How To Get Everything You Want In Life…A Study Of Habits. (Part 1 of 4)
If you’re constantly in chaos it’s because of your operating system.
Life is much like a computer, you can use the default settings or personalize your experience. The default settings in most of our cases come from the programming our well-meaning mothers, fathers, teachers and preachers installed. Peers and siblings have influence. As does the world around us.
In this blog series, I am going to focus on eating habits…but you can apply the lessons herein to anything you seek in life.
Our programming, when it comes to eating, is heavily familial in influence. But this influence is not the genetic type that first comes to mind. Our familial programming around food is more in the realm of “my family ate this way, so now I do as well”. Its not really genetic mind you, it is behavioral.
There’s a term used in psychology: behavioral congruence. This boils down to whatever you want you must behave in a certain manner to obtain it. Wanting without supportive action equals frustration.
For example, if you want to run a marathon and the most you’ve run thus far is a 5K, you must log a certain number of miles to condition your body for the 26.2 mile trek. Sure, you could attempt to run a marathon without training, but you would most likely fail at your attempt. Another example is obtaining wealth. You may want to be wealthy, but if you spend more than you make, it will never happen.
Same goes for your body composition…your body’s lean mass to fat ratio. If you want to be at a healthy body composition, you’ve got to behave in a manner that supports it. It starts with the thoughts you harbor about healthy eating. “Eating healthy is hard.” “Healthy food is gross.” “To eat healthy I’ve got to give up every food I love.” “Eating healthy is too expensive.” Need I go on?
Now you can strong arm your brain for a while when you “go on a diet”. Anyone can follow a system for a couple weeks or months until they lose the will to live from taking action after action that conflicts with their beliefs. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
It may seem like a feat fit for a superhero at first; changing your eating habits that is. Cool thing is, the brain doesn’t care about the habit at hand. It just wants to use the least amount of energy possible. Your brain is engineered to operate at the lowest level available because it is an energy hog. The brain looks for shortcuts, which are also known as habits. Your brain is your ally in life, if you learn to make it work for you instead of the other way around.
You can reprogram your brain by feeding it different thoughts which lead to different actions, in turn different results. It’s a simple concept. Being human, we often over-complicate the process. We get caught up in life and allow our circumstances and others to have too much influence over us.
Your behavior is a true indication of who you really are and what you really think. Sure, when asked you may say you want to be a healthy size with 18% body fat, and you honestly really want to be. But in reality you keep sabotaging yourself with your behavior so you hold onto 40% body fat. The saboteur is your unconscious patterns and often comes in the form of biochemistry…that is manipulated by what we eat and drink.
Here’s the good news and the bad…ninety percent of our behavior is unconscious. That’s right, we really don’t think a whole lot about what we do. We can run on the default programming installed by our early influencers or we can choose differently.
This choice leads to a fork in the proverbial road. Which way do you take…more of the same or something different?
I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it, but humans are the only species capable of change where it counts. (I think about this stuff all the time…) You can literally change who you are overnight by changing what you think which leads to what you do. Actually you can do it even quicker than overnight. You can totally reinvent yourself in an instant.
I say this emphatically…because this is AMAZING news!
What you eat* and don’t eat is probably the most important thing you can control when it comes to your health and well-being. You can’t control genetics, politics, nor a host of other things. But you CAN control what you do and do not put in your mouth. *Where I type “eat” you can substitute “drink” as well.
The results of unfavorable eating habits don’t usually show up until later in life. Same with the good. They’re cumulative on both sides of the spectrum. And you can fall out of a good habit as easily as a detrimental one.
Habits and beliefs are a result of neurological programming. When you do or think something, a pathway is lain down in your brain. There’s a whole lot of chemistry and a bunch of electrical impulses directing the entire ordeal, but the long and the short of it is that the more you do something the more deeply ingrained the pattern in the brain. Cool thing…you can change this programming with some concerted effort and an equal amount of patience.
Let’s take a look at your eating habits. Are they working for or against your desires, hopes and dreams? If they’re working for you keep on keepin’ on. If they are not, change them.
Here’s how you start…
- Clearly identify your counterproductive eating habits. Now I’m not talking about chewing with your mouth open. I’m talking habits that sabotage your efforts to lose weight, kick sugar to the curb, cook more home cooked meals, etc. I’ll start you off with some common ones:
- Choosing sugary drinks over water.
- Eating from a paper bag in your car. (Drinking from one isn’t all that productive either.)
- Waiting until you’re absolutely famished to figure out what to eat.
- Adding sugar to cereal.
Start your list and leave some room to add items as they come to you.
Take a TV timeout before reading post #2 on habits and complete your list of unproductive eating habits. Join the Unraveling Together Info Hub for a printable PDF to help you with your list. You can always add to it later, but if you don’t start now, you’ll put it off and may never get to changing.
In the follow up posts regarding eating habits, you’ll gain insight to designing a new productive habit along with creating an action plan around each one. I’ll breakdown the whole process and if you put in the work, you’ll be on your way to a transformed you.
It all starts with the way you eat.
[Exercises are adopted from years of work with one of my mentors, Steve Clark.]
Continue the series with parts 2-4.