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How to Break Bad Habits

Research shows that while our behaviors may seem automatic, the groundwork is really laid several hours or even days before by our mindset, our habits, and our daily rituals and activities.

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That behavior that we're trying to eliminate is really the last link in a long chain. If we can go back and try to eliminate that first link, we have a much better chance of breaking the last link, removing that behavior that we're trying to eliminate.

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Let's dive in on how we can go about breaking those habits that we want to change.

Research shows that if we can just notice and recognize the behavior as it's taking place, about 80% of the time we're able to change that behavior. So, the real trick is noticing, naming, and recognizing that behavior instead of just mindlessly going through the actions.

Now, you're probably thinking to yourself, if these behaviors are happening without me even thinking about them, how am I supposed to recognize them in the moment?

And the answer is: we're going to start to build awareness around all of the things leading up to, during, and after that habit that we're trying to break.

The goal is to gather as much information as possible surrounding the behavior so that we can start to notice those patterns and disrupt those patterns in the future.

We want to answer the following questions:

  • What are you doing?

  • What are you thinking?

  • What are you feeling emotionally?

  • What are you feeling physically?

  • Where are you?

  • What time is it?

  • Who are you with?

And we're going to answer those questions in a few different time blocks.

  1. 2 to 3 hours before the behavior

  2. Half-hour to an hour beforehand

  3. Immediately before the start of the behavior

  4. During the behavior

  5. Immediately after the behavior.

Be thorough, be honest with yourself when answering those questions, and collect as much data as possible. Go through these same questions every time you experience the behavior that you're trying to eliminate.

Remember, the goal here is just to be able to recognize the behavior taking place better in the moment. Because again, if we can recognize the behavior, we can successfully change that behavior about 80% of the time.

As you gather more data you'll begin to see patterns causing the behavior, recognize those taking place, and change that behavior in the moment.

When it comes to fitness and nutrition, most of us know the things that we're supposed to be doing. The difficulty lies in implementing new habits and breaking old ones.

Use these questions to start building awareness around, and ultimately eliminate, the habits that you're trying to break.


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