This talk is about building healthy habits and what we’re going to do is I’m going to is, I know a lot of you struggle with motivation… it’s fine for a couple of weeks and then it kind of wanes and it goes. So what I’d like to do is do a little coaching tool with you all tonight. So, if you haven’t got paper and pen can you go and get paper and pen, just to make some notes. What we’re going to do is we’re going to create like a wellness vision. If you could, you’ve got a couple of minutes just to run off and get paper and pen if you haven’t got any and will run through that and then I’m going to share my screen now when I share my screen I can’t see the chat, although I have got my laptop beside me as well in case I need to see chat. So, today it’s building healthy habits…
Why do you need to look at your habits? We’re very much at ShowMe.Fit looking at long term success. I don’t believe in the extremely fit looking at long term success, I don’t believe in the yo-yo dieting, doing it for a little period and then stopping and go back to your old ways. You have to change the whole behaviour otherwise you’ll end up failing and going back to how you were before. You have to address your behaviour in order to succeed long term. Not just how to improve it but also what habits have led you to being overweight or to where you are now, not your ideal weight. So, you have a real good think about what habits you can do to improve your lifestyle, I’m all about health… I mean I’m a nutritionist so I look at the whole thing – sleep, how much you move, not just what you eat but everything. What can you change to make yourself better? Also, what habits have not worked for you in the past? What habits aren’t working for you? Habits is all about routine… they are strengthened by routine. You don’t have to think any in the morning to get out of bed, you do it automatically. You don’t have to think anymore to clean your teeth, to have a shower, to put clothes on you, you’re just doing it automatically via a routine. Habits, bad and good, are all strengthened by routine. You might notice that particularly with poor habits that you always do something at a particular time or after you’ve done another job. For instance, making a cup of tea might trigger you to want a biscuit or a chocolate bar or something. So that again is routine, because it’s your brain triggering you into thinking and that is all down to routine.
Hopefully you’ve got your papers and pens now. I’ve only ever done this one to one so I’m hoping it’ll work with a big group of people and I’ve got the chat here if people have got any questions. I basically want you to think about who do you want to be? And was why is this important? The most effective way to change your habits is actually to focus on who you wish to become.
I’m going to talk you through the steps now and you’ll probably need to expand on this later tonight or over the next few days. Some clients make big mood boards with all their reasons, it could be quotes, it could be pictures, it could be just words that they find inspiring. I want you to imagine yourself in say, three months or six months or one year, depending on where you are in this process. Imagine you are 3-6 or 12 months from now and you’ve reached or you’re close to your goal. Capture how you feel and how your future self feels. I want you to write it in the other tense as if you were already there so, “I am the right weight for myself now”, “I enjoy exercise”, “I go to the gym three times a week, four times a week”, “I am walking 10,000 steps a day and this makes me feel x”, “I am willing to work hard at making choice healthy choices”, “I cook all my food from scratch”, “I feel energised”. Think about this, make a list of how you would like to be. Think of it and write a paragraph of all the questions. I can see in the chat actually, so if people want to put ideas in the chat, think of things to help inspire other people. How would you like to be in 3, 6 or 12 months’ time? I’m working towards improving my running at the moment, so I want to be able to run a 10K race in September. There’s one I’ve got my eye on, so I want to be fit enough to do that. I want to be able to run up hills (because it’s a really hilly one) without stopping and without hurting myself. Things like that for me would be important. Think about what you would like to do. And then how do you think your life will be improved if you achieve this? List as many ways as you can think. How will you feel? How will your life be different? And then think of what are your top reasons for wanting this? To feel healthier, to run around with your grandchildren/your children and to be able to get up off the floor easily, to be able to go for a dog walk for an hour without being out of breath. What are your reasons?
