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Those Little Habits

The definition of habit: a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior.

Small habits form our lives. Think about it, what's the first thing you do every morning? What's the last thing you do every day before you turn in? How many times throughout the day do you do something just by shear habit?

What's the big deal? There's a huge deal. Your habits can make or break you. If my habits include sitting around looking at the tv, zoning out and eating cupcakes all day. I'm not going to be productive and I'm probably going to have health issues due to my lack of exercise and my food choices. Now, if my habits are to get up every morning plan out my day, pack a healthy lunch, work, get a workout in, read and reach out to friends and family, my life has a strong purpose and I am healthier both mentally and physically.

When I work with clients I always start by asking what their main goal is. Why are they coming to see me? How can I help them?

Do any of these sound like goals you'd like to achieve?

  • Help to heal or avoid injury

  • Gain better balance, stability and posture

  • Lose unwanted fat

  • Build muscle

  • Improve appearance

  • Feel and look younger

If any of these are goals you'd like to achieve, I can honestly tell you. Changing the way you think about yourself, is the very first step. A goal is just an outcome, I call it a side effect of the little things we do day to day. Let me just give you an example. If my goal is to lose fat, I need to start thinking about the small habits I have and repeat everyday. It's good to have a goal, but in order to reach the goal I need to start by identifying as a person with less fat. How will I behave like that person everyday? What habits does the person I want to be, have or not have?

I start by thinking I will eat smaller portions. Switching out my dinner plate to a salad plate every day will decrease the amount of food I'm eating at any given meal.

I start going for a 15 minute morning walk to get my systems moving.

When I lift weights, I actually concentrate on what I'm doing and lift enough to build muscle.

When I visit on the phone, I walk around my house instead of sitting on the couch.

These aren't life changing events. But, if I start to make these habits that I keep for life, I will start to see over time that my body starts to lose excess fat, I begin to build muscles and now I'm making new life habits. It's not a diet, it's a way of life.

In the book Atomic Habits, James Clear describes the Habit Loop. There is a cue, then a craving, a response and a reward. To quote the book, "The cue triggers a craving, which motivates a response, which provides a reward, which satisfies the craving, and ultimately becomes associated with the cue." This is so frigging amazing to me.

Let's put this into a real life example. If I walk into the Starbucks to grab a coffee and I smell pastries, I start to crave a sweet, my response is I order a pastry with my coffee and eat it. The reward is I satisfied my craving by eating the pastry. Buying a pastry becomes associated with walking into the Starbucks to order my coffee.

How can I change this habit? Well, first I'm glad that I'm aware of the cycle so I can consciously decide what I want to do. I can start by making my coffee at home and avoid going to Starbucks. Over time, this will not only save me the calories and sugar that are in the pastry, but I may start to notice, my waist is smaller and, I'm saving money and time by avoiding this habit. This little change has now become life changing!

This is just an example to get you thinking of some of your habits, good and bad.

Want to give it a try with me? Choose 1 or 2 small habits that you'd either like to break or that you'd like to add into your life. Making small changes over the course of our lives, adds up. Who do you want to be 6 months or a year from now? Think of the habits you'll want to acquire to become that person.

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