Healthy Habits

Personally what I’ve experienced to be the biggest roadblock for lasting lifestyle changes seems to be habits. We form them without realising it and now they control what drink we choose at the cafe, what groceries we put into our basket without even thinking, what restaurants we default to for a dinner out and even what we order.

Lasting Healthy Habits

Habits are when our behaviours become automatic. Our brains are constantly looking for shortcuts, and these automatic behaviours are a big way of cutting corners on having to think too much. This is how bad habits also form, our mind reverts to the easier default response no matter how bad it is for us. Breaking bad habits can be more successful if it is changed or replaced with something else. 

One habit I was happy to make was flossing my teeth every night. It seems trivial but when I was younger I rarely flossed. While growing up, the health of my teeth was not the best. I made a personal decision to improve this. Driven by how expensive the dentist can be, how irreversible tooth damage is and how a bad set of teeth can actually impact on the overall health of the rest of my body. Now years later I rarely think about flossing each night, it gets done just the same as brushing.

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Replace bad habits with new behaviours

Creating good new healthy habits can take a little effort but once it's set it won't require much thought. I made a habit out of drinking a powdered greens drink every morning before having coffee, breakfast or anything else and I stuck with it for years. I formed a habit of drinking black coffee and liking it. I formed habits of default go-to meals being salads or big one pan meat and vegetable dinners.

I figured the best way to form a new habit was to acknowledge exactly what I wanted my new behaviour to be. Then to do it every day or the specific days until it becomes the default. Trying to change more than one behaviour is hard for me, too many balls in the air. Another thing that helps is associating a particular behaviour with something else. Like waking up and taking a supplement every morning. Or flossing every night after brushing. Both I associated and included into existing routines I have going on.

One roadblock can be routine changes. When I quit my job I stopped drinking my green drink every morning. The organization of my mornings were askew and I no longer stuck to my old routine. Another time I ran out of a specific supplement and didn’t get more for a couple of months when it arrived it sat lonely and unopened as I was out of the habit of taking it every morning.

Build Good Habits

The joy with habits is that years later, I realised a majority of my daily positive lifestyle choices were not choices anymore, just habits. For example; it isn't hard to get back to my normal eating after a holiday because it’s become so routine. The key here is time, bad habits were not formed in a day, so adding positive habits won’t happen overnight either. But it is encouraging to know that good habits become part of my life, all I need is time.

I have two others pots about healthy habits, you can find them here and here. I also highly recommend checking out Gretchen Rubin's book Better Than Before all about habits.