Ever fallen off the wagon with your health habits? Or actually any kind of habits? If you’re like 99% of the planet, of course you have. And you perfect people out there that haven’t? You can just go back to your perfect habits; we’re good here.
Seriously, it is easy to question why “bad” habits seem so easy to maintain and “good” habits are in constant need of attention. Even ones we love and know make our lives better.
As a healthy lifestyle coach, I spend a lot of time working on my own habits and encouraging and supporting others in creating healthy habits. “Learning” has become part of my mindset so I thought I’d share some of my newest learnings with my latest challenge to myself to “up my steps” and get more movement each day.
- You can’t change what you don’t notice.
I enjoy being active. I love seeing my sports watch hit a milestone. I don’t even mind the SC heat (too much). And yet, starting this movement habit was tough because I was out of the habit and no longer noticed or thought about it. My goal is 10K steps per day. Day one I hit 3200 and day two I was at 1600 at 7:30PM. It was not starting well. I needed some reminders. Everywhere. I shared on social media, put an alarm on my phone at 5pm that says “steps??” and put a sticky note on my morning journal saying “walk!”
- Don’t beat yourself up wherever you are starting.
Re-entry into my habits is always humbling. I’ve generally fallen further off the wagon than I want to admit. My old MO was to then spend a few days (or weeks, or even months…) beating myself up for falling so far. So I ended up even further off course (kind of silly when you think about it…). So now I remind myself how normal, yet silly that is and just get back on course. So you may need to prepare yourself – because that hit to the ego used to make me give up before I’d really gotten started.
- Momentum takes time.
Learning a new habit, or re-teaching yourself a habit is usually a slow process. By the time you’ve gotten to where you realize you need a reset, you’ve probably been off for a bit. The less far off you get, the quicker you’ll get back on, but for the sake of this blog, we’ll assume you’re completely off the wagon, maybe even being dragged behind. So knowing going into it that it can take a while will set your expectations. And breaking the habit down into small doable steps helps speed up that momentum.
- Celebrate little wins regularly!
I mean a) that’s just more fun, right? And b) we are so “negatively programmed” that we far more quickly see our short-comings than wins. So stop and ask yourself what was my win today? Pro tip: If you can’t think of anything else, just stopping to ask this question is a win because it means you’re thinking about it and more likely to do something tomorrow.
- Re-evaluate often.
What’s working and what’s not. You may be out of a habit because something threw you out of sync and that something is still there (maybe a new person in your life, a schedule change, an injury or illness). If the habit is still important to you, you may have to figure out a new way to do it. A schedule change may mean you need a new time, place or even activity for your daily workout. Decide what is truly important. Is it important that you do Crossfit at 6am (that may be an absolute yes!) OR is it more important that you workout and shift to a new workout or at a new time?
- Learn to give grace, not excuses.
Grace says this didn’t turn out the way I wanted because I’m not perfect. I’m not going to beat myself up, I’m going to figure out how to make it work.
Excuses blame ourselves or others and gives reasons why it didn’t happen but don’t take responsibility to figure out a different way to make it happen.
Grace will move you forward. Excuses will keep you stuck.
Any habit takes work. There are lots of books (and shoot I think I’ve written a blog or two) on how to create a new habit. I find that the mindset though is a part that can really hold me back even if I know the mechanics of “how to.” What other mindsets hold you back? Let’s keep learning together!