself that doesn’t involve sugar and dairy to keep you happy in the morning.
**Important Note in relation to Whole30:
The new habit may not completely take over the old habit, but rather ‘mask it.’ This is why old habits might sneak back in. This is the definition of Food Freedom. Food freedom is the cycle of forming new habits, finding balance and getting back on when you’ve fallen off the wagon. Just like Melissa (Hartwig) Urban mentions in Food Freedom, this is not the time to beat yourself up. Remember, the brain loves strict rules because it takes the guess work and doubts out of the equation completely. Mini resets are the key to allowing newly formed habits to stay put until they become automatic.
By: Kirin Escher, MD