Over the course of my lifetime, I have always had this saying, “I didn’t gain all this weight in a day, week, month… so I am not going to lose it in a day, week, month! “
How true this statement is, especially when I started listening to the book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg.
The habits that enabled me to gain weight, have uncontrolled eating, unhealthy eating or the many other factors that contributed to my Type II Diabetes didn’t evolve overnight.
Habits can be good things and they can be bad things. Most of the time we practice the good habits and are very aware of the good habits that we want to have, while ignoring the bad habits.
Charles gives us a great pattern for both sides of the habit loop.
The habit loop is the process a habit (good or bad) takes when we automatically execute it.
Charles describes the habit loop as a Cue, Routine, Reward. Being able to identify each step in the habit loop can help us to change the bad habits to good, or make good habits stronger.
To get a full understanding of how the habit loop works or examples, I would suggest that you read/listen to the book, but to give you an example, here is how the habit loop has worked in my life.
For as long as I can remember I have been a comfort eater.
What does being a comfort eater mean? It means that whenever I get stressed, depressed, rushed, I eat to feel better. Food was that warm, heavy blanket placed around my shoulders and pulled in close and tight around me whenever things weren’t going just the way I wanted and it always felt so nice and toasty. Ever had this same feeling? Different people I have talked with have similar experiences, maybe not with eating, but almost everyone has some way of comforting themselves.
Cue, Routine, Reward
So for me the cue was the stress, depression, and anything that triggers negative feelings. The routine was the need to go get something to eat (usually it was really unhealthy like donuts, cookies, candy, etc). The reward was the great tasting foods I would find to consume. They were always so good to the taste but never seemed to last for long, so I would need more and more.
To fix this habit, I needed to re-route my routine and get a new reward to replace the bad habit of eating bad foods.
The routine that I decided to try was meditation. I found that by taking 2-5 minutes, breathing deeply in and then out, I could quickly reduce the stress, or if I was depressed, I would go take a walk outside while I do the same breathing exercise. (For more ways to mediate, please see an article about it in Google).
The new reward was the release of natural chemicals within my body from the medication routine. This was enough to re-route the habit from a bad eating benign into a good habit of mediation.
Change Your Habits
If you want to change your bad habits to good habits, I would suggest reading Charles’ book and applying the principals included. I have found them to help my with my diabetes, and I would be interested to hear about your experiences as well, so share them in the comments area below.