Brilliant we’ve got some ideas coming in: “I want to be able to exercise without my knees hurting”. Really good really good, so again losing the weight will help with that. “Food does not rule my life”, I love that one, absolutely brilliant! Write all these brilliant things down. “I want to fit into jeans”, “I want to feel good about how I look”. Brilliant, write them all down and have a real think about this. “To be able to ride up hills”, brilliant! “Run after your son whilst he’s learning to ride his bike.” I remember those days, I still don’t think I’d be able to do that now! “To look forward to exercise”, absolutely, brilliant, literally write as many as you can and work on this over the next few days. Your top five reasons for wanting this but think about what other benefits this gains. It’s not just the way you look, you’ve got some really lovely choices here: “not let my emotions take control” absolutely, lovely! Then just think about who else this will benefit… does this benefit your children? Your grandchildren? Your partner? Your dog? Your work colleagues? Think about who else this will benefit. “To be able to say no” powerful, “To be able to have a treat without being excessive” really powerful! That’s hard, you know, you’re here at ShowMe.Fit for a reason and that’s because you’re eating has become disordered otherwise you wouldn’t be here. So, yes being able to sort of say no and I think a lot of that, being able to have a treat. Don’t forget you don’t have to be perfect, you are allowed to have a treat and I think it once you allow yourself to have that treat it doesn’t rule your whole being. You just allow yourself one, eat it slowly, eat it mindfully, eat it in front of people. A lot of people hide their eating, it becomes more secretive. Actually, if you’re open about it and you eat in front of people then that can be quite powerful for a lot of people, admitting that they are eating one, not 2, 3, 4. Think about all the other people that are going to benefit.
Then think about what would happen if you do nothing? What will happen if you stay the same? How will that make you feel? That’s quite powerful to think actually if I don’t make all of these changes, I’m going to feel, what? How are you going to feel? Put it in the chat how are you going to feel if you don’t do anything, if you stay exactly as you are, with all those habits that have got you here in the first place. “Miserable”, it’s not nice to feel miserable is it? We don’t want to feel miserable, so again write these things down. “Out of control”, “sad”, “miserable”. This is quite a powerful exercise. “Angry at yourself”, “unhealthy”. “failure”. Now be careful with failure, this is it is a work in progress. I want this document that you’re going to create, this wellness vision, I want this to empower you, to motivate you, to keep you going so that it’s something that you refer back to. Keep it, add quotes, add pictures to it. Pictures that inspire you, pictures of your children, if that’s who will benefit. Pictures of your grandchildren, partner, add it all there so that you’ve got this vision to look at for when you’re feeling low, sad, not motivated, not quite sure what you’re doing, refer back to it and go “that is who I want to be, that is why I’m making these hard decisions now and that is why I’m going to want to change”. It’s interesting, “you’ve never known a healthier me, as you’ve always been this way”. Well this is brilliant, you’re going to learn now, with ShowMe.Fit. This will help you become healthier, this isn’t just a way to just lose weight. We’re looking at the whole overall health and I think that the Facebook group is brilliant for helping people and inspiring people. People are putting their steps on it, people are putting what exercise, they are not just sharing their food and recipes and I think that’s just lovely. Hopefully you’re finding this you get this Wellness vision really useful and a really powerful way to look and see and make changes for the good. Absolutely you did it for yourself, brilliant, absolutely so put a big picture of yourself on this board. You’re doing it for you but you know it is important, think about who else will benefit from this as well, from you making these changes and becoming healthier. I know a lot of people are cooking the meals for their children as well. That’s brilliant! Your children becoming healthier, people getting pregnant – your baby is going to be really healthy! There’s so many reasons that you’re doing this for. I think that’s really good and really positive. Work on this this wellness vision and hopefully you’ve got some good reasons and have a real thing make this you know your vision for the future and for what you’d like to be.
Habits are about becoming someone. The most effective way to change your habit is to focus on who you wish to become. That’s why I wanted you to do this tool, they can help you change your belief about yourself. I think a lot of people, being overweight, don’t feel great about yourself. You’re feeling sad, miserable. We’ve had some really negative comments come up… sad, miserable, unhealthy, angry. You don’t want to be like this so by focusing on what you’d like to become I think it’s easy to stick to habits.
