Shocking Development in Behavior Change

According to a university study, approximately 40 percent of our daily actions are habits; unconscious routines we do by rote.

Asleepwalking-mant first, I had trouble believing that. Yet, consider a typical day. Unless it’s an unusual occasion, such as vacation or maybe weekends; you wake up at approximately the same time. You are either a “breakfast eater” or you’re not; habit number one. Should you be of the former category, your morning repast will consist of the same basic items it does every other morning, despite the fact that the average grocery store offers over 40,000 choices from which you can choose.

If you commute to your job, you depart at the same time, most likely down to the minute, traveling the same roads, arriving at the same location, even parking in the same space. Upon arriving, you greet co-workers with the same banter, perform the same tasks, take lunch at the same time (at the usual restaurants), order the same meals, and head home at your regular time.

Yet, that’s not all.

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Upset About Bake Sales

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act went into effect July 1, setting new, updated standards for calories, fats, sugar, and sodium for “competitive foods” sold at schools.

competitive-food

“Competitive foods” do not wear uniforms and engage in sports; rather that’s government-speak for vending machine snacks and bake-sale goodies. This regulation sets standards for calories, fats, sugar, and sodium, and is attempting to push foods with whole grains, lowfat dairy, fruits, vegetables, or protein foods as their main ingredient. It does require that food and beverage items sold during the school day achieve certain standards, but also allows for special exemptions for the purpose of conducting infrequent school-sponsored fundraisers. What the law does not do is define “infrequent,” leaving that to the states to set their own limits.

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Take Time to be Alone

dream-written-in-sand

Take time to be alone more often than you think you need to.

One of the prime triggers in engaging in a bad habit is looking for a way to give to yourself, especially if you’ve been very busy and overwhelmed.  When we don’t take time for ourselves, we end up “rewarding” ourselves with our habits. It’s a way of taking care of ourselves in the moment, but it doesn’t feel so great when we’re done.

If you want to improve the chances you’ll stay on program and you won’t suffer from a “guilt dessert,” take a few minutes to be alone every day; long enough to decompress.

It doesn’t have to be very long, just long enough to get yourself centered.

By the way, “alone” is not “lonely” – unless you choose to make it so.

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When Stuck, Look to Your WHY NOTs

stuck-man

“Stuck” does not just happen.

There’s a reason.

  •     If you keep taking off and putting on the same few pounds no matter what you do, there’s a reason.
  •     If you keep “trying” to change a habit and it never seems to work, there’s a reason.
  •     If you’re always making promises to yourself but you’re not keeping them, there’s a reason.

If you want to understand the reason, it’s important to know your “WHY NOTs.”

We usually know why we want to change our habits (health, happiness, success) but we rarely pay attention to why we DO NOT, referred to as our “WHY NOTs.”

Understanding your WHY NOTs will move you forward.

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The Road from “Never” to “Now”

never-land-&-now-road

Changing a bad habit can be messy, frustrating, and unpleasant.

After all, if it was easy, we’d all be dropping bad habits willy-nilly, wouldn’t we?

It becomes easier if, instead of looking at it like, “One moment I’m here. The next minute I have to be all the way over there,” we understand it more as a series of stages.

I’ll assume one has left the initial stage of denial, and decided to — for example — lose a few pounds; accepting that either forever gaining weight or making a change are his only options.

He lands firmly in stage one: “Never.”

Here thoughts and feelings are extremely negative, perception being an excessive, laborious amount of work and discomfort for what appears to be a pipe dream result. Internal dialog is, “I will never be able to do that” with the obvious coda being, “…so why bother to try?”

In our example, the thought of sweaty, painful exercise; a starvation-level diet; anal-retentive tracking of calories; tasteless recipes; extensive shopping pattern adjustments; and – in general – being forever, always, never-ending conscious; triggers our synapses to scream, “No way! Can’t be done, ain’t gonna happen.” Crossing our arms, scowling, and firmly planting our feet, we refuse to budge.

Or so we think.

You see; the problem is that once consciousness has been raised it cannot never again be buried.

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