With permission from my client, I want to share with you a brief discussion from his recent session. This conversation is a great reminder that we get caught on auto pilot mode, pick up a habit that makes us feel great even though it may not be the best choice for our health. Before we know it’s taken control over us. We are in need to find a way to break free from this pattern. How would you go about releasing from a habit that has a very strong hold on you?
This discussion with my client revealed that he is excited to get back on track with eating healthier and having an exercise routine! He loves the way this makes him feel. Finding the time and having the family support would be ideal. However, in our conversation, it came up that he currently lives with and manages diabetes. He would love to eventually stop taking his medication by the end of this year. He has some obstacles and confessed that a few mornings a week, he LOVES to have a donut or two with his coffee. In fact, cake is his weakness. As he sat across from me, professing his choices, his tone and his actions told me a subtle story that he feels guilt and shame after he eats this and that he knows better. Sound familiar? I could tell just how motivated he is to get started, but his next words that followed were “I’m going to do better by quitting cold turkey.”
Quitting cold turkey may work for a very, very small percentage of people out there. I advised against this idea. This will set you up for failure and put you back in that very spot you don’t want to be in. No matter how strong you think you are. We will have some days when our moment of weakness is challenged and we cannot get through those 5 to 60 seconds of making the right choice by using our will power and motivation. We will justify that consuming that donut one last time is well deserved. It’s funny how our brain will trick us into doing something we know isn’t in our best interest. We need that donut because we had a bad week and it’s well deserved or we need it because we had a good week and having only 1 won’t hurt to celebrate. The worst, is when you see your friends doing it and you think all kinds of thoughts that eating that donut is healthy because there is strawberry icing and strawberries are good for you. Yes, been there, done that! Why do we keep on with these actions when we “know better“? Our body is telling us in that moment that it needs something. It’s hungry and it’s especially going to be okay with eating that treat because this is what you give it every morning at this same time. It’s predictable and that’s what it’s used too. It doesn’t like change, it wants familiarity.
So how are we going to kick this useless morning routine or any addictive behavior for that matter? We are going to replace it with an alternative habit, a heathier option. I know this is not as easy as it sounds but by doing this, it’s going to break yourself from being in auto pilot mode. You are going to make amazing changes by doing something that is out of your comfort zone. I know you got this! Start off easy, don’t over deliver by making promises you can’t keep starting off with kale and a fruit cup and not follow through, especially if that’s something you don’t like. Bridge the gap and meet yourself halfway. Make small habits and keep changing them until that apple is more enjoyable than that donut. There are a ton of food options that are healthy, convenient, taste good and trick your brain into thinking you’ve just indulged. This goes for anything and everything. There are a million ways to get around your obstacle by getting creative. If you tell me that there is no way to overcome your habit, no other option, then you are not ready to break the pattern.
Make a list of the habit(s) you’d like to break and think of ways on how you could replace those habits with another healthier option. Here is a short list of examples that I’ve changed from the past. They may not work for you but for some reason, I’ve made them work. I’ve incorporated these new habits in my routine and find them enjoyable. My client came up with the idea that he will look at an alternative healthy option when it comes to replacing his donut. He enjoys granola or protein bars and will make sure the sugar content in the alternative is not the same or higher as what’s in that donut. He is not ready to eat fruit but said he is open to eating and apple as an even healthier option down the road. I respect that decision.
|Habit to Break||My Why?||Replacement Habit||Achievement|
|Buying/ drinking Starbucks lattes.||Want to be free of caffeine, save money for other things, cut calories.||Drink tea at home in my fancy tumbler.||Feel healthier, less jittery and anxious. Not depending on drink to feel awake, no brain fog. Many satisfying teas to consume.|
|Sleeping to the very last minute on a workday.||Feelings of unproductive, frazzled, rushed.||Get up early to stretch, meditate, journal for extra time and self care for myself.||Feel accomplished, more self respect, have time and enjoy my morning routine.|
|Watch tv/Netflix before bed.||Hard time getting to sleep.||Read a book that is educational or building my business.||Feel uplifted an productive. Sleeps better and learned some new skills.|
|Check my cell phone, the news, email or social media.||Time waster, feel angry, bothered by other peoples views and values that don’t match mine.||Phone tucked away, out of reach. I grab my water bottle and take a sip of water.||SO HAPPY AND PRODUCTIVE! More time for important things. No longer have the need to compare myself with others. Healthy skin. Hydrated. I’m able to work on myself to be accepting of the views of the peoples who don’t match mine.|
|Make an after work snack.||Eating extra unwanted calories.||Exercise after work.||Sleep better, burn additional calories rather than consume.|
The other thing to watch out for is…THE AFTERMATH! How do we talk to ourselves after we eat that sugar bomb? We also cause harm to ourselves with our own mental words or thoughts. We would never tell our friends that they were piggy for eating that. Why should we say it to ourselves? We may tell our self “how could I have given in?” “What the hell is wrong with me?” “Why can’t I be stronger?” “If I only had the will power, I’d be able to look like Halle Barry or David Beckham right now.” Shame, guilt, comparison – those emotions are just as harmful to your mind and body as eating that sugar. That kind of talk is unnecessary so if you’re going to eat a donut, eat the donut! But watch your thoughts that follow with the wasted energy. And most importantly STOP beating yourself up.
Also, stick with this for 40 days. Why 40? 21 days, you are just getting started and is not long enough to change your life! 40 days is almost a month and a half. Within the realm of yoga, there is an ancient wisdom that states, “doing a practice for 40 days will help one to break old habits which no longer serve them.” In other words, it takes 40 days to break a habit.
And finally, visualize what it would be like when you are no longer under the spell of your habit. What does your life look like? How has your life improved? What do you look and feel like? Sit with those feelings and really use your imagination. Where would you be if you haven’t made the change? The practice of self-control, self-respect, self-love will no doubt make you stronger and feel empowered in receiving the benefits to feeling a healthier version of you. You can still turn things around, refuse to let it go on for any longer or it will be much harder at that later date. You got this and I believe in you!
No one ever became successful from inside their comfort zone, confront your fear and you will become free of it. Much love…..Danielle