Change Bad Habits in 3 Simple Steps

Change Bad Habits in 3 Simple Steps

Your life is a product of your habits.

How happy or unhappy you are? A product of your habits.

The state of your health? A product of your habits.

Numbing your feelings with food, overeating, dieting, binge eating? All products of your habits.

Good or bad, the things you do (and think) day in and day out determine the way you experience life. Your habits determine your personality and your beliefs. They make you the person that you are.

So what do you do if you’re not happy, and the state of your health is fluctuating between blah and meh?

You change your habits!

It sounds so easy when I say it, right?

But if it were that simple we would all be happy and healthy. None of us would be eating our feelings, or stuck on the diet, binge, start over on Monday hamster wheel.

The truth is: changing habits can be HARD.

It takes more than willpower and determination.

It takes commitment.
Commitment to doing the same thing over and over again.

change your habits in 3 simple steps - jennifersterling.com

It takes acceptance.
Accepting that some days, changing the habits you’ve been repeating your whole life will be easier than others.

And it takes forgiveness, because you will screw up. You’re human, and imperfection comes with the territory, unfortunately.

The good news is:

It’s totally possible with the 3 P’s.*

  1. Prompt (the trigger that initiates a behavior)
  2. Procedure (the action taken)
  3. Prize (the reward for completing the procedure)

In real life this looks something like this:

  1. You’re stressed out at work and find yourself craving candy. In this instance stress is the prompt since it initiates the craving.
  2. You open your desk drawer (you know, the one with the stash of chocolate kisses), unwrap and eat a few chocolate kisses. This is the procedure – the action taken after you were prompted by stress.
  3. The prize is the distraction that you get while you’re eating, as well as a reduction in cortisol, a stress hormone, that can occur naturally when we eat chocolate. It’s a short-lived prize, but a prize nonetheless.

Since the reward is positive, you’ll want to repeat it each time you’re stressed. Repeat it enough and it becomes a habit.

So how do you switch things up and create habits that make you feel better and create a more long-term reward?

You change the procedure and the prize.

So the above scenario in this case would look like this:

  1. You’re stressed out at work and find yourself craving candy.
  2. You pause before reaching for the candy. Pausing gives you time to ask yourself if you’re really hungry or if something else is going on.
  3. You reward yourself for taking a moment to check in with yourself before reaching for chocolate. This reward or prize could be as simple as congratulating yourself or buying yourself a bouquet of flowers.

Rewarding yourself is super important. Humans are pleasure-driven creatures; we are more likely to continue doing something if it comes with a reward or brings us pleasure. So give yourself credit for each success.

And if you need a little help understanding your food cravings, click here to download The Cravings Decoder: A FREE Guide that explains the meanings behind some of the most common cravings and what you can do to soothe them.

*I did not create this framework on my own, but has been proven to be effective on various occasions by behavioral psychology researchers. If you want to read more about it, Charles Duhigg’s best–selling book, The Power of Habit, is a great place to start. 

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For years I struggled with how food owned my life, and then I took control not just of my plate, but my passion. With a background in body movement, dance, and once-upon-a-time bakery owner, I now help women create mindful lives.

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