I often get approached by mums asking me how they can lose weight if they have no willpower to break their bad habits.
And this has motivated me to write today’s blog to help those who might be really struggling with this.
I think the first steps to breaking bad habits would be:
Step 1. Replacing them with new ones that are in alignment with our values.
We need to remind ourselves what is important to us.
For example, if we value being healthy, then we need to choose nourishing food that satisfies us with self-respect.
Aspiring to lose weight quickly in order to feel happy are emotional wishes that are often not in alignment with our values because of the actions we take to get there.
Step 2. Looking at long term benefits rather than instant gratification.
What is more important?
To feel good for a little bit and then feel bad in the long run or the other way around?
Just imagine you want to buy a car.
But every time the money appears in your bank account, you spend it because of instant gratification.
Which means that unless you focus on the long term benefit, you will either never get one, or it will take a really long time.
And it is the same with eating.
Step 3. Creating new habits that are pleasurable by repetition.
We first start developing bad habits, because they give us some kind of pleasure and satisfaction.
When we get in a habit of eating sugary, salty or fatty foods, our brain associates that with a feeling of pleasure.
And by repetition, it stores that information to be automated.
So next time we feel bad, we tend to automatically look for those kinds of foods to help us feel good and repeat this every single time.
And then instead of hunger, our emotional states trigger that need to eat and turns this repetition into a habit.
So, it is important to choose new habits that are pleasant and repeat them often until they become automated.
Changing habits can take approx. 4 weeks depending on how often we repeat the new actions.
Step 4. Understanding what triggers bad habits.
If we are in a habit of not eating all day, and then we binge at night then that is probably triggered by not taking care of our needs.
When we fail to prepare, we prepare to fail.
Simply by being more organized and fuelling our body throughout the day, we can then change the binging habit at night.
Step 5. Being mindful and curious, changing one step at a time.
On an intellectual level, we know we shouldn’t eat this or that, but because it is rewarding, we have a hard time breaking that habit.
We try really hard to control our actions, but then as soon as we get emotional, it’s like our brain switches off and the automated responses take over.
That is why it is so important to be mindful and curious.
So instead of forcing ourselves to break a bad habit or fight the urges…
We need to get curious about what happens if we don’t follow through one moment at a time.
If we restrict ourselves by going “cold turkey’’ with an all or nothing attitude, then will most likely fail.
But if we slowly reduce the frequency of our bad habits and start replacing them with new ones, we are more likely to succeed.
Let’s say you are in a habit of snacking on sweets or chips after dinner.
So first you could replace those snacks with something more nourishing that is tasty and satisfying but also in alignment with your values.
For example, you could have some Greek yoghurt with mixed berries and raw nuts or some veggie chips or popcorn.
Also, make sure you have enough to eat throughout the day and that you have a satisfying dinner.
And think about long term benefits of your current choices, rather than being instantly satisfied.
Then get curious and see if you really need any snacks at all tonight?
Perhaps you could have a cup of tea instead and see if that might be enough?
That way you will be able to let go of the old habits and form new ones.
Rather than giving in, restricting or committing to a diet, get curious about how would you feel if this time you did something different.
And you’ll be surprised how more often than not, you will not have any desire to have what you are used to.
As soon as we know that we can have anything we want, after a while we will not want it anymore.
Mindfulness is just about being really interested in what is happening in our bodies and minds at a present moment.
Being curious is rewarding
And this interest to observe ourselves is supported by curiosity which is naturally rewarding and it feels good.
So, we replace the old reward with a new one simply by being curious.
And what happens when we get curious?
We stop for a moment and we wait to see what happens next…
Then we start noticing things we couldn’t “see” before.
Like our emotions appear out of nowhere, they make us feel a certain way for a moment and then they go.
And then we realize that we can actually manage them without turning to any “suppressants” whether it’s food, cigarettes or alcohol.
And that is how we can replace our old fear-based, reactive patterns to mindful, objective ones.
This might sound very simple to overcome really bad habits, but studies show that mindfulness and curiosity is twice as effective than traditional forms of therapy.
Step 6. Get support from those who succeeded in breaking their bad habits
If breaking old habits seems really overwhelming, then find a coach or a friend who could guide you and support you along the way.
There are things that you might be able to figure out on your own and then there are things that you might be stuck with for a while.
So, if you are in a place, where you are sick and tired of repeating the same bad habits and you are ready for change, get some help to help you move forward faster.
Free Training Video
I hope you found this blog helpful.
And if you need specific strategies to implement that will help you change your eating habits, you can click on the following link Free training video.
Here I talk about how you can overcome emotional and binge eating and get in shape without dieting.
At the end of that training, you will also be able to schedule a free strategy call with me.
On the call we can talk about your goals and if I can help you achieve them.
Thank you so much for reading today’s blog, until next time.
And if you liked today’s blog, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel Lucia Veracruz for more helpful tips on how to live life in balance and peace.