Learn how to get rid of bad habits and develop good habits.
Below online nutritionist, Hannah Sweetman details different strategies she uses with her clients to help them develop good habits. This article will teach you how to remove bad habits that could be hindering your weight loss success.
Make a list to increase your awareness of your habits.
Write out your good habits and your bad habits. This will allow you to recognise what you need to work on and what habits are already ingrained in your lifestyle that may need changing.
By taking the time to spot the root causes of bad behaviours can be helpful because once you know what triggers an unwanted habit you can reduce exposure to that trigger. A great way to learn what is the root cause of your bad behaviours is to quickly note the following questions as soon as possible when the unwanted behaviour occurs.
- Who am I with?
- What am I doing right now?
- Where am I?
- When is it?
- What emotions are driving my actions?
Use habit stacking.
Habit stacking is when you pair a new habit with something that you already habitually do. An example of habit stacking is when you brush your teeth pair this ingrained habit with getting your gym clothes ready for the next morning's workout. With the gym routine being a new habit stacked with the ingrained habit of brushing your teeth you increase the success rate of the new habit becoming automatic.
Design your environment.
Make it obvious to create a good habit.
Make an invisible to remove a bad habit.
This represents the cues behind our actions.
For example, if you want to start flossing regularly place the floss in a visible area within your bathroom environment. Seeing the floss will cue the good habit by making it obvious.
Implementation of intention.
The simple way to apply this strategy to your habits is to fill out this sentence: I will (BEHAVIOR) at (TIME) in (LOCATION). A past client example has been I will WORKOUT at 6 PM in my local GYM.
You also want to plan for when things don’t go to plan. To help clients understand that life is unpredictable and to allow for flexibility within the plan I also have them fill out this sentence When situation X arises, I will perform response Y. The same client used this strategy when he couldn’t get to the gym for various reasons. When I can’t get to the gym my default response will be to go for an evening walk.
How to stay motivated.
Make it attractive to create a good habit.
Make it unattractive to remove a bad habit.
This looks at the cravings behind our actions. Why do we do them? Client examples have included putting a pound in a jar after each workout they completed and saving up for something they want. When removing a bad habit clients have found it helps to make the bad habit not as assessable. The removal of social media apps on their phones reduced the amount of time wasted and increase their productivity.
Find something you already want to do and connect it with the habit you need to do. A great client example was watching TV after work. Instead, this adapted to watching TV on their mobile device while exercising on cardio equipment at the gym.
Create or find a community.
A community that wants to achieve the same thing you do will give you a supportive social environment. A great example of this is Park Run. Park Run has inspired people to get running as they enjoy the community they become a part of.
Use the two-minute rule.
Small habits will build into larger habits. When starting a new habit, it should not feel hard. Tell yourself I must commit to two minutes then if you want to continue that is up to you. As long as you start and complete 2 minutes this gives you the foundation of repetition to ingrain the new habit and build on it over time.
Create an ideal environment.
Make it easy to create a good habit.
Make it difficult to remove a bad habit.
This looks into our response to our actions. An environment where it is easy to do what is right and difficult to what reinforces a bad habit.
Make it satisfying to create a good habit.
Make it unsatisfying to remove a bad habit.
This looks into the reward response to our actions.
We need to find the point where our actions have a perfect amount of manageable difficulty. We want to be challenged but at the same time don't want to be overwhelmed by the challenge. We want to see visual progress. A great way of doing this is habit tracking. An example is having a list and ticking off the elements you successfully manage each day.
You will want to form an ability to be accountable for what you are trying to achieve. Examples of this include hiring a coach, writing a contract for yourself which states what happens when you miss something you've committed to. In your habit contract, you should write your objective, the consequence, and what you will do for accountability.
The objective could be I will hit a calorie goal within 100 calories each day. Consequently, if I fall outside this objective, I will not be able to order takeaway next week. Accountability I will fill in a spreadsheet as my evidence shows me a run-down of my weekly calorie intake to visually show me if I have achieved my goal each day.
Have a plan for when things don't go to plan.
Never miss X twice. For example, if you're trying to eat more vegetables and you go a day without eating any vegetables make sure the next day you get your daily intake of vegetables in to get you back on track. Never miss two consecutive opportunities.
Conclusion: if you want a habit to last you need to be willing to make it a part of your long-term lifestyle. For true behaviour change to occur you need to change your identity.
Start by asking yourself the question does this behaviour hinder or advance me to becoming the person I want to be? It’s up to you to choose the person you want to be. You then become your habits.