When the cookies crumble and eggnog spoils, we all take a look in the mirror and have an honest conversation with ourselves. “Ok self, we had too many desserts, haven’t exercised in months, and watch too much tv. It’s time to make some changes!”
The jolly holiday season turns into the bright hope of the new year. We buy the January special gym membership, throw out the fatty foods in the fridge, and commit to make real change.
But then human nature kicks in. On a cold winter day, it’s way easier to snuggle up, sip some cocoa and watch a movie than it is to torture yourself at the gym. So, by January 13th, that conversation we have with ourselves turns into: “Ok self, we tried hard. We look fine, we’re in pretty good shape, and our loved ones still love us. Let’s relax and have that slice of cheesecake.”
Poof! Just like that, our resolutions are another ghost of holidays past. So, what can we do to change this vicious, leads-to-failure-and-self-loathing cycle? Instead of making resolutions, try creating a “Triple A” habit.
To create a habit, you need three things: Alert, an Action and an Affirmation.
You need to be reminded of what your habit is. If you want to floss more, leave the floss out on the counter or on your bedside table. That way, before you go to bed, you see it and have the reminder to floss. If you want to exercise more, sleep in your gym clothes. When you wake up, you’ll remember to work out. Technology makes this even easier. Set an alert on your phone or computer so you’re always being reminded of what you want to accomplish.
After you’re reminded of the habit, you need to actually do it! It doesn’t even matter if you only do it for a short period. The important thing is creating the habit and the routine of doing whatever “it” is.
If you want to floss, tell yourself you’ll floss one tooth. Chances are you’ll keep going, but if you don’t, oh well, you still completed your goal for the day of flossing. It’s a win-win. If you’re trying to work out, start easy by doing a few pushups or just walking around the block. That will help cement the practice into your head and then you’ll remember to do it again.
Just don’t overextend yourself or try to do a habit that feels overbearing. Think through what you want to improve on that doesn’t feel like a chore.
Reward yourself for acting on the reminder and doing the action. Have a piece of chocolate or a cookie after you exercise (I know personal trainers will disagree, but it’s more important to establish the habit than make every best nutritional choice). After you floss, give yourself a high five and a nice fist bump while looking in the mirror. Do something that you don’t normally do and reward yourself for creating the habit. The affirmation will seal the deal and help make this your new normal.
Habits will begin to form quicker than you think, so good luck with your New Year’s habits this year. Now get out there, make those changes and show your Instagram friends how big of a New Year’s champion you are.