Have you ever caught yourself indulging more often than usual when you promised yourself that you would stick with eating healthy and treat yourself only on weekends? Somehow, you tend to give in.And this spirals into other habits you may have set for yourself, such as exercising every morning or meditating before breakfast. Habits don't magically appear out of nowhere. Brushing your teeth and cleansing your face before bedtime are merely products of our behaviour that have now accumulated after repeating it several times.So how you can build healthier habits and routines for yourself? And how do you make sure that you stick to them? MSc. Health Psychologist & Habit Expert, Pooja Naik, explains the trial-and-success formula to build consistency step-by-step.
Building healthier habits and routines
It's human nature to seek routine in our daily life; things become predictable, and predictability means safety. We all love some amount of certainty in our lives and that's why we enjoy our routines.The process of building habits takes time, intentional repetition, effort and patience for them to become a part of your life, such as waking up early, including protein in every meal and actively de-stressing every day. So how do you try different methods, take from them your learnings, leave behind what didn't work for you and eventually build a solid, healthy routine? We've got a story to tell!
Meet our fictional protagonist, Amrita
A 27-year-old graphic designer, Amrita loves her job but equally dreads it because she's gained 8 kgs since the lockdown. This inadvertently made her insecure about her appearance. Although she had started working out and eating better, she couldn't remain consistent with these new habits.
But did this stop her from reaching her ideal weight?
After a lot of trial and error, she found her trial and success recipe. What is it, you ask? - It's a way to build consistency and reach your goals. Here's what Amrita did differently this time instead of punishing herself by starving, pushing herself at the gym and avoiding social gatherings due to feeling conscious and under confident.
The Trial And Success Formula To Build Consistency
Start Small, Make It Fun:
Amrita started her weight loss journey by doing one activity every day that she truly enjoyed -- dancing. Dancing made her feel good and required only 20 minutes of her day.
The idea here is to make the new habit so small that they're easy to do. Dr BJ Fogg swears by this approach in his book called "The Tiny Habits”.The idea is this -- if you'd like to feel less stressed, instead of trying a 30-minute meditation, start by deep breathing for 5 minutes daily. As you enjoy the process of making this change, you may even find yourself increasing the duration.
Focus on the process, not just the outcome:
After being obsessed about the outcome, not reaching which quickly only made her upset, Amrita decided to stop weighing herself often. Instead, she chose to enjoy doing the new habits and stopped stressing about going all out at every workout or making sure her meals were perfect all the time. She had more energy and better skin while implementing these healthy habits into her routine.
Do you also focus on perfection as Amrita did? If yes, here's what you need to know.When we become fixated on an outcome, we feel anything less than the ideal image we have in mind is useless. This thought pattern is a cognitive distortion called "All or Nothing" in CBT. While the outcome is undoubtedly essential, setting realistic goals can help you get there sooner than you think. Keep an eye on the qualitative wins and appreciate yourself for sticking with them.
It takes effort to silence the inner critic, and Amrita did just that! She stopped comparing herself to all the Instagram posts she spent hours a day looking at.
This approach is crucial because your body is different and unique from what you see on Instagram. Don't get us wrong; you can become one of those fitness models if you'd like to. However, constantly comparing yourself will hinder your progress as you're too busy focusing on what you lack than your commitment towards taking the first step to build healthy habits. Be mindful of your self-talk and what you consume on social media. Get inspired and let go of comparison.
Know Your Triggers:
Amrita binged on sweets and chocolates when she was stressed and ate junk at parties. However, she slowly took time to understand her triggers, found better coping skills to manage stress and ate a home-cooked meal before leaving for a party.
Do your friends or family members have different habits that impact your choices? Or do you tend to indulge when you're overwhelmed? These are crucial things that we often overlook. Knowing your triggers can help you tailor your immediate environment to support your goals. While you cannot control people, you can note down things that trigger certain behaviours that may hinder your progress.
Celebrate your progress:
Earlier, Amrita would be hesitant to celebrate her progress. Just like yourself, she would also pressure herself to reach the goal first and only then celebrate. Slowly and steadily, she began celebrating her progress and stopped being hard on herself - having better energy levels and feeling great throughout the day was a celebration for her.
The reality is you don't need to lose 10 kgs to celebrate. The inch loss that you notice week after week, better energy, having more clarity and feeling more centred - these are such great wins that you may often overlook. If you're getting in a workout every day, learn to celebrate the fact that you were able to stay committed to it. It's a positive reinforcement that will help you look forward to doing it again and become consistent.
Remember, consistency is key
Whether you're struggling with PCOS, thyroid or any other condition, remember that becoming consistent is not hard if you understand your reasons for building a new habit and take action. If you've run out of ideas and find it hard to stick with them, you can always invest in a Habit Coach. Building habits need not be something you dread but rather feel excited to see how your journey unfolds to become a better version of yourself.If you currently feel stuck in your efforts to build a healthier, consistent routine, why not give Cult Transform a try.