The Psychology of Adopting Healthier Habits

May. 8, 2019Mindset work and psychological hacking have taken the internet by storm as one of the most sustainable ways to get healthy (and stay that way). So how do you get your brain on board with something when your body wants to sleep in?



A shift in the health and wellness space right now is showing us that most of what people experience as poor fitness and dietary habits are largely related to feelings of self-worth and mindfulness practices. In short, loving yourself and being present makes it easier to stick with the external changes needed for weight loss, healthy eating, regular exercise, and all that jazz.

If you can hack your brain, you can set yourself up for a greater chance of success — here are a few ways to do it.

 

START WITH WHAT’S SIMPLE

In another interview, I spoke with author and behavioral analyst Nir Eyal about how he gets healthier habits to stick. What he told me was profoundly simple — start with what is effortless for you to do every day.

If you’ve never run a mile in your life, committing to doing it three times a week might be a tad insane. But can you commit to walking around your block once a week to start? Doing ten squats every time you walk into your kitchen?

Start with something small and easy that you can realistically commit to for the foreseeable future, and then work your way outside of your comfort zone in small, attainable steps.

MAKE IT A LIFESTYLE CHANGE, NOT A DIET

Diets are the bane of the weight loss lifestyle. On the one hand, dietary changes are most of what makes weight loss programs successful. On the other, restrictive diets are a short term solution, and not a tenable long term way to stay healthy after getting healthy.

Make a change that you can commit to making, quite literally, for the rest of your life. Make it a part of who you are, not just what you’re doing. If giving up processed sugar until you’re 85 isn’t something you want to do, then don’t pledge to give it up for good.

But if you could see only eating cake on birthdays, then rock that new rule like you grew up with it.

 

PUT POWER BACK IN YOUR PROSE

How you think and say things can often take some of the power and control away from us. Saying things like ‘I can’t eat that’ makes it seem like we’re a victim to someone or something that has power over us.

Saying ‘I don’t eat that’ tells your brain that YOU’RE the one making the choice and that this is a part of who you are, not what someone else is telling you to be.

It’s empowering, and it takes the wind right out of our martyr-y, victim-y sales, which translates into a powerhouse of success that ISN’T suffering for the finish line.

 

GIVE IT THREE WEEKS

It’s true what they say: most habits take at least three weeks to become anything close to second nature. Set reminders on your phone, use affirmations, put sticky notes everywhere — whatever you have to do to remind yourself of what you’re trying to adopt.

Hang in there for at least three weeks before you decide it’s too hard — you just might surprise yourself.

FOCUS ON REINFORCING THE GOOD

When we focus on what we shouldn’t be doing, we tend to fall right back into doing it. It’s much harder to stop doing something than it is to just replace it with something good (which arguably, is the exact same thing). Instead of focusing on watching less TV, add in a new habit, like a before-bed yoga routine. One will inherently make it harder to engage in the other and will help you focus on what you CAN do, instead of what you can’t.

 

WHAT’S EASY IS SUSTAINABLE

Simple routines, simple rules, simple changes — when we keep things simple, we’re much more likely to stick to it and see results. Even if the goal is rapid-fire weight loss and a bikini bod by June, starting with what you can handle without falling off the wagon over and over again is going to build your confidence and give you long term benefits.

 

What small steps are you taking this year for a healthier you? Tell us on Facebook or Instagram and tag us in the post! @AvocadoMattress and #AvocadoGreenMagazine

Destiny Hagest

By Destiny Hagest

 —  Destiny is a freelance writer with a background in sustainability and natural health. She lives in the mountains of central Montana with her husband and young son. When she's not writing or chasing her toddler, you can find her wandering the quiet wilderness in search of wild herbs and antler sheds.

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