Through my years as a personal trainer to women and observing and interacting with their health, fitness and wellness challenges, the biggest struggle is with forming healthy habits that stick around and don’t become a ‘I will do that one day when I have more time.’
The truth is that day will never come and we can use procrastination as a way of protecting ourselves, a way to mask the fear around failing. ‘If I don’t start, then I can’t fail!’
Think about how it would feel if you could build in a new healthy habit that will incorporate into your life, increase your happiness levels and the loved ones around you? Isn’t it worth trying again? The healthy habits we want the most can also be the hardest to achieve but even more satisfying when we do.
To comfort you and your fears, know that it is much harder to develop new healthy habits as an adult. The programming in our subconscious locked in there from a very early age is controlling our everyday decision making. We also have less free neurological connections dancing around to make new neural pathways. To build new neuropathways, we must override the negative pathways.
After working with so many different women, guiding and supporting them to reach their fitness and wellness goals, I thought it would help you to put down a few pointers to help you on your way. Is there a new behaviour that you’d like to invite into your life?
Identify YOUR healthy habit
Now, this is your starting point and an important one. Get clear in your head the behaviour and the healthy habit. Is it a behaviour you want or is it someone else’s. It’s very easy to compare ourselves to others and think you’d like to do that but would it bring you the same joy and happiness as it would for the other person. Someone you know may be amazing at practising yoga on a daily basis and it makes them feel great. You may have tried yoga and just don’t get the same feeling- then perhaps that’s not the behaviour for you. We are all beautifully unique.
It’s about digging deep here and looking inwards. What do YOU want, what makes YOU happy, what would increase YOUR happiness levels? Never underestimate the power of writing these things down, it can make your goal clearer and helps you identify your next step forward and keep you motivated. Put it somewhere you will see every day, not folded away never to be seen again!
Schedule your new healthy habit
When are you going to do that workout? When are you going to arrange a regular catch up with a friend? When are you going to spend the time being mindful in your day? When are you going to spend the time connecting with your loved ones?
We’ve written it down which is great but we now it’s about putting it into action and not letting the idea gather dust. Healthy habit forming starts with action. When we schedule a time that is convenient for us we are more likely to repeat the behaviour, repetition will be the ultimate factor in making it sustainable. We don’t have to spend the time thinking about it. It’s scheduled in and out of our consciousness.
Repeat Repeat Repeat
Yes, we have to put the groundworks in to build the foundations, the new neurological pathways. Successful new healthy habit forming is about consciously and consistently performing the new behaviour to become consciously competent and build these new pathways. The start is always the part of the journey we will have the most doubt and fear and it takes more energy to repeat the desired behaviour. Know these doubts and fears are normal and it is about managing the mind, silencing those fears and moving forward with repetition. If you miss the behaviour due to other circumstances, then don’t beat yourself up, it’s normal and continue moving forwards. You are a human being and there will be roadblocks – let’s move through them. Your mind does not like change, it likes to sit in its comfort zone, it’s safe. Thank you mind for reminding me but I’m going to move forward anyway!
It has been stated that it takes 30 days to develop a new healthy habit so that time is crucial to give it as much attention and repetition as you can to reinforce it in the long term. Remember if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it!
Making changes and forming new habits can be overwhelming and scary so make the journey easier with starting small. It’s the small gradual changes that will lead to massive incremental change in your life overtime. Creating this change in your life is about making you feel good inside, motivated and not about punishing yourself by adding huge scary goals on your to do list that will have your mind racing the other way. Just start with those small habits that will lead you onto your wellness journey.
I could sit here all day with so many other ways to help keep you motivated through your habit forming journey so I will save that for another day.
Just remember ladies, it is normal to find it challenging and you are not alone in the thoughts and feelings you have around habit forming! Your mind likes to take over and fill you will self-doubt and negative talk. It likes to pull you down and tell you that you can’t or don’t need to make a change. Just watch and observe it and choose not to interact with it.
Just know that you are worth spending the time on!