We talk about how you can create habits now and how you keep them going. Habits are all about repeated behaviour. They are kind of mental shortcuts that we learn from. We don’t always succeed… so we try, we fail… but we learn something from that and then next time we do it we try differently. For instance, if you’re really stressed about something. You’ve had a really bad day at work, and you’re stressed; rather than reaching for alcohol or chocolate or whatever your go to is, you need to change that and change the way you’re thinking. Rather than coming home and reaching for that, what could you do differently? When you come in feeling stressed (you need to make a conscious effort to start with) you might put your trainers on to go for a walk or a run. Every time you do this you’re reinforcing the fact that when you feel stressed you’re then putting the trainers on and you’re going outside for a walk or run so that then eventually, and it doesn’t come automatically… it takes a while and it takes hard work but eventually then when you are stressed, every time you are stressed rather than reach for the alcohol or the chocolate, which again, is learned behaviour, we’re trying something different and we’re trying to exercise it or go for a walk or just having a change of scenery. That means that every time you are stressed once you’ve got this habit your go to will always be the healthier option: put the trainers on, so it’ll become an automatic habit. That is what you are learning with these habits as you constantly re putting all the paths in your brain to “what do you want to do?” Habits are usually a response to an emotional need: stress, sadness, lack of social connections, lack of sleep… there’s all sorts of things. You’re usually doing a habit due to wanting a change in your internal state. It’s always really good to look at “what’s my body needing here?” “What is my brain needing in order to make these changes and try differently?” You need to keep plugging away and really think about this. I see a lot of people going “Oh I’ve had a bad day, I failed now” I don’t like the word failure. Don’t call it failure, you haven’t done so well so what can you learn from that?
How do you make good habits? First of all you’ve got to make it obvious. How do you make it obvious? It could be a time thing or a location… You need a prompt really. For instance, if you wanted to start exercising first thing in the morning, before breakfast, as you get up… What could your prompt be? You could lay your workout clothes on the floor right next to your bed, you can put them on. I’m not asking to do the workout, all you need to do is make it really obvious that the prompt is there. You could just commit, for the first week to putting on your workout clothes, you don’t need to then do any exercise but it’s making it obvious. If if you’re looking to drink lots of water – how can you make that obvious? Can you put loads of water jugs and water bottles around the house? Beverly is saying here that fail stands for first attempt in learning. I like that, I haven’t heard that one before. brilliant so she saved every saying here that fails stands for first attempt in learning I really like that. So, you first thing for making have a good habit is make it obvious. Second thing is you’ve got to make it attractive. Food scientists use this when they’re manufacturing food. They have a bliss point. They use this to make you crave things so they know the precise combination of salt, fat and sugar that hits the dopamine in your brain to go: “I like this, I want more of this” and “I can’t just stop at one, I’m going to have 2, 3, 4”. So what are you going to do to make a good habit? What can you do to make it attractive so that it excites your brain? In order to make it attractive you need to kind of pair it with an action that you need to do. For instance, if you wanted to do more exercise but you really think you haven’t got time… you know that you’d like to check Facebook rather than exercising; what you need to do is promise yourself that you will reach for your phone but rather than clicking on Facebook, you have to do 10 burpees or 10 squats or 10 flights of stairs BEFORE you then look at Facebook. Then maybe you before you open Facebook you need to do something else: 10 press ups, 10 squats… but in order to do the thing that you don’t particularly want to do you have got to put it on something that you do want to do. You wanted to look at Facebook but you have to do something that you don’t want to do first. It will make it a little bit more attractive. There’s a psychologist that has a book called ‘Tiny Habits’ and he’s very good – BJ Fogg. He wanted to be able to do press ups, so he said every time I go to the loo I’m going to do X amount of press ups and he still does that now because he’s made it attractive so every time he goes to the loo he gets down and he does a few press ups. His way of doing the press ups throughout the day was to tag it onto something and make it a little bit more attractive. Third one – you’ve got to make it easy. Again, this is all about having queues around the house. Like I said, if you want to increase your water fill up loads of glasses and jugs and leave them around the house so you’ve got these prompts all the time. If you want to eat more vegetables could you have a Sunday prep day where you cut up loads of vegetables and you leave them in the fridge? If you want to prepare healthy meals, what could you do in advance, when you’ve got time, to make it much easier for you? Could you cook double the soups and have them in the freezer so that easy to take out. Make these things really easy so you it doesn’t become a chore to do these habits. Make it really easy. The last one is make it satisfying. Have a little reward for doing this now I’m going to introduce at the end like a habit tracker. You can you can find loads of them online, basically it’s a bit like a spreadsheet, put the habits in the column and then the days and then make these habits. I’m not asking you for really farfetched habits. They’ve got to be achievable ones. It could be I want to drink a litre and a half of water a day. So you measure it out in jars that you leave lying around… put that as one of your habits and then what you want to do is to try and do that every single day for 2-3 weeks/a month. Promise yourself never to miss a day! If you do miss a day, you get straight back on it! That’s not an excuse to stop that habit you missed one day but never miss two. Having a habit tracker works really well. I know a lot of people also do journaling, this is the same kind of thing. You can write your habits in your Journal… did you manage to do the habits? Don’t try and change loads and loads of different habits at once. Choose simple ones that you’re going to stick to that are achievable, aren’t too big and quite small and measurable ones. Try a mix of small and easy and just keep chipping away at them.
