3 Lessons We Learned About Changing Unhealthy Habits
We all know how much of a struggle it can be when it comes to changing our habits, especially when it comes to health. Perhaps you want to change your habits to help you lose weight, or you want to improve your health for other reasons like longevity, or to just feel like your best self.
Here are a few lessons we have learned about what it takes to change your habits:
Changing Your Health Habits Takes Time
If you sit down and write down which of your habits negatively affect your health, the list might start to seem daunting, and you might not know where to start to make changes. What I would suggest is that, instead, you get a few smaller pieces of paper and only write down one goal per piece of paper.
Keep one or two pieces of paper with you, lock the others away, and forget about them for now. If you have a reasonable amount of willpower, you can try and work on up to three goals at a time, but otherwise, stick to only one or two.
If you try and make too many changes at once, then you can quickly feel overwhelmed, depressed, and unmotivated. Changing to a healthy lifestyle is hard. It means going against everything you have been doing in the past, and trust me, your body will reject it. You might be more addicted to unhealthy things than you may realise.
If sugar is drastically more addictive than cocaine, then it is not hard to believe that you will experience some withdrawal from just cutting sugar and processed food for your health. So, I suggest you start small and tackle it one habit at a time. When you feel like you are truly ready to make another change, even if it is only after a few months, then only commit to another change.
Becoming your healthiest self means developing healthy habits and skills that will keep you on top for the rest of your life. If it took you 20 years to develop the health habits you have now, it definitely isn’t going to change all at once.
Moments of Self-Sabotage and Weakness Do Not Have to Be Final in the Quest for Health
Many people self-sabotage. You start working towards a goal, such as getting fit and then you suddenly stop and do something to derail our progress. But why? We as human beings seek comfort. When we get closer to our goals, we move out of our comfort zones.
The natural response is to want to go back to a point where you felt safe and at ease, but trust that if you keep going, you will get a new comfort zone, far better than the one you have now. True transformation comes from putting yourself in uncomfortable positions and pushing yourself past your limits. Keep going and know that it will be worth it.
Self-sabotage due to a lack of self-worth is also common. If this sounds like you, and you do not believe that you are good enough, you can self-sabotage, so that you return to the place where you feel like you deserve to be. Self-acceptance and telling yourself that you are good enough is important if you feel like this might be part of why you self-sabotage.
If you do have a moment where you self-sabotage, instead of giving up, just start over immediately. While self-sabotaging once again by overeating, I started the cycle of self-loathing when I thought to myself that my overeating episodes are spaced far further apart than they used to be, and that I should actually be proud of myself.
You choose how you react and recover after a moment of weakness, and you are allowed to have them.
If you want to set yourself up for success, be realistic, and do not rush too much. If you slip up, forgive yourself immediately and move on. You do not have to achieve a fit figure in a month. In fact, people who lose weight quickly are likely to gain it all back, plus more, but when people lost weight over a longer period of time, they are more likely to keep it off for good. That is because they took the time to develop new habits instead of going for a quick, yet temporary, fix.
Self-Awareness is Crucial for Changing Health Habits
Being aware of what influences and triggers your habits can help you tremendously. As a part of self-experimentation, it is important that you learn to tune in to your body, so you can analyse your results.
You can strengthen this ability through meditation, exercise, and trying to live intuitively. Listen to your body. When your body feels tired from working out, take a rest day. If you have been feeling stressed, do something that helps you relax. Eat when hungry and stop when full. Over time, it will become easier to listen to your body’s cues. It also comes with mindfulness.
Whenever you are faced with a decision, such as whether or not to go to the gym or give in to that chocolate chip cookie, you can either listen to what your mind demands or to your intuition. That requires being able to truly pay attention to what your body needs.
When your mind starts taking over, that is when you get thrown off balance, and make decisions that will take you further away from what you truly want.
That is where your brain’s natural dopamine response kicks in. When you see something that has made you feel good before, your brain starts releasing dopamine. Even if your gut says that acting on this desire is not aligned with your goals, your brain becomes so obsessed with satisfying this particular craving that you end up giving in.
If you can learn to quiet your mind and strengthen your mind-body connection, then it will become easier for you not to let your brain take over when you are faced with a decision that will either get you a step closer to your goals or further away.
Intuitive behaviour can lead you on the right path towards self-optimization. That is what self-experimentation is about. Learning how to listen to your body will help you see what new habits it responds to well, and what affects it negatively. By following your intuition, you will automatically start creating the best lifestyle tailored to you. The lifestyle that will get you closer to that feeling of being Superhuman.