When was the last time you’ve followed a social media account that didn’t make you feel bad about your habits and your lifestyle choices? In fact, nowadays it’s difficult to turn on the TV or take a walk down the shopping mall without being constantly reminded of what a fit figure or a healthy snack looks like? Paleo diet, gluten-free, intermittent fasting and workout, and the list goes on forever. For a lot of people, it can feel as if society were judging every single bad habit of yours, and this can be overwhelming at times. But the truth is, being unhealthy is not a fatality.
Whether you enjoy a late night snack in secret or you haven’t been to the gym in years, using the right approach can help you to overcome your dark sides and build healthy habits. From couch potato to fitness freak in a few simple steps: You may not be able to run a marathon by the end of the article, but you will certainly have the keys to know where to start your marathon training. All you need is to understand what’s behind your bad habits, so that you can ditch them, transform them or simply take on new habits instead. Are you ready to change your life, safely, easily, and without being judged for the failures of the past? Then dive in and discover your guide to a fitter, healthier and happier you.
Just a matter of habits
Motivational speeches about improving your lifestyle — whether it’s getting fit, losing weight, dropping a dress size or eating healthy food — have all one thing in common. They insist that building a better lifestyle for yourself is a choice you make. While this might sound daunting at first, especially if you’re struggling with destructive habits that feel like no choice of yours, there’s something positive about it. Indeed, your lifestyle is a specific choice you make to repeat a set of behavioral patterns you have previously selected. In other words, what this means is that your lifestyle is the result of your habits. If your behavior repeats positive habits, then you have a healthy lifestyle. Negative habits create an unhealthy lifestyle. When you understand that being healthy is just a habit, then you give your mind the power to improve. As a habit is an automatic behavior, it is, therefore, something that is controlled directly by your brain in such a way that it frees up the majority of your cognitive management in the process. But there is nevertheless a part of your cortex that remains in control of this automatic behavior. Consequently, any habit can be shut down, as long as you find the way to interact with the planning centers in your cortex. Sounds complex? Don’t worry! All this means is that your brain can pick up new habits and kick old ones, regardless of how ingrained they are. According to the research here http://jamesclear.com/new-habit, taking on a new habit doesn’t take 21 days but up to 66 days for your brain to register the new behavioral pattern. It doesn’t make changing habits impossible, but it means that you need to devote time and effort to transform your lifestyle.
How do I know good from bad habits?
Life is full of habits that you probably don’t even notice anymore. From which side of the bed you prefer to sleep in to the gestures you do when you are thinking at your desk, habits are everywhere. The main advantage about habits is that they don’t engage your conscious mind as they occur, so you are left to go on freely with the rest of your day. However, it is also a major inconvenient when you are trying to improve your lifestyle. Habits are difficult to notice because they happen without you thinking about it. Wanting to improve your lifestyle requires more often than not to transform your habits. Consequently, you need to keep track of these as effectively as you can. Using a bullet journal as in https://productiveandpretty.com/bullet-journal-habit-trackers/ is a trendy and effective way of developing your awareness about your specific habits and monitoring them. It’s also extremely helpful to identify all those little things that you do without paying attention, but that can affect your overall health. Let’s say you always drink a cup of freshly brewed coffee at your desk before leaving work in the evening. It’s your way of relaxing at the end of the day. You enjoy the warmth of the cup between your hands, the satisfying smell of quality beans. It’s your reward after a long day. Every night, though, you struggle to sleep. Keeping track of the little things you do, day after day, can help you to identify the problem and maybe replace the last cup of coffee with a brisk walk in the park instead!
Make it official
Changing your habits is a promise you make to yourself. If you don’t take it seriously, the chances are that you will not be able to stick with a new behavior long enough for it to become a positive habit. Instead, you need to prove to yourself that you are motivated and that you want to achieve your goal. You need to make it official. It’s easy to give up early as new habits require as much motivation as consistency to stick. When it comes to improving your fitness, JCD Fitness recommends starting with simple baby steps. Make one change and promise to yourself to keep it for a month. The 30 days challenge has a certain social media appeal to it — in fact, you can even document your journey on Instagram with the hashtag #30DaysChallenge — and it has the potential to give yourself an easy direction. For instance, you can decide to drink a glass of water before breakfast for 30 days. Now how do you officialize it? You can refer to your favorite social media to record your experience day after day. This will make you accountable not only to yourself but others too. If you’re not confident with the idea of sharing everything online, you can use a bullet journal to monitor your new habit. All you need is a page on which you write what you intend to do for a month. This will serve as your official agreement with yourself.
Cold turkey doesn’t work for long-established habits
So you’ve identified your negative habits, well done. But don’t think that you can kick them out of your life as easily as you noted them down in your BuJo. In fact, if your habit has been established for a very long time it might have turned into either an addiction or something that you need to do to be able to go on with the rest of your day normally. In other words, you will face serious obstacles if you try to quit cold turkey. For addictive behaviors — from smoking to biting your nails to manage your stress levels — you might find that your brain will continue to release the chemical request for your habit even though you’ve made a pact with yourself to stop. Quitting cold turkey has the highest rate of failure because it’s done without consideration for the brain’s chemical reactions. You need to train your brain to gradually change its chemical connections, using the helpful vaping devices from https://www.ecigwizard.com/ if you’re a smoker; or simply by reducing your need for this habit over time. You can use your BuJo to help you to reduce frequency. Let’s say you’re a nail-biter; you will find it difficult to handle stress without biting your nails and you might find yourself with bloody fingertips when you wake up in the morning. So instead, you could plan a few minutes during the day for your habits. This means that your brain learns to control itself and wait for the appropriate time to indulge. Then it will be easier to quit.
Use replacement habits
Sometimes, you don’t need to quit. You could simply replace your bad habit with a better one. You will find this approach a lot easier as your mind will get busy learning a new behavior, which means that there is less ability dedicated to the control of the old habit. If you’re a social media addict, for example, you could get used to reading the news instead of checking your Facebook status.
Start something new
Sometimes the absence of habit is just as destructive for your lifestyle. Learning something new — even if it’s a habit — is guaranteed to make you happy. The mind enjoys the excitement of novelty and therefore makes it easier for you to pick up brand new habits. If you never know what to eat in the evening, why not invest in a dry cooking gadget, which will transform boring food into something exciting and healthy? Or you’re struggling with managing your workout? A trendy calorie counter should do the trick. You’ll move just to see the dashboard update!
Bad habits are the enemies of a healthy lifestyle. But you can manage them at your pace if you identify them and understand how they integrate with your everyday life. However, in the long term, boredom and stress are at the origin of every unhealthy lifestyle. They are the catalysts of bad habits. So keep your mind entertained and at peace if you want to stay healthy.