How do you break bad habits? Again you’ve got to basically do the opposite. You’ve got to make it invisible. If you tend to reach your biscuits at 11:00 o’clock with your cup of tea, remove the biscuits. Don’t buy them in the first place. If you find it difficult to resist them in a supermarket, what can you do instead? Could you do online shopping until you are feeling stronger? If you’ve got a partner or children that are buying the chocolate, sweets, biscuits or whatever, can they not tell you what they’ve got and hide them in a locked box in the garage or the car or well away from you? Make these invisible. You’ve got to just take these cues away so you’re not tempted to reach for them. Make it unattractive… This is all about re-framing your mindset – look at your wellness vision for this, highlight the benefits of you avoiding these bad habits so every time you’re craving something or you’re finding yourself doing something that is not good for you, go back to your wellness vision. I don’t want to be that person, I want to be this person. This person that looks and that feels healthier, has their weight under control, all those lovely words that you said, go back to that! Make that bad habit really unattractive to you. Make it difficult. This is all about increasing the friction, if you haven’t got the chocolate in the house in the first place and you’re having to drive to the supermarket or walk to the supermarket to go and get it to fulfil your craving. That is making it difficult. If it’s dark outside and the shops are closed or whatever, you’re not going to be bothered to change it. Say that there is a coffee shop that you can’t resist their sticky buns from that’s on your way to work… well you’re going to have to make it difficult, you’re going to have to change your route to work. Can you go to work a different way? Go around the back way to work so that you avoid that temptation? You’ve got to make these things more difficult so they’re not in your face so you can’t see them. Don’t buy these things, don’t have these things, don’t walk past the things that are causing you problems, it makes it much harder to do it. Cravings usually only last about 20 minutes, so if you can do something to distract you, it makes it much more difficult. If you have to drive 20 minutes to go to the shop to get it time you get that you probably don’t actually want to eat the chocolate anymore or hopefully not. Again reward – make it satisfying. This is where the habit tracker is really useful, track your habits, put things that you want to break on there. You could put things like “I don’t want to snack after my evening meal” and put that as one of your habits that you’d like to break on your tracker and see how many days you can do. Make it rewarding. Then, if you do it for X amount of days you could treat yourself to something. Try and make these treats, non-food related treats. It could be if I manage to do X amount of habits for 10 days I will go and watch something at the cinema, you can buy yourself a bunch of flowers or treat yourself to a massage, go get your nails done or hair done, treat yourself to a coffee at a coffee shop or something that is it is attractive to you, satisfying for you. Everyone will be different on that.
Another way of really breaking them is to work faster, to look out for them, to notice where in your day you’re having these bad habits and then acknowledging them and actually saying them out loud in first person. If you are reaching for a chocolate bar actually speak it aloud – “I am reaching for a chocolate bar, I know this isn’t very good for me but I am still reaching for it and I’m going to unwrap it and I’m going to eat it”. Quite often just the act of talking through what you’re doing is enough to stop you. It makes the consequences much more real, it makes it more likely and that you’re doing it. I think so many people with disordered eating quite often eat secretly. They’ll wait till their partner’s left the kitchen before they rummage in the fridge for a piece of cheese or reach for the chocolate or have a slice of bread or whatever. They don’t do it usually in front of people, they will do it more secretly away from people. Therefore by talking it through it’s as if someone else is in the room and so you might be less likely to do it. I think is a really powerful thing to incorporate. Don’t do the bad habit but talk about it as you’re doing it, acknowledge it, talk yourself through it.
You probably have seen the term habit stacking. This is really important, a lot of psychologists use habit stacking. In order to change a new habit, a really useful thing is to identify a habit that you already do and stack a new behaviour onto it. So, I’ve put some examples here: “as soon as I finish breakfast I will (and you can put here whatever), have a glass of water, prep your lunch, drink a green tea, fill up your water jug”. It could be anything. It’s stacking something that maybe is not quite so desirable onto something that you do do and is more desirable. “As soon as I get up, I will put exercise clothes on.” “As soon as I see the stairs I will use them rather than the lift.” If you’re thinking about it on a conscious level, then eventually you do it enough times and it becomes unconscious. Therefore, every time you see the stairs you will use them. When I used to travel into London, I always used to be the mad person that walked up the stairs rather than take the escalator. Although probably not best at Covent Garden… if you have been to Covent Garden there’s a lot of stairs there and actually there is a warning sign on the bottom of the stairs saying, “these are for use in emergency only”. I, of course, decided that I was perfectly fit and it would be a good thing to do. I did go up them and I was very hot and sweating at the end of that. So, stack your habits that you want to achieve onto the habits that you you’re already doing I think is a really good thing to do.
Your environment is really important when it comes to habits and you’ll notice that when you start looking at your habits and thinking about the habits that you’re already doing and the queues in front of you, your habits will change depending on room you’re in. So say after dinner you always sit on the sofa and you eat crisps or chocolate or whatever it is… the act of sitting on the sofa is telling your brain it’s snack time, is crisp time, is chocolate time. You need to change that environment. It’s a little bit like if you are used to seeing a particular circle of friends and you always go out and drink a lot of wine and get takeaways and eat poorly, then just the seeing those friends can trigger all those desires to have that environment around you. In order to make the changes you need to change your environment. I’m not saying change your circle of friends but having a circle of friends that have the same habits as you is really important for staying a healthy. That’s where the Facebook group is brilliant because it is a kind of tribe really and so finding a tribe that’s good for you is a really good way making your habits stick. Again, look for cues in your lifestyle. Where can you eat? If you work and there’s a canteen and it’s not healthy food in there, can you change? Eating away from the canteen? If you’ve got a kitchen at work that constantly has muffins and biscuits on a tray in front of you as a free for all, can you, rather than go and get your cup of tea from that kitchen, can you go somewhere else? Can you go somewhere else and get your cup of tea? Is there another place that you can avoid that temptation and avoid that environment? Can you get involved in groups that are healthier? I saw that on Facebook that a couple of members have met up for a walk! That is a brilliant way of changing your environment… you are realising that in order for you to stick to your goals you need to change your environment and change what you were doing. Therefore, going out for a walk with like-minded people is a really good way of doing that. Changing where you’re eating, changing the way you walk to work. As I said before, if the trigger for you is walking past a bakery or coffee shop that you know you tend to go into, you’ve got to find a different way to walk to work or wherever it is you’re going to. If your habit is sitting on the sofa in the evening, change what you’re going to do in the evening. After your evening meal can you go for a walk? Thinking about what environment you’d like to be in. Look back to that coaching tool I use, that Wellness Vision. In order for you to stick to these new habits, you want to be that person and I think it’s really powerful to look at that Wellness vision and to say “right, come on” and stick it up somewhere really prominent so you’ve got it on the fridge, somewhere in the kitchen where you spend a lot of time. You could even do multiple copies of it.
Track your habits with a tracker and then stay positive. I think the best thing to do is really have a really good positive mental attitude. That is why I got you to fill in that Wellness vision because I want you to refer back to who you wish to become. Who do you want to be? Who is this new you that’s going to emerge? Don’t put a time frame on it, we’re all on completely different journeys. Everyone’s got different goals, some people are here just to be healthier, others have half a stone to lose and others have several stone lose. It doesn’t matter where on your journey you are. Don’t reach for the stars, don’t have loads and loads of goals and habits. If you’ve got loads, break it all down. If you’ve got 4 stone to lose break it down into quarter of a stone. Set yourself a little task and new habit each time you reach that particular goal. I think if you focus too much on the end goal that can be really unhealthy so focus more on setting yourself short goals, refer back to how you’d like to look with the Wellness vision but again don’t put a time frame on it. It doesn’t matter when you’re going to get that – you could get that in two years’ time, it could be two months depending on where you are. Don’t focus on how long it’s going to take you to get there it does that doesn’t matter enjoy the journey that you’re on, enjoy discovering new foods, new walks, new ways of moving your body. Think about what else is improving and put that on the Wellness visual. What else is improving? People are saying their skin is better, they feel healthier, feeling more hydrated, they’ve got more energy. People are already noticing they can run around with their children or grandchildren a lot more. Focus on all the positives not just the food and your weight. I think it’s very unhealthy just to be fixed on your weight, I think it’s much more positive to be fixated on how you’re feeling about things.