Habits are much more powerful than we realize. So often we act out of what we are used to, what we know, what we have done in the past instead of making a better choice. A choice in the moment that might be for our higher good. In researching for this issue, I saw that oftentimes, detrimental behaviors can be modified by focusing on changing patterns, and forming new neural pathways. Now, I am not saying I don't need a shrink. But how empowering to have the tools to make significant change by identifying the kind of choices you want to be making and habitualizing them? Below, we share what we have learned on the subject.
This week’s goop collaboration
Making & Breaking Habits
We talked to Jeremy Dean, the author of the book Making Habits, Breaking Habits,
and got some strategies for creating new habits and getting rid of old ones.
Q: How are habits formed?
A: Through repetition, when we repeat the same action in the same situation. Each time we repeat the same action, we're teaching ourselves a pattern and that pattern becomes unconscious over time. After a while we'll perform that response automatically. If you want to create a new good habit, you need to repeat the same action in the same situation to create that unconscious link between situation and action.
Q: What's the best way to get rid of a habit?
A: In some ways it's not possible to get rid of a habit because any habit you create tends to stay in the mind forever. That doesn't mean, however, that we're destined to perform our bad habits for the rest of our lives. What we can do is replace a bad habit with a good one, or at least a neutral one. So for example, if you're trying to give up smoking, quite often people choose to chew gum, because it's generally incompatible with smoking.
Behind the Scenes at the Harper's Bazaar Cover Shoot.
The Habit Loop
Charles Duhigg, in his fascinating book The Power of Habit, investigates habits both in individuals and large corporations.
We find out just how much our lives are ruled by habit, both at home and at work.
How to create new and change old habits:
These charts, made from the concepts in his book, show us, simply, how to make and break a habit.
We came across this pretty awesome and free service that helps you, day-to-day, change bad nutrition and fitness habits by starting new good ones.
Exercise physiologist/trainer Marco Borges founded his company 22Days Nutrition to make the kind of raw, vegan, organic protein and energy bars and shakes he actually wanted to consume.
From there, he created his eponymous challenge, which is meant to help you start new healthy habits.
The Marco Borges Challenge
About the Challenge:
Marco's online program allows you to choose a lifestyle - vegan, vegetarian or meat eater - and how much weight you'd like to gain or lose
(>20, <20, none). Then, diet tips, recipes, exercises and empowerments are emailed to you daily.
The idea is that over the course of the plan, you'd have adopted a few good habits (exercise and diet) and through replacement,
eliminated a few that were not so good.
"The concept behind 22Days is about empowering people with the tools they need for healthy living. Hence, our tagline, 'It takes 21 days to make or break a habit...with 22 days, you've found the way.' You don't think twice about brushing your teeth in the morning or showering.
Because it's a habit. You can create the same habit with a workout or eating well."
Some Cool Features
Meal Plans & Shopping Lists:
On the challenge, you'll get daily emails with the proposed meal plan to help you stay on track. From an energy bar and a piece of fruit for breakfast to a quick and easy recipe for a bean and quinoa bowl for dinner, the menus are tasty and easy-to-follow. The shopping list helps you stock your pantry and fridge for the challenge (so there's no turning back).
Power Bites & Enlightenment:
In addition to the practical stuff, Marco offers daily doses of inspiration to those on the challenge through his "power bites" and "enlightenment" soundbites. Information can include anything from how to get back on the wagon if you feel you've gone off, to medical factoids on the benefits of physical activity for women and so forth.
Researcher and Stanford professor, BJ Fogg, has started a program that guides people via a week's worth of daily emails through five days of miniscule habit change. The idea is to start small and build from there. Participants choose three "tiny habits" that require almost no willpower or motivation to add to their routine. For example:
"After I brush, I will floss one tooth."
"After I pour my morning coffee, I will text my mom."
"After I start the dishwasher, I will read one sentence from a book."
He encourages you to celebrate the completion of each tiny habit, to slowly (and naturally) to build upon the ones you've created.
UP is a wristband that you wear 24/7 that tracks your movement and sleep and helps you keep a record of what you eat and how you're feeling on a daily basis. You can see your results by plugging the UP band into an iPhone/Android app that keeps all the tracking information on it. We've started using the band as a way of becoming more aware of our daily habits in order to make changes to our everyday behavior. We talked to the folks at Jawbone to get the facts on how UP works.
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