How to Change Your Habits

Getting Your 2 Minds on the Same Page

You know the two minds I’m talking about. There’s first one that says, “I want to do it.” And the second one that says, “You tried this before, it didn’t work. It’s scary. It’s pointless …”

Each of us in our one brain has a split personality – one that’s eager to get on with what’s good for us or fun, and the other that holds us back. Neither is going away any time soon so we need to be clever and get them on the same page.

Set Goals that are Hard to Argue With

If you have any concerns about your weight or size, then you might like to make some changes to your lifestyle. Well, this is tough … changing habits is hard to do. Habits are default behaviours that we don’t even think about. And when we do think them, our two minds argue continually.

Setting a target weight or dress size might seem like good goal. There’s even some research that shows getting on the scale and tracking pounds improves weight loss. But wait … is this a permanent loss? Where did those lost pounds come from – body fat or muscle?

We need goals that respect our health and our individual differences. I suggest two questions to help you develop your goals.

  • How do I want to feel?
  • What do I want to be able to do?

Be specific, with your reference point being right now.

Change How You Time Travel

Even working on goals can set off our negative minds. Suddenly worry, guilt, and frustration flood over us and mess with our body chemistry. We are time traveling.

Worry is about the future. Guilt is about the past. And frustration is how we feel in the present being whacked by both worry and guilt.

Since we can’t forget completely about the timeline of our lives, let’s give our positive mind some ammunition.

  • The future is what we are creating now.
  • The past is what we are learning from now.
  • And now is when we are taking action.

Taking small steps is a great sneak attack that allows our positive intentions to prevail over negative thoughts.

Take Small Steps to Make a Big Difference

Small steps in the right direction make a big difference. Beware of low calorie diets and weight-loss boot camps – they will backfire. Your body hangs on to life saving fat when it thinks you’re starving or under stress.

So small steps are better and backed by research. Though it seems like a slow process, it’s worth it because the results are healthy and permanent.

Small Changes to What You Eat

Our bodies convert the food we eat into internal energy (ATP). About 50% of this energy is invested in running the body, and 50% is invested in repair, maintenance, and growth of the body.

What we eat and when we eat are both important. Small changes to what we eat add up – just a few calories at a time. And going from no breakfast to having lightly salted fruit in the morning has a positive effect on your whole day.

For more details and suggestions, see Your Personal Method for Managing Your Weight.

Small Changes to your Activities

A little more activity every day adds up to become improved mobility, better health and weight loss. This is “NEAT” – really that’s what it’s called.

NEAT stands for “Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.” It includes all of our daily activities, excluding formal exercise. Improving your daily NEAT could improve energy expenditure by 270 to 500 calories each day.

For more details and suggestions, see The Neat Way to Get Fit.

Change your Internal Conversation

So if boo-hoo mind #2 is still being a pest, mind #1 needs some good responses. To deal with thoughts like, “one cracker can’t possibly matter” or “skipping one day won’t hurt,” try something, like:

  • Thank you for sharing, but I’m doing this …,
  • Or, Enough already! I’m doing this …,
  • Depending on how polite you want to be.

And you can give your positive mind some help by creating the words that you want to think, like:

  • Step by step, I’m moving closer to my goals to feel … and/or do …,
  • Or, I smile with every little step because I know that I’m on a good path,
  • Whatever resonates with you personally.

Make reminder cards and put them where you’ll see them often. Record them on you phone and listen to them. Keep these positive thoughts with you and refresh them as needed.

Notice your Progress

Over time, your small steps will gradually improve your health, how you feel and move, and ultimately your weight. The changes may be subtle at first.

Check in with yourself every 30 days (or sooner at “Aha” moments) and notice the changes:

  • How do your joints feel?
  • What moves are easier?
  • How is your energy level?
  • Has your skin or hair improved?
  • Have your small changes become habits? And so on.

As you progress, you may also be able to make peace between your two minds. Your positive mind #1 may be able to teach mind #2 to be a force for reasonable caution, rather than a discouraging voice of worry.

After all, we sometimes need to be reminded to look both ways before crossing the street or be asked “do you really want to eat that?”

Leave a comment