Last year I read a lot of books about habits (The Power of Habit and This Year I Will… being two of them) and my philosophy on living a healthy life has changed. I used to think it was discipline and willpower that was the difference between someone who ate well and exercised regularly and someone who did not. Now I believe that life is a cumulation of habits, and that we have picked either habits that support our health or ones that do not. Gradually those stuck. We all have a bad habit or two that we can work on, no matter how many good things we do in our life (one of mine is eating late at night).
The key to breaking bad habits and forming new ones is NOT about willpower. It is about really being clear on what you want and having a strong plan to get there. As a coach, I want you to create lifelong good health habits, but I do not want you to rely on willpower for the rest of your life to maintain them.
Luckily, just as your body craves your bad habits, it also craves your good habits – that’s why you feel “off” if you have not brushed your teeth before bed. The body does not judge a habit, it just says to itself Hmm, I have been doing this a lot and I have not died yet, so I am going to keep doing this. In fact, when you do something repeatedly, neural pathways are formed and each time you repeat that action the pathways gets stronger. This is why habits are so hard to break initially, but the less you continue the action, the body will eventually adapt to the void and those neural pathways will weaken and stop screaming at you, “It’s 4pm, get me a chocolate bar!!!” Start eating an apple instead, and at first you will crave the chocolate, but soon your body will start asking for a piece of fruit.
Why coaching works so well is that I can help you find the motivation to change bad habits and implement great ones. Along the way, we root out the barriers to success (and there always are some – that vending machine down the hall, for example). Together, we craft goals to get you to healthy routines (bringing that apple to the office to snack on when your energy sags in the afternoon, so you don’t have to go near that vending machine) . It works! How do I know? I have a coach that helps me set weekly goals for amazing health too.