Some people seem to have it. They're really good at working out consistently, eating healthy, doing the right things for their health... and it seems natural and effortless for them.
Most of us are not in that camp.
Most of us have had the experience of knowing we should be doing things differently for our health... but also being perplexed at how hard it can be to actually DO them.
I know all too well what it's like to think things like, "I really need to start exercising more..." or "I need to lose weight..." and to have these thoughts for MONTHS without actually doing anything about it.
Why is it so hard to start and maintain new healthy habits?
As a hypnotherapist, I know the answer: your subconscious mind runs the show of your life.
All of your habits, beliefs, memories and emotions are subconscious. About 90% of your mind is subconscious.
Willpower on the other hand, is a conscious process. And your conscious mind is only around 10% of your mind, at best.
Your conscious mind also has to manage your to-do lists, solve problems at work, engage in intelligent conversation, run errands and do laundry.
Starting new habits requires: a conscious decision, implementing a new set of actions (that are not routine) and sustaining them day after day, until you override the old habits. And you do this by drawing on the resources of your overtaxed conscious mind, which is also keeping track of everything else you're juggling.
Meanwhile, your old habit is not only a well-worn track that's easy to revert to, but it also counts with the support of a far greater set of subconscious resources. Plus, your subconscious mind is wired to seek comfort and safety; and the status-quo is both comfortable and very low risk.
So you're not lazy. You're not flawed. You're not broken.
Like everybody else, your subconscious programming will easily undermine your willpower and your conscious decisions.
How do you get around this?
It is possible to work with the subconscious mind in order to allow for a not-so-challenging start to a new habit.
I personally use EFT. It helps me tackle the subconscious habits and beliefs that keep me in the rut of the results I don't want.
EFT is short for Emotional Freedom Technique (also known at Tapping) and it involves tapping on meridian points while we speak statements about the habits, feelings and beliefs we are shifting.
If you're not familiar with EFT, you can watch this introduction on my YouTube channel:
And here's a short EFT track I created for you:
Another approach is the process I learned from my podcast guest, Nicole Weiss. She uses this four-step process to change negative thinking, but it can also be applied to starting a new habit:
- What's the thought/habit you want to change?
- What is the thought/habit you want to have instead?
- What is the smallest (and I mean SMALLEST) step you know you can take and succeed at?
- Do it.
So here's an example:
- Habit you want to change: Not working out at all
- Habit you want: To be regularly active -with the ultimate desire to slim down, tone up, get more flexible and be healthier.
- The smallest step: Walk around the block tomorrow.
- Do it. And then do it again the next day.
If you break the new habit down into the tiniest of steps, you're more likely to create small victories that will fuel the next step.
The good news is that you don't have to be a motivation cyborg to be healthy. You also don't have to be perfect to get your body healing. Baby steps can take you there.
Success begets success. Celebrate the success at every baby step, and you'll find yourself growing in motivation.