Habits are really hard to break. It doesn’t matter how many tricks you read about, it doesn’t matter if there’s a “change your habits in 28 days… or your money back”. You may as well ask for the money back now, because habits are hard to break. Now, that is not to say that they are impossible and you’re stuck with it forever.. but it’s going to take work.
I know someone who every time he walks past the kitchen he opens the refrigerator. He is constantly surprised by this fact. He could have just finished eating dinner and just walks into the kitchen to throw away a piece or paper.. he opens the refrigerator. He can be walking through to head up to his bedroom or to the bathroom.. opens the refrigerator. It drives him insane. He doesn’t even mean to, it just happens. It’s a habit.
I know someone else who has to have the TV on at all times. She walks into the house and automatically turns on the TV, whether or not there is something she wants to watch or not she turns it on and scans or searches or just keeps it on for background. This inevitably causes her to sit and watch instead of doing things on her “to-do” list, but it’s a habit. She doesn’t think about it, she just does.
I saw a meme on social media today about how parents are advised to put something “important” in the backseat with their babies as to not forget them, and people are going crazy, “what is more important than your baby!”.. but this is not about important, this is about habit. People so commonly do things out of habit they sometimes are at a detriment to themselves or their loved ones.
One man eats when he’s not hungry. One woman sits mindlessly watching TV. One parent drives to work on auto-pilot forgetting that it’s his/her day to drop the baby at daycare. All are important, some just have a more immediate result. All are the result of habits. Drug abuse is often called a “habit” and to a certain extent it is. When someone starts to feel a certain way they turn to what has worked in the past.. their “habit” for feeling better.
There are good habits and obviously there are horrible habits. All are easier to create than to make. So when you see something that says, “break habits in 28 days” what it’s really saying is create new habits.. that is possible.. but again.. not all habits are good, and even good habits designed to take the place of bad habits are not as easy to make/break. If you want to make it a habit to take off your shoes every time you walk into a house.. sure, a month later it may just be ingrained in your head, you may not even think about it. Your neuro-pathways have been sparked and you have reminded yourself enough that it’s habit. Same as your drive to work.. it’s auto-pilot.
If you want to stop yourself from looking in the fridge, or get yourself into a new exercise routine, or find better ways of coping with problems than drugs.. that’s going to take time. That’s going to take more than reminding yourself for a couple weeks. That’s going to take creating a new sense of self.. because those habits are linked to your personality, your ego. Those habits are part of what makes you you and how you see yourself as a person.
If you want to break major bad habits you have to decide that you are not a person who does these things. You are a non-smoker. You are a healthy person. You are strong. Because the moment you are a fat person trying to act differently your brain stops listening. The moment that you are an addict trying to be better.. you’ll have all the excuses why you it is who you are. You can’t go to the gym.. you’re too fat, people will laugh. It’s ok if you eat the cake.. you’re fat.. and everyone else is. It’s ok if you use again today… all your friends are and you don’t want to lose your friends.
You are not those things. You are a being that inhabits a body. You are whatever you tell yourself that you are. If you decide that you are healthy and are only going to do healthy things, and keep that in your mind, your heart, and your self.. your ego will evolve. Your habits will form. New habits, based on who you decide that you are. If you are an excuse… then you’ll never run out of those.
We’ve all heard the expression that we are what we eat, but never have I experienced such an obvious example of this as I did this past weekend. I admit, during the holiday season my eating was way off track and I was feeling like a lazy, lumpy sloth. So, a few weeks ago I got myself back on track, no more leftover pie for breakfast. It only took a couple of days and I my energy level was back; my heartburn was gone and I was feeling good. I had the actual desire to exercise not just forcing my way through it.
Then this last weekend I went on a little getaway. I stayed at my brother’s place in the mountains that I have been to at least once a year for almost two decades. Usually it’s a great chance to me to reset my brain. I get out into the fresh air. I see the gorgeous view. I have very few distractions. I usually get so much accomplished.
This time on the drive up the fog was horrible. I could barely see three feet in front of me. I had to crank the heat to keep the windshield clear, and I was getting very drowse. After about 1.5 hours my son had to pee so we stopped at a gas station/convenient store and we grabbed snacks. It was one of those things that I talked myself into being ok. I had to do something to keep me awake and munching on snacks and coffee always does the trick. I was right. We got to the house with no incident and things seemed good… till I laid down. Suddenly I felt like I was going to be sick. I had severe heartburn and even the next day I had very little energy. I ate the left-over donuts we had and I felt even worse.
