Change is a normal part of life; we all respond, ignore and react every minute of every day. Structured habit change for wellness is different. Drive and prioritize your daily routine from a clear why. Time for some truth telling. What motivates you to change? Strong motivation will help you build a plan to succeed.
Why became really important when I began to architect habit change for my health. I needed to dig into my motivation to prioritize new habits to heal. My first priority was to uplevel my relationship with food.
For many years I snacked to self soothe. I ate on the way to teach yoga, not from hunger but to calm down. I munched when I was bored or unhappy. I knew this coping mechanism had to go, excess weight was hurting me, but somehow snacking stayed.
Old patterns can be heavy and sticky, hard to shake off. When I became really sick my habit of emotional eating became an immediate liability. I had a huge opportunity to help myself and my clients make changes for thrive.
“If people who’ve faced a life-threatening illness can’t prioritize their own self-care, we have a real problem in our society.” Michelle Segar author of No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness. What is the struggle all about?
Old Habits are Strong & Sticky
Our brains are on the front line of decision making. They look for patterns to ease the workload. New behaviors take the most processing power, but a habit or pattern is pretty efficient for the brain to manage. Our brains like efficiency so much they reward us when we default to habit with a release of dopamine. Dopamine is a feel good neurochemical.
The brain’s drive for efficiency creates side effects, makes it a little quirky, and gives habits big power. Sometimes our brains create stuff that isn’t there because of subconscious patterning. We fill in the blanks and create optical illusions. We recognize the familiar in the strange and will even make up patterns where none exist (pareidolia). Habits mold our lives.
If a habit exists the brain will often unconsciously default to it before there is time to consider an alternative. The key then is to replace unhealthy habits with healthier one to break out of our unconscious behavior. Try the healthier habit, repeat it to develop a pattern, then keep repeating until the new habit becomes the default option.
Habit Change Starts with the WHY
An abstract association of “ 3 meals of healthy food creates health” didn’t have the power to anchor me in new behavior. I had to go deeper to overwrite my habit of emotional eating. To start I needed to shine a light on my motivation.
So What Motivates Change?
What you think makes sense might not work. Even success doesn’t guarantee you will stick with it. Weight loss relapse is a great example. Early in my life I lost and gained over 100 lbs more than once. Why? Changes could and did happen. I would relapse to old eating and snacking patterns.
I am not alone in this. According to the National Weight Loss Registry, 80% of people who work hard and lose weight will regain it within 1 year. Logically success, health, and feeling good should cement the new habits in place, but even this may not be enough. Here’s what the 20% who maintained weight loss (I count myself among them) did to make it work:
- They had deep strong motivation,
- A great why and put a structure,
- And healthy habits in place.
A get real why will get you to the table to build a structure for change. Getting healthy and free of pain got me to build the structure for new healthier habits. I felt and feel the connection between what and how I eat and how I feel. Strong self love and desire to thrive shifts my focus and provides tangible real time motivation to sip water or breathe instead of eat.
I still connect this on a daily level choice by choice and thought by thought. I have taught myself to ask “Does this choice support the health of my tissues and bring balance to my nature?” My why keeps me on track climbing, kaizening out of old unhealthy behavior towards evolving health.
Examine what inspires you to make the changes you seek.
Why needs to be a close companion that you can see and feel in your heart. Spend some time to refine you why. Your why is your why, no shame and no blame involved no excuses needed. Dive deep and examine what got you where you are? Does your why align you with your goals in this moment.
My favorite words to describe my why are motivating, consuming, touchable, immediate, and concrete. What are yours? Make a list of the qualities that motivate you. Identify the truth of your why. Why needs to touch each day and connect to the big picture and purpose, come from the inside not the outside. What do you really want to uplevel in your life and why?
Use why to keep you moving when you feel like your feet are off the ground. Make small steady improvements. When you need to exercise discipline (tapas) until the new habit anchors and gains power.
“Life without Tapas is like a heart without love” – BKS Iyengar
Why empowers you to architect habit change. Tapas or discipline puts the structure in place for habits to thrive. Motivation is the touchstone to reach for when things get rough. Scroll down and share your new healthy habit and how your why keeps you on track. This will help make the groove deeper and help you make this habit stick!