Why is it so hard to break old habits?
You know all the facts; you’ve read all about healthy fats, you know how to find added sugar on a nutrition label and know all the ins and outs surrounding processed foods. Your vitamin regimen is on point and your fitness schedule is always planned out for the week ahead. Yet, it’s 9:00 pm on a Wednesday night, you skipped your spin class, neglected your perfectly prepped lunch at work and concluded the day by polishing of the pint of ice cream you were saving for your best friend’s birthday.
What is behaviour change?
My days have been a lot like this recently. It’s refreshing to hear it described so eloquently, and more importantly to recognise that it is not an experience unique to me.
The second type of habit is a bit different, these habits are reward-based. By reward-based I mean pleasure driven. More specifically, activities that stimulate the release of dopamine can be considered reward-based habits. Think of binge eating or smoking, for example.
When we have developed a reward based habit, our brain is fixated on that short term pleasure and expected dopamine hit, so we forget about our long term goals.
You have to learn to recognise you are about to do something based on a reward based habit, and you need to force yourself to consider your long-term goal when making those decisions. This is why tracking what you eat can be a very powerful tool at giving you clarity of choice in that moment.
Eating a donut shouldn’t always be a guilt riddled decision, if you made that decision while being aware of your long term goal, but you shouldn’t be in a situation where you have sugar all over your hands and then you remember that you want to lose 7 pounds by Feburary to fit into that bridesmaid dress.
When we decide to make a behavior change, if you really think about it, motivation is step one. Motivation is the catalyst, what comes next will get you to the finish line.
You can have can all the motivation in the world, but as the article points out, motivation alone is not enough. You need to tip other factors into your favour to be successful. Some examples are removing the option of choice by avoiding situations where you may make a poor decision, or sharing your goals and progress with others to create a sense of accountability.
A great way to hold yourself accountable to what you eat is by tackling it over time.
Download Moderation from the App Store to start tracking your meals today.
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