The weekend of fun, adventure, and even a little work, turned into my son watching TV while I crashed out on the couch. Thankfully after all the time I’ve spent with my food diary I recognized the signs. Later in the day I ran to the store and stocked up on fruits, veggies, and organic soups… it’s really cold here and it hit the spot… and my energy levels were back up the next day.
We always think that it takes years for crap food to do any real damage, but the truth is the garbage we put in our body is poison. It starts hurting us the moment it hits our lips and it doesn’t stop till we clean it from our lives. Don’t get me wrong, an occasional “treat” is one thing… a lifestyle of trash is something else. Everything in moderation… but our bodies are vehicles and need the proper fuel to make it work smoothly.
SO… HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
We have officially started our new lives. We all have our resolutions stated, our diets, our business plans, our ideas for what ever our dreams may be. I have heard a lot of talk on radio stations, and of course the memes are in full swing, but you know what I mostly noticed. It’s all negative, self deprecating, designed to fail talk.
I don’t know what it is about the human ego, but we seem to be fundamentally designed to accept failure. Most people are much more comfortable with self deprecation than we are accepting a compliment. If someone says, “wow, you look great, have you lost weight?”. The receiver automatically feels uncomfortable and makes up some excuse about being sick, or “maybe a little”, or brushes it off as if it’s no big deal. But it is a big deal. Anything that you work hard at is.
For some reason, especially with Americans, there is something innately in us to underachieve. It’s actually the opposite of what the American Dream is all about so I don’t really get it. People are proud of how little they do and/or accomplish. As if being sick and broke is a mark of freedom. They are free from the rat race, or free from the socialized ideals of what’s important. They’re not going to be one of those people who eat healthy, or God forbid RUN. They aren’t going to be one of those people who works to get the promotion or start their own companies.. those people clearly have an ego problem.
I don’t know if it’s all the old 80s-90s movies that made the bad guy the person with an unhealthy need to win the poster-person for ambition so now anyone that wants to make themselves better must clearly be the jerk who thinks they’re better than everyone else.
And there’s a certain amount of outside sabotage that goes along with it. Those who are trying to “better themselves” are being told that it’s OK to be fat… it’s OK to be you… no being fat will kill you. It doesn’t make you less of a person, but it’s not OK. Or it’s OK to be minimum wage worker.. if you try for that promotion then you’re trying to somehow leave other’s behind.
Even those who are successful in whatever aspect of their lives still feel the need to put down anyone who wants start. Slim, healthy people make fun of overweight people who are beginning to exercise. As if “who does that person think they’re fooling?”. Why do they have to be fooling anyone? Why does their life choices to try to be better at something automatically put others on the defensive.
I saw an article about a woman who spent 100 days facing her fears. She later did a TEDtalk about it. I was amazed when I saw the comments how many people put her down because they didn’t agree that her fears were important enough. That her doing things that others do all the time shouldn’t make her important. Why not? Why can’t she be important just by being important? To quote The Doctor (Who) “In 900 year of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important”.
Why is life more about keeping other’s down than helping each other up? Perhaps everyone resolution should be to be more inviting and supportive of others, bringing up the status quo instead of bringing everyone down. Just a thought.
I have a friend who has been stuck in a rut for some time now. He took some advice from another life coach that he talked to. (It’s not good to coach your own friends…. they’ll get mad at you for calling them on their crap) This person gave him a list of different things to do for two weeks to “cleanse his bad luck” or karma or what have you.
This person uses modes that I don’t use myself, things like lighting certain colored candles and pouring salt, it’s all very pagan traditions… which is fine, just not my cup ‘a. Anyway… the whole point is to get the person to try new things and to spend more time in their own head. There is a lot of sitting in silence and meditating.. which I do believe in.
One of the days he had to eat as a vegan. No animal products. No meats, no cheese, no butter. He had no idea what was left. He was at my house for the evening, kind enough to watch my son while I had to go out for a bit. I told him that I had some pasta that he could have. His response… “Sauce has meat”…. um… not all sauce. Not my tomato and basil sauce… and “Why is the spaghetti different colors?”. It’s a tri-colored, veggie based pasta….. Nope… he wasn’t going to try it.
Now the whole point of this exercise is to try new things. To get out of your own head. To believe that things can be done differently. Not eating animal products for one day is not going to change your health or do anything for you except… get you to think outside the box and try something new. That’s how we change.
Now I love my friend, and this is not written to knock him.. as I said, never coach a friend, they will take criticism as an insult, but it is to point out that you only get out of coaching what you put into it. You can only change your life as much as you’re willing to change yourself. I have had this problem myself for years. I had spent over a decade denying my habits and my weight issues. I spent many years in crappy relationships hoping the other person would change. I am in no way perfect, but since losing my father I have learned that you get from life what you put into it. I want my son to learn the good habits and the best self thoughts.
