How Do You Make Healthy Habits Happen?

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Working out and eating healthy is just something I do. I don’t think about it, it’s automatic. It wasn’t always that way. It took me several years of trial and error to make this a lifestyle. I know that when folks want to make a change they want it to be automatic. I liken making any change to learning a new language. You are not going to be fluent the first day. You are going to have to work at it. The same thing applies to living a healthy life. You just have to decide you want it more than you fear it. Yes, you are going to stumble, but you will dust yourself off and get better and better.

I don’t know about you, but I’m AWESOME at coming up with excuses. I can justify ANYTHING. Am I alone??  The excuses I build in my mind all seem logical and even very rational. I was really good yesterday so I deserve to have a cookie today; I’m swapped at lunch so I’ll go to the gym after work, I’ll be more effective than; it’s so and so’s birthday, going away party etc I can’t blow off drinks it would be rude. And so on. We forget that even though our reasoning has some logic to it, it’s not GOOD logic and it doesn’t lead us to our dreams. So how do we get ourselves to act on our goals?

Tony Robbins says we are trying to avoid pain and/or gain pleasure. Now when starting down the path to a healthy life there will be more pain than pleasure  at times and you may want to stop.

This is where the  reward and consequence dynamic comes into play. A good friend of mine talked to me about this and how psychologist use this as a way to create behavior modification.

Sadly, some us respond better to consequences than we do to rewards.  Consequences force your brain to look for ways to solve your problems and keep your promises with the energy it would normally use to justify making excuses. Consequences you make for yourself need to be annoying but not physically painful. Here are examples of consequences.

  • If you stay up past your bed time you need to sleep on the floor
  • You miss a workout, you leave $10 somewhere for a stranger to find
  • Don’t pack a healthy lunch, no cellphone for the day
  • Skip Zumba class, no social media for the day
  • No watching TV

Are you picking up with I’m putting down??  We are quick to blow off a promise we make to ourselves, but if there is a consequence associated with we may less likely to do it. The best way to burn in a consequence is to share it with someone who can help hold you to your word. There is an app out there called Gym Pact. The cash helps you to stay on track.

Now let’s put the shoe on the other foot. Pleasure. Think of it like that vacation you look forward to or getting together with your really good friends or a big hug from your kids. Okay so you get pleasure. Pleasure taps into your creative brain causing you to imagine what if, dreaming of the possibility. Here are some examples of pleasure.

  • You go to the gym  3-4 days/week you get an hour massage
  • You bring a healthy lunch to work  3 days and you get Mani/pedi
  • You workout and eat right for a month Nice night out

My husband and I challenged each other to see how many workouts we could get in during the year. Each time we workout for more than 30 minutes we put a dollar in the jar. We reach 100 workouts we go out to dinner.

You get the idea, anything that makes you happy.

So, what you do you respond to — consequences or rewards?

What consequence/pleasure will you assign to yourself to ensure you start taking action from this point forward?

This blog post was inspired by Oscar Health Insurance.

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