3 Steps To Build A Bad Habit

Kelley and I were talking today at her desk (I have the benefit of working in the same building, so I get to pop up and surprise her now and again).

She had a second to chat and we were talking about food and habits.

“I think quitting almost anything else is easier than building good food habits”

And I think she’s right.

You’ve probably gone through it too, where you’re set up to start working on nutrition or “go on a diet” – I hate that term btw, more on that later.

Everything is set up, you’ve prepped all the food you need, the meals you’re going to eat, and for the first few days you’re doing it. “Holy moly, I can actually DO this!” you think, “it’s not all that hard”

Then the cheesey bread comes to the table at a group dinner, or your kid brings home a bunch of candy for a sleep over and you’re hit with an overwhelming desire to binge eat.

But… you hold firm!This time you’re not going to be broken.

Then it happens again, and again, and one time you cave and have “just a little.” Which ultimately leads to your doom.

Sticking to your diet no longer sounds good, the scale stop moving, and you’re frustrated, so why the hell not, just go for a little candy. It can’t hurt, right?

In my study of behavior and psychology the triggers to a bad habit are always the same, regardless of the person or the habit.

1. You get triggered

2. You do the negative behavior

3. You get the reward, which is usually dopamine – a powerful brain chemical.

The secret, if you can call it that, is not in changing the behavior, which is where everyone focuses.

It’s on the TRIGGER

Once our brains have been triggered it’s harder than a steal wall to change the habit. So your job is to interrupt the trigger.

For smokers the trigger can be something as simple as getting a frustrating e-mail. That jumps the brain off into wanting something positive, a rush of that brain chemical dopamine, so the desire to smoke is ungodly.

For food and nutrition the triggers are more subtle.

Sitting on the couch watching a show with your partner you’re used to having something sweet, so you go grab a Dove chocolate or something, and you get the reward.

Getting the chocolate isn’t the place your attention, it’s sitting on the couch.

A pattern interrupt has to change the state of your brain, something simple that gets your brain into a flow state.

For me, and a lot of other people, that’s things like writing, or movement, or drawing, something creative usually.

The hard part is when you’re out and about eating a meal how do you change that kind of state without getting up and doing some walking lunges like a weirdo?

Here are 3 simple ways to change the trigger and mess with the bad habit’s routine.

1. Start writing.

Keep a journal with you and write something creative. NOT anything about how you really want chocolate and wish you could just have it, and why is the world so unfair. Write about something that is on your mind that’s unrelated to food. That could be a poem, a story, a work project, ANYTHING. It doesn’t have to take you a whole lot of time, 2 minutes or less can do it.

If you cary a small journal with you it’s easy to do and doesn’t interrupt the meal.

2. Start breathing intentionally.

Really focus on the sensation of your breath wherever it’s the strongest. In your nose, chest, belly. Spend 10 breaths doing that and you’ve interrupted the pattern long enough to screw with your bad habit and move forward. The key is that your focus can’t be on anything else. I don’t mean try and kick out the feeling of desire, but really put all your attention on breathing.

3. Ride the wave.

This is probably the hardest pattern interrupt for food but it can be the most powerful. In your mind search out the desire, the source of why you want what you want. Once you’ve narrowed in on it sit on it and be with it. Try and understand where the craving is coming from and let the craving just be. It can take up to 15 minutes to be effective, but once you’ve rode the Wave you’ll have a strong feeling of resilience and confidence to stick with your plan.

The most important thing is understanding what’s trying to stop you. It’s your trigger. The thing that starts the feelings and that gets you on a roll for bad habits.

In addition to what I shared above if you have the ability getting up and moving around can be one of your most powerful allies. Simple stretches and movement drills that are fun will break the trigger easily.

Even more powerful than that is being in a group of people who are all on the same path. We are launching our 8 week challenge, and being in a challenge group has shown to be the most powerful interrupt possible. Just knowing that you’re in a group of people who are all focused on the same goal is life changing.

To get more information and get started fill out this form and we can talk over your goals to see if you’re a good fit.


See you in the Dojo!