If you want to be healthy.. you have to BE HEALTHY. If you want to be rich, you have to do the work.. you have to find your niche, you have to take a chance. If you want a fabulous relationship.. you have to let go of the old ones. You can’t change other people.. and you can’t change your life without… CHANGING YOUR LIFE.
Have you ever known someone whom lost a boat load of weight, I’m not talking like 10-20 lbs. I mean like 50-100 lbs, and managed to keep it off? The first question people always ask is how they did it, and they are always disappointed when they are told the person changed their eating habits and/or exercised. No one wants to do that.
Everyone wants to change.. without actually changing. These same people will see the new and improved, healthier person out at dinner or a party and say, “oh, you can have some cake”.. or the drink.. or what have you, “you have to live a little” or “a little won’t kill you” or something along those lines.
I have always found this extremely disparaging. It is a way of completely undermining the work the person has done. It’s not easy to “stick” to a healthy diet. It takes A LOT of work. Most people have to over come addictions, and other mental health coping mechanisms to get there. It really does take changing.
I couldn’t imagine someone saying the same thing to an alcoholic. “Oh, wow, you haven’t had a drink in a year! That’s amazing! Let’s celebrate with shots. One won’t kill you”. It’s a slippery slope. Now that’s not to say that someone who has lost weight can never have a piece of birthday cake again. I mean… maybe the person does decide that their addiction is too strong and it’s best not to, or maybe they feel that they have dealt with their habits enough that they can indulge on an occasion, but the point is that it’s the healthy person’s decision on how they handle their food intake. They know what is and isn’t OK for them.
I don’t think that most people who try to encourage the healthier person to “Live a little” is trying to bully them or sabotage them. I think most people are just trying to include their friends. I think that most people just want to act like the food is not a big deal, but it is.. to some people, and pretending that it’s not doesn’t help anyone. That being said, there are some that go the other way. There are those “friends” that don’t want you to succeed because they haven’t. You know the old saying, “Misery loves company”.
If you are on your path to a healthier you. Whether it’s weight-loss, substance abuse, or even getting a better job, be careful of your peers. Be careful of those who seem to always lead you down the path of the dark side… with those cookies. You know the voices that you hear in your head that say it’s ok… you can just have one… well, they are hard enough to ignore. When you hear them from those who love you it’s even more challenging.
If you want to change your life, that mean you have to CHANGE your life. It won’t be easy. There is no magic pill. You can’t half-ass it. But you can become what ever you imagine yourself to be… you just have to do the work.
When was the last time that you did something outside of your comfort zone? Most of us live our lives by routine, which isn’t entirely bad. There is a lot to be said for security and piece of mind, but there is also more to life.
When was the last time you did something spontaneous? I have a friend that posted to Facebook, “Hey girls, who has a passport, a couple hundred bucks and Wed and Thursday off?”… That was it, she was headed to Canada for a road trip and looking for volunteers. I remember going with her to NY City a few years back… pre-baby days.
I loved this post. I loved even more that she had real responses. People who just wanted to enjoy their life without worrying about the “What ifs?”.
Now, not all of us have that much flexibility. I know I have work, my kid has school, and things aren’t as they were 5-10 years ago for me, but that doesn’t stop me from the occasional weekend run. Have kid will travel. It also doesn’t make me feel stuck to a job that I hate, or a situation that makes me miserable.
When my father passed a few years back I could have panicked. I was working p/t at the time and I was a stay at home single mother. My father was the breadwinner, though I paid rent to him and helped him with his health problems, my father was the one who made the real money. When he passed I could have freaked out and stuck my kid in daycare and gone back to the grind that I hated! I was offered a job making great money but working 50-60 hours a week. That is not what I wanted for my family.
I managed to find jobs that I could continue to either do from home, or at least bring my son with me. I started studying health and wellness. I got certified in Life Coaching. I made tough decisions that didn’t guarantee financial success, but offered me much more personal success.
Now my son is entering Pre-K. Still one more year till full-time school, but I am planning out the best way to fit his schedule into my schedule. To me, spending time with my son is the most important thing I can do. And living a life that helps others get and stay healthy so they don’t have to face the horrors of diabetes that I did with my father.. and lose someone or themselves too soon. I love that my life is about helping others realize their true potential. I love that my job is about living life to the fullest.
What is it that you love about your life? What do you hate? And what are you going to do about it?
I recently had one of those “Timehop” posts come up. It was a quote from my dad right before he was about to go into surgery. I was worried… as any good daughter would be and saying that anything could happen when he’s under. He responded, “You’re right, anything can happen, and if you’re going to imagine things happening. Imagine good things.”. I loved that quote. That was so him. Most of the time, that is so me.
We are what we imagine that we are. There is a quote “Worrying is praying for things you don’t want to happen.”, and it’s so true. We spend so much time in our heads imagining what we want. What we don’t want. What we’re afraid of. What we long for. We get them all mixed up and eventually we put all our effort into thinking about things that we hope never happen.
Now the Law of Attraction say that if we concentrate on bad things that we can make them happen. The law of averages says that if we wait long enough something bad will happen. My law is, why waist one second thinking about things you don’t want when there are soooo many things out there that you do.
Let’s say that you spend your days worried that your spouse is cheating on you, and what will you do if he leaves you because you can’t afford things on your own… and OMG you’re getting fat…. well, now you’re consumed by this. You get depressed you eat more. You can’t concentrate on work. You lose your job. You’re a miserable person and your spouse leaves you and you say “SEE! Bad things always happen”.
Did the law of attraction make that happen? Did the law of consequences? Did the law of averages? Now… same person… doesn’t fret about the relationship and enjoys the time with the partner.. and the time by herself. She excels at work. She joins a health program like a gym, meditation or cooking class. She actually enjoys her life. Then she finds out she had all that free time because the spouse was cheating… Ok .. that sucks! But she has way more going on in her own life to keep her going. She has friends, and hobbies, and a fulfilling career and it’s not, “See, bad things always happens.” It’s, “Wow, what an arse.. I deserve better.” And that’s exactly what she get.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Someone loses a whole lot of weight and someone else says to them, “Oh wow! You look amazing! How did you lose it?”. Seems like a rational question… then the response. “Well, I cut out/down on my sugar intake. Ate more veggies and exercised”, and suddenly the inquiry is lost on deaf ears.
No one wants to “do the work” anymore. When you look at the check out line magazines, the random ads on the internet or TV, or a million books in the bookstores and they are all “get….. quick”. It doesn’t matter what it is. Get rich, lose weight… find the perfect man. It’s all about the here and now moment.
If you cut out all carbs… all gluten.. all dairy you will lose weight. Sure… if you stop eating you will lose weight, but it is not sustainable forever. If you take this pill you will lose 10 lbs in a week… yes.. and probably live in the bathroom.. it’s not fat that you’re losing.
Here’s a hint. If you want to be a healthy, fit person.. you have to BE a happy, fit person. Be is actually a verb. You have to do the work. You have to say no to the cake.. mostly. You have to exercise. You have to drink your water and eat your veggies. You have to BE. That is not to say that you can NEVER have cake again. In fact that’s the biggest problem with the crash and trendy diets. They cut things out instead of teaching you how to eat them responsibly. I will say, I joined weight watchers years ago and one of the things that I liked was that you were able to learn the value of foods.. and what is worth the calories and what is not.. but you have to do the work.
If you want to drop 10 lbs to fit into a dress, by all means juice for the week and lose the water weight that helps that pouch out… but don’t expect the to actually help you to lose fat. And always check with a doctor before starting any restrictive diet. They all rack havoc on your body and hormones.
We all have them? What’s your excuse for not doing what ever it is that you want so desperately to do? What is your excuse for not asking for the raise, for not asking out that hottie, for not losing the weight, for not being happy?
My weight was always my excuse in the past. It was much easier to blame my failures on a specific almost external problem. If I was just fit then… what ever would happen. I would find love. I could get a better job. I could…. whatever. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my brains, my “real” looks, my ambition. It was just that I was overweight, and as soon as I got in shape my world would be great… I just had other things that took priority over losing weight. I can always do that later.
Then the new excuses start. I have to work. I have school. I have kids.. I have pizza parties. There is always an excuse. The problem is that we don’t actually have an unlimited amount of time to change. We have to make the decisions in our life that will accomplish the goal we desire.
We have to go for the job. We have to ask out the hottie. We have to lose the weight. That takes actual work. I’m asked all the time how I’ve lost weight, as if there’s some trick that I’m hiding from them. I tell them I just eat healthier and exercise more. “UGH… never mind”. Now if I said that I took a magic pill then they would run to the store and try it. But that’s the thing. There is no magic pill. There’s no get rich quick scheme. There’s no love potion. All there is is determination and focus.
There is the decision to change your life. The plan to make it happen and the follow-through to make it to the end. No one has ever made a difference by half-assing. Now one has ever won an Olympic medal by practicing on the weekends. No marriage has ever lasted by ignoring the problems. No company has every become a success by taking too many breaks.
We have to make the big changes. We have to become the person that is… whatever we want to be. We have to develop the habits of the successful person… and we can’t let our excuses rule